A rather peculiar propaganda photograph showing a warden wearing a home-made rabbit fur waistcoat. Not an item often seen on the re-enacting scene... Looks like the warden has a rare piped side cap with ARP badge on.
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 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.
A very good quality portrait of an air raid warden in the early bluette overalls. The area marking title is for Walthamstow.
A Messenger holds the cap from a German parachute mine. Thought to be from the Walthamstow area of London and taken in 1940. Photo copyright of Footsteps Photograpghs, Flickr.
A nice studio portrait of an ARP Senior Warden (two yellow chevrons to sleeve) possibly from the Birmingham area. She is wearing the standard issue ARP Pattern 71 serge jacket but has a private purchase side cap with two ARP chrome buttons to front closure.
This image is captioned as Mrs Iris Cynthia (no surname) of Kennington in the Lambeth borough of London but I cannot find any further information at this time.. It's very interesting as it is shows for the first time the use of District Wardens rank insignia (two red bars and diamond) on what initially looks like an ambulance drivers' coat. However, the buckle is not correct for that coat. It could be a private purchase wrap-over style item to which she has added insignia to. She has a 'DW' - District Warden - helmet.
A group of four ARP ambulance drivers wearing the standard issue drivers' coat and peaked cap. One is most certainly wearing the standard ATP silver badge but the others appear to have smaller cap badges, possibly smaller versions of the ARP badge.
Members of Lambeth's ARP Civil Defence stand in front of a car that's collecting for the war effort. The chap and young fellow on the left are in the bluette overalls and the chap on the right has the overcoat and beret.
I am indebted to Michael Newbold for the following photo of Kingston Upon Thames ARP first aid personnel taken at Bonner Hill School. The people present are probably all members of the St John Ambulance attached to ARP duties. You can see ARP window notices on the windscreens. There are a smattering of dark armbands present but I cannot clearly identify if these are St John variations (or even the dark green Red Cross ARP armbands). There are a few ARP lapel badges and I think one gentleman appears to be wearing the First World War Silver Wound Badge.
This fine study shows Robert Watson of Soham, Cambridgeshire. Possibly pre-war or very early war is shows how a warden would have been equipped prior to the issue of the first uniform (bluette overalls). He has the silver lapel badge, a Civil Defence yellow-on-dark-clue armband and a black helmet with white 'W'. He appears to have the simple cotton sack to hold his gas mask. Image courtesy of Keith Watson.
A nice group portrait of ARP wardens taken before the issue of battledress in the autumn of 1941. Standard bluette overalls and helmets with slung gas masks. Alas it is not possible to discern the area marking on their uniforms.
Members of LAAS pose on their ambulance in London, early in the war. Only the gentleman wear bluette overalls with LAAS above the right breast pocket
An interesting photograph showing members of a a Mobile Hospital Unit from Streatham in London. I'd not come across the MHU helmet marking until I saw this photo.
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.
Two Fire Watchers pose on the roof of a building close to St. Paul's Cathedral in London. They probably belong to the building's owners or a business located there. They have unmarked Mk. II helmets, General Service Respirators with Mk. VII gas respirator sacks and commercially available overalls and rubber boots.
The very interesting group portrait shows a group of London Auxiliary Ambulance Service personnel. The ladies are wearing the Pattern 71 serge jacket with Pattern 73 slacks. They all wear the peaked cap with LAAS badge. The men are in battledress (Pattern 59 and the austerity version with exposed buttons) and their berets also have the LAAS badge. Beneath the CD breast badge they are wearing the LONDON area marking (worn only by members of the LAAS).
This portrait shows the essential clothing required by members of the decontamination squads. With special gas-proof clothing and special gas cape to the helmet, these civil defence personnel were trained to deal with the hazardous chemicals that German bombs might contain. A great deal of training was undertaken to deal with the various types of chemical. Thankfully, no-one was ever called upon to deal with an chemical weapons. The hand bell was to be sounded when any chemical weapons had been safely dealt with (the opposite of this was the gas rattle used to warn of the use of chemical bombs.) The chap is wearing the standard Mk. II helmet with 'W' for Warden; later on these squads had DC ( for Decontamination) on their helmets.
An interesting photograph of two members of a London County Council LAAS ambulance. The lady (probably the driver) is wearing the standard issue drivers' coat with peaked cap (and a rather fetching dark shirt and light tie). The gentleman is wearing bluette overalls with a LAAS badge above the right pocket and standard black Mk. II helmet with white, two-inch high, letter 'A'. The ambulance is a Bedford.
For all the hundreds of thousands of ARP lapel badges issued they appear infrequently on portraits. This photo of a GPO post man (or postal worker) and first world war veteran shows him in his GPO uniform with a silver ARP badge on his lapel. Interesting to see a toothbrush moustache worn - this particular style seems to have disappeared post war for some reason...
A collection of gas masks in cardboard boxes and leatherette carriers hanging from hooks at a nursery school for displaced children in London.
This photo shows a line up of the new uniforms being issued to the civil defence services (from left):
Ambulance driver - ARP Pattern 43 drivers' coat and ARP Pattern 45 drivers' ski cap
First aid reporter - ARP Pattern 47 bluette wrapover
Female raid warden - ARP Pattern 42 women's warden's coat and ARP Pattern 44 felt hat
First aid nurse - ARP Pattern 46 nursing overall
Male raid warden - ARP Pattern 41 bluette overalls and helmet
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.