Wardens, who quickly became the CD ‘jacks of all trades’, found that one unexpected consequence of enemy bombing was the number of bombs which failed to explode – UXBs in the language of the time. As false reports of UXBs made the job of the newly-formed Royal Engineers (RE) Bomb Disposal Sections more difficult the Home Office suggested in late 1941 that selected police and wardens could be trained to investigate UXB reports as Bomb Reconnaissance Officers. The army’s Southern Command already trained wardens for this job and it was suggested that those who successfully completed a training course should be issued with a badge.
In March 1942 the Southern CD Region reported that Hampshire County had already approved unofficial badges ‘…for issue to Bomb Recognition and Recce volunteers who have qualified at Southern Command Bomb Recognition School or on County Instructional Courses’. Those qualified wore a badge on the left sleeve of their ARP uniform four inches above the cuff seam, oval if qualified on the Southern Command course, round – as here - if qualified at a recognised County Instructional Course.
Although the Home Office agreed that the Hampshire oval badge could serve as a model for a national scheme, progress was delayed by NFS objections to the use of qualification badges on uniform. The compromise solution was found in the form of the red and black armlet shown which was quickly altered to red on blue. As discussions continued on this the Home Office noted that ‘local authorities are designing their own BR badges’.
This design was not liked and, revised by using the army bomb disposal badge as its model, it was approved on 8 August, 1942. Shortly before production of this red and blue armlet began the Inspector of Bomb Disposal at GHQ Home Forces suggested that the armlet ‘ought to be on a light colour background to enable easier recognition by night. May I suggest a black bomb on a yellow band to avoid confusion with the Regular RE badge which is of the same design but yellow on red’. An order for 4,000 armlets was placed in September and they were announced to Civil Defenders in December 1942.
Just to make the modern collector’s mouth water they were originally four shillings (that’s 40 pence) per dozen! (Details from National Archives file HO186/2792 Bomb Reconnaissance Badges).
Article originally published in 2009 by the The Military Heraldry Society and copyright remains with this publication.
As researchers of ARP/CD, just like any other militaria collectors, we often seek surviving uniforms that are badged up as much as possible, providing a full example and display of the various types of insignia that were issued. This blog has shown some great examples in recent weeks.
However, for a variety of reasons, not all ARP and CD uniforms found today are badged up like the proverbial ‘Christmas tree’. Regional variations, badges never issued or since removed, even the limited knowledge of those wishing to reproduce or fake a uniform can explain the different variations encountered. Indeed, as contemporary photos show, many CD personnel were simply issued with a battledress tunic bearing only the CD chest patch, sometimes applied during the garment’s manufacture.
Very often, both ARP and CD uniforms carried a city, town or county area title, worn on the chest below the service insignia. These are now very collectable, even more so if the named area was heavily blitzed. Some years ago, I found a ‘LEICESTER’ yellow CD area title for my home town, but try as I may, I could not find any examples of the city’s preceding red ARP area title.
Scouring through contemporary photos of the city’s ARP personnel with a magnifying glass, I noticed that although they wore the standard red ‘ARP’ service chest insignia on their ARP 41 bluette overalls, no area title was present. ARP personnel of many, if not most, towns and cities wore an area title, not least for reasons of esprit de corps, so, why did Leicester, a city with a long and proud history, not have one, especially as an area title was worn on later CD uniforms?
I discovered the answer whilst researching my book, Tested By Bomb And Flame: Leicester Versus Luftwaffe Air Raids, 1939-1945. As is so often the case, archive records provided the explanation. Fortunately, the ARP Minutes of the City of Leicester Corporation survive at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, at Wigston. These minutes reveal the thinking behind the decisions and expenditure made by the city’s ARP Committee.
Leicester’s ARP started receiving their uniforms from March 1940, with the receipt of ‘864 ARP 41 bluette combinations for male personnel’ at a cost of £453.12.0d (around £24,000 today or around £28 each – a bargain today!). However, when it came to purchasing an area title, it would appear the committee drew their purse strings tight and the spending ceased.
It was only two years later, with the official Ministry of Home Security instruction that the city’s ARP Committee minuted on 9th February 1942: ‘in accordance with the provisions of HSC 189/1941, a local marking (the name of the City) be provided for each new uniform issued to CD personnel, named ‘LEICESTER’.’ The county area would follow six months later, with the issue of a ‘LEICESTERSHIRE’ CD title.
This was not the only example of Leicester ARP Committee’s minimalist and thrifty-thinking. Unlike elsewhere in Britain, Leicester ARP Committee’s VE Day celebrations were muted, to say the least: ‘In view of the circumstances and subject to there being no further guidance from the Government on the matter, this Committee are of the opinion that no arrangements should be made for a final parade of CD Services.’ Likewise, on the question of a commemorative service certificate for CD personnel, as issued in neighbouring counties, official instruction said ‘that such a Certificate should be issued is left to the discretion of the local authority.’ On 16th July 1945, the ARP Committee resolved that ‘in view of the fact that typed letters of thanks have been sent to the personnel of the local authority Services, the suggestion that a further Certificate of Thanks be issued, be not entertained’ – hence why no official illuminated Leicester CD certificate of service will be found by collectors today or ever!
A footnote: Around 2010, whilst attending a 1940s reenactors event on the Great Central Railway, at Quorn station, Leicestershire, I did a double-take to see an ARP reenactor wearing a red ‘LEICESTER’ ARP area title, contrary to contemporary records and photos. A close gawp suggested that if this was a reproduction badge, it was very well made. To get to the bottom of the matter, I asked the reenactor how, if it was original, he had such a research-defying badge – his answer was that he used a red felt tip pen to colour in an original yellow ‘LEICESTER’ CD area title! Some years later, this amended badge appeared for sale on eBay. Occasionally, reality defies your eyes and logic…
Tested By Bomb And Flame: Leicester Versus Luftwaffe Air Raids, 1939-1945, by Austin J. Ruddy, Halsgrove Publishing (2014), £19.99.
A splendid uniform grouping belonging to Albert Edward Smith (called Eddie), a Head Warden and Incident Officer in New Tupton, Derbyshire. Head Warden rank chevrons to arms of battledress and overcoat, war service chevrons, IO badge. LARP instructor badge and a rare survivor, a blue Incident Officer helmet cover.
Images courtesy of Rob Whyman.
I often get contacted to identify certain badges and insignia and quite often it relates to the post-war Civil Defence Corps 1949-1968 - yes the Act of Parliament was passed in December of 1948 but the CDC didn't really exist until 1949.
I've created a page all about Civil Defence Corps insignia including rank badges, first aid badges, area markings, shoulder titles, enamel and embroidered instructor badges and proficiency stars, etc.
A badge I've not seen the like of before. Being sold with a few other ARP items so I assume from that that the badge is WW2 period. The simple rear design using a safety pin and the general look of it makes me think it is of Second World War vintage.
I've finally managed to fill a gap in my badge collection with the CAGS Civil Defence Instructor badge. It was issued to those that had attended and successfully completed the Civilian Anti-Gas School instructors' course. It's in the nationally trained gold colour (same as the ARPS Air Raid Precautions School badge). Although CAGS appears to have been a regular course run prior to, and throughout, the war at the Civil Defence Schools at Easingwold (in N. Yorshire) and Falfield (in Glos.), the instructor badge is extremely scarce (I've only seen this one and two other examples in 20 years). This popped up on eBay recently - I was just lucky enough to be online at the right time.
The CAGS course certificates below were kindly supplied by Jon Mills.
The Women's Institute (WI) was originally formed in Canada in 1897 and according to the National Archives a badge featuring the entertained WI letters monogram, the motto "For Home And Country" and two maple leaves was designed by Laura Rose. The first British WI meeting was held on 16 September, 1915. The "For Home & Country" badge dates from the 1920s and can be seen worn by W.I. members during the Second World War.
The oval-shaped badge is made of gilded brass with "W” and “I" letters intertwined in a voided centre. On the left a red enamel rose depicts the British organisation and on the right a maple leaf represents the original WI which began in Canada. The motto "For Home and Country" is inlaid with green enamel. The rear has a simple pin and catch.
Several manufacturers made this badge over the years.
Fattorini & Sons made two versions:
Straight maker mark - 'Fattorini & Sons Bradford' used this maker mark between 1908 and 1928. A large number of these badges also have a peculiar pentangle in the centre of the rose. It appears this was a method of fabrication rather than meaning anything else. The shape of this badge is a slightly flatter oval than the badge that followed in the 1930s (see below).
Arched name - 'Fattorini & Sons Ltd Bradford Works Birmingham' used between 1933 and 1939.
W. O. Lewis (Badges) Ltd of Birmingham made a version which is probably the commonest seen nowadays. Not sure of the dates of manufacture for this currently, but given the prevalence of the badge it may be from the highwater mark of WI membership in the mid-1950s.
The type least encountered is that made by Marples & Beasley, again in Birmingham - the date of production is unknown though and the production run appears to have been quite low.
There are also a few unmarked types - one has a small dot on the reverse and another omits this – possibly from two different makers and production dates are un known but again possibly into the 1950s.
A Welsh version of the badge featuring “FY NGWLAD A'M CARTREF” was made by W. O. Lewis and Fattorini. It has the Welsh red dragon in the centre and the red rose and maple leaf as per the other badges. This badge is also known to have been made in sterling silver.
A large number of manufacturers made enamel badges to show people were doing their bit for the war effort when out of uniform. There are hundreds of various ARP and CD badges in existence (some made in silver). The below pair are interesting in that the pin fastening is not all that common on these badges. The vast majority are the lapel fitting (often ascribed as the male version). No maker mark on either of these badges.
On 9 December, 2020 Bosleys Auctioneers are auctioning a large number of ARP and Civil Defence-related badges, armbands and insignia. Amongst the lots is a grouping of Civil Defence Instructors' badges including the very rarely seen CAGS and Rescue badges. The auctioneer's estimate of £40-£60 is low but the CAGS badge does appear to have some damage to the enamel which will lower the price. The Rescue badge has appeared on eBay a few times and was nearly the hundred pound mark alone.
The lot can be found here
Does anyone have further information about the "Hitler Hate Club"? This badge crops up now and again online (eBay, militaria shops) and it would appear a fair few were issued but finding any information about the club (when it started, who started it, etc) is proving immensely difficult. There must have been some marketing of the club but I've drawn a blank so far.
Derbyshire, Manchester, Kesteven, Lindsey & Civil Defence Rest Centre & Air Raid Welfare Enamel Lapel Badges
A small selection of the more commonly found WW2 Rest Centre / Air Raid Welfare badges that can found.
Miss Georgina Nelly Adams was a 28-year-old ARP Warden in Birmingham. During the longest sustained German raid on the city (over 13 hours on 11 December, 1940) she was awarded a Commendation for rescuing injured and trapped wardens in an incident behind Albert Road in Handsworth. Her award appeared in the London Gazette on 14 March, 1941.
Before 1943 recipients only received a certificate and a mention in the London Gazette. From 1943 a plastic badge was instituted (it appears some received two of these in a box and others just a single badge) and the badge was replaced by the silver laurel leaf in 1944. I assume that previous recipients of the certificate were sent the badge and then the laurel leaf. The laurel leaf could be worn on the Defence Medal.
The term King's Commendation for Brave Conduct did not start until September of 1945.
Thanks to Brian Woodall for the images.
There are a number of counties and cities/towns that issued specific badges to their corps of air raid wardens. Below is an example from Salford which is relatively scarce in red enamel (a blue enamel version can also be found) but similar ones are known from Cheshire (which must have issued quite a few as the badge is quite common).
Information is sought regarding the below badge. If you have any knowledge of where this badge was issued please let me know. The plume of feathers may be taken from the county's coat of arms / emblem. The three ostrich feather plumes emerging from a coronet is often seen associated with the Prince of Wales so possibly a Welsh connection.
All the way from Canada this badge. Sent in by Scott this badge was amongst his grandfather's personal items. I have seen similar badges with green and blue enamel but this is a first for the red. I am assuming that the colours were used by different CD services (first aid probably using the red).
The Queen's Messenger Convoys (some references state initially 18 convoys, later 21 in total) were created in early 1941 to provide emergency welfare assistance to areas affected by bombing. The then Queen donated towards the creation of the service and the vehicles were marked with "Gift of H.M. The Queen". Vehicles were also paid for/donated by the USA and a number of period photographs show a circular sign of the flags of the UK and USA with "American Committee for Air Raid Relief to Great Britain" written on it. Other dominions (such as Jamaica) also paid for vehicles.
The QM convoys were managed via the Ministry of Food. A standard eight-vehicle convoy consisted of two stores lorries (with 6,000 emergency meals), two kitchen lorries plus three mobile canteens and a water tanker (300-350 gallons). The convoys also contained several despatch motorcyclists. Later the size of convoys varied with some also containing a welfare vehicle. They had "Queen's Messenger Convoy" written above the cabs and "Food Flying Squad" written on the side of the vehicles and they had a distinctive yellow and blue paint job.
Most of the convoys' members were volunteers. Some of the convoys were staffed and assisted by members of the WVS (seen in period photos). Regional Food Officers could appoint paid drivers if necessary. Vehicles would add "battle honours" denoting the locations that they had assisted.
Following the Normandy Landings a number of the convoys were lent to UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration founded in 1943) to help people in the formerly Nazi-occupied countries.
A battledress has cropped up on eBay priced at £160. Nicely badged up with three rank chevrons denoting a Head Warden in Leicestershire. The owner was a First World War veteran and the left sleeve has a red wound stripe. Looking at the breast badge it appears to have been factory fitted. There are also war service chevrons on the right sleeve. The maker's label from Montague Burton sadly omits a date of manufacture but I would imagine this is probably an early example.
It all looks kosher but you never can tell whether the badges are all original to a battledress. It's known for a blank jacket to have had badges later added to help the item sell for a higher price.
It is assumed that the badge below was a private purchase badge that was worn by member's of the Wardens' Service who had passed the LARP (Local Air Raid Precautions) instructors' course. The silver coloured enamel badge is regularly available but to date the below badge has not been seen on any period photographs. I have seen several of these badges over the years and they all appear to have the same style of manufacture.
This unusual ARP badge with additional "Queens Canteen" popped up on eBay recently. I cannot seem to find any information about a 'Queens Canteen" (or Queen's Canteen) on the internet. A design of badge I've not come across this design before.
On 12 March 1936 the Home Office requested that the Royal Mint look into designing a lapel badge for people who had volunteered for the various Air Raid Precautions services. During April and May of 1936 various committees reviewed several designs for the badge.
The silver Air Raid Precautions (ARP) lapel badge that was adopted was designed by the sculptor Eric Gill from a design submitted in April 1936. Gill was paid three guineas (£3 & 3 shillings - about £210 in 2018) in January 1937 for his design. A renowned typeface designer (amongst other skills) Gill utilised large capital letters with a slightly more prominent 'R' and two interpoints (dots). Above the ARP initials Gill placed the standard Tudor (King's) crown which also appears on army, air force and navy insignia.
By mid June 1936 the Royal Mint advised they could produce a hallmarked silver badge at 1 shilling and 3 pence (1s.3d) each if an order for 50,000 was received. The Air Raid Department at the Home Office then advised the Royal Mint that they would potentially require half a million badges and requested a lower price per badge. On 25 August 1936 the Home Office ordered 250,000 silver buttonhole ARP badges from the Royal Mint. One thousand badges cost £12.17.6 (twelve pounds, 17 shillings and sixpence) to make (hallmarking was extra) and between 7,000 to 10,000 could be delivered per week. The presentation boxes were priced at 7d per thousand. By late November the cost of silver had risen and 1,000 ARP badges now cost £13.4.2.
The first run of 250,000 die-stamped badges produced were made with the half-moon style button hole lapel fixing and were available from April 1937. Though they carry the silver date mark 'A' that corresponds to 1936, this hallmark was used until the end of May 1937. 50,000 badges with brooch pin design for ladies was requested in early February 1937. Badges were issued in a cellophane packet and men received their badge in a red box whilst ladies received theirs in a blue box - boxes supplied by the Stationery Office.
All the badges produced between 1936* and 1939 were die stamped 925 sterling silver and measure 1 ½” down by 1” across (approx. 39mm by 26mm) and weigh approx. 9 grams. Miniature silver versions of the ARP badge for manufactured for wear on civilian clothes showing the person was 'doing their bit' for the war effort.
Dates on silver hallmarked badges: 1936 (A), 1937 (B), 1938 (C) & 1939 (D); some sources claim there is a 1940 E-dated silver badge but no photographic evidence has yet come to light and in over 20 years collecting badges I have never seen one.
The badges were announced by Home Secretary Sir John Simon, in Home Security Circular 701582/10 dated 23 February 1937 for issue to "persons who volunteer for ARP services and who undergo the necessary training". The following could be issued the new badge:
i) first aid and medical services;
ii) rescue or demolition services,
iii) decontamination of material;
iv) air raid wardens;
v) gas detection officers
Police officers, special constables and members of fire brigades were not to receive the badge. The badges were issued by the Home Office to local authorities which in turn issued them to people who had volunteered and completed ARP training.
By October 1938 the Home Office asked for authority to increase the number of badges ordered to 950,000. By February 1939, over 800,000 badges had been issued.
In 1939, the Home Secretary, Sir John Anderson (whose name later became synonymous withe the Anderson Shelter) explains to Parliament the badge:
"The air-raid precautions badge is intended as a recognition of the obligations undertaken by persons who volunteer for local authorities’ and other air-raid precautions services and persons who take special courses of training in order to enable them to carry out their normal duties under war time conditions are not, merely by reason of their having undergone such training, eligible for the badge."
It was a criminal offence under the Civil Defence Act 1939 and punishable with a fine not exceeding £20, if an unauthorised person was caught wearing the official ARP badge.
For war economy reasons from February 1940 the ARP badges were made in "German silver" - usually 60% copper with 20% nickel and 20% zinc (thus no actual silver) by commercial manufacturers such JR Gaunt and Marples & Beasley. Both half moon and brooch varieties were manufactured. Silver type badges were designated "Badges and Brooches No.1" and the German Silver badges "Badges and Brooches No.2". The German silver badges were presented in smaller presentation boxes (most likely due to wartime restrictions).
Cost of replacing a lost badge was 1 shilling and 3 pence (1s/3d) for silver and 6 pence (6d) for German silver badges. Local authorities were instructed to maintain a list of people to whom the badge had been issued. The local authorities were also requested to send to the Home Office a list every three months of newly awarded badges (on ARP (Supply) Form 20 (name and address of recipient) & 20A (name and address of people surrendering the ARP badge)). However, it appears that a number of authorities did not complete this request and records were therefore patchy. The requirement to send this information along was later ended.
From 1941 the ARP badge was authorised for wear on the newly-issued Civil Defence berets for male wardens. Female wardens had already been wearing them (unofficially) on their felt hats for some time.
As part of Home Security Circular No.49/1943, to further reduce metal use, the issue of ARP badges ceased in March 1943. For members of the civil defence services that did not have a metal badge, small printed badges featuring the CD letters in a circle were issued and sewn onto berets.
Unofficial Miniature ARP Badge
A number of manufacturers produced smaller versions of the badge in both sterling silver and base metals. Sir John Anderson commented on these to the House of Commons in June 1939:
"I am aware that miniatures of the ARP badge are on sale in various quarters. No official permission has been given for such reproductions of the badge, but I am advised that their manufacture or sale does not contravene the law as it at present stands. In those instances which have come to notice, steps have been taken to enlist the co-operation of the vendors with a view to ensuring as far as practicable that miniatures are supplied only to persons who can furnish evidence that they are entitled to wear the official badge. I am considering whether any further action is desirable."
Royal Mint Silver ARP Badge Hallmarks
The silver hallmarks found on official ARP badges are as follows:
Leopard's head - London (and Goldsmiths’ Company) Assay Office hallmark.
Date letters - A (1936), B (1937), C (1938) & D (1939)
It would appear that C-dated badges appear most often, followed by D then A. B appears to be the least seen variety.
The hallmarks on the unofficial miniature ARP lapel badges will reflect the location of the maker. Birmingham marked badges will be marked with their date letters - for example 'O' for 1938.
* Although the date letter of A that appears on silver ARP badges corresponds to 1936, in actuality this date letter was used between 29 May 1936 and 28 May 1937. It was not until the Hallmarking Act of 1974 that each new hallmarking date changed to 2 January.
The same design of ARP badge was also issued in several overseas territories. Each area would add their own scroll below with the name of the locality - examples include Malta, Hong Kong, Kenya and the Straits Settlements (issued to wardens in Singapore, Penang Malaya and Malacca Malaya).
How much do silver ARP badges cost?
Given that over a million silver ARP badges were made they are not rare items. In the past I picked them up for a few pounds. Generally you can buy them on eBay for under £10. At militaria events the cost is usually more like £10 - £25. Vintage shops and antiques outlets with a single badge usually sees the price shoot up and vendors asking ridiculous amounts up to £40 or more. The non-silver versions should be much less but I have heard some sellers claim they are rarer than the silver and thus worth more which is complete twaddle. They should be under £5. Unofficial silver ARP badges usually sell for between £6 and £15 on eBay.
The rarer overseas silver ARP badges are very collectable. A Chinese hallmarked silver ARP badge made over £600 in August 2019. Other versions like the Straits Settlements often reach in £60 plus. Alas, the growing prices has led to a number of fake badges being cast - see this page on fake and reproduction badges being sold as original.
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