The gas mask made especially for babies and infants up to the age of two was developed in 1938. It covered the majority of the child and required someone to use the manual pump on the side to activate the filter. Sometimes called a 'baby helmet', the lower canvas section that tied around the child was rubberised to prevent poison gas seeping into the interior. Various bodies demonstrated the use of this gas mask to ensure parents knew exactly how to use the gas mask in an emergency. Also manufactured was a gas-proof pram.
British Pathé also made a short film about the gas masks.
Following on from the small leather matchbook cover with ARP logo, Steve Crookes was kind enough to share this image on the Facebook page for this site. Now I'm wondering how many other 'novelty' items were made...
With the likelihood of an air raid cutting off the electric and gas supplies there was a need for other forms of light. This Float-A-Lite was a small wick and floating cap that would provide a little light (a imagine very little). The instructions are interesting - it could be placed in an egg cup, a port glass or tumbler...
This ARP-branded item recently appeared on eBay. I'd not seen this particular piece before but it ties into a few other ARP-related items I've seen such as an ashtray featuring the ARP logo.
These lamps/torches could be fitted to the brim of a helmet to give the wearer hands-free light when working. The battery pack could be clipped onto the wearer's belt and the wire usually run up the back and over the shoulder to the lamp head. They appear in many ARP equipment catalogues but few photographs exist showing them being worn. This example was posted on eBay for £70.
The most common air raid whistle found is the J. Hudson whistle that has "A.R.P." engraved on it. Also manufactured during the war was the Adie Bros. (Brothers) version that appeared in 1941, identical in design to the Hudson one. This company, also based in Birmingham, had previous government contracts for whistles and many appeared with the Ministry of Defence broad arrow - crows foot mark /|\ - and some with a year date.
In 1941 Adie Bros. received a contract for 40,000 ARP whistles (previously it appears that just Hudson has been manufacturing ARP whistles). Hudson's received a contract at the same time for 60,000. The reason for so many was that a change in how the alarm for the fall of incendiary bombs was to be made. Short blasts would indicate incendiaries. At this time whistles were now issued to all reserve wardens and fire guards/ fire watchers. Oddly, Supplementary Fire Parties did not get them. The Adie ARP whistle features the maker's name (ADIE BROS), city (BIRMINGHAM), royal cipher (GR VI) and year (1941). The 1941 ARP whistle omitted the MoD broad arrow as the contract came through the Ministry of Works & Buildings.
Read more about the history of ARP whistles
I've seen quite a few pairs of splinter googles appear on eBay this year and I've been amazed at the prices they are getting. They are often misidentified as being used on bomber aircraft - perhaps in a way to drive up interest and value. They are selling in excess of a £100. You just have to think how many pairs were thrown out at the end of the war...
An interesting piece of ARP history is this tankard that was presented to a Head Warden in the Farington area in 1941. Was sold on eBay for £80.
A very rare London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) First Aid satchel and contents. I've not seen another of these but there must have been quite a few used by the service.
A whole host of items bearing both ARP and CD logos were made during the war. There is an identical celluloid matchbox holder with Civil Defence on it. I've come across ARP ashtrays as well.
An interesting first aid kit by Paragon that has been specifically created for ARP Wardens' Posts.
A quite scare ARP rescue axe carrier has cropped up on eBay. Not often seen these were usually issued to Rescue Parties. A rescue worker carrying one on his hip can be seen in a photo on the rescue equipment page.
The tube of ready-to-use blackout tape would be cut to size, dipped in water and stuck to a window. The claim made by the manufacturers that it also "reinforced the window" is well, stretching it a bit...
WW2 Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Redhill scoop for dealing with German incendiary bombs. This long wooden-handled scoop was used for shovelling sand onto an ignited incendiary bomb to douse it or to poke incendiary devices off gutters and roofs. The scoop here has been painted black but were initially sold in bare metal. It sometimes also came with a rake/hoe that could allow burning fragments to be collected in the scoop and then put in a fire bucket of sand. See the cigarette cards below that show how this was intended to be used.
Whilst I was at a boot fair in Abergavenny, a dealer in militaria showed me what he said was an ARP miner's lamp made by Hailwood & Ackroyd that had blue glass fitted. He said that these were manufactured during the war and placed on gas leaks during air raids. The blue glass stopped them being seen from altitude.
"The Air Raids Precaution Department of the Home Office discovered in the tests carried out at Bedford that Aircraft flying at 2,000 feet cannot spot dime blue lights", Flyer Magazine.
I checked this up online and indeed a couple of sites mentioned this information. The site said that over 100,000 such lamps were offered for sale during the war at 3/6d. Some had red glass. I was initially sceptical of this until I found more about them online. There is allegedly an advertisement for this lamp from the war and I would be most interested to see it.
A interesting hooded torch built especially for ARP personnel.
One of the duties of an air raid warden was to ensure everyone in his area od responsibility both had and knew how to use their gas mask.
Six photographs showing how to deal with an incendiary device using a Redhill scoop and a container,
This interesting image (claimed to be from 1940) shows a number of sirens that can fixed to the door of a motor vehicle. Given that the majority of city and town's had a central air raid warning service I am not entirely certain to whom these devices were issued. The siren may have been used as an emergency vehicle siren.
The Civil Defence battledress trousers came with a small pocket on the front right that could take a small a First Field Dressing. This is the only size bandage that would fit in this pocket.
This interesting post card shows a bed-type air raid shelter. It would appear that the shelter is made of metal and would protect the occupants should the roof collapse. It's a bit like an indoor Andserson shelter.
Many different companies produced ARP equipment for sale to the general public as well as businesses. Siebe, Gorman & Co Ltd manufactured nearly everything that could be wanted. The below advert appeared in the booklet "Air Raid Precautions - What to Do In An Emergency" (at the princely sum of 6d). The advert shows the main respirators (gas masks) then available.
Issued to every warden and stored at wardens' posts, the gas rattle was to be used to inform the public that a gas bomb had gone off. Gas bombs would be of three 'poison' possible types - true gases (e.g. phosgene), vapours (mustard) and smokes (certain arsenicals). Thankfully, no rattle was ever called upon to be used.
All respirators, including the civilian mask issued to the general public, were equipped to deal with all three types. The activated carbon of the large container handled the true gases and the vapours, whilst the "contex", a particulate filter, coped with the smoke poisons.
An interesting 78 RPM record that has the two main siren noises - "Action Alert" and "Raiders Passed". The record was possibly used by factories to play over the Tannoy or may be a post-war record with sound effects for theatre plays etc.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.