A large number of fake and reproduction items are up at auction at East Bristol Auctions on 22 May 2020. The description of most of the fake ARP badges says "unknown origin" and for the buyer to ensure they know what they are buying. A large number of lots are from the same militaria forger found on eBay. Included is another fake London Underground Zuckerman as well as a Straits Settlements ARP badge added to a Zuckerman. There is also a pair of faked splinter googles. There'sa fake GPO Warden helmet and a stencilled LCC Ambulance helmet. There is also a fake Women's Home Defence enamel and embroidered badge.
Amongst the other lots are other items regularly offered for sale on eBay by shysters - fake First World War airplane fabric, WW1 tank metal face masks and WW2 linen flags. Caveat emptor...
Here are the four common ARP plaques or wall signs that are regularly sold as originals. These light weight cast aluminium signs have been doing the rounds for many years now. One is particularly egregious having two crowns on it and another replicates the use of "ARP" twice. Some have been painted, some sanded and shined. A few even have spurious marks on the back in an attempt to prove originality. There are even a few examples in brass rather than aluminium. As far as I can tell there are no original photos showing any of these designs being used during the war. They often appear on eBay (from the same sellers...there's a clue to authenticity...) and have filtered through to auction houses and regularly crop up on militaria websites. Prices vary but usually they sell in mid twenties but have been known to go for a lot more.
75 years after VE Day, today's celebrations are somewhat muted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a number of documentaries on TV covering the anniversary with some excellent colour footage available to view. The below shot on The Strand in London demonstrates the exuberance of the public at the news of the end of hostilities in Europe.
It seems I am spending an inordinate amount of time at the moment detailing fake WW2 ARP items on this blog. We have had a whole slew of fake ARP badges and faked helmets recently appearing on eBay. The seller of both the fake badges and helmets also has fake splinter googles for sale every six weeks or so.
The fake splinter googles are always the same and never have the original padding around the nose and forehead found on originals or the original adjustable head strap. There appears to be a few original styles with some articulated at the centre. Clearly the faker cannot manage to copy that but is listing these regularly. He's also using his acid bath to age the goggles. Sadly, they are always selling for over £40.
I should add that these googles are often marketed as being for RAF use. It appears a single reference in a book has led to this being taken as gospel. The truth is that they were not ever used by the RAF in WW2.
A few weeks ago I received an email from a collector asking about a recent purchase he had made. The item was bought on eBay from a notorious faker of militaria and I informed the buyer he had been conned. The buyer subsequently found the badge had been glued with modern adhesive and bent to fit on the helmet. The helmet had also been slightly dented to accommodate the badge. The fake blue residue was an attempt at enamelling but was just blue paint. Thankfully, the seller complained to eBay and managed to get their money back (over £150). The seller continues to hawk fake items and con collectors alas.
This remarkable 1943 colour film shows various Civil Defence Services undertaking training demostrations. First there's a First Aid Party retrieving a casualty from a bunker. This is followed by a demonstration of fire fighting in front of dignitaries included Home Secretary Herbert Morrison. The Wardens' Service, Fire Guard and fire services are involved. The final chapter covers Home Guard.
The film is free to watch via the BFI website
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 new addition to list of fake enamel ARP lapel badges. Usually seller has listed this. Has all the same hallmarks of the fakes: acid staining for age, same rear, same old pin and clasp. Another fake to watch out for.
See a complete list of the known fake ARP badges on the market.
In September 1944 war service chevrons were issued to Civil Defence personnel. Each red chevron was issued for each complete 12 months' service. The below document also shows that members of the Fire Guard could also apply the chevrons to their Fire Guard armband. I have seen the chevrons also sewn onto the Civil Defence armband.
I recently picked up this very interesting book entitled “Lloyd’s Under Fire”. It is a tribute to the company’s civil defence forces and was published in 1947. The copy I bought also came with a few letters addressed to a G. L. Knowles. According to the book he was the Officer Commanding Fire Squad No. 6. There is also a drawing of this person.
The book contains information about how Lloyd’s prepared its buildings for air raids and how during the war staff volunteered at both the company’s own air raid shelters but also at public shelters within the London Underground system. This is very interesting as it mentions the “New Tube Shelters” and also that the deep station at Goodge Street was a female-only shelter.
Contained in the book are a wealth of photographs and also one very interesting double page layout showing the destruction caused by bombing around Lloyd’s London headquarters. Amazingly, for such a large building in an area of London that received a lot of Luftwaffe attention it survived the war unscathed.
Here's another of the fake ARP badges that gets listed on eBay every couple of months or so. This one doesn't even have the fake pin and clasp. It does have the acid staining to 'age' the badge and piss-poor enamelling. I now know what this is based on. It's a factory Fire Watcher badge. The fraudster has copied the design but added Rolls Royce and whatever R & R means is anyone's guess.
See a list of the current examples of fake ARP badges.
Yet another fake variation of the Hong Kong ARP badge. This time using their copious supply of red and blue enamel we have this monstrosity. Always with the same fake features - acid dipping to age, crappy enamelling, the exact same pin fitting to rear.
For more information see this page on ARP badges that lists all the currently known examples.
UPDATE: the fake badge sold for £279. I'm utterly speechless...
On 13 June 1944 the first V1 flying bomb was launched from ramps in France. For a further 290 days another 10,385 missiles were fired towards the UK from France and Holland. The majority were aimed at London and the south east England with 40% of the V1 missiles falling on the County of London. The constant alerts and drain on the Civil Defence services led to a call for wardens in other areas to volunteer to go to London for short periods to assist. The below documents highlight the secret communiques seeking assistance, in this case from Cornwall.
I am indebted to George P. for sharing these documents.
Stephen Crookes was kind enough to share photos of his Belling Bomb Snuffer. I'd not seen an actual example before. Using a long pole the device was to be placed over a burning incendiary bomb. Appears from the advert that the bomb snuffer also contained dry sand that smothers the incendiary device (the top of the container had flammable divider that once burned through would allow the sand to fall). I'm guessing it would prevent showers of burning metal but if the device was on a wooden floor I would assume it would continue to burn through that though.
In passing, I'm also slightly concerned with another Belling 'war-time necessity' mentioned on the advert - a "Baby Cooker"...
Faked WW2 ARP helmets on eBay appears to be becoming a regular issue these days. One particular area the fraudsters are regularly attempting to exploit is the combination of ARP services (Warden, First Aid Party etc) and the various railway companies that existed during the second world war (LMS, GWR, LNER etc).
We recently had a Zuckerman helmet with a made up badge for the London Underground and the below is another fantasy piece. The fraudsters take a genuine WW2-dated helmet, often with original markings and then slap a railway badge onto the helmet. There's a reason there's no original photographic evidence of these helmets ever appearing and that is they were never made in the war.
Adding a badge, especially screwing it into a helmet makes absolutely no sense. First, you now have screw ends and bolts that can pierce your skull. Secondly, it reduces the efficiency of the helmet. These fakes are complete and utter b*llocks but buyers continue to fork out outrageous sums for them.
I am indebted to Chris Chandler for sharing this very rare brochure detailing various signs for use during wartime. Produced by a company called Gowshall Limited it lists various types of oil, gas or electric signage and portable road signs; it includes Warden, Shelter, Cleansing etc. The full catalogue is available in this downloadable PDF:
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.
Quite a scarce poster has cropped up on eBay. A pre-war recruitment poster for Air Raid Warderns in the Poplar area of London. Not sure is this is a reproduction or not.
I am indebted to a regular contributor to this blog for the following items. NARPAC - National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee - were a charity aiding the welfare of animals (both domestic and farm). The items below come from West Worthing and were probably used on a vehicle being used by NARPAC volunteers. The item bottom left may be a helmet decal.
A form used by households to claim a shelter (I assume this will be the Anderson-style shelter for the garden). Hundreds of thousands of these must have been printed but it's an item you rarely come across these days.
A member of London County Council 's(L.C.C.) Ambulance service assists a colleague with their anti-gas clothing.
Another photo from the selection being offered on eBay. This photo was taken in May 1940 and shows signs and posters on the side of Poplar Town Hall on Bow Road, London.
A number of early war photographs have been put up for sale on eBay. The below shows a wardens' post and First Aid Post on Gale Street (the smaller sign second from the top says LMS Station Becontree). Bectrontree is in Barking & Dagenham in London). As per regulations all street signage showing distances to towns have been removed and replaced with other signs. The wardens' post is typical of the many temporary posts built at the start of the war.
A pair of second world war Tangent air raid sirens are up on eBay priced at £350. A large number of sirens (or syrens) on eBay are claimed to be WW2 vintage but are actually from the Cold War period. Gent & Co. Ltd of Leicester were the manufacturer of Tangent sirens and they made both hand-cranked and mains-powered models.
Here are 16 cartoons created to explain the role of a WW2 Bomb Reconnaissance Officer during the second world war. The cartoons were created by No. 2 Bomb Disposal Group, Royal Engineers for use by the Civil Defence Services. I am indebted to Chris Ransted, author of Bomb Disposal in World War Two, for sharing these images.
In slide 3 'köpfring' refers to a a metal ring, triangular in cross section, designed to prevent a bomb penetrating the ground. In slide 10, the term 'camouflets' is an artificial cavern created by an explosion. If the explosion reaches the surface then it is called a crater.
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