Category Archives: Blitz

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

Exeter Fire Guard’s Certificate

Tonight we are looking at the Fire Guard Certificate that came with the University College Exeter STC insignia we looked at on Tuesday. Exeter had suffered its worst bombing during April and May 1942 as part of the Baedeker Raids when the German Luftwaffe targeted cultural and historical cities, rather than those with any strategic importance. In total 30 acres of the city were levelled, 156 people killed and 583 people injured. The Chief Constable’s report after one raid is stark:

‘The raid consisted of a violent attack on the City, with concentration on the shopping centre. The raid was a mixed one, incendiary bombs, high explosive of large calibre and machine-gunning being intermingled. A strong wind was blowing and this undoubtedly had a very considerable effect on the spread of the fires which broke out…the fact remains that a very considerable portion of the city of Exeter is now a mass of ruins.’untitledClearly memories of this devastating period would have still been raw when this certificate was issued to Mr JF Hutton on 10th April 1943:SKMBT_C36415070709100_0001Clause William Lionel painted this picture of Exeter’s Fire Guards in the same year, stood amid the rubble in front of the city’s cathedral:largeThe role of Fire Guards was very important in preventing small incendiary bombs starting fires that could then rage out of control, indeed owners of business premises had a legal obligation to do all in their power to prevent the spread of fire. Fire Prevention duties (Defence Regulation 27a) were defined as:

  •  Keeping watch for the fall of incendiary bombs and any outbreak of fire as a result of hostile attack
  • Taking immediate steps, as far as practicable, to combat such a fire
  • Summoning such assistance as necessary
  • Being in a state of readiness to undertake such duties

 Fire Guards were an increasingly important part of this defence in both commercial and public buildings, with those taking part working long hours unpaid on cold and often wet rooftops at night.

Tuesday Finds

As one of the stall holders commented this morning, the market after a Bank Holiday is often quieter. Despite this I did pick up a few nice small finds for a few pounds so it wasn’t a wasted journey.

 AFS Lapel Badge

This tiny little AFS badge is made of enamelled brass, with the AFS letters and King’s Crown picked out in red enamel:image The reverse of the badge has a fitting to fix it through a button hole on a jacket lapel:imageThese badges were issued to AFS personnel to allow them to distinguish themselves when in civilian clothing. The Auxiliary Fire Service had been set up in July 1938 to assist the regular fire brigades, the part time fire fighters had to complete 60 hours of training and were then issued with a lapel badge. The badge helped them avoid being denounced as avoiding the call up and being branded a coward. Although this would prove to be less of a problem in the Second World War, the Great War had highlighted the difficulties men and women on vital war work, but not having a uniform, could face. The lapel badge was a simple and cheap way of alleviating this problem and most civil defence organisations had some kind of badge to be issued to their members. Although originally issued in silver, this example is made of brass, presumably to reduce costs.

Japanese Invasion Currency

Previously we have looked at a bank note produced by the Allies for issue in France following the liberation of the country here. This note by contrast was produced by the Japanese Government for use in countries they had conquered. This note, worth five cents was issued in Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei:SKMBT_C36415052609280_0001The ‘M’ stamp indicates this note was for issue in Malaya; the 5 cent note was introduced in September 1942 to replace coins which were in short supply. The use of notes was a cheaper way to issue currency and didn’t use strategic supplies of metal therefore the paper is a very cheap woven type, with a simple red-brown printing:SKMBT_C36415052609290_0001The local population of occupied areas was forced to use these notes, which resulted in hyperinflation as the Japanese just printed more notes when they need it. The lack of serial numbers meant they were also widely counterfeited and after the fall of the Japanese Government they lost what little value they had up to that point.

WW1 Postcards

A couple of portrait postcards form the Great War came my way this morning. These sort of postcards are very common and consequently cheap- these cost me 50p each. The first is of a Royal Artilleryman and a woman who is presumable his sweetheart.SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001The rear of the postcard identifies them as Ethel Senior and Sydney Fardnell (40268). Sydney seems a little on the portly side, but had clearly seen action as there is a brass wound stripe on the sleeve:SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001 - CopyThe second postcard, unfortunately, has suffered from quite severe degradation over the last century and is now very faded:SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001 - Copy (2)Colour correcting it allows us to see it more clearly:SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001 - Copy (3)It is hard to tell, but I believe the cap badge is for the Army Service Corps. The rear of the postcard has a date of November 1915 allowing us to date the picture to the second year of the conflict.

Ration Book

At the outbreak of World War Two Britain imported 70% of all its food, including 50% of its meat, 70% of its sugar and cheese, 80% of its fruit and 70% of its cereals and fats. It was clear based on experience from the Great War that Germany would try and starve the country by using a U-Boat blockade and a concerted government effort would be needed to ensure that there was a fair distribution of food to all. To co-ordinate this the government set up a Ministry of Food and on 8th January 1940 the first food rationing came into force. All British Subjects were issued with a personal ration book:SKMBT_C36415051913450_0001This example was issued in July 1941 to a Louisa Pickering, who lived at 40 Railway Cottages, Hessle Road, Hull. The owner’s National Registration Number was filled in on the front to match their Identity Card. Opening the book, the reverse of the cover had a space to list the names and addresses of the owner’s preferred retailers:SKMBT_C36415051913460_0001People were only allowed to shop for food at designated local shops, who were provided with enough food for those registered with them. The next two pages gave instructions on how to use the ration book:

 SKMBT_C36415051913460_0001 - CopySKMBT_C36415051913461_0001

The rest of the book had the coupons themselves:SKMBT_C36415051913461_0001 - CopyThe pages were removed and left with the retailer who would then cancel each one in turn as he issued food to the customer. The resulting used coupons were then returned to the local food office as proof of the rations distributed and the retailer was then allowed to order some more supplies. The back cover of the ration book has some aide memoires for the civilian issued with the book:SKMBT_C36415051913451_0001Note the Ministry of Food stamp for Hull at the bottom right of the page:SKMBT_C36415051913451_0001 - CopyIn 1945 at the end of the war, an adult’s ration for a week was as follows:

Bacon and Ham- 4oz

Sugar- 8oz

Loose Tea- 2oz

Meat- 1s2d worth

Cheese- 2oz (+extra 3oz cheese for vegetarians)

Preserves- 2lb per month

Butter- 2oz

Margarine- 4oz

Lard- 2oz

Sweets- 12oz per month

Other goods such as milk, soap, fuel, clothing and furniture were all rationed as well. Rations-300x294Despite the shortages, it was discovered that people nutrition and health actually improved over the period of the war as people ate less meat and more potatoes and vegetables that were not rationed. Joan Styan was a child during the war:

Once when I was shopping for my grandma, I bought some soap powder which she wanted and which was rationed. It was a box of Oxydol. The shop assistant forgot to tick off the back page of my grandma’s ration book confirming that she had had her soap powder quota for the month. I then went back to the shop and told the assistant of her omission and she immediately rectified it and ticked it off. My grandma thought I was quite mad and said, “You silly girl. If you hadn’t taken my ration book back, I could have had an extra box of soap powder.” I was upset about this as I was always taught to be honest and thought I was doing the right thing. However, rationing was hard and we were so often deprived that we were all glad of any perks that came our way…

We ate basic foods at the British Restaurants which we were told ‘nourished the masses’. These restaurants offered simple meals such as minced beef with parsnips, greens and potatoes. Minced meat was sold at the butchers when available, but my mother was always dubious about its content.

Spam from the U.S.A. was in common use to make up for the shortage of fresh meat. We normally ate at home enjoying our mother’s nutritious cooking. She was obsessed with making us eat all our vegetables especially our greens. During the war, any leftovers from meals were kept for the next day. We often had ‘bubble and squeak’, a British term for cooked greens and cooked potatoes mixed and fried up. My mother made this on a Monday if there were any leftovers from our Sunday dinner.

Fruit was almost non-existent except for apples, which were home grown. The saying: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ may well have originated during the war. We never saw bananas or oranges. All children were allocated milk, cod-liver oil and orange juice. We often had to resort to dried milk (sold in blue tins), dried eggs (sold in red tins) and dried potatoes.

My mother tried so hard to keep us children nourished to the extent that she regularly denied herself. Tinned fruit was also rationed as were fish, cereals and biscuits etc. At least home-grown vegetables were encouraged by the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign. Rationing began in 1940, including sweets, which was a real blow to us children.

Mum readily exchanged her tea coupons from her ration book for sugar coupons with a neighbour as she was in greater need of sugar than tea with three young children. Butter and bacon were severely rationed and we constantly used margarine, the taste of which revolted me and still does even today. I’m definitely one of the few that can tell Stork from butter!

We were allowed one egg each per fortnight. The rich were hit the same as the poor and, whatever we wanted, we had to queue for. Queue, queue, queue. What patience and stamina we must have had. However, we were so grateful for anything and everything we could get. The standard phrase from the customer to the shop assistant was: ‘Is there anything under the counter?’ We were only allowed 2 ounces of butter each week so we often had bread and dripping or condensed milk on our bread. The hardships seemed endless.

National Fire Service Steel Helmet

I have been collecting militaria since I was a child and tonight we are looking at one of the earliest items in my collection. This NFS helmet was bought for me by my Grandfather when I was 5 or 6 years old and if I recall correctly set him back £5. As a child it was used routinely for playing ‘soldiers’ and it was only later on that I appreciated its significance and despite its poor condition it now has a proud spot in my collection as the only civilian helmet I have. The helmet is a standard Mk II helmet, painted with a broad red band and bearing the decals for the National Fire Service:FullSizeRenderaAs can be seen the years have not been kind to this helmet and there is a lot of corrosion destroying the paint finish. Luckily this is long stabilised and the insignia is still clearly visible. Front and centre on the helmet is a transfer of the NFS badge:FullSizeRenderbBelow this is a red number 25 in a cream oval:FullSizeRendercThe NFS was divided into Regions, then Regional HQs and then local Fire Forces, of which there were forty three. This number shows the helmet was issued to the Stone Fire Force. The regional HQ for this Fire Force was in Birmingham and it was part of the Midlands Region. The helmet also has a broad red line around it where the crown meets the brim:IMG_2226This marking indicates the helmet was used by a Company Officer. Turning to the inside of the helmet, unfortunately the liner is long gone, with just a rivet remaining. The elasticated chinstrap remains however:FullSizeRenderdOn the underside of the brim is a badly damaged serial number, most likely the owner’s NFS service number:FullSizeRenderThe NFS are often a vital but overlooked part of the wartime story in the UK. The fire fighters of both the AFS and the NFS tackled huge conflagrations caused by German bombing and they rescued countless scores of lives. Although often seen as joining to dodge life in the forces at the start of the war, once the bombs started falling their heroism was soon recognised and they made a vital contribution to the war effort, more than 900 fire fighters of both sexes were to lose their lives in the war.