Category Archives: ARP

ARP Cigarette Cards (Part 3)

We come to our third and final post on the Will’s ARP cigarette cards, looking at another ten examples form this set. I have now managed to add a full set in the album to my collection so we may come back later and look at the other twenty cards in due course.

Card 31- The Service Respirator

This is the respirator designed for the fighting services. It will also be used by members of the civil Air Raid Precautions services who might have strenuous duties to perform in heavy gas concentrations. This respirator gives the same protection as the Civilian Respirator but for a longer period. It is designed so that the weight of the container portion is carried in the haversack on the chest, and the special face-piece allows heavy and accurate work to be performed without difficulty.skm_c45817021416010-copyCard 32- A Heavy Anti-Gas Suit

The illustration shows member of a decontamination squad in oilskin suits, rubber boots and respirators; a hood is also worn, but this is not shown in the picture. This equipment will give complete protection against the liquid or vapour of mustard or other persistent gases. It is essential to have squads of men trained to work in this equipment so that they can deal with and effectively neutralise any contamination which may have taken place. Owing to the fact that no air can get into the suits, men cannot work in them for very long periods of time.skm_c45817021416012-copy-6Card 33- Rubber Clothing

During an air raid the safety of the citizen may depend to considerable extent on his knowledge of how to behave. Splashings from the liquid liberated form certain gas bombs, or subsequent contact with it, produce a serious blistering of the skin. The Government provides each individual with a respirator which is complete protection for the eyes, throat and lungs. Prudent persons, if forced to go out of doors during raids, should provide themselves, in addition, with rubber or oilskin coats and hats, and rubber boots.skm_c45817021416010-copy-9

Card 34-Air Raid Wardens and Civilian Volunteer Despatch Rider

Air raid wardens are volunteers enrolled by the local authority. They are specially trained to advise their fellow citizens on Air Raid Precautions and to act as reporting agents of bomb damage. In the event of an air raid, they would be stationed at “warden’s posts”, perhaps a quarter of a mile apart, or less. The picture shows wardens handing reports to a volunteer despatch-rider. All wear steel helmets and Civilian Duty Respirators. The wardens are also wearing armlets. Note the shading device on the lamp of the motor cycle.skm_c45817021416012-copy-7Card 35- Volunteer Mobile Corps (Owner Drivers)

Patriotic owners of private cars throughout the country have offered their services and their cars free to local authorities engaged on schemes of Air Raid Precautions. Such action has materially helped in providing the necessary transport required for Air Raid Precautions services in many towns and urban districts. This picture shows the drivers of some fifty cars running to their vehicles during a practice alarm at a well-known seaside resort. From their place of assembly, these cars were driven to various strategic points in the town, including the Fire Stations and Police Stations, whence their services were utilized as required, in accordance with a pre-arranged plan.skm_c45817021416012-copy-5Card 36- A First Aid Party

The picture shows the four members of a first aid party running with a stretcher to a place where casualties have occurred. As gas has been used, they are wearing a light suit of protective clothing, with gum boots and Service Respirators. The scheme of Air Raid Precautions provides for the establishment of first aid posts in large numbers, so that they will be within easy access of any casualty. Such posts will be equipped to deal with minor injuries and casualties due to non-persistent gases.skm_c45817021416012-copyCard 37- Supply Depot for Respirators

This subject shows the examination of respirators at one of London’s Regional Supply Depots, of which there are now three in existence to serve the needs of the Metropolis. Ten similar Regional Supply Depots are being constructed in the provinces. Respirators, after being suitably packed for long storage at these Depots, are then to be moved to store centres. Each store centre is expected to house about 30,000 to 40,000 respirators, and its location is to be determined after consultation with local authorities. In the event of an emergency, respirators would be unpacked at the store centres, prepared for use, and issued to the public through distributing depots which would each handle about 4,000 respirators.skm_c45817021416012Card 38- Mobile Gas Vans

Home Office mobile gas vans, two of which are illustrated, are used for the testing of respirators and for the purpose of training men and women under the conditions of an actual gas attack. The vans are so built that a gas cloud can be put up in the body of the van; the white canopies at the back are airlocks to prevent the escape of the gas when the door of the van itself is opened. The picture shows a group undergoing training at Hendon Police College; the respirator in use is the service type.skm_c45817021416012-copy-copyCard 39- Civilian Anti-Gas School

The Civilian Anti-Gas Schools are provided by the Home Office. The first to be inaugurated is at Eastwood Park, Falfield, Glos., while there is another at The Hawkhills Easingwold, near York. The Schools train anti-gas instructors for the public service, for local authorities and others. Sixty students are taken at a time, and the course lasts two weeks. The picture shows postal workers undergoing training. Those on the left, wearing oilskin coats and Civilian Duty Respirators are women telephonists. The men on the right are being fitted with Service Respirators before going into the gas chamber.skm_c45817021416012-copy-8Card 40- Testing for Gas Contamination

The picture shows a member of a Decontamination Squad using an instrument for detecting if the ground has been contaminated with mustard gas. The instrument is painted at the end with a special paint which, when brought into contact with mustard gas, will turn a different colour. The man is shown wearing protective clothing and his Service Respirator, but as he is working after the raid is over, he is not wearing his steel helmet.skm_c45817021416010


ARP Cigarette Cards (Part 2)

Tonight we are looking at the next ten cards in the Air Raid Precautions set of Will’s cigarette cards, you can see the first post here.

Card 21 Light Trailer Fire-Pump

Under Fire Precautions schemes, the Home office is issuing to many local authorities light trailer fire-pumps of the type illustrated. This pump has the great advantage of being easily manœuvred; not only can it be towed behind any motor car, but it is also light enough to be manhandled. It is capable of delivering two useful fire-fighting streams of water, and can deliver 120 gallons per minute at a pressure of 80lb to the square inch. The pump unit can be unshipped from its chassis and carried to any convenient position where water is availableskm_c45817021416010-copy-6Card 22 Light Trailer Fire-Pump in Action

Air Raid Precautions schemes will include ample provision for emergency fire-fighting. The home Office is issuing to many local authorities light trailer fire-pumps, described on Card No. 21. The pump is here shown in action; it has been unshipped from the chassis on which it is usually carried for towing purposes, and is taking a supply of water from a garden pond, to which it has been carried by hand. The light trailer fire-pump can also work from a street mains supply, and is capable of delivering two useful fire-fighting streams of water.skm_c45817021416010-copy-5Card 23 Medium Trailer Fire-Pump

Medium trailer motor fire-pumps will be an important feature in emergency fire-brigade measures. These pumps are towed behind private cars or commercial vans ( in which the fire-men and additional fire-fighting gear may be carried), and can be manhandled over rough ground or debris impassable to ordinary fire-engines or motor cars. A pump of this type will give four good fire-fighting streams of water at high pressure.skm_c45817021416010-copy-4Card 24 Medium Trailer Fire-Pump in Action

Any scheme of Air Raid Precautions must include the provision of a great number of special fire-fighting appliances. Pumping units of the type illustrated will be required in large numbers for use under air raid conditions. They are specially designed for trailing behind motor cars or light lorries. Crews of 4 or 5 trained firemen are required to man these fire-pumps, which are capable of delivering two or more streams of water at high pressure on to a fire.skm_c45817021416010-copy-3Card 25 Emergency Heavy Pump Unit

The illustration shows a high-powered emergency fire-pump, carrying a telescopic ladder. This unit, which has been designed by the Home Office, is capable of delivering over 1,000 gallons of water a minute at high pressure, and is able to supply a number of good fire-fighting streams. There is accommodation on the unit for both crew and necessary fire-fighting gear. The chassis on which the pump is mounted is extremely mobile, and can be manœuvred in a very small space.skm_c45817021416010-copy-2Card 26 Hose-Laying Lorry

For laying long lines of delivery hose, such as may be necessary at large fires for the purpose of utilising distant water supplies, a special motor appliance is used. The lengths of hose contained in the appliance are joined together and specially packed as shown in the illustration, so that they pay out in one or more continuous lines as the appliance is driven ahead.skm_c45817021416010-copy-8Card 27 The Civilian Respirator

This respirator consists of a face-piece, to which is attached by means of a rubber band a metal box containing filters which absorb all known war gases. The face-piece is held in position by means of web straps fitting around the head. When the respirator is properly fitted and the straps adjusted, it completely protects the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs. The strap should be pinned at the right tension, so that the respirator can be slipped on in an instant. This respirator will be issued free to the public.skm_c45817021416010-copy-7Card 28 The Civilian Respirator- How to Adjust it

Great care must be taken to see that the respirator is correctly fitted and adjusted, in order that a supply of pure air, quite free from gas, is ensured for breathing. The respirator is made so that if fits closely round the face, and is provided with adjustable straps to hold it in the correct position. It is important that the respirator be tried on and the straps properly adjusted to the requirements of the wearer (see picture), so that it may be put on at a moment’s notice.skm_c45817021416012-copy-2Card 29 The Civilian Respirator- How to Remove it

The pictures shows the RIGHT way to take off a Civilian Respirator. This should be done by slipping the head harness forward from the back of the head. It is important that the respirator should be taken off in this way. The WRONG way to take it off is by taking hold of the metal box containing the filters and pulling the face-piece off by the chin. By this method there is a danger of bending and cracking the transparent window. If this window is cracked, the respirator is useless.skm_c45817021416012-copy-4Card 30 The Civilian Duty Respirator

This respirator is of stronger construction than the civilian respirator and is intended for those who might have to work in the presence of gas and could not go to a gas-protected refuge room. The respirator protects the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs against all known war-gasses. The face-piece is of moulded rubber, and the eye-pieces are of strong glass. There is an outlet valve opposite the nose; the protuberance at the side of the face-piece can be used to fit a microphone for speaking on the telephone.skm_c45817021416012-copy-3

ARP Cigarette Cards (Part 1)

We have looked at cigarette cards in the past on the blog, and how obsessively they were collected by many in the interwar period. Manufacturers were always looking for new topics to cover on their cards, and in the late 1930s ARP procedures became a very popular subject, no doubt with tacit approval from government who were keen that as many British subjects as possible were aware of what they could do to help themselves in the case of an attack on the civilian population. One of the most common sets was produced by Wills and although I have only thirty of the fifty cards, we are going to take a look at them in detail. Due to the number of cards, this will be split over three posts, each looking at just ten of the cards, the text accompanying each comes from the rear of the card.

Card 1   Choosing your Refuge Room

The picture shows the rooms which should be chosen in typical houses as air raid refuge rooms. A cellar or basement is best of all. In a small house where there is no cellar of basement, the ground floor will be safest, because top floors are always to be avoided on account of the risk from small incendiary bombs. The fewer windows in external walls in a refuge room, the better, and a room of which the window is flanked by a building or a strong wall is more advantageous than one having a completely exposed window.skm_c45817021416021-copy-7Card 2 Rendering your refuge room gas-proof

The red arrows in the picture show the danger points at which gas may enter; these must be sealed as instructed below. Cracks in ceilings and walls should be filled in with putty or pasted over with paper. Cracks between floorboards, round the skirting or where pipes pass through the walls should be filled in with pulp made of sodden newspaper. All ventilators and fireplaces should be stopped up with paper or rags. Windows should be wedged firmly to keep them tight, the frames sealed around with gummed strip or paper, and any broken panes boarded in or pasted over with strong paper. The cracks round doors should be covered with stout paper and the keyhole plugged.skm_c45817021416021-copy-8Card 3 Making a door gas-proof

A carpet or blanket should be fixed over the door opening as shown in the illustration. This should be kept wet and at least twelve inches allowed to trail on the floor. Such an arrangement reduces the risk of gas when the door is opened for use. In addition, if there is a large crevice under the door, a wooden strip covered in felt should be nailed to the floor to make a gas proof joint. The keyhole and all cracks must be stopped up.skm_c45817021416021-copy-9Card 4 Window protection

This illustration shows three methods of preventing fragments of glass flying round a room when the window is damaged by a bomb explosion. (A) By two layers of transparent wrapping material gummed all over the inside of the glass. This admits light. (B) By mosquito netting gummed to the glass. (C) By stout paper pasted on the glass. Should the glass eb completely shattered, then attach by means of thumbscrews to the inside of the window, a frame (D) in which there are two thicknesses of blanket with ½ in. mesh wire netting on each side. Another simple method is represented by a curtain (E) which is let down and fixed around the edges by strips of wood nailed to the window frame.skm_c45817021416021-copyCard 5 Window protection against blast.

Ordinary blast may be shattered by the blast effects of high explosive bombs, but there are various substitutes for ordinary glass that are more resistant. The left hand panes in the picture are of a specially strengthened glass and the right-hand panes are of non-inflammable transparent celluloid 1/10 in. thick reinforced on the inside by ½ in. mesh wire netting. Both offer considerable resistance to blast pressure, although they may be penetrated by steel splinters form bombs. If this should occur, the holes and cracks in the damaged pane should at once be pasted over with stout paper to make the pane gas-proof.skm_c45817021416021Card 6 Types of splinter-proof wall

In the event of an air raid, steel splinters and fragments form high explosive bombs may cause many casualties. It is therefore important to take protective measures against such fragments. The picture shows three types of wall (including methods of improvisation) which will afford protection. The first (right) is brick 13 ½ inch thick. The second (centre) consists of broken brick, rubble or shingle 2 ft. thick between corrugated iron sheets. The third (left) consists of these materials in boxes.skm_c45817021416021-copy-2Card 7 Protecting your windows- a sandbag defence

Walls of sandbags or sacks filled with earth, sand etc., are the best protection for window openings of refuge rooms on the ground floor. The picture shows how this should be done. Walls should be 2ft 6in thick at the top and should overlap the window opening by at least 12 in all round; the base should be wider to prevent the wall collapsing. Such a wall will keep out splinters from high explosive bombs and protect the glass of the window from being shattered by blast. The window must still be sealed against gas.skm_c45817021416021-copy-3Card 8 Equipping your refuge room (A)

Having chosen your refuge room and rendered it gas-proof, you should furnish it with the following articles: Table and chairs. Gum and paper for sealing windows and cracks. Tinned food and a tin to contain bread etc. Plates, cups, knives, forks etc. Books, writing materials, cards etc. to pass the time with. Wireless set, gramophone, etc.skm_c45817021416021-copy-4Card 9 Equipping your refuge room (B)

In addition to those listed on Card No 8. your refuge room should also contain the following articles: Washstand and basin, towels, soap etc. Plenty of drinking water in jugs for drinking, washing, fire-fighting etc. Chamber pots, toilet paper, disinfectant. A simple hand pump for fire-fighting. A box of sand with a shovel. Overcoats, rugs etc. for warmth. Mattress to lie on. Gum boots and mackintosh to go out in after a raid.skm_c45817021416021-copy-5Card 10 A garden dug-out

The picture shows a dug-out which is gas-proof and will give protection from blast and splinters from high explosive bombs. The excavation is in the form of a trench 7 ft. deep and 6 ft. wide at the top and 4 ft. wide at the bottom. The earth sides are supported by corrugated iron sheets held in place by uprights as shown in the picture. The roof consists of corrugated iron sheets resting on wooden joists laid across the excavation. Inside the entrance is an air lock formed by 2 gas curtains. Outside the dugout, steps lead down from one side to the entrance.skm_c45817021416021-copy-6

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

ARP Casualty Label

It was quickly recognised that in the event of mass air raids, a quick and easy way of identifying casualties was needed for those who would then care for them. Medical staff needed to know the nature of any injuries and what drugs had been given to patients and there would not always be time for full notes or explanation. The solution was to create simple card labels that could be tied to a casualty’s clothing giving details of where they had been found, what injuries they had suffered and what if any pain relief had been administered. These labels were produced locally so vary from town to town, this casualty label comes from Cheshire County Council:imageAs can be seen it lists important information for medical staff, the emphasis being on problems that would need immediate treatment such as gas contamination, severe blood loss and details of any morphine given. The rear of the card contains further information that could be filled out if the casualty was unconscious and couldn’t tell nursing staff themselves:imageThese labels were used from the start of the war in training exercises as described by a boy taking the part of a casualty:

It was early in the war, I was 8 or 9 years of age at the time. A family friend, Derek Pratt, was an air raid warden, he rounded up myself and several friends to act as air raid casualties in a civil defence exercise. The exercise started and we were made to lay down in the street, on blankets, as bomb casualties. We each had a label tied to us denoting our ‘injuries’. Eventually an ambulance arrived, we were put on stretchers and taken to St Mary’s hospital in Colchester. Once there we were removed from the ambulance and examined by a doctor. It was at this moment panic set in, when it was my turn to be examined, the doctor looked at my label, and instructed the stretcher bearers to take me immediately to the operating theatre, to have a leg amputated. I took quite a lot of reassuring, before I was convinced that they would not actually cut off my leg.

Using small boys as pretend casualties seems to have been universal:

Members of the Boy Scouts Association acted as ‘casualties’. They were brought on stretchers in the ambulances from the episodes with a label attached stating the exact nature of the casualty impersonated and the area of the occurrence. The cooling room was laid out as a casualty clearing station, and as each casualty was brought in, the first and second portions of the label were detached by the undressers. The first portion was retained for record purposes, the second “being tied to the left wrist by a rubber band attached; while the third portion remained tied to the discarded clothing, which was placed in air-tight bins and transferred to the mustard gas laundry in another part of the building by specially detailed men.

Men and women also helped with the training, here the label can be seen attached to a woman’s lapel:826f60f8-915b-4c0e-b14e-3ae13604637a-A05249_142Sadly within a few months the labels would be used for real.

Tuesday Finds

A quieter day on the market today, no doubt down to the cold weather, however I have picked up a few more nice bits and again the most expensive thing was a mere £2. To be honest this is a quiet time of year, with few boot sales for the dealers to go and get new stock from so if I can pick up two or three little bits then I feel I have done well.

Royal Navy Postcards

These two postcards would appear to date from the Edwardian Era. Unusually they are on much thicker mounting card than the usual thin postcard material. The first card depicts sailors loading flour:SKMBT_C36415020311510_0001Whilst the second shows them preparing to hoist an Admiral’s flag:SKMBT_C36415020311510_0001aBoth cards have a makers name of ‘S Cribb’ of Southsea. As postcards were often collected by young boys at the time, its possible these were made for these collectors rather than to be posted through the mail, thus explaining the heavy duty card.

Civil Defence Corps Armband

Whilst Civil Defence is commonly associated with the Second World War, it continued to be a major factor in Cold War planning. Large scale preparations were put in place in the early 1950s in anticipation of an attack by the Soviets (which thankfully never materialised). The Civil Defence Corps was disbanded in 1968, but still had 75,000 members at this point. The civil powers stockpiled huge quantities of uniforms, equipment and insignia and in the last twenty years these stock piles have been emptied and sold on at rock bottom prices. This armband is from these post war supplies and is a yellow arm band, with a machine embroidered crown and ‘Civil Defence Corps Rescue’ title:FullSizeRender1It is secured by a metal buckle:FullSizeRender2And faintly dated 1954:FullSizeRender3This is one of a number of variations known to exist and I have had a couple of the ‘Welfare’ variants of this armband for many years. These are cheap and plentiful and I paid £2 for this, which seems to be about the right price.

ARP Envelope

This envelope is sadly rather battered, but is nonetheless interesting. The envelope originally contained cards for recording the number and size of gasmasks for each house in a Warden’s district:SKMBT_C36415020311120_0001This envelope had been used to store photographic paper, and it is this reuse that has led to its survival. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, one of the first duties of ARP Wardens was to go to every civilian’s house and measure the inhabitants and order their gas masks. Once these had been supplied, the wardens would then help people ensure the masks were adjusted and fitted correctly.

Fire Guard’s Armband

In the run up to the Second World War, the British government invested a lot of time and money in setting up air raid precautions procedures ready for the expected mass bombing. These procedures were based around the assumption that most bombing would be high explosive, resulting in large casualties and blast damage. When the blitz finally came it was found that the Germans dropped far more incendiary devices than HE bombs and the ARP and fire brigade systems struggled to cope with the outbreak of many little fires. They could not reach them all in time to stop them becoming large blazes and they did not have the legal powers to break into empty property to deal with small fires before they took hold. Clearly a rethink was in order and the government quickly drafted legislation to give Civil Defence workers legal rights to enter property without the owner’s permission if they suspected an incendiary bomb had hit it. The government also ‘conscripted’ civilians into a Fire Guard scheme. The Fire Guard scheme was set up in September 1940 as the Fire Watchers Order, it became the Fire Watchers Service in January 1941 before becoming known as Fire Guards in August 1941.

 Fire Guards were to take it in turns to watch the fall of bombs in their local area and alert the civil defence authorities and the National Fire Service of any hits to buildings. They were also to attempt to tackle small blazes by incendiary bombs before they took hold and became larger conflagrations. To do this each Fire Guard was issued with an armband to identify their official role:

FullSizeRenderThe armband is made of white cotton, overprinted in blue with yellow lettering. They were also supposed to each receive a copy of the Fire Guards Handbook:

FullSizeRender1This little booklet outlined their responsibilities, gave instructions for fighting a fire with a stirrup pump and some basic First Aid. It was expected that they would be able to deal with the 1kg magnesium electron incendiary bomb with either a bucket of water or sand. They were usually issued with a long shovel and/or stirrup pump for fighting the bomb, and a Zuckerman helmet and possibly a dustbin lid for personal protection; apart from this they often just wore their civilian clothing:

D17934-595x406The original caption for this photograph reads, As well as working in a factory and being a member of the Air Training Corps, 19 year old George Metcalfe also spends time as a fire watcher. He is on duty once every ten days, and can be seen here in tin hat and ‘Fire Guard’ brassard patrolling his ‘beat’ around Norwood, London.” As can be seen from this, Fire Guards had to fit their duties around their jobs, home life and other service commitments like the Home Guard and ATC. It should also be remembered that women were an essential part of the Fire Guard:06134e279656787e5c3ec41a7a01dc97This was one of the first cases of female conscription in the war and highlighted the fact that this was a war in which all; young and old, male and female were going to be taking part.