A fantastic colour film entitled "War Weapons Week 1942". Includes shots of various Civil Defence services (wardens, FAP, ambulance), WVS volunteers, Home Guard, ARP nurses, Fire Services and other groups in Bearsden, northwest of Glasgow. Some excellent shots of Fire Guard members all kitted out in Zuckerman helmets.
A dignitary called Sir Steven Bilsland is seen in a couple of clips inspecting the services. He has a white helmet with red lettering, but it's not clear what it says. He also appears to have a gold coloured armband with silver Civil Defence rainbow.
Also of note is the OPX (an observation post) - at the 6.30 mark - being manned by a couple of chief wardens (three diamonds on white helmets).
A great piece of film that's worth watching in its entirety.
I have a keen interest in the way fonts and lettering are generated and these pages from a British Standards book in 1940 detail the exact methodology used to generate the 1940s font used on ARP / Civil Defence / Fire signage.
Also included is the exact size of the various signs. I was somewhat confused why 7/8" was used instead of 1" on the Shelter 'S' signage but someone mentioned saving material (which makes sense) but it doesn't seem to follow through on vertical signs.
I'm including the files as downloads as well.
Courtesy of Roger Miles.
Steve Crookes was kind enough to share images and information about LAAS driver Jean Campbell:
Rosemary Jean Campbell was born on the 7 August 1911 in Surabaya, Java. She was the daughter of Lady Edith Jane Warren (1880 -1951) and Sir Edward Campbell M.P. (1879-1945), Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sir Kingsley Wood (Secretary of State for Air – 1938-1940; Lord Privy Seal – 1940 & Chancellor of the Exchequer – 1940-1943). Sir Edward was the brother of Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell V.C. and of Rear-Admiral J.D. Campbell. Her brother Flight Lieutenant Gillian Campbell D.F.C. was killed on 24 December 1942
Campbell joined the ambulance service before the war, and at the outbreak of hostilities was mobilised and posted to London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) Station 141, Green School, Ainsty Street, Rotherhithe. In 1941 she was awarded the British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) for her excellent leadership and devotion to duty during air raids on London. In 1942 she was admitted to the Order of St. John as Officer (Sister).
She became a Volunteer Worker for the American Red Cross in Great Britain in September 1942. Lived at 41 Rotherhithe Street, London. Jean, as she was known, participated in the Victory Parade in London on 8 June 1946. She married John H. Hansard on 28 May 1943 and died on 10 July 1991 in Surrey.
It would appear a spate of Zuckerman helmets are now appearing with spurious (i.e. fake) markings. We've seen this before but this summer has seen them regularly appearing on the tat bazaar (we even had a Zuck with the Austin Warden stencil poorly used...). Most can be quickly categorized in the "Known Shyster Shed Crap". They continue to sell though and that continues the cycle. I doubt a Decontamination Food expert would be caught dead in a Zuckerman but it's an interesting helmet.
Rescue Party Leader (two chevrons) William Shotton shows his BEM outside Buckingham Palace in 1944. The gentleman to the right is thought to be James Clay, a Depot Superintendent (three chevrons and star above).
Picture courtesy Clay family collection.
At around 4:30 in the morning of 13 June, 1944, the first V1 flying bomb struck the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) bridge crossing over Grove Street, Bethnal Green. The “doodlebug” killed six people and injured 26 others. As well as serious damage to the bridge, 12 house were completely destroyed and over 50 suffered various degrees of damage.
The line over the bridge carried important rail traffic between Liverpool Street and Stratford. Engineers from LNER assessed the damage to the bridge and decided to replace it.; trains passed over the new bridge in the evening.
I've come across a few items relating to invasion defence but haven't managed to read a full account of the organisations yet. From what I gather, local authorities created the organisations and members were taked with maintaining local systems in the event of invasion. I believe this included assisting the army in the area (advising on locations of petrol, food, shelter etc) and also to manage refugees passing through the area.
The little I have encountered on the subject seems to relate to the period when the threat of invasion was at it highest - summer 1940 through to summer of 1942. This card is dated 1943 and the organisation was still being maintained.
If you know more about the Invasion Committees and Organisations, please let me know.
These Lancashire CD with King's crown buttons recently turned up in a job lot of other items I received. I've not encountered county-marked buttons like this before. Although they have the King's crown I am uncertain of a date. They could be WW2 or post-war. If you have more information please drop me a line via the Contact page.
A studio portrait of an ambulance driver or attendant with Harpenden's CD service. The standard Pattern 71 tunic and the ski cap with silver ARP badge to front.
I recently posted several ARP / Civil Defence armbands from the county of Warwickshire. Roger Miles has sent through three additional armbands. It would appear Warwickshire was very keen to ensure everyone had an armband.
The below London Auxiliary Ambulance Service cap sold recently (May 2021) at auction for around £500 (including fees such as buyer's premium, VAT etc). It's a scarce item and clearly someone needed to fill a hole in their collection. Appears a lucky horseshoe had been attached to the from at some time. Ski caps are rare items as not many have survived through to today. The LAAS versions are rarer than the CD-badged versions.
A fantastic collection of armbands issued in Warwickshire (he bear and ragged staff is a heraldic emblem or badge associated with the Earldom of Warwick). There is an Air Raid Warden, Ambulance Driver, First Aid Post, First Aid Point, Decontamination Party & Report Centre.
I am indebted to Steve Taylor for sharing this collection. If you know of any other variations please contact me.
‘Supplementary Fire Parties’ (SFP) were created as part of the ‘Memorandum on Emergency Fire Brigades Organisation’ in 1937. Teams of three or five volunteers were trained to use stirrup pumps to tackle small fires and incendiary devices. They were initially controlled through by the Air Raid Wardens’ Service.
By April of 1940 local fire authorities selected, trained and organised ‘Supplementary Fire Parties’ and issued them with armbands that featured red SFP letters on a dark navy blue cotton.
The major reorganisation of the fire services in August 1941 saw the introduction of the Fire Guard Organisation. Street Fire Parties replaced the former Supplementary Fire Parties and the SFP armband was replaced by the Fire Guard one.
The appointment card below was issued in May 1941 towards the end of the Supplementary Fire Party existence. Interestingly the term "FIRE WATCHER" is still being used.
A number of ARP / Civil Defence armbands have appeared lately bearing similar-looking fonts and perhaps from the same manufacturer. Here we have a FIRST AID POSTS WORCESTERSHIRE armband. Similar to the Caernarvonshire Warden armband we saw recently.
Image courtesy of Steve Taylor.
An interesting warden's armband from Caernarvonshire.
Joan Thomas (nee Baynham) was a Civil Defence ambulance driver. On the night of 29/30 April 1941, Cwmparc was bombed by the Luftwaffe and she ferried the dead and injured from Cwmparc to Pentwyn Hospital in Treorchy. There were many casualties with some 27 dead, three of whom were evacuees, all members of the same family. The evacuees were all buried in the same grave in Treorchy Cemetery. The event was the largest loss of life that the Rhondda suffered in a single night of wartime bombing.
Her portrait below shows her wearing the ARP Pattern 71 tunic with private purchase side cap (most likely with old gold yellow piping). The side cap appears to not have any insignia nor ARP buttons to the front. Above her breast badge is a DRIVER badge, quite a rare badge to see worn in this position.
Image courtesy of Robert Davies - see his crowd funding page for information about a memorial to the bombing of Cwmparc.
A number of cities set up voluntary organisations during the war that worked alongside the Civil Defence services to support victims of Luftwaffe raids. Below is an armband for Birmingham's "Helping Hand" organisation. The three war service chevrons show that this particular volunteer had put in over three years work with the organisation.
It's quite difficult to find details about the various voluntary post air raid groups and what limited information does exist is tucked away in local archives.
The armband is in Roger Miles' collection; he also runs Home Front Collection that often has some cracking items for sale.
Organised in Norwich in July 1940, the Mutual Aid Good Neighbours' Association (MAGNA) worked alongside the ARP services and other voluntary post-air raid groups. It provided support for those that had lost their homes and possessions during the Luftwaffe raids on Norwich. Set up by Mrs Ruth Hardy (a qualified ARP instructor and future Lord Mayoress of Norwich) the scheme had "Street Mothers" and "Good Neighbours" and grew to a membership of some 30,000 women.
The armband below follows the general format of the Civil Defence armband introduced in July 1940 with the addition of City of Norfolk and MAGNA. Image courtesy of the Roger Miles' collection.
UPDATE: after sharing this blog online, a collector shared the Zuckerman helmet with MAGNA markings.
An interesting whistle has cropped up on eBay. This acetate / celluloid (a type of plastic and often misidentified as Bakelite, though some books do call these whistles that) is marked "The Metropolitan" and has a maker monogram of J Hudson & Company. The original colour is a dark brown, then called 'walnut'.
Hudson's make thousands of the metal ARP whistles but in all the archives held at Kew I did not find mention of them producing a celluloid whistle (several other companies did) during the Second World War. This whistle was made in the 1930s and probably reused by a member of the ARP or Civil Defence Services.
The lanyard on the whistle does appear to be the style available during the war. An interesting and rare whistle.
Blog updated with information supplied by Bruce Rolph.
A stand down photo (going by the war service chevrons) with an interesting beret badge. The embroidered and printed versions of the beret badges usually had a yellow circle; these don't appear to have that. Perhaps a local manufacturing oddity.
UPDATE: it's not peculiar at all... it's the printed version that doesn't have the circle. I should actually read my own content in future.
Here's an interesting snippet of information from Austin Ruddy:
"Another ebay fake? It certainly looks like it: crudely-marked 'ARP' on the outside flap but stamped '1952' inside the bag. However, there is more to this than meets the eye...
I saw one of these at London's Portobello Road market in 1990 and couldn't work it out. It puzzled me for years until I was told the answer.
Very occasionally, the post-war Civil Defence Corps still used the term 'ARP', so is this a piece of 1950s CDC kit?
No, but the clue is in the 1952 stamp. This is indeed a genuine WW2 ARP first aid bag - there should be a 1940 stamp somewhere inside it - but it was reissued in 1952 to His Majesty's Prison staff, hence the accompanying 'HMP' stamp.
They must have had a surplus glut of these ARP first aid bags and didn't want to send them for ragging."
Coming up for auction at the end of the month at C&T Auctions in Kent is this ARP Pattern 71 tunic. It has ARP buttons, Welwyn Garden City area title, four war service chevrons, senior warden rank chevrons and a St John Ambulance Association qualification badge. The shoulder titles are the printed type and there is a whistle lanyard but the sheen on this make me believe it may be a post-war addition.. 1941 dated and looks to be in fabulous condition.
Although not a rare badge, this Local Air Raid Precautions (LARP) Civil Defence Instructor badge has its original card backing. This details the maker H. W. Miller of Birmingham; the badge has H.W.M. Ltd to its rear.
Direct from the garden shed of a notorious shyster in the Midlands is this monstrosity. As ever, it's being hawked on eBay and there are several idiots who think it looks genuine. Completely fake helmet, ARP was almost never used on helmets, adding 15 front and back because of course that's really important and even West Ham is spelt without the space. Doing a little bit of research, buying a book, joining a few forums and Facebook groups and asking a few questions can stop you from wasting away your hard earned cash on crap like this.
UPDATE: a couple of replies indicate that this may be a British Rail collar insignia from the 1960s. Examples I have been able to find online don't have the circle but it could be a variation.
This badge is currently on eBay and marked as a home front badge. It may possible be a local variation of the bomb reconnaissance badge.
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