ARP Shell Dressing

Before the Second World War the government expected mass casualties form bombing and set up the Air Raid Precautions scheme to help deal with the expected aftermath. It also began stockpiling medical supplies to treat the expected number of injuries, including many millions of shell dressing. These were identical to those issued to the army, but said ‘’Air Raid precautions Department’ on the top:imageThe instructions on their use were printed on the outer wrapper so anyone who needed to use one knew what to do:imageInterestingly this example is undated, but most orders seem to have been placed in the late 1930s. A pair of cotton ties are sewn to the packet to allow the dressing to be secured to equipment etc:imageFirst aid was taken very seriously and the following advice on treating wounded civilians comes from a Civil Defence handbook:

First Aid Treatment of Wounds

As in cases of bleeding get the casualty to lie or sit down.

Stop Bleeding

Protect form further shock

Treat broken bones if present

Cover the wound as quickly as possible with a clean dry dressing.

Never attempt to cleanse a wound at an incident. In exceptional cases where there is extensive damage and shock a dressing may be applied through tears in clothing to avoid further uncovering of the wound. This will help to keep germs out of the wound and will ease pain.

Be careful not to waste time in putting dressings in putting dressings on multiple unimportant wounds which are not a danger to life in themselves but the shock from them is- you will be delaying the removal of the patient to hospital by so doing.


  • First aid dressings, large and medium
  • Mine dressings
  • Shell dressings
  • Triangular bandages

Apply one of these as described for the treatment of external bleeding. If a limb is injured support it with one of the triangular bandages used as a sling after applying the dressing. Do not stint on the dressings. If you are dealing with a large wound apply a large dressing (e.g. shell dressing) or several of them. The casualty will be grateful for the protection and warmth and they will ease the pain.

ARP wardens practiced diligently throughout the phoney war so they were ready when the bombs actually began to fall, saving many lives and working alongside nurses and ambulance-men:A-Mobile-Unit-clearing-casualtiesafter-an-air-raid


One thought on “ARP Shell Dressing

  1. Pingback: Royal Navy Shell Dressing | Tales from the Supply Depot

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