The Air Raid Defence League was established in February 1939, with an aim to force air raid defence as a national policy. The ARDL was open to all with an annual membership of a shilling. The ARDL sent out a monthly newsletter to members. The badge below was the second badge offered by the group (the first featured a union jack) following the incorporation of the National Association of Air Raid Wardens - the ARW standing for Air Raid Warden. With the outbreak of war the need for the group became unnecessary as air raid defence was then obviously of national importance.
A large majority of the ARP Pattern 57 & 59 serge battledress jackets came with the CD breast badge sewn to the left breast pocket. The below image shows an original jacket with the method most commonly used to attach the badge. Individuals in areas that provided area markings could sewn them beneath this badge.
Barbara Nixon in 1943. She was one of the first women to be employed as a full-time Air Raid Warden in London. She was also an Instructor (badge on her collar) and Incident Officer (I.O. badge seen on her right sleeve). She was the author of "Raiders Overhead", an invaluable account of the Blitz in London. She is wearing the standard ARP Pattern 71 serge jacket/tunic and a rather snazzy (and unofficial) check shirt.
An interesting lot of insignia and letters is currently up on eBay. The grouping consists of a 'BRADFIELD R.D." area title, war service chevrons, CD breast badge, silver ARP lapel badge and two letters sent at the war's end.
An interesting photo showing the rescue of a dog. The white helmet on the right is most interesting as he has both the ARP breast badge as well as the 'R London' badge on the pocket of his bluette overalls. The photo is said to be from 1940 which tallies with the overalls and lack of the serge battledress. I currently don't know the exact date that the 'R London' badge was introduced but going by this photo is was quite early in the war.
I'd like to thank Stevan Chambers for contacting me and allowing me to share this photo of an original WW2 St John Ambulance Brigade uniform. The yellow ARP sleeve patch turns up from time to time but it is excellent to see this on an actual uniform. Next challenge is to find a WW2 photo of it being worn. Visit original Instagram post
A 1939-dated St. Paul's Watch lapel badge. The cathedral in the heart of London has it's own special warden service that patrolled the cathedral during the war. They dealt with incendiary bombs and notified the London Fire Brigade about fires and the bomb disposal authority about any UXBs. Read more about the St. Paul's Watch
A mixed collection of shoulder titles has cropped up on an auction site. A number of the 'old gold' look of second world war vintage. The Pioneer, Welfare and Signals and anything that's very yellow are post war.
This rather interesting badge recently appeared on eBay. I've come across some information on specific ARP teams attached to the various railway companies during the war but I have not seen many specific badges. There was a GWR ARP helmet that appeared sometime ago but the authenticity of it was questioned at the time. If you know more about ARP teams working for the railways please let me know.
A late war group portrait of civil defence personnel from the Wolverhampton area. Looks like one chap at the front has at least four war service chevrons. Most have berets but one gentleman is wearing a private purchase side cap. There is a mix of badges on the headgear - most have the silver ARP badge but a few have the later embroidered badge. The highest rank is three chevrons with a star, probably a post warden. The chap top right looks to have an Incident Officer (I.O.) badge on his lower right sleeve.
An interesting group portrait of wardens from York. Three fellows in the front row have a badge on their left sleeve which appears to be a version of the Bomb Reconnaissance Officer (BRO) badge. This looks quite large and could be cut down from the armband (this has been seen on other photos).
A most interesting photo that is captioned "Civil Defence wardens and a member of the American Ambulance Great Britain search amongst rubble for salvageable items following a V1 Flying Bomb strike in Upper Norwood, south London during 1944.” In the centre a head warden looks through the debris of a building whilst another head warden with white helmet (and probable single black band) looks on. Behind them is a member of the American Ambulance Great Britain who wore a distinct uniform that was similar to First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) but with distinctive sleeve badge featuring the cross flags of Britain and the US.
It's rare to come across a completely new Civil Defence badge such as the one below. There are always new industrial ARP badges appearing as so many companies had them produced but a CD badge for a specific region is very rare. This Civil Defence Midland Region badge with motto is currently on auction on eBay.
Although not especially rare, a couple of Bomb Reconnaissance Armbands have appeared on eBay this week.
There is one on its own. And also another armband plus a Warden shoulder title, Liverpool area marking and single officer rank badge.
A very rare cap/beret badge for "Liverpool Wardens Service".
The majority of wardens were issued with a warrant card. Some members of the Civil Defence Services had a special National Registration ID Card with an additional space to record their employment with a particular service. The below is a standard card issued during the war that included the name and address of the bearer. It also has the original holder's silver ARP badge.
A wonderful photo from Getty Images showing the uniform of London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) personnel.. The description is "18th October 1940, London, England, Queen Elizabeth chats to a woman Ambulance driver during her tour of inspection of Ambulance ARP depots in London".
Prior to be occupied by the Germans om 30 June 1940, the Channel Islands prepared for war like much of the rest of the UK. ARP wardens were trained and this badge was available to be worn on civilian clothing. The badge features the coat of arms of Jersey - a red shield with three gold leopards (lions passant guardant). It derives from the seal granted to the island’s bailiff by Edward I in 1279. Quite a rear badge these days but they crop up from time to time. Photo from warrelics.eu
A huge variety of lapel badges were manufactured during the war to show a person was 'doing their bit' towards the war effort. For those ARP warden not in uniform a whole myriad of lapel badges were available. The one below combines a commonly seen ARP badge with a good luck charm of the horseshoe..
During the second world war a number of vehicles were requisitioned for use as ARP transport. To communicate that the car was on ARP duty a mascot was often attached to the front bumper. The below example appears to have had black added at some time - the original was probably just plain chrome. This item was made by the Medal Co. of Birmingham.
This photo was taken at Christmas in 1944 and shows the owner of a toy shop who would donate gifts to children in the Paddington area of London. The post warden (going by the star above chevrons) has five war service chevrons on his sleeve so was in the service very early on. He also has a badge on his right breast pocket that was new to me. It appears to be a FIRST AID badge for the LCC (London County Council). I have tried searching for this online but as yet have no come across this variety. Would be interesting to know the colours of the badge.
Photo was kindly sent to me by Chris Ransted.
I visited Abergavenny flea market today and found a number of home front badges which were all at remarkably low prices. It's rare these days to come across a badge I have never seen before but this small blue and red enamel lapel badge also had a white cross attached to the bottom. It has a pin brooch back. At this time I have no idea what this represents.
UPDATE: members from a badge forum thought the cross - a saltire - could be a good luck symbol or possibly related to the badge coming from Scotland.
A couple of nice items from Beckenham in south east London. An enamel wardens' post sign and an original local area marking for the bluette overalls.
An interesting small badge for the Birmingham Socialist ARP Canteen Fund. Alas, it's proved extremely difficult to find more information about this group.
This photo shows a member of the Civil Defence Service taking a call at an underground facility somewhere in London. The most curious aspect of the photo is the special breast badge that has the CD emblem combined with "NEW TUBE SHELTERS". This is something I have not come across before, If you have any further information please leave a reply.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.