A very good photo showing five ladies wearing the Gabardine Coat ARP Pattern 81 coat with red piped collars and the special CD badge made specifically for this coat. Appears they have also applied a St John Ambulance Association first aid training badge to their coats.
A group shot of civil defence rescue personnel from Brynmawr (then in Breconshire). Of interest is that it appears that all the members have ARP red-on-dark blue breast pocket badges and then the old gold area marking below. This mix is known but quite rare to see.
A photograph taken outside of Buckingham Palace of Mr Saines and his wife. The ARP warden from Lewes was receiving the British Empire Medal (BEM). Photo dated as 1943. Interesting to see the embroidered beret badge.
One of the most frequently bought private purchase items was the side cap. Both men and women can be seen in period photos wearing the side cap. Most have applied their ARP badge to the front. This side cap is in dark blue almost black wool and is lined with the previous owner's name on a tag inside. To the front are two ARP buttons marked Cheney.
There exists a large number of photos detailing a Civil Defence exercise that took place in Fulham in 1941. The photos are part of a series called The Reconstruction of "An Incident". Many of the photos are available on the IWM website. However, I keep coming across photos relating to this exercise which I had not seen before. This photo shows an officer in the Control Centre updating the Damage board. Of interest is the CONTROL shoulder title on his bluette overalls. You don't often see shoulder titles on overalls, and seeing CONTROL ones is quite rare.
The National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) was created just before the outbreak of the Second World War to provide information to the general public about animal protection during air raids – both for pets, farm and working animals. The committee had representatives from various animal charities such as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and was organised and run through the Home Office’s Air Raid Precautions Department.
The Home Office wrote and issued pamphlets advising people how they should look after their animals during raids. One such leaflet was “ARP Handbook No. 12 – Air Raid Precautions for Animals.” NARPAC also published a pamphlet called “Advice to Animal Owners”. It advised pet owners to either move their pets to the country or have them destroyed. This rather drastic advice had the result of causing over 400,000 pets to be destroyed in just one week in September 1939. Thousands of other animals were also dumped on RSPCA and PDSA doorsteps.
Local NARPAC groups organised a register of animals within their area and registered pets were issued a numbered collar. Any animal lost during an air raid could then be hopefully reunited with their owner. Within the NARPAC structure were locally-based Animal Guards, volunteers mainly responsible for registering animals. They were managed by a Chief Guard with District Organisers above that. The Animal Service looked after farm and working animals via Animal Stewards. Qualified veterinary surgeons also worked for NARPAC.
Members of NARPAC were identified by the wearing of a lapel badge and armband. The NARPAC symbol was also used on helmets and vehicles.
In October 1939, the newly appointed Minister of Home Security, Herbert Morrison, requested that NARPAC create officially sanctioned measures to deal with animals under war conditions. NARPAC was now responsible for the care or destruction of animals in its charge. Vehicles bearing the NARPAC logo were allowed to run unhindered during air raids.
With the blitz on British cities starting in the autumn of 1940 another period of pet euthanasia occurred. Due to financial irregularities towards the end of 1940 NARPAC began to lose the support of some societies (such as Battersea Dogs Home), with the RSPCA completely withdrawing its support in July 1941. In January 1945 NARPAC was officially closed and its remaining assets were passed to the PDSA.
The BBC has a very good article concerning the pet cull.
The first person to be directly awarded the newly instituted George Cross was Civil Defence member Thomas Alderson. He was awarded the medal for leading the rescue of trapped civilians on three occasions in 1940. The other medal is the silver issue RSPCA Gallantry Medal. Of interest is the Instructor sleeve badge which also has ARPS above it. The ARPS was the Air Raid Precautions School and the badges just visible on his collar is probably the gold coloured ARPS Instructor badge.
A spate of reproduction AVRO ARP insignia has recently been placed on eBay. The seller uses several accounts to sell similar items (always a good clue to fake items being fobbed off). There's no known photos of any AVRO ARP badges except for the known metal and enamel badge. It appears these reproductions copy some elements of this badge but they do not follow the font exactly (another good clue to them being fake).
Finally, after reading through copious amounts of records I believe I have finally resolved one the long standing issues about the silver ARP badge. The C- and D-dated badges have a maker mark of "J.C." in a lozenge with snipped top corners.
Across the web and also on some silversmith websites this is incorrectly identified as Jacques Cartier (which is utter toshas their hallmark looks nothing like those on the ARP badge).
I recently got hold of a file from the National Archives which detailed that 'J.C.' was in fact a Royal Mint mark. I then emailed the Goldsmiths' library in London and they sent through the details of the mark being registered to a certain John Herbert McCutcheon Craig (first and last initial 'J.C.'). He was the Deputy Master and Comptroller of the Royal Mint from 1938.
On the silver ARP badges that were manufactured in 1936 and 1937 the hallmark is 'R.J.' which was for Sir Robert Arthur Johnson the former Deputy Master and Comptroller of the Royal Mint who died in January 1938.
This original Incident Officer (I.O.) sleeve badge cropped up on eBay recently. Is pretty good condition, the thread colour - Cambridge blue - is more easily identified on the rear of the badge here. Examples are getting somewhat scare and this example sold on eBay for £34.
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).
I've previously included this photo on the site but this is a better quality image. The Divisional/District warden here is helping a child with her Mickey Mouse style gas mask. The interesting part of his uniform is that he has the battledress jacket but is using the original red insignia on his lower sleeve (before the 'old gold' insignia was introduced in late 1941). The three bars with out star usually relate to a deputy chief warden (which clashes somewhat with the designation on his helmet). Again this is an example of the mix-and-match approach found on many period photos. He has placed his Kilburn area title above his medal ribbons and above this his ARP badge. The use of the Civil Defence armband was usually not allowed on uniform but this is probably a publicity photo and was used in this instance.
In April 1943 the Fire Guard organisation was established as a separate service. Control passed from the Chief Warden and the Fire Guard Staff Officer to a Fire Guard Officer as head of the service. With this change a number of full-time paid positions came into force such ‘Fire Guard Area Officers’ and a number of part-time unpaid ranks was formed, for example, ‘Area Captains’, ‘Sector Captains’, ‘Block Leaders’ and ‘Street Party Leaders’. The lowest uniformed rank was that of Sector Captain.
The below collection of insignia came up for auction a few years back. Of interest is the Bradford area title. It very rare to see any period photos showing a Fire Guard wearing a an area title, even more so one in white lettering. Given a large number of the new shoulder titles for Fire Guard ranks were white lettering it follows that in some areas local area titles may also have been manufactured, more than likely as a private purchase item. Bottom right in the Fire Guard beret badge - another private purchase item.
A group of ladies pose in their ARP Pattern 71 tunics and slacks. The lady on the far left appears to have double chevron stripes but with a star above - a most unusual combination. At the front there is a beret with the CD beret badge.
A couple of variations for Fire Guard shoulder titles cropped up on eBay. First is a yellow Sector Captain; I've seen this in white before but yellow may be a local variation. Second is a Senior Fire Guard; I've seen this as as written in one line before but this variation again maybe a local variation. From the same seller is a red Fire Guard title that is also thought to be of wartime production.
A fantastic portrait of an ambulance driver or attendant - the name on the rear is Elma May Stamp (nickname Buzz). The lady also wears a medal ribbon which looks to be the Royal Red Cross (which is a blue centre with red bars either side). The award is made to a fully trained nurse of an officially recognised nursing service, military or civilian, who has shown exceptional devotion and competence in the performance of nursing duties, over a continuous and long period, or who has performed an exceptional act of bravery and devotion at her or his post of duty. There looks to be an additional badge on the shoulders of her coat but it is not possible to discern what this relates to.
ARP badges of the same design as those issued in the UK were issued in several overseas territories. Each area would add their own scroll below with the name of the locality - examples include Hong Kong (as below), Malta, Kenya and the Straits Settlements (issued to wardens in Singapore, Penang Malaya and Malacca Malaya). This is marked as silver (银质) with a maker's stamp that appears to have the name of a Chinese mountain, Mount Tai (泰山) .
This badge (currently up for sale on eBay) was new to me but other collectors have intimated that similar badges have been seen before. Alas, it was also reported that similar badges were copied and reproduced several years ago. Going by the type of embroidery and the backing on the badge this could be original but without provenance it's impossible to say categorically if this example is the real McCoy.
Up on eBay are a four 'Decontamination' shoulder titles. These are the printed variety. Unusual to see four in original strip.
This portrait, from a series of staged photos, shows a Warden from the Westminster area of London. She's wearing the standard issue ARP Pattern 71 tunic with slacks. The tunic features the ARP embossed buttons (tunics are also known to have white metal CD and crown and from 1943 black plastic buttons featuring CD letters and crown). She's has a civilian style respirator sack slung over her shoulder and the lanyard is probably white (boroughs of London generally adopted this colour).
This interesting photo shows wardens belonging to the Maidenhead area. Going by the number of war service chevrons the photo is probably a stand down photo following the dissolution of the Civil Defence services in May 1945. Of interest is a triangular badge on the left sleeves of a number of wardens. It is unknown at this time what this badge represents. At the back is a single lady warden wearing a private purchase side cap.
Photo is currently available on eBay.
I manged to purchase a job lot of Civil Defence insignia on eBay and among the various items were two pairs of shoulder titles for a Fire Guard Sector Captain. I have previously seen the printed version of this rank but had not managed to get hold of the embroidered ones until now. The Sector Captain was the lowest uniformed rank within the Fire Guard service and wore a helmet with two half-inch black bands on it. In all photographs I have seen it has always been a Mk II helmet rather than a Zuckerman.
This unusual ARP badge with additional "Queens Canteen" popped up on eBay recently. I cannot seem to find any information about a 'Queens Canteen" (or Queen's Canteen) on the internet. A design of badge I've not come across this design before.
Two photos showing the early-war uniforms worn by Air Raid Wardens. The female warden is wearing the wrapover coat (with ARP badge and area marking) with the felt hat. She is holding a white helmet (so holds some seniority). The male warden is wearing the bluette overalls with ARP badge and area marking and has the standard issue black helmet. Alas no more information on where these photos were taken.
An early world war two local authority area marking for use on bluette overalls. This red on black variety was superseded by the old gold yellow from the end of 1941. A very nice condition badge that's currently up for sale on eBay with an original embroidered CD beret badge,
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.