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.
The Girl Guides (and also the Brownies) were heavily involved in assisting with the war effort. From 1938 the group planned how it could assist in the event of war breaking out. During the war Girl Guides assisted at First Aid Posts and Rest Centres. helping evacuees and also as messengers at ARP posts. From December 1940 Girl Guides were able to wear the Civil Defence armband when engaged on voluntary support of the service or WVS.
I am indebted to Karen Wiles for the following images - learn more at Doing Their Bit.
This group portrait (currently on eBay) shows a number of ARP/CD personnel and a boy scout. The lady sat in the centre at the bottom is most interesting. She is wearing the standard issue Pattern 71 tunic with a beret (not usually seen). Her insignia is very interesting: she is wearing an instructor's badge on her collar, a St John qualification on her right breast pocket and it would appear she also has the Life Saving badge on her lower left forearm (a most unusual place for this badge). Given her central position she is probably the most senior person in the group.
The gentleman next to her has five war service chevrons so this dates the photo towards the end of the war. His breast pocket badge is the red on black ARP type (rather then the more usual yellow on black CD version).
The majority of the other ladies have the Pattern 47 wrapover with red lined collars. They also are wearing the felt hat.
It's always interesting to see the uniform regulations being bent. This pretty standard group portrait of (probably) wardens features a lady on the bottom left wearing a male battledress. It's rare but not unheard of to see period photos of females having managed to get hold of a battledress. Apart from that it's a pretty standard photo of uniforms and insignia. Appears that the majority of berets have the printed CD in a yellow circle. That's a bit unusual as those with ARP badges usually fixed them to their berets. There's a member of the Home Guard lurking in the photo as well...
A group photograph of civil defence personnel wearing both types of ARP Pattern battledress - the first issue and the the later austerity (with exposed buttons). Oddly, this photo shows some men only displaying an area marking in the place where the CD breast badge would normally be. Alas I cannot make out the area name though the photo appears to come from Cumbria. Probably a case of the local authority have some difficulty in sourcing the badges.
This ARP Pattern 57 battledress jacket and warrant card cropped up on eBay recently (with a price of £160). It's the first time I have seen a double area marking - one for the county of Staffordshire and one for the local area of Rowley Regis (southeast of Dudley). Very unusual to see the Rowley Regis badge sewn to the upper flap of the breast pocket. The CD breast badge appears to be the merrow edge variety that was attached to the jacket when made. The rank stripes don't appear to be the usual WW2 variety and look a bit like those that the Civil Defence Corps issued from 1948. Again, they may be original but hard to say. Oddly the lanyard is white - I would have again expected it to be yellow for Staffordshire. It appears that a metal Police type chain in connecting the whistle to the lanyard. The jacket also features four war service chevrons.
I had a spare hour over the weekend and I finally made up a chart for the position of the main insignia found on CD battledress after its introduction. The prescribed locations were detailed in ARP Memo 17. I'll look into doing the ladies ARP Pattern 71 tunic in the future.
Just cropped up on eBay is this Warden's BD blouse with a 1942 (letter O) date stamp made by Montague Burton. Has a Leicestershire area marking and war service chevrons and the CD breast badge looks to be the type that were sewn to the jacket before issue. The rarest item is a red wound stripe - for someone wounded in the First World War and goes with the medal ribbon bar. A nice jacket with minor mothing.
A very nice portrait of ambulance drivers in March 1940 - sadly location unknown. The enormous letters behind them is rather amazing.
This interesting photograph appears to show a District Warden from Holborn in central London assisting a child with her 'Mickey Mouse' style gas mask. The most peculiar part of his uniform is the placement of the three bars of rank on the lower sleeve. I am assuming these are the yellow bars to denote a district (sometimes called divisional warden). They usually appear at the top of the sleeve. The warden's jacket is somewhat peculiar as well. I thought it was a standard issue battledress but this jacket has chrome buttons to cuff and epaulette - standard issue had revolving shank to epaulettes and a black plastic button to the cuff closure. The area title for Holborn is above the pocket (even above his first world war medal ribbon trio). I think the main badge is the ARP red on black breast badge but I cannot make it out for certain. He also does not have any shoulder titles. The helmet is a standard issue one for a district warden - a single black stripe. He is also wearing a Civil Defence armband which is against the usually prescribed use(they were to be worn over civilian clothes). All-in-all a most peculiar uniform.
Currently up for auction on eBay is this 1943-dated battledress blouse. This austerity pattern with the exposed buttons isn't as rare as the seller believes but it appears to be in mint condition and to be in a reasonable size. My experience with the labels on most battledress is that they often different to the figures stated. I've got two with vastly different size labels that fir me perfectly...
This portrait of civil defence personnel from Ipswich is probably one of the smartest groups i Iave come across. Everyone appears have to have their badges, lanyards and qualifications in the textbook locations. Nearly everyone is wearing their beret in the correct fashion (apart from Stanley three in from the top left...). A number are wearing war service chevrons, St John circular qualification badges on right breast pocket and there is a bomb reconnaissance badge right in the middle front. There appears a smattering of Home Guard that may have been attached to ARP duties in the area.
Possibly a very early war portrait going by the distinct lack of uniforms for the men. A few have the bluette overalls but most are in civvies. A couple of the ladies have the ambulance drivers' coat (which I believe was available before the bluette).
This staged photo used for propaganda purposes shows an ambulance driver about to set off to an incident. It's a well known photo but of interest is the extra insignia flash below the Ambulance shoulder title. I believe this to be the red cross on a white field symbol for the City of London (symbol has a sword in the upper left quadrant but this image doesn't show this).
An interesting group portrait from Dartford. All the battledress jackets have the ARP breast badge which is somewhat unusual (local authorities were ti use any stock up before releasing the CD breast badge). The standard location for their yellow lanyards in on the right shoulder (though one has on the left!). Two gentlemen at the front appear to have their St John Ambulance badges on the lower right forearm (the usual place in the right breast pocket). Nice to see two ambulance drivers in their standard uniform. There is a smattering of double yellow chevron ranks badges. The last oddity is the gentleman in the front, second right. He has a side cap on (looks to have two small ARP chrome buttons to front but no other insignia and appears to have no piping) but also appears to have some form of shoulder board - most unusual indeed.
Photo courtesy of Steven Lewis (Fickr)
A nice study of three home front servicemen - ARP, AFS and Home Guard. The chap on the left wears the standard issue bluette overalls, with an unmarked helmet, red cross armband and what looks to be a first aid satchel of some description.
Very interesting pair of portraits of a member of the Westminister ARP Service. I thought initially she was wearing the bluette overalls but the position of the ARP buttons looks to be two double rows - so I'm thinking the driver's coat. The ARP badge, Westminster area marking and medal ribbon are not usually shown worn on the drivers' coat. I'm unsure of the medal ribbon - they look like the trio for WW1. If anyone can identify those I would be very grateful.
Of interest she seems to be wearing a very similar shirt to that worn by Barbara Nixon.
A large majority of the ARP Pattern 57 & 59 serge battledress jackets came with the CD breast badge sewn to the left breast pocket. The below image shows an original jacket with the method most commonly used to attach the badge. Individuals in areas that provided area markings could sewn them beneath this badge.
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.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.