Came across this photo recently of wardens on one of the Channel Islands. Thought to have taken in 1940 the photo shows a group of mainly white-helmeted ARP wardens with one gentlemen in the centre with a helmet bearing 'ARP'. It's quite rare to see ARP on a helmet (I have seen in appear more often for wardens in Canada and Australia).
An amazing photograph that captures the moment rescue services retrieve the victim of a V1 incident on 23 July 1944. A lot of white helmets and an ambulance (A) and light rescue (LR) member. It appears that some of the helmet insignia and area markings have been obscured by a censor to prevent knowing the location of the incident. There's a MO on the far left and the helmet at the left extreme appears to have two arrows on the side. In the centre is man wearing a beret with what looks like ARP on it (possibly a reused breast badge).
A visitor to the site was kind enough to share a photo of her grandfather's helmet. He was a GP in the Farnborough area during the wear and held this senior rank in the casualty service. Three diamonds with CS lettering is somewhat rare.
I'd like to thank a friend of mine, Chris, for sending me this photo. This is a photo of a V1 incident along Tottenham Court Road in London. If you look at the chap on the far left he appears to be in bluette overalls but has an American-shaped helmet on. I recall reading of a V1 incident in Aldwych in which passing American MPs were involved but they were in full American uniform. Would appear this fellow has 'acquired' a Yank helmet some how.
The below helmet is currently on eBay and it's something I have never seen the likes of before. From the images (check out the link to see more) you can make out "Air Raid Helmet" and "Grimsby" with a patent pending number. Perhaps a company hoping to make a few bob on creating a helmet for civilians before the Zuckerman helmet was released in 1941.
UPDATE: I have been informed that a number of companies made a similar style of helmet. See the advert below for the 'Defiance' helmet. Seems a number of these helmets came into production around the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938.
It's quite rare to see Fire Guard armbands being worn but this photo from Getty has a plethora of them. Not a great deal of information comes with the photo but it does show Zuckerman helmets and standard Mk. II helmets being worn,
This interesting photograph appears to show a District Warden from Holborn in central London assisting a child with her 'Mickey Mouse' style gas mask. The most peculiar part of his uniform is the placement of the three bars of rank on the lower sleeve. I am assuming these are the yellow bars to denote a district (sometimes called divisional warden). They usually appear at the top of the sleeve. The warden's jacket is somewhat peculiar as well. I thought it was a standard issue battledress but this jacket has chrome buttons to cuff and epaulette - standard issue had revolving shank to epaulettes and a black plastic button to the cuff closure. The area title for Holborn is above the pocket (even above his first world war medal ribbon trio). I think the main badge is the ARP red on black breast badge but I cannot make it out for certain. He also does not have any shoulder titles. The helmet is a standard issue one for a district warden - a single black stripe. He is also wearing a Civil Defence armband which is against the usually prescribed use(they were to be worn over civilian clothes). All-in-all a most peculiar uniform.
This is a most rare helmet and armband issued to liaison staff working for the Civil Defence services. I've to fully ascertain the role of this liaison officer.
Given that ARP appears on all sorts of items, it appears infrequently on helmets. The below image is one of the few I have seen that clearly shows ARP on a helmet. The actaul wording to this (most likely staged) 1941 photo is:
"The good neighbour. Besides their function as the eyes and ears of the Control Centre in the field the wardens had another, equally important, that of the 'good neighbour' in the blitz, earning and keeping the people's confidence. In this role the work of the women wardens was outstanding. One warden in every six was a woman."
Civil Defence personnel stationed at first aid posts usually had 'FAP' on their helmets. This example (currently on eBay) has a variation with '1st Aid Post'. I've seen shoulder titles with this so having it on a helmet, although rare, is probably to be expected. The two inch black bar denotes a senior leader at the post.
An interesting early war 'GW' marked warden's helmet. The use of a rank diamond is quite rare and usually means a date of pre-autumn 1941. Plain black versions with white GW have been seen in period photos.
A number of very interesting helmets appeared on thesaleroom.com recently. This helmet in black with standard white W to front and rear also has three chevrons added. Generally, three chevrons relates to a head warden and they usually wore a white helmet with single black bar. Regional variances once again it seems.
A selection of civil defence helmets, some quite rare and scare markings, has cropped up on auction website saleroom.com. The below is a white party leader ACC - Ambulance Casualty Clearance - helmet.
Carrying on from yesterday's blog I came across this helmet being discussed on the War Relics Forum. With two black bands this helmet would be for a senior officer in the Casualty Services department.
Casualty Services (CS) were organised by a city's or local authority's Chief Medical Officer of Health. Under the CS were all the various medical services such as Casualty Receiving Hospitals (for serious injuries), permanent First Aid Posts (FAP - for lightly wounded; as the was developed First Aid Points were also created to alleviate pressure on hospitals), Ambulances, Mobile Units (MU - to assist at major incidents), Gas Cleansing Stations (to deal with injuries from chemical and poison weapons) and Mortuaries (both existing and temporary).
To ensure that Gas Identification Officers (GIOs) sttod out at at incident they were issued with yellow helmets. Usually the marking was GIO but this helmet features the early war diamonds as seen on wardens helmets.
Within the Wardens' Service there was a cross-over between Wardens and Fire Guards whereby a person could belong to both but be under the auspices of the Fire Guard Service. To reflect this, their helmet featured the W/FG lettering.
During the late 1930s much effort was expended on creating a specialised unit to deal with the chemical weapons. There was a great fear that the coming war would see the use of such weapons both on the battlefield and also dropped on civilian areas. To deal with air raid incidents that featured chemical weapons, Decontamination Squads were equipped with all manner of equipment to both neutralise the effects of the chemical/poson gas and also to protect the men undertaking the clear up operation. These decontamination squads were issued with oilskin suits, thick gloves and boots as well as standard Mk. II helmet as shown below.
Following bombing raids many utility services (gas, water, sewage, electricity and telephone) would have been disrupted. Many local authorities has specialist teams that would arrive and deal with these breakages. This helmet is for a senior party leader in a repair party dealing with electricity issues.
This helmet was submitted to the website by the owner. It is an unusual marking with the letters D and R either side of what appears to be an ARP decal. It is assumed the letter are from Despatch Rider (sometime spelt Dispatch Rider). The owner queries whether it could be Demolition & Rescue but that term has never appeared in any of the documents I have seen.
A somewhat unusual Medical Officer (MO) white helmet with a single black stripe. Being a senior Civil Defence officer, the MO usually ranked the same as a controller and had two black stripes on the helmet. The use of a single stripe is unknown to this author at this time.
I was contacted by a visitor to the site regarding a helmet with the letter "E.O." on it. It's probably for an Evacuation or Equipment Officer but to see a white helmet with two black stripes for this position is quite peculiar. The myriad different markings found on home front helmets means new variations crop up weekly. If you have any other ideas what the letters could mean please let me know.
A nice condition white ARP Shelter Warden helmet. Shelter Wardens were placed in larger shelters to oversee the operation of the shelter, to ensure it was not over populated and ensure everything ran smoothly. This being a white helmet probably denotes that the wearer was leading a small group of shelters wardens (sometimes also called shelter marshals).
A most interesting group portrait from the IWM archives. Listed as "Group portrait of the ARP Rescue and Demolition Teams from Brigham, Middlesbrough and Bridlington. Tom Alderson GC is in civilian clothes sitting on the Mayor's right."
Rare to see the Repair Party/Road helmets (marked RP/R). A few appear to have specific armbands and the standard Civil Defence blue with gold lettering is being worn. There is a chap with a white helmet and three diamonds with a specific role I cannot quite make out. Given that everyone is in bluette overalls I would safely say the photo in pre-Summer 1941.
This wonderful photograph of nurses also shows a scarce ARP chaplain's helmet. A similar armband was also issued.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.