Ensuring messages got through to Report & Control Centres was essential and despatch riders were utilised by every Civil Defence region for this purpose. This photo shows nine riders and several motorbikes. They have the standard battledress but one gentleman has no regulation trousers. It appears the only insignia is a CD breast badge and an area marking.
This officer in the Wardens' Service has placed his rank insignia on his epaulettes. The prescribed location was just below the shoulder title. Alas, there's no area marking on the uniform but the photograph has a photographer's studio address in Barnsley. It could be that CD officers in that particular area took to wearing their rank insignia on their epaulettes.
This fabulous photo shows members of District P in Croydon undertaking their stand down photo (probably in May 1945). Of particular interest in the flag; I've never seen anything quite like this before. There's a real mix of head wear on show - the standard beret, felt hat and side cap plus three gentlemen sat at the front in peaked hats - this has been seen before but is quite rare.
This stand down photo features a Civil Defence Reserve group. Of particular interest are the two despatch riders that are rarely seen in photos. Under magnification is appears they all have the Civil Defence Reserve shoulder titles and the berets have the rare printed CDR badge. A number have war service chevrons. Curiously, a number of the battledress have no breast badge; they are the austerity pattern and they may have been issued especially for the photo.
The local authority in Chelsea had issued several hundred brown ARP boiler suits to their ARP wardens and staff prior to the outbreak of war (it appears other services received blue overalls). This great photo shows the style of brown overall worn. It would appear from later photo that the brown overalls were worn into 1941 but sometimes the dates on photos cannot always be verified/trusted.
The blurb for this photo reads:
"Disappointment has been caused in Chelsea by the decision of the Home Office not to allow the borough's Air Raid Precautions volunteers to wear their smart brown and blue uniforms with yellow braided cuffs when the King's review of ARP services takes place in Hyde Park on Sunday. The reason is that Sir John Anderson wants all volunteers to be dressed alike at the review. 500 Chelsea ARP wardens have been issued with brown uniforms and 200 uniforms in blue have been issued to other sections. The uniforms are of the overall type and yellow braided rings on the cuffs are worn according to rank.
Photo shows Mr P. J. Fox (left), the Chief Enrolment Officer at Chelsea in his warden's uniform including a belt holding rattle, pouch for writing pad and other accessories, torch and incendiary goggles. With him is Major Harding Newman, Staff Officer to the Town Clerk. He has chain epaulettes which save the collar bones from being broken by falling masonry. 30 June 1939".
The is a very well known photo showing wardens from Hackney parading with dummy rifles. I only recently came across this hi-resolution image on the Getty website with the description as "7th August 1940: Hackney air raid wardens on the march during training. The rifles they are carrying are dummy ones, used to give a smart effect ! ".
75 years after VE Day, today's celebrations are somewhat muted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a number of documentaries on TV covering the anniversary with some excellent colour footage available to view. The below shot on The Strand in London demonstrates the exuberance of the public at the news of the end of hostilities in Europe.
This very smart group photograph was shared by the Chingford at War Facebook group. The date given was October 1944 but I'm more inclined towards it being a stand-down photo in May 1945. There's an interesting selection of insignia on display including the gentleman sat bottom right who has a wound stripe below his Incident Officer badge (he is a First World War veteran so this may be the red stripe). A few have five war service chevrons and instructor badges. Several have a diamond shaped badge. It could be one of the Fire Guard instructor badges but I'm doubtful HQ staff would undertake that course. If you know of an alternative to this please let me know. One of the gentleman standing appears to have the Royal Life Saving Society embroidered badge on the pocket of his battledress.
I recently picked up this very interesting book entitled “Lloyd’s Under Fire”. It is a tribute to the company’s civil defence forces and was published in 1947. The copy I bought also came with a few letters addressed to a G. L. Knowles. According to the book he was the Officer Commanding Fire Squad No. 6. There is also a drawing of this person.
The book contains information about how Lloyd’s prepared its buildings for air raids and how during the war staff volunteered at both the company’s own air raid shelters but also at public shelters within the London Underground system. This is very interesting as it mentions the “New Tube Shelters” and also that the deep station at Goodge Street was a female-only shelter.
Contained in the book are a wealth of photographs and also one very interesting double page layout showing the destruction caused by bombing around Lloyd’s London headquarters. Amazingly, for such a large building in an area of London that received a lot of Luftwaffe attention it survived the war unscathed.
A nice photo of an ARP Warden officer (two narrow "old gold" yellow horizontal bars on upper sleeve). The warden is wearing the ARP Pattern 71 tunic jacket with ARP Pattern 72 skirt and beret with her silver ARP badge.
A member of London County Council 's(L.C.C.) Ambulance service assists a colleague with their anti-gas clothing.
Another photo from the selection being offered on eBay. This photo was taken in May 1940 and shows signs and posters on the side of Poplar Town Hall on Bow Road, London.
A number of early war photographs have been put up for sale on eBay. The below shows a wardens' post and First Aid Post on Gale Street (the smaller sign second from the top says LMS Station Becontree). Bectrontree is in Barking & Dagenham in London). As per regulations all street signage showing distances to towns have been removed and replaced with other signs. The wardens' post is typical of the many temporary posts built at the start of the war.
During the war a number of instructional slides set were created. These were shown during training classes. The people covers how to deal with patients affected by tear gas.
Two photos of wardens from the Bromley area in south-east London. Going be the lack of war service chevrons and also non first aid badges in evidence I would say this was taken shortly after the group took delivery of the serge battledress blouses and trousers. The same group has posed with and without their helmets.
Mr Benjamin Stanley Musgrave, an ARP warden from Chingford, shows his BEM to Miss Fenn and his sister Mrs Franklin after he visited the King at a recent Investiture, 29 May, 1941. The British Empire Medal (formally British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service) is a medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. The current honour was created in 1922 to replace the original medal, which had been established in 1917 as part of the Order of the British Empire.
In the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 28 March 1941:
Awarded the Medal of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Meritorious Service:--B enjamin Stanley Musgrave, A.R.P. Warden, Chingford.
During a heavy air raid several houses were destroyed. The debris caught fire and blazed fiercely. Fireman Davies' house was severely damaged and he was badly shaken. Immediately he had recovered he went to a wrecked house in which two persons and a child were trapped under a bed. Having located the casualties, he burrowed
into the debris with his bare hands. He succeeded in reaching the bed and, finding the baby, he passed it out to the Wardens. He then tried to release the other victims. This he could not do unaided and Warden Musgrave volunteered to help him. Davies then levered up the debris with his body whilst Musgrave crawled under the bed
and allowed himself to be pulled out with the woman on his back. Still taking the weight of the debris, Davies, after fifteen minutes, succeeded in releasing the remaining trapped person, who was then drawn to safety.
Davies was in a state of collapse and had to receive first aid treatment but, when it was reported that another child was trapped, he again crawled under the wreckage and continued working for the rest of the night. His heroic action saved many lives.
A London Post Warden (denoted by the three chevrons and six-pointed star on his sleeve) exchanges information with a member of the British Red Cross. The warden is also qualified as an Incident Officer. (Copyright BRCS IN2646)
With the Civil Defence services being stood down in May 1945, a large number of groups had 'stand down' group photographs taken. These provide a wealth of information on the insignia in use at the close of hostilities. The below photo shows a number of men that appear to be all in junior supervisory roles. The gentleman far left has the star above the three rank chevrons and five war service chevrons. There are a smattering of first aid badges on the right breast pockets but I cannot discern the area marking title (it looks to be quite short in length). As usual not everyone had a lanyard. A good number here are veterans of the first world war.
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 fascinating set of five photographs of ARP wardens in their ARP Post. Going by the map shown the location is Skegness. The area marking of Lindsey is seen which is the traditional division of Lincolnshire covering the northern part of the county (and includes Skegness). Probably taken pre-1941 as only bluette overalls are shown. Photos courtesy of Geoff Caulton.
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.
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 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 number of sets of slides for training purposes was created during the war. This set shows how to deal with an incendiary bomb using the scoop and sand container,
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