The ARP Pattern 44 felt hat is probably one of the scarcest survivors of all the headwear issued to Civil defence personnel during the second world war. Initially the hats featured a red and blue ribbon but with the official change in the name to Civil Defence General Services in 1941 this was replaced by a gold and blue ribbon (ARP Pattern 143) as shown below. Image courtesy of Jon Mills.
A battledress has cropped up on eBay priced at £160. Nicely badged up with three rank chevrons denoting a Head Warden in Leicestershire. The owner was a First World War veteran and the left sleeve has a red wound stripe. Looking at the breast badge it appears to have been factory fitted. There are also war service chevrons on the right sleeve. The maker's label from Montague Burton sadly omits a date of manufacture but I would imagine this is probably an early example.
It all looks kosher but you never can tell whether the badges are all original to a battledress. It's known for a blank jacket to have had badges later added to help the item sell for a higher price.
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.
A stand down portrait of ARP Wardens in Addlestone in Surrey show every possible way that a beret can be worn. The army way or over the right ear but this groups show the beret worn over each ear, centrally and also towards the back of the head. The shapes and style of beret also varies quite considerably. The ARP badge also varies from almost above the left ear to almost central on the forehead.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most frequently bought private purchase items was the side cap. Both men and women can be seen in period photos wearing the side cap. Most have applied their ARP badge to the front. This side cap is in dark blue almost black wool and is lined with the previous owner's name on a tag inside. To the front are two ARP buttons marked Cheney.
An excellent portrait of an early-war Gas Identification Officer - GIO - designated by two black diamonds on a yellow helmet. One black diamond was for an assistant to the GIO. Three black diamonds were for Senior Gas Adviser. From 1942 helmets were standardized across the country:
Gas Adviser - Senior Gas Adviser
GIO - Gas Identification Officer
GI - Assistant to GIO
FOOD - Food Decontamination Officer
DC FOOD - Food Treatment Squad
I've previously included this photo on the site but this is a better quality image. The Divisional/District warden here is helping a child with her Mickey Mouse style gas mask. The interesting part of his uniform is that he has the battledress jacket but is using the original red insignia on his lower sleeve (before the 'old gold' insignia was introduced in late 1941). The three bars with out star usually relate to a deputy chief warden (which clashes somewhat with the designation on his helmet). Again this is an example of the mix-and-match approach found on many period photos. He has placed his Kilburn area title above his medal ribbons and above this his ARP badge. The use of the Civil Defence armband was usually not allowed on uniform but this is probably a publicity photo and was used in this instance.
A group of ladies pose in their ARP Pattern 71 tunics and slacks. The lady on the far left appears to have double chevron stripes but with a star above - a most unusual combination. At the front there is a beret with the CD beret badge.
A fantastic portrait of an ambulance driver or attendant - the name on the rear is Elma May Stamp (nickname Buzz). The lady also wears a medal ribbon which looks to be the Royal Red Cross (which is a blue centre with red bars either side). The award is made to a fully trained nurse of an officially recognised nursing service, military or civilian, who has shown exceptional devotion and competence in the performance of nursing duties, over a continuous and long period, or who has performed an exceptional act of bravery and devotion at her or his post of duty. There looks to be an additional badge on the shoulders of her coat but it is not possible to discern what this relates to.
This portrait, from a series of staged photos, shows a Warden from the Westminster area of London. She's wearing the standard issue ARP Pattern 71 tunic with slacks. The tunic features the ARP embossed buttons (tunics are also known to have white metal CD and crown and from 1943 black plastic buttons featuring CD letters and crown). She's has a civilian style respirator sack slung over her shoulder and the lanyard is probably white (boroughs of London generally adopted this colour).
This interesting photo shows wardens belonging to the Maidenhead area. Going by the number of war service chevrons the photo is probably a stand down photo following the dissolution of the Civil Defence services in May 1945. Of interest is a triangular badge on the left sleeves of a number of wardens. It is unknown at this time what this badge represents. At the back is a single lady warden wearing a private purchase side cap.
Photo is currently available on eBay.
A group of wardens photographed relaxing off duty. Given that the wardens are all wearing bluette overalls and none are wearing battledress the photo is probably pre-summer 1941.
Photo from Harringay Online Community.
A wonderful photo of a large group of CD personnel raising their helmets at a parade. Towards the right are members of London's Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS).
A rescue squad gather around a rescued dog they have pulled from the rubble of a blitzed house. Of interest in the party leader in the white helmet to the right. He is wearing the standard bluette overalls and has both the ARP breast badge and the 'R London' badge on his pocket. Not many photos show both these badges being worn.
Up on eBay now is a very nice original Civil Defence beret. It's the type with no inner headband. It's made by the British Beret Basque Ltd and was introduced in late 1941 (along with the other battledress and serge uniforms). These are getting extremely hard to find and a size large is perfect for the modern day re-enactor.
UPDATE: This may actually be a post-war example as it does not have the correct ARP pattern number printed inside but has a CD plus something else missing. There is a chance the 4 was originally a 5.
Two photos showing the early-war uniforms worn by Air Raid Wardens. The female warden is wearing the wrapover coat (with ARP badge and area marking) with the felt hat. She is holding a white helmet (so holds some seniority). The male warden is wearing the bluette overalls with ARP badge and area marking and has the standard issue black helmet. Alas no more information on where these photos were taken.
A group photo showing three ARP ambulance crew (drivers or attendants) in their standard uniform with the ski caps and what appears to be the arched 'LAAS' (London Auxiliary Ambulance Service)insignia. Sat at the front are three nurses with the ARP badge to the front of their uniforms. It appears that the nurses also have the LAAS emblem above the ARP insignia, if this is correct this is the first time I have seen this worn in this way. I did not know nurses were attached directly to the LAAS.
The photo is currently available on eBay.
A nice group study of the ARP County Control staff for the Holland area in southeast Lincolnshire. Probably taken towards the end of the war (or shortly thereafter) going by the five war service chevrons on display. Odd to see all but one in the Pattern 58A austerity battledress. Perhaps they managed to get hold of battledress from stock for the photo opportunity. One chap sat in the front (the only man not in Pattern 58A) has the late war CD beret badge. There does appear to be some sort of insignia on the base of the epaulettes of a few members - I am uncertain what that might be at this time.
Photo courtesy of Phil Marris whose great uncle, Harold Colquhoun Marris OBE, is sat in the centre and was County Controller.
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