On the night of 2 December 1940, the Luftwaffe returned to bomb Bristol with a second major raid. The city had been bombed on 24 November and although there was heavy cloud cover, the city was again badly bombed.
Between 18.20 and 22.30 hrs, 121 German aircraft dropped over 120 tonnes of high explosive blast bombs, one tonne of flammenbombe (250kg incendiary oil bombs containing 30% petrol and 70% crude oil) and over 22,000 1kg incendiary bombs. To assist the German pilots 'X-Beams' were laid over the city plus the Knickebein transmitter at Dieppe also targeted Bristol.
The heavy cloud cover meant the Germans relied on dead reckoning navigation and the use of the Knickebein beam. One German pilot descended through the cloud to ascertain whether the target indicators were accurate.
The German attackers suffered no losses over the target; just a single aircraft was lost during take-off from their French airfield. The result of the bombing was more widespread than the attack on 24 November; 156 people were killed and a further 270 injured.
Over 340 individual incidents were logged by Bristol’s ARP service. However, although stretched they were able to manage the incidents without outside assistance. The pressure on the fire services though was extreme and Bristol’s fire brigades were overwhelmed. Additional men and equipment were called in from the surrounding counties and south Wales.
Civil Defence rescue parties attended over 60 incidents, saving 135 people and recovering 117 bodies. At 7 Dean Street (St. Paul’s) a high explosive bomb had collapsed several Georgian townhouses. In one was situated a Wardens’ Post where a number of wardens were killed. Most were buried together in Greenbank Cemetery.
DAVIES, Rowland Homfray (40) Air Raid Warden.
ETTY, Minnie Deborah (41) Air Raid Warden.
ETTY, Reginald Sydney George (45) Air Raid Warden.
FARRALL, John (66) Air Raid Warden.
HOGAN, Dennis (35) Air Raid Warden.
HOLMES, Sidney Charles (42) Air Raid Warden.
JANES, Ellen (62) Air Raid Warden.
JEFFERIES, Joseph William (70) Air Raid Warden.
MOORE, Gladys Mary (48) Air Raid Warden
PINNEY, William John (57) Air Raid Warden.
SAPSED, Albert (16) ARP Messenger.
SMITH, Herbert (47) Air Raid Warden.
STEPHENS, Ivor John (20) Air Raid Warden.
With the threat of a European war growing in the late 1930s, the government created a recruitment campaign for the various ARP services including the Women's Voluntary Service. One of these posters, of which some 50,000 were printed, featured Barbara Kershaw. Originally from Brighouse, she was working as a model in London, aged 25.
I came across a source that says she replaced the original model chosen as that person was of German extraction…
Willem ter Braak - real name Engelbertus Fukken – was a Dutch-born German Abwehr agent who spent several months spying in England during World War Two. It is currently thought he spent the longest time as an undetected German spy in Britain during the war (between November 1940 and March 1941).
Ter Braak had been an early member of the Dutch National Socialist Movement (NSB) and was recruited by the Abwehr after the fall of the Netherlands in the summer of 1940. He was parachuted into England on the night of 2/3 November 1940 near Haversham in Buckinghamshire. His parachute was found but searches for the parachutist failed to locate him.
He travelled to Cambridge and took lodging in St. Barnabas Road, Cambridge. Though he claimed to work for the Free Dutch forces he should have registered with the police and his landlord did report his presence to the authorities. However, it seems no action was taken to verify ter Braak’s identity.
He carried with him a radio transmitter, false identification documents and amounts of sterling and US dollars. What exactly Ter Braak reported on back to his German handlers is unknown but it is thought his transmitter batteries were running down by Christmas 1940 and some sources speculate he was sending letters via Spain to his handlers.
At the end of March 1941, with his cache of money running out and with suspicions about his ration and ID documents, Ter Braak deposited his radio transmitter (hidden in a leather suitcase) at the left luggage office at Cambridge railway station. He then broke into an air raid shelter.
Ter Braak’s body was found by an electrician in the air raid shelter in Christ's Pieces Park on 1 April, 1941, Cambridge. It is assumed he committed suicide using his own pistol on the night of March 30/31. He was buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Great Shelford. His family later requested a headstone for his grave, in his birth name. Ter Braak/Fukken was 26 when he died.
Documents relating to his case were released by the National Archives in 1999.
A great group portrait of civil defence wardens belonging to Key Post P6. Sadly there is no further information available on the location of this photo. Going by the maximum number of war service chevrons on show I imagine this is a stand-down photo just after the war finished in May 1945.
Standard battledress and trousers for the men and tunic and skirts for the ladies. As for most wardens there is just the most basic of insignia (apart from the junior supervisory chevrons) on show - just the CD breast badge and warden shoulder titles. One chap at the front has leather gaiters on.
A fine study of an ARP warden from Finchley. Early war bluette overalls with the lower red diamond and bar sleeve insignia. Behind him is a wall chart describing German incendiary bombs.
I have a section on the site where I post a few shots of WW2 Civil Defence re-enactors. The below was recently shared on a Facebook group and I did a little aging in Photoshop (noise, dust, scratches etc) and added a vintage style frame. Warden Hodgson's impression is most impressive.
An author is seeking any information regarding the bombing of an ARP Depot in Bexley. There are a few photos pertaining to the event but alas very little detailed information. If you have any information about this, please send me an email.
If you're in the Leicester area you have just one week left to see the Leicester Blitz exhibition at the Newarke Houses Museum (free entrance from open 11:00 - 16:30). The exhibition marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the city. The exhibition closes on Sunday 4th July 2021, so get your skates on.
See a video of the exhibition
Steve Crookes was kind enough to share images and information about LAAS driver Jean Campbell:
Rosemary Jean Campbell was born on the 7 August 1911 in Surabaya, Java. She was the daughter of Lady Edith Jane Warren (1880 -1951) and Sir Edward Campbell M.P. (1879-1945), Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sir Kingsley Wood (Secretary of State for Air – 1938-1940; Lord Privy Seal – 1940 & Chancellor of the Exchequer – 1940-1943). Sir Edward was the brother of Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell V.C. and of Rear-Admiral J.D. Campbell. Her brother Flight Lieutenant Gillian Campbell D.F.C. was killed on 24 December 1942
Campbell joined the ambulance service before the war, and at the outbreak of hostilities was mobilised and posted to London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) Station 141, Green School, Ainsty Street, Rotherhithe. In 1941 she was awarded the British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) for her excellent leadership and devotion to duty during air raids on London. In 1942 she was admitted to the Order of St. John as Officer (Sister).
She became a Volunteer Worker for the American Red Cross in Great Britain in September 1942. Lived at 41 Rotherhithe Street, London. Jean, as she was known, participated in the Victory Parade in London on 8 June 1946. She married John H. Hansard on 28 May 1943 and died on 10 July 1991 in Surrey.
Rescue Party Leader (two chevrons) William Shotton shows his BEM outside Buckingham Palace in 1944. The gentleman to the right is thought to be James Clay, a Depot Superintendent (three chevrons and star above).
Picture courtesy Clay family collection.
At around 4:30 in the morning of 13 June, 1944, the first V1 flying bomb struck the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) bridge crossing over Grove Street, Bethnal Green. The “doodlebug” killed six people and injured 26 others. As well as serious damage to the bridge, 12 house were completely destroyed and over 50 suffered various degrees of damage.
The line over the bridge carried important rail traffic between Liverpool Street and Stratford. Engineers from LNER assessed the damage to the bridge and decided to replace it.; trains passed over the new bridge in the evening.
A studio portrait of an ambulance driver or attendant with Harpenden's CD service. The standard Pattern 71 tunic and the ski cap with silver ARP badge to front.
Joan Thomas (nee Baynham) was a Civil Defence ambulance driver. On the night of 29/30 April 1941, Cwmparc was bombed by the Luftwaffe and she ferried the dead and injured from Cwmparc to Pentwyn Hospital in Treorchy. There were many casualties with some 27 dead, three of whom were evacuees, all members of the same family. The evacuees were all buried in the same grave in Treorchy Cemetery. The event was the largest loss of life that the Rhondda suffered in a single night of wartime bombing.
Her portrait below shows her wearing the ARP Pattern 71 tunic with private purchase side cap (most likely with old gold yellow piping). The side cap appears to not have any insignia nor ARP buttons to the front. Above her breast badge is a DRIVER badge, quite a rare badge to see worn in this position.
Image courtesy of Robert Davies - see his crowd funding page for information about a memorial to the bombing of Cwmparc.
A stand down photo (going by the war service chevrons) with an interesting beret badge. The embroidered and printed versions of the beret badges usually had a yellow circle; these don't appear to have that. Perhaps a local manufacturing oddity.
UPDATE: it's not peculiar at all... it's the printed version that doesn't have the circle. I should actually read my own content in future.
As researchers of ARP/CD, just like any other militaria collectors, we often seek surviving uniforms that are badged up as much as possible, providing a full example and display of the various types of insignia that were issued. This blog has shown some great examples in recent weeks.
However, for a variety of reasons, not all ARP and CD uniforms found today are badged up like the proverbial ‘Christmas tree’. Regional variations, badges never issued or since removed, even the limited knowledge of those wishing to reproduce or fake a uniform can explain the different variations encountered. Indeed, as contemporary photos show, many CD personnel were simply issued with a battledress tunic bearing only the CD chest patch, sometimes applied during the garment’s manufacture.
Very often, both ARP and CD uniforms carried a city, town or county area title, worn on the chest below the service insignia. These are now very collectable, even more so if the named area was heavily blitzed. Some years ago, I found a ‘LEICESTER’ yellow CD area title for my home town, but try as I may, I could not find any examples of the city’s preceding red ARP area title.
Scouring through contemporary photos of the city’s ARP personnel with a magnifying glass, I noticed that although they wore the standard red ‘ARP’ service chest insignia on their ARP 41 bluette overalls, no area title was present. ARP personnel of many, if not most, towns and cities wore an area title, not least for reasons of esprit de corps, so, why did Leicester, a city with a long and proud history, not have one, especially as an area title was worn on later CD uniforms?
I discovered the answer whilst researching my book, Tested By Bomb And Flame: Leicester Versus Luftwaffe Air Raids, 1939-1945. As is so often the case, archive records provided the explanation. Fortunately, the ARP Minutes of the City of Leicester Corporation survive at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, at Wigston. These minutes reveal the thinking behind the decisions and expenditure made by the city’s ARP Committee.
Leicester’s ARP started receiving their uniforms from March 1940, with the receipt of ‘864 ARP 41 bluette combinations for male personnel’ at a cost of £453.12.0d (around £24,000 today or around £28 each – a bargain today!). However, when it came to purchasing an area title, it would appear the committee drew their purse strings tight and the spending ceased.
It was only two years later, with the official Ministry of Home Security instruction that the city’s ARP Committee minuted on 9th February 1942: ‘in accordance with the provisions of HSC 189/1941, a local marking (the name of the City) be provided for each new uniform issued to CD personnel, named ‘LEICESTER’.’ The county area would follow six months later, with the issue of a ‘LEICESTERSHIRE’ CD title.
This was not the only example of Leicester ARP Committee’s minimalist and thrifty-thinking. Unlike elsewhere in Britain, Leicester ARP Committee’s VE Day celebrations were muted, to say the least: ‘In view of the circumstances and subject to there being no further guidance from the Government on the matter, this Committee are of the opinion that no arrangements should be made for a final parade of CD Services.’ Likewise, on the question of a commemorative service certificate for CD personnel, as issued in neighbouring counties, official instruction said ‘that such a Certificate should be issued is left to the discretion of the local authority.’ On 16th July 1945, the ARP Committee resolved that ‘in view of the fact that typed letters of thanks have been sent to the personnel of the local authority Services, the suggestion that a further Certificate of Thanks be issued, be not entertained’ – hence why no official illuminated Leicester CD certificate of service will be found by collectors today or ever!
A footnote: Around 2010, whilst attending a 1940s reenactors event on the Great Central Railway, at Quorn station, Leicestershire, I did a double-take to see an ARP reenactor wearing a red ‘LEICESTER’ ARP area title, contrary to contemporary records and photos. A close gawp suggested that if this was a reproduction badge, it was very well made. To get to the bottom of the matter, I asked the reenactor how, if it was original, he had such a research-defying badge – his answer was that he used a red felt tip pen to colour in an original yellow ‘LEICESTER’ CD area title! Some years later, this amended badge appeared for sale on eBay. Occasionally, reality defies your eyes and logic…
Tested By Bomb And Flame: Leicester Versus Luftwaffe Air Raids, 1939-1945, by Austin J. Ruddy, Halsgrove Publishing (2014), £19.99.
I am once again indebted to Jon Mills for the following images of the insignia/badges issued to members of London's River Emergency Services (RES). For more information on the RES see this previous blog.
The website Raids Over York covers the 11 raids on the city during the Second World War. York was one of the cities targeted as part of the Baedecker Raids, aerial attacks on targets chosen for their historical significance rather than their military value as a target.
Photo: Explore York Libraries and Archives / City of York Council
Members from the Emergency Rivers Services (RES) and American Red Cross enjoying a cuppa.
A Planet News photograph claimed to be taken in March 1944, showing a warden carrying part of a German 'raider' (aircraft) that came down somewhere in London.
Marlow's Auctioneers have a selection of ARP- and CD-related items in their sale on 7 April, 2021. Amongst the items is this battledress with Wimbledon area marking and five war service chevrons. It features the wings of the Royal Flying Corps. There are a number of photos showing former airmen wearing wings on bluette and battledress. Accompanying the battledress is a photo of the alleged owner but alas he is wearing a bluette overall and not the battledress.
The battledress has an estimate of £260 to £360. It is Lot 441.
A guest blog by Bryan Jones - Scout Leader 16th Bermondsey Scout Group.
80 years ago, in 1941, Scouts from Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in South East London gathered at Manor Church for the presentation of Scout gallantry medals by the London Regional Commissioner, General Sir John Shea. Sadly, one Scout’s medal was to be awarded posthumously, received by his parents with their grief plain to see in the newsreel footage on YouTube.
But why were so many Scouts receiving awards in the midst of the World War Two London Blitz when children had either been evacuated to the countryside or took nightly cover in air raid shelters?
Today, it is not so well known that Scouts and Guides played a highly-active role in Civil Defence. The most dangerous work took them out into the open as the bombs fell around them putting out incendiary bomb fires, acting as stretcher bearers and riding through the destruction carrying emergency services' messages.
One Boy Scout who did this was 17-year-old Frank Davis. He lived close to the river, was part of the 11th Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Scout Group and worked for the Southern Railway at Bricklayers Arms Goods Station. At night Frank was an ARP messenger carrying messages between air raid posts and was based at Dockhead, close to Tower Bridge, where his father was the Warden in charge.
On the night of 8th December, 1940 there was yet another air raid. Frank and a fellow Scout were out when they came across an incendiary bomb. It was dangerous yet essential work to put smother the bomb with sand before the building caught fire. That meant getting up close and personal with a flame spewing monster.
That night Frank’s fellow Scout’s luck ran out and he was injured by the sparks. Frank carried his friend back to the Dockhead Warden’s post for treatment before returning to put out the incendiary bomb on his own. At some point, whilst doing this, explosive bombs fell close by killing Frank.
Having realised he was missing, the Wardens at the post set out to search for him. His lifeless body was possibly discovered by his father. Five days later, on 13th December, Frank was buried at Nunhead Cemetery in a grave that is today lost in undergrowth.
Frank was nominated for a Scout gallantry award; his Bronze Cross, nicknamed "The Scout’s VC", was announced on 5th February, 1941 with the medal being presented to his parents on 15th March, 1941.
Today, under non-pandemic circumstances, 16th Bermondsey Scout Group would still be meeting at Manor Church where the medal presentation was held. The church seen in the newsreel was lost to the bombing of London.
Read more about Frank Davis and the Scouts in World War Two
All images courtesy and copyright of the Scout Association Heritage Collection.
A very interesting and rarely seen portable air raid siren being used in Parliament Square prior to the Second World War. This was a photo in The Sphere, a British newspaper, published by London Illustrated Newspapers. The use of such a device was probably redundant due to the proliferation of electrically-powered sirens that local authorities were ordered to install.
A smart group of ARP/CD personnel from Gloucestershire. Interesting they all (bar one) have the small embroidered CD beret badge. I initially thought the chap seated in the middle has odd coloured rank insignia but when compared to the beret badges they are probably the standard old gold yellow rank chevrons. There's a smattering of the austerity pattern battledress and a number of St. John awards on the right breast pockets. I cannot see any war service chevrons but it has the look of a stand down photo at war's end. Quite a young looking group on the whole as well.
The Officer-in-Charge (three red chevrons on his bluette overalls) of a Stretcher Party provides first aid to a victim of a bombing incident in London.
Wearing the standard issue driver/attendant lancer coat and ski cap this portrait also shows the wearer using a helmet carrier. A number of companies manufactured helmet carriers but they appear seldom in photos (often anti-gas curtains are mistaken for carriers).
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