Following an air raid, casualties in bombed buildings could be trapped beneath the rubble. If they were able to make a tapping sound then the Rescue Squads could endeavour to find and extricate them. Heavy Rescue Squads would look to ensure the buildings had been rendered safe to enter (by shoring walls etc) and the Light Rescue would tunnel through to the casualties, carry them out and pass them onto the first aid posts or to a hospital.
To assist in locating buried casualties, a Sound Locating Apparatus was devised in early 1942 to assist the Rescue Squads. This consisted of a truck with a crew of three which would be called from its base located at Metropolitan Electric Supply Company in Uxbridge.
Called out by a Borough’s ARP Controller, the truck would arrive at the incident and set up various listening devices at a bombed building. The operator would require all other rescue work to cease for at least 10 minutes as they listened for any noise. From records, it appears not every rescue team was happy to stop their work to allow this.
The success of the Sound Locating Apparatus appears to have been quite limited. In some incidents, the locating apparatus could not be deployed for several reasons. In some cases, the Civil Defence rescue dogs had already suggested where a casualty had been buried (in one particular case, this turned out to be a buried cat). In quite a number of cases the results were negative, as no casualties were present.
A Ministry of Home Security report in January 1945, commented that the Sound Locating Apparatus “…cannot be regarded as a valuable aid to rescue work.”
Thanks go to Chris Ransted for the information.
A late war (possibly even a stand down photo) of an ambulance driver/attendant. Five war service chevrons to the right sleeve cuff and a St John Ambulance Association badge to the breast pocket. Of interest in the peculiar ski cap badge being worn - a large 'A'; I've not seen that before.
From early 1940 ARP and Civil Defence vehicles could use the left headlamp as an identification marker (the right lamp had a blackout filter added and the left was initially to be entirely obscured). Lettered masks could be fitted over the headlamp to allow the Civil Defence Services and Police to identify vehicles during the blackout and at air raid incidents. The lettering was in white except for the FIRE which was in amber.
The below image is from Trico that manufactured the illuminated letters.
The first set of lettered signs included:
ARP - Directing Staff
W - Air Raid Wardens
FAP - First Aid Parties & Mobile First Aid Units
A - Ambulance (stretcher cases)
A CAR - Ambulance (sitting cases)
R - Rescue Parties
DC - Decontamination Squads
RP/R - Repair Party - Roads
RP/W - Repair Party - Water
RP/G - Repair Party - Gas
RP/E - Repair Party - Electricity
M - Messengers
SP - Stretcher Parties in the London CD Region
FIRE - Fire Service
P - Police
Additional letters were added such as BTS for the Blood Transfusion Service, GPO for the General Post Office fixing telephone lines and GIS and GCU for Gas Identification Services and Gas Cleansing Units, respectively.
Members of a Rescue Squad stand in front of their car and trailer packed with rescue gear. Likely to be early war going by the bluette overalls in evidence (but these were of course worn throughout the war).
If you happen to know the make and model of the vehicle, pop a comment below.
A nice studio portrait of a WVS volunteer taken in 1943. She is wearing the green WVS beret with WVS Civil Defence embroidered badge, a WVS scarf and the overcoat with insignia on the sleeve - the county of Surrey below the WVS Civil Defence badge.
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