I had a spare hour over the weekend and I finally made up a chart for the position of the main insignia found on CD battledress after its introduction. The prescribed locations were detailed in ARP Memo 17. I'll look into doing the ladies ARP Pattern 71 tunic in the future.
It is sometimes curious that an item you've never seen before appears on eBay and then another crops up shortly after. The token on the left appeared first (and sold for £27). I'm not sure what the token was used for to be honest. The one on the right was recently listed but appears to be somewhat less well made. It's almost like a reproduction - the quality is poorer and the numbers look more like those from a modern stamping set.
Just cropped up on eBay is this Warden's BD blouse with a 1942 (letter O) date stamp made by Montague Burton. Has a Leicestershire area marking and war service chevrons and the CD breast badge looks to be the type that were sewn to the jacket before issue. The rarest item is a red wound stripe - for someone wounded in the First World War and goes with the medal ribbon bar. A nice jacket with minor mothing.
The very rare badge cropped up on eBay. I've never seen this badge before and it's an odd mix of ARP and Housewives Service. It's sure to get the collectors salivating and it'll go for a bomb I imagine.
This area marking for Coventry is currently on eBay. The type of manufacture, without a border in this case, makes this a second world war and not post war type.
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 portrait of civil defence personnel from Ipswich is probably one of the smartest groups i Iave come across. Everyone appears have to have their badges, lanyards and qualifications in the textbook locations. Nearly everyone is wearing their beret in the correct fashion (apart from Stanley three in from the top left...). A number are wearing war service chevrons, St John circular qualification badges on right breast pocket and there is a bomb reconnaissance badge right in the middle front. There appears a smattering of Home Guard that may have been attached to ARP duties in the area.
This staged photo used for propaganda purposes shows an ambulance driver about to set off to an incident. It's a well known photo but of interest is the extra insignia flash below the Ambulance shoulder title. I believe this to be the red cross on a white field symbol for the City of London (symbol has a sword in the upper left quadrant but this image doesn't show this).
An interesting group portrait from Dartford. All the battledress jackets have the ARP breast badge which is somewhat unusual (local authorities were ti use any stock up before releasing the CD breast badge). The standard location for their yellow lanyards in on the right shoulder (though one has on the left!). Two gentlemen at the front appear to have their St John Ambulance badges on the lower right forearm (the usual place in the right breast pocket). Nice to see two ambulance drivers in their standard uniform. There is a smattering of double yellow chevron ranks badges. The last oddity is the gentleman in the front, second right. He has a side cap on (looks to have two small ARP chrome buttons to front but no other insignia and appears to have no piping) but also appears to have some form of shoulder board - most unusual indeed.
Photo courtesy of Steven Lewis (Fickr)
A Post Warden checks on the inhabitants of a London air raid shelter. He has applied his rank insignia onto his greatcoat.
I've seen some blue ARP cufflinks previously but this is the first time I have seen them in red. They are chrome and enamel and not silver as there are no hallmarks.
A nabbed this silver ARP badge on eBay for a fiver recently. Though quite unofficial a number of silver makers manufactured these smaller versions of the lapel badge. This example is by Bl,Bs, (Bendall Brothers) and has the Birmingham anchor and silver lion marks. The date letter is an O which corresponds for Birmingham to 1938 and goes to show they were being made very early on.
Read a history of the ARP badge
I recently bought an ARP badge on eBay for a few pounds. It was a brooch fitting "German Silver" version which actually contains no silver, without any maker marks, and was the austerity/economy version that was issued during the earlier part of the war (until it was itself withdrawn). I was surprised to find that the seller had not mentioned that the box was with the badge and when I received it, it was smaller than the boxes I already owned. I'm assuming that the smaller box was the war-time variant.
Read a history of the ARP badge
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.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.