An excellent portrait of an early-war Gas Identification Officer - GIO - designated by two black diamonds on a yellow helmet. One black diamond was for an assistant to the GIO. Three black diamonds were for Senior Gas Adviser. From 1942 helmets were standardized across the country:
Gas Adviser - Senior Gas Adviser
GIO - Gas Identification Officer
GI - Assistant to GIO
FOOD - Food Decontamination Officer
DC FOOD - Food Treatment Squad
A member of the Facebook group related to this site sent these photos and this very interesting research about this Party Leader Ambulance helmet: "Every now and then you get a little gem this helmet came with the address carefully written inside along with the name White-Cooper. Rupert Charles White-Cooper won the MC in the First World War with the Manchesters, he became a well known Architect dying in 1970. His wife Mary gained a pilot's licence in 1939. Who's was the helmet we may never know but they both lived at 38 Addison Avenue Holland Park London."
This helmet is currently for sale on eBay (at time of writing bids had already exceeded £175). The seller claims that it is a first world war vintage helmet that was reissued in the second world war. It has 1938 dated chin strap lugs.
Derry & Toms was a London department store on Kensington High Street founded in 1853. It was renown for its roof garden. It closed in 1973 and the building was subsequently developed into smaller retail spaces and office space.
Derry & Toms is also Cockney rhyming slang do bombs, as in "A Tom dropped on my house..."
This helmet has cropped up for sale at auction. I've never seen anything like this before. Be interesting to learn what the chequered emblem relates to.
An interesting photo showing members of a food decontamination squad 'cleaning' a large joint of meat of the residue from a gas attack. The photo details say the centre, located on the outskirts of Hornsey, was Britain's first dedicated decontamination centre. Not sure I'd be too happy tucking into that...
An interesting ARP warden's helmet from Post 30 in Wimbledon. The basic Mk II helmet with a large sized 1939 helmet liner. It features hand painted 'W' to front and rear in a different font to that usually seen.. Owner's details have been written on the inside rim.
This interesting helmet recently cropped up on an online auction site. Quite rare to see a white helmet with black band variety.
One of the lesser seen helmet markings is that related to decontamination of food stores following a chemical attack. An immense amount of preparation went into dealing with expected chemical/poison weapon attacks. Decontamination Squads were to deal directly with the chemical weapons but aside from them specialists were trained to provide direct support in managing food stocks that may have been affected. Another part of the system was the Food Analyst who had the rather unfortunate helmet marking of "FOOD ANAL". I don't have much information about the photo and cannot ascertain for sure it is an original wartime photograph.
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.
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.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.