Regularly appearing on eBay are mementos featuring German incendiary bomb fins. These "souvenirs" of various city blitzes usually all have a find plonked onto a block of wood and a made up label added for that extra level of "authenticity". From Coventry Cathedral to Liverpool Docks, the London Blitz to Southampton fire-bombing, fraudsters have been faking these items for years. The sad fact is that collectors new to the hobby fall victim to the fakes. It may well be a real incendiary fin (but again these are now reproduced - I've seen them for sale at £30 a pop at militaria fairs) but the provenance is completely made up. The one below isn't even German and claimed to be a captured French example dropped in Reigate... They often come from the very same sellers who always seem to have them available. The below sold on eBay in June 2020, fools and their money...
It seems I am spending an inordinate amount of time at the moment detailing fake WW2 ARP items on this blog. We have had a whole slew of fake ARP badges and faked helmets recently appearing on eBay. The seller of both the fake badges and helmets also has fake splinter googles for sale every six weeks or so.
The fake splinter googles are always the same and never have the original padding around the nose and forehead found on originals or the original adjustable head strap. There appears to be a few original styles with some articulated at the centre. Clearly the faker cannot manage to copy that but is listing these regularly. He's also using his acid bath to age the goggles. Sadly, they are always selling for over £40.
I should add that these googles are often marketed as being for RAF use. It appears a single reference in a book has led to this being taken as gospel. The truth is that they were not ever used by the RAF in WW2.
Stephen Crookes was kind enough to share photos of his Belling Bomb Snuffer. I'd not seen an actual example before. Using a long pole the device was to be placed over a burning incendiary bomb. Appears from the advert that the bomb snuffer also contained dry sand that smothers the incendiary device (the top of the container had flammable divider that once burned through would allow the sand to fall). I'm guessing it would prevent showers of burning metal but if the device was on a wooden floor I would assume it would continue to burn through that though.
In passing, I'm also slightly concerned with another Belling 'war-time necessity' mentioned on the advert - a "Baby Cooker"...
A pair of second world war Tangent air raid sirens are up on eBay priced at £350. A large number of sirens (or syrens) on eBay are claimed to be WW2 vintage but are actually from the Cold War period. Gent & Co. Ltd of Leicester were the manufacturer of Tangent sirens and they made both hand-cranked and mains-powered models.
To ensure that communications could still be maintained during a gas attack, telephone operators were issued with specially adapted gas masks. A microphone was fixed close to the filter and an integral headset was included that would be plugged into the normal telephone exchange board.
A lovely original mint condition pair of Joseph Lucas Ltd No. 68 A.R.P. Bicycle Lamps. Hooded at the front to reduce light exposure. Almost impossible to get batteries to fit these particular model but modern 3D printed inserts can be bought on eBay. These slide into the body and take AA batteries. More lamps and torches
For keeping a gas mask safe at home a number of manufacturers made tins for the general public. The blow is a fine example of such a tin.
Matchbox covers for various home front services were made during the war. This one is for the Civil Defence services but HG (Home Guard), AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) as well as previous blogged ARP were sold. I do not know anything about the companies responsible for making these, but if you do, please share more.
ARP fire fighter's goggles which have blue tinted lenses and are GR and crown marked.
A number of different style of helmet carrier were manufactured during the war. The below example has been stamped as 'ARP Helmet Container".
This 12.5" off-white stoneware ARP food container, made by Doulton, cropped up on an auction site. There was also a jug with 'ARP Drinking Water' written on it . Usually a marketing ploy during the war, this would have been a standard jars and jugs but with the addition of the lettering.
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.
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