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.
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
A most interesting group portrait from the IWM archives. Listed as "Group portrait of the ARP Rescue and Demolition Teams from Brigham, Middlesbrough and Bridlington. Tom Alderson GC is in civilian clothes sitting on the Mayor's right."
Rare to see the Repair Party/Road helmets (marked RP/R). A few appear to have specific armbands and the standard Civil Defence blue with gold lettering is being worn. There is a chap with a white helmet and three diamonds with a specific role I cannot quite make out. Given that everyone is in bluette overalls I would safely say the photo in pre-Summer 1941.
Six ambulance drivers from Sheffield in front of their vehicles. They all wear the ARP Pattern 71 serge jacket with ARP Pattern 73 slacks.
I picked this rather interesting post card up on eBay for a few quid. It features a large group consisting of:
1) At the back (probably) members of an ARP First Aid Post or First Aid Party. Most have been trained by the St. John Ambulance Association going by the badge on the right breast pocket. All are wearing the serge battledress apart from a couple of chaps top row who are wearing bluette overalls.
2) A line of nurses, some wearing the distinct St. John emblem on their uniform front and one NA.
3) Ahead of these nurses are five ambulance drivers in their distinct drivers' coats.
4) At the bottom are a row of ARP Nursing Auxiliaries (ARP NA) They have the blue uniform with the red embroidered ARP on the front.
Overall, a very nice mix of personnel detailing core first aid and hospital members.
A wonderful photo from Getty Images showing the uniform of London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) personnel.. The description is "18th October 1940, London, England, Queen Elizabeth chats to a woman Ambulance driver during her tour of inspection of Ambulance ARP depots in London".
LCC ambulance crews pose by their vehicles. Probably before the autumn of 1942 given the lack of battledress and the fact that bluette combination suit overalls are being worn. The ladies are wearing the standard issue drivers' cost.
A nice portrait of a member of the Civil Defence in her standard issue uniform of felt hat worn with ARP Pattern 71 Jacket and ARP Patter 72 Skirt.
It's rare to see Civil Defence officers wearing peaked caps. This photo showing a CD group from Nuneaton has two officers wearing them. What service they originally came from is hard to determine. The man to the left has affixed his ARP badge to the cap. No piping can be seen so possibly the caps were police issue.
A couple of staged photos showing the new ARP Pattern 71 serge jacket that was being issued in the Summer/Autumn of 1941. One photo shows the slacks (ARP Pattern 73) and the other the skirt (ARP Pattern 72)
First Aid Post personnel from Preston pose for a group portrait. It would appear that the man in the middle (sat down) has two area markings below his CD breast badge. The bottom one is Preston but I cannot determine what the other one is.
Group portraits of Civil Defence volunteers are always interesting for throwing up details. This one has a Fire Watcher - FW - helmet tucked under the legs of the man at the front. A peculiarity on this photo is that it appears that the ranking members are only wearing chevrons on their right sleeves. Also, everyone is wearing a beret and it's not often that you see ladies wearing them.
Another interesting group portrait of First Aid Party CD personnel from Cornwall. Undated but after the summer of 1941. I have seen other photos of Civil Defence members from Cornwall and they all usually appear to show the special yellow county cap badge being worn.
The ladies are all wearing the Pattern 71 tunic with the drivers' cap. The gentlemen are in the serge battledress and berets and have a mixture of CD and ARP breast badges (commonly seen as local authorities used up existing stock of badges). The District Warden in the centre of bottom row appears to be the only person wearing a lanyard. Only one person appears to have a St. John qualification on his right pocket.
Image courtesy of Imprints of WWII.
A very nice study of Miss Frankie Whitten taking part in a parade of London County Council (LCC) Ambulance Drivers at Hyde Park, London, shortly after her wedding earlier that day at Caxton Hall Registry Office to Surgeon Lieutenant J D Thompson.
IWM HU 74991 Coypright
The Civil Defence battledress trousers came with a small pocket on the front right that could take a small a First Field Dressing. This is the only size bandage that would fit in this pocket.
As part of the uniform issued to wardens the greatcoat was of great use during the nights when on duty. This early issue greatcoat (labelled as Overcoat) has the double yellow rank chevrons of a senior warden.
A file from the National Archives details the process of adopting the early uniforms: Women Warden's Coat (Pattern 42), the bluette combination suit (Pattern 41) for men and the Woman Driver's (and Attendant's) coat (Pattern 43) and the hats (Patterns 44 & 45) The below image was in the files to give an overview of their look.
An interesting photo of a Civil Defence reserve member. The insignia on his right pocket appears to be the badge often seen placed on the upper sleeve of most mobile reserve columns.
This rather happy chap is probably showing off his brand new serge battledress and beret. Introduced from the autumn of 1941 is replaced the rather inferior bluette overalls. The only markings on the battledress is a Derbyshire local area marking. He has not yet attached his ARP badge to the beret.
A couple of nice portraits on the Alamy photo stock website. The gentleman is wearing the bluette overalls and his own beret (prior to the introduction of the CD beret in 1941). The lady is wearing the early driver's coat and a helmet with what appears to be the gas cape cover.
An interesting parade photograph of Civil Defence members in Lenton, Nottinghamshire. Interesting to see that only a few have the area marking of 'NOTTINGHAM' under the CD breast badge - and it is unbordered. The officer has a yellow-piped side cap.
Images courtesy of Lenton Times.
This portrait shows Edith Essery from Hartleopol in her Civil Defence ambulance uniform. Either an ambulance attendant or driver her ARP Pattern 71 serge uniform has an unofficial local rank badge. Two (narrow) yellow bars in the usual rank insignia for an officer (lowest senior officer rank) but these are much thicker than usually seen. The cap badge does not seem to be the silver ARP badge but is probably a locally produced example featuring a large 'A'.
Images from Hartlepool History Then And Now.
With the introduction of the serge battledress blouse and the women's tunic, the new CD breast badge was sewn onto the uniform before being issued. The badge was the 'old gold embroidered variety. As can be seen from the photo below, taken from a National Archives file, there were differences in how contractors manufactured the badge. To ensure the crown did look insipid, manufacturers were instructed to use black thread to pick out detail. These two examples show the differences in process.
Within a file at the National Archives is a large number of original ARP and Civil Defence badge samples. Also amongst these badges are a series of uniform portraits covering the serge uniforms for men and women as well as nursing uniforms. They provide an excellent reference material.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.