An interesting document I had not come across before. This "Orders To Parties" form from the Lambeth Civil Defence area in London covers a lot of information about an incident.
I've tried to decipher the abbreviations but one or two are not obvious:
SP - Stretcher Party (term used in London for First Aid Party)
CDP - not sure on this one - something Party
AMB - Ambulance
REP - Repair Squads (gas, water, electricity, sewage, telephone etc)
MU - Mobile Unit
R - Rescue
MC - ?
DCP - Decontamination Party
Warrant, appointment or ID cards for members of the Wardens' Service crop up fairly regularly online but cards for other Civil Defence services and quite scarce. This very simply ID card details the owner belonging to a First Aid Party in the city.
As the various posts for wardens and first aid parties were developed there was a need to mark these on maps. The below gives an outline of the symbols used for the Wardens' Service and Casualty Services.
It's hard to imagine the feeling in the summer of 1940 but the possibility of a German invasion of the UK was taken incredibly seriously. Following the Dunkirk debacle the Ministry of Home Security released a number of posters and pamphlets providing advice. Many included information about moving into air raid shelters should the invasion arrive in your locality. Below is the text from one such pamphlet.
Issued by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security
STAY WHERE YOU ARE
If this island is invaded by sea or air everyone who is not under orders must stay where he or she is. This is not simply advice: it is an order from the Government, and you must obey it just as soldiers obey their orders. Your order is “Stay Put”, but remember that this does not apply until invasion comes.
Why must I stay put?
Because in France, Holland and Belgium, the Germans were helped by the people who took flight before them. Great crowds of refugees blocked all the roads. The soldiers who could have defended them could not get at the enemy. The enemy used the refugees as a human shield. These refugees were got out on to the roads by rumour and false orders. Do not be caught out in this way. Do not take any notice of any story telling what the enemy has done or where he is. Do not take orders except from the Military, the Police, the Home Guard (L.D.V.) and the A.R.P. authorities or wardens.
What will happen if I don’t stay put?
If you do not stay put you will stand a very good chance of being killed. The enemy may machine-gun you from the air in order to increase panic, or you may run into enemy forces which have landed behind you. An official German message was captured in Belgium which ran:
“Watch for civilian refugees on the roads. Harass them as much as possible.”
Our soldiers will be hurrying to drive back the invader and will not be able to stop and help you. On the contrary, they will have to turn you off the roads so that they can get at the enemy. You will not have reached safety and you will have done just what the enemy wanted you to do.
How shall I prepare to stay put?
Make ready your air-raid shelter; if you have no shelter prepare one. Advice can be obtained from your local Air Raid Warden or in “Your Home as an Air-raid Shelter”, the government booklet which tells you how to prepare a shelter in your house that will be strong enough to protect you against stray shots and falling metal. If you can have a trench ready in your garden or field, so much the better, especially if you live where there is likely to be danger from shell-fire.
How can I help?
You can help by setting a good example to others. Civilians who try to join the fight are more likely to get in the way than to help. The defeat of the enemy attack is the task of the armed forces which include the Home Guard, so if you wish to fight enrol in the Home Guard. If there is no vacancy for you at the moment register your name for enrolment and you will be called upon as soon as the Army is ready to employ you. For those who cannot join there are many ways in which the Military and Home Guard may need your help in their preparations. Find out what you can do to help in any local defence work that is going on, and be ready to turn your hand to anything if asked by the Military or Home Guard to do so.
If you are responsible for the safety of a factory or some other important building, get in touch with the nearest military authority. You will then be told how your defence should fit in with the military organisation and plans.
What shall I do if the Invader comes my way?
If fighting by organised forces is going on in your district and you have no special duties elsewhere go to your shelter and stay there till the battle is past. Do not attempt to join in the fight. Behave as if an ai-raid were going on. The enemy wills seldom turn aside to attack separate houses.
It’s easy to say. When the time comes it may be hard to do. But you have got to do it; and in doing it you will be fighting Britain’s battle as bravely as a soldier.
I am indebted to a contributor to this blog for sharing the image below. The warrant identification card certifies Mr E Haddon as a Gas Identification Officer (GIO) in the County of Derby. Like a lot of GIOs, Mr Hadden was a pharmacist in civilian life.
An interesting piece of paper ephemera from the West Riding of Yorkshire. This 1940 pass allowed the bearer access to the report centre in Keighley,
A large selection of ephemera relating to the ARP and Civil Defence has cropped up on eBay. Amongst the various booklets, cigarette cards and other items was this poster about "Cleansing Facilities for ARP Services". It shows the generic layout of a cleansing station as well as a reminder to personnel how to prepare for duty
Throughout 1938 and into 1939 the numbers of people joining the Wardens’ Service rose slowly. Following the outbreak of war there was another burst of people joining and a number of senior positions within the Wardens’ Service were paid a full-time salary. However, 90% of wardens were part-timers and one-in-six wardens were women. The vast majority were middle-aged or elderly.
As the Phoney War dragged on the number of volunteers dipped. With the call for recruitment into the Home Guard in the spring of 1940 many men resigned. By the time the Blitz started in the summer of 1940 full-time ARP personnel were being paid £3 and 5 shillings (£3 5s.) per week; women received £2, 3 shillings and 6 pence (£2 3s. 6d.) Part-time members would have their normal employment salary topped up with a few extra shillings per week. No overtime was paid. Full-time ARP personnel received 12 days’ annual holiday and three weeks sick pay.
An appointment card for the Borough of Walsall in the Midlands. The bearer's name has been written in an almost Tolkienesque font, most unusual.
During the second world war the Royal Life Saving Society offered training to civilians in first aid and artificial respiration. Those who were members of the Civil Defence service were entitled to wear the society's woven 2" x 2" red on dark navy blue badge on their right breast pocket of battledress (I have not yet come across this badge on a ladies' Pattern 71 tunic). There was a separate oxidised metal badge that could be worn on civilian clothing (though at least one photo shows a full colour enamel badge being worn on bluette overalls early in the war).
The most interesting photo and description shows the destruction of street level air raid shelters. Dated April 1945 it shows that by this late stage of the war there was no longer any threat from the Luftwaffe or V-weapons (obviously the remaining airfields were way inside Germany and the range of V2s (about 200 miles) could no longer reach the UK).
Of all the civil defence services, the Fire Guard was to have the most members during the second world war. Compulsory registration was brought in during 1943 and hundreds of thousands of people were required to join Fire Guard parties. The below is an example of a training notification. Read a short history of the Fire Guard
A very interesting air raid warden's authority card cropped up on eBay recently. For the City of Birmingham and dated in 1940 it is for a Mrs. B. F. Jones who was the Lady Deputy Group Warden.
An aide memoire for wardens not use to using the 24 hour clock.
80 years ago today, on the 1 September 1939 (two days before war was declared), the British government introduced blackout restrictions. From the Lord Privy Seal's office this message was communicated: "A lighting order has been made under Defence Regulation No. 24 and comes into operation at sunset tonight as a further measure of precaution. The effect of the order is that every night from sunset to sunrise all lights inside buildings must be obscured and lights outside buildings must be extinguished, subject to certain exceptions in the case of external lighting where it is essential for the conduct of work of vital national importance. Such lights must be adequately shaded”.
Every house, shop and factory was now under strict blackout rules. No light must escape from any source including from car headlamps. Preparations for the blackout had been taking place for years previously. The recruitment of ARP wardens had begun in March 1937 when the Home Office sought to recruit 300,000 volunteers (take up was initially slow but as the threat of war increased numbers grew). Trials of the blackout had started in 1938 and the crises in Europe intensified. The government also sent every household a number of information leaflets in 1939; leaflet number two covered the requirements for the blackout with details on masking windows.
During the previous couple of years the Air Ministry had reviewed how bombers may attack the UK. They thought that bombers would primarily attack at night. To counter this threat they advised the extinguishing all ground light sources would hamper the navigation of enemy bombers and affect the accuracy of their bombing.
To ensure no light escaped every house was expected to place heavy cotton fabric or brown paper over every window to stop light creeping out (or paint windows or place cardboard or wood panels over the windows). Preparing a house each evening for the blackout soon became a chore. And with no air raids happening people quickly tired of the process and also of the ARP wardens who enforced the regulations.
With fines for those breaking the blackout, wardens soon became the bane of many households. Newspapers published that day's blackout times which would be 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise.
For shops and pubs, the need for customers to leave their premises without light escaping led to the introduction of double curtained entrances. Somewhat cumbersome and expensive to deploy.
In factories, the same blackout regulations were enforced. Many businesses permanently covered windows and skylights which led to increased use of interior lighting at all hours. The impact of this was both expensive in extra electricity consumption and also a lowering of employee morale due to the lack of natural light in the day.
For car drivers the blackout became a motoring nightmare. No interior lights were to be shown and only one headlamp could be used, pointing immediately downwards, which also had to have a special housing to limit the amount of light (introduced in 1940). Indicators and rear brake and running lights also had to be dimmed and screened.
The immediate impact of the blackout was a dramatic rise in car collisions and pedestrian accidents. Over a thousand people had been killed on the roads of the first month of implementation. By early 1940 handheld torches were allowed but batteries became scarce and expensive to obtain. The speed limit during the blackout was also lowered to 20 mph. White lines were painted on the roads and also on kerbs, telephone kiosks and post boxes. A number of business sold items that claimed to be luminous (badges and armbands) which would aid people in the dark, but in reality their usefulness was extremely limited.
The blackout also saw a large rise in reported crime - from muggings, looting and burglary to assaults and murders.
The Ministry for Home Security issued a plethora of posters and leaflets to inform the public how to better navigate in the blackout. These included how to hail a bus in the dark with their torch to taking extreme care when exiting from a train carriage. As elsewhere all train carriages were screened and accidents at railway stations rocketed.
Blackout restrictions were not eased until September 1944 when the dim-out was introduced. Lighting equivalent to that on a clear full moon night was allowed but had to be extinguished if an air raid alert was sounded. It was not until April 1945 that full street lighting returned to Britain - in London this was symbolically started with the lighting of the four clock faces on Big Ben on 30 April 1945.
A standard civilian gas respirator was posted on a Facebook forum and on it was a certification mark I had nor comes across before. The five-side shape with "Home Office Certification Mark written around the circumference had a stylised monogram in the centre. This combined the 'HO' of Home Office with 'ARP' letters. An interesting symbol.
Fire Guard Appointment Card issued by Risca Urban District in Monmouthshire in south Wales, 1943.
During an air raid it was required that people head to public shelters to their own shelter. Police and wardens would direct anyone found on the streets to the nearest shelter. The card below allows the holder to proceed during a raid to the ARP Control Centre at Handsworth Park in Birmingham. A very simple pass that was probably updated and replaced.
An interesting pre-war recruitment pamphlet that sets out the needs for various volunteers to join the ARP and Civil Defence services. Covers areas such as First Aid Parties, First Aid Posts and Hospitals, ARP Wardens, Auxiliary Fire Service, Women Ambulance Drivers and Attendants and Communication Personnel.
An informative disk that allowed the user to determine a host of potential war gases. Spin the various disks depending on the properties and you get to the gas.
A very interesting book is currently up for auction on eBay. The Warden's Manual by S. (for Samuel) Evelyn Thomas looks to be jam-packed with interesting detail. It's a book I have not seen before, but I came across the author's name whilst researching at Hackney's archives. He was a very active member of the ARP and wrote a number of books about the service including "A Practical Guide To A.R.P.".
In the late 1930s a number of cigarette manufacturers (such as Ogden's, Churchman's and Wills) used a similar set of 50 cards in their cigarette packets; Churchman's were of a slightly larger size than Wills or Ogden's. The set included information about home protection, dealing with incendiary devices and the various military equipment that might be used against enemy bombers, some of it antiquated even when issued.
I've scanned my copy and added a download link below - it's a large file - 40MB - but good quality.
A collection of badges and paperwork has been listed on eBay for an ARP Messenger in Ealing. The bundle includes a number of badges for the battledress blouse but also a rare identity card for the messenger service.
An interesting piece of paper ephemera is this volunteer enrolment form from the West Suffolk region.
An interesting piece of Wardens' Service ephemera is this pressed cardboard identification card. Possibly attached to the owner's keys this was an additional form of identification if injured during duty.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.