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.
One of the rarer ARP badges was that issued in the Straits Settlements (which was the four areas of Malacca, Dinding, Penang and Singapore. Read a history of the ARP badge.
A nice selection of original Fire Guard insignia has appeared on eBay. Some nice examples of shoulder titles that are getting quite scare now.
As part of the uniform issued to wardens the greatcoat was of great use during the nights when on duty. This early issue greatcoat (labelled as Overcoat) has the double yellow rank chevrons of a senior warden.
During the second war war literally thousands of different industrial ARP badges were manufactured. Businesses usually had their own company name emblazoned on the badges. As a cheaper option, generic badges were available. This ARP factory service badge is quite common but remains one of my favourite designs.
An interesting page from the files at the National Archives shows that when the new serge uniforms (battledress) was introduced in 1941 it was issued to orderlies on Casualty Evacuation Trains. They previously had insignia with 'HT' for Hospital Train but this was changed to the 'CET' badge shown in the group of badges that sold at auction. Must be a very scarce badge.
An interesting photo of a Civil Defence reserve member. The insignia on his right pocket appears to be the badge often seen placed on the upper sleeve of most mobile reserve columns.
These "Communications" shoulder titles were picked up by a friend at War & Peace Show. The printed manufacture is identical to those made during the war. However, there is no mention of this shoulder title in any of the files, bulletins or booklets I have seen. It could be a very late war edition and if you have any further information please do contact me.
An interesting parade photograph of Civil Defence members in Lenton, Nottinghamshire. Interesting to see that only a few have the area marking of 'NOTTINGHAM' under the CD breast badge - and it is unbordered. The officer has a yellow-piped side cap.
Images courtesy of Lenton Times.
A lot of thought and effort went into creating the badges worn by Civil Defence Services in WW2. The initial colour of red badges was thought to be too closely aligned with the fire services and so the gold and blue badges were created when the new serge uniforms were issued in the autumn of 1941.
There were many discussions about prospective badges and the design below was for a metal ARP cal badge. Similar in many ways to the RAF badge this would have been affixed with two lugs and a split pin. However, due to reasons of economy and the fact that the new service was to be known as the Civil Defence Services this particular badge was created.
With the introduction of the serge battledress blouse and the women's tunic, the new CD breast badge was sewn onto the uniform before being issued. The badge was the 'old gold embroidered variety. As can be seen from the photo below, taken from a National Archives file, there were differences in how contractors manufactured the badge. To ensure the crown did look insipid, manufacturers were instructed to use black thread to pick out detail. These two examples show the differences in process.
An interesting piece of info in the Badges of Rank files at the National Archives is that there were four different manufacturing options considered for badges in October 1941: Embroidered, Calico Printed, Woven & Screen Printed.
All types were available at the same time. It was a decision to go with embroidered for the first batch but as more and more badges were needed the printed variety was ordered.
Each had merits and demerits - Embroidered looked better and could put up with wear and tear better; CPA (Calico Printers Association) was cheap but frayed. Woven was quick to produce. Screen Printed very fast production but faded.
Across Civil Defence Region 5 - which was the 28 metropolitan boroughs of London, most local authorities had area markings with their own name (e.g. Lewisham, Kingston, West Ham). The below photo shows the rarer "London" area marking. I'm unsure where this badge was issued, but possibly the outer boroughs may have issued the badge.
UPDATE: I have been informed that "LONDON" was an area marking used by the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS).
With the release of the serge uniforms in the autumn of 1941, most local authorities issued area marking badges with either the county, town or urban district on them. These were sewn below the CD badge on the right breast pocket.
The vast majority of these title were either oblong or curved to mirror the circular shape of the CD breast badge. There were sewn using the 'old gold' colour thread.The vast majority of the badges had a border but not every area did. Generally, the more common post-war Civil Defence Corps badges were the arched variety but without a border and in a more yellow thread.
As the Civil Defence services developed in the early years of the war there was a need to build a coherent ranking structure. The below images detail how the various ranks were instituted and the how these ranks were to be denoted on the serge battledress and ladies uniforms released in the autumn of 1941.
How much would you pay for original ARP buttons? I came across this seller at an event who clearly thinks that ARP buttons are very desirable indeed! I can still buy both sizes of buttons from between 20p up to £1. I recently bought several at 50p each (June 2018). Usually you have to go through a plastic box or tin but paying this much for buttons is way over the top.
There were over a dozen officially sanctioned shoulder titles for various members of the civil defence forces. In addition to these there exists some senior rank shoulder titles; known examples include 'CHIEF WARDEN' and 'SENIOR WARDEN'.
Chief Warden Carter from Waltham Abbey. He was also the photographer for Group 7 during the Second World War. His serge battledress features the single think and single thin bars of a chief warden and he has the I.O. (Incident Officer) badge on his right sleeve.
This photograph shows an ARP Report & Control officer from the West Ham of London. His shoulder titles are the "CONTROL" variety and he has the two thin bars of an ARP officer. He is wearing the austerity pattern battledress (with exposed buttons) and the photo clearly shows his area marking for West Ham.
Two variations of the enamel badge given to members of the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service to wear on their civilian clothes to show they were 'doing their bit' for the war effort.
A nice group shot of warden's towards the end of the war (going by the number of war service chevrons on show). The group is from Post 2A in Fetcham, Surrey. This chap in the centre, bottom row appears to have some insignia at the top of each sleeve - possibly Home Guard shoulder titles and also three bars - which is normally for a District Warden. He also has a peculiar single chevron on each sleeve - the chevron appears to have a distinct outline in a different colour. This single chevron on a senior rank battledress is new to me.
The chap at the back, second from left, appears to be wearing a couple of British Red Cross First Aid Proficiency medals, worn oddly, on his right pocket for some reason.
Also, a few berets don't have an ARP badge - not often seen. As the chap bottom right has no war service chevrons on his right sleeve he could have joined after '43 so didn't get issued one.
The group also wear the leather anklets - not often seen worn.
This badge cropped up on eBay I I'm uncertain whether it is a Civil Defence item or not. The King's crown is right and the style looks t be WW2-era. Possibly a private purchase side cap or beret badge or even as a pair for a high ranking civil defence officer. If you know, please let me know.
This fine portrait shows a man wearing the absolute basic serge battledress. This is how many battledress blouses were issued - with just the CD breast badge affixed.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.