Home banner
Civil Defence
Being responsible for the safety of the people in the area, an air raid warden needed to have some equipment at the post in case of emergencies. A whistle was carried to summon help; a lamp to help locate people who may be trapped in bomb damaged buildings, a first aid kit and flask and of course, a gas mask. These gas masks were never actually needed in World War II, but they were carried by everyone in case of need. Civil Defence workers and first aiders were given courses in the recognition of different gases, by smell, and were taught how to treat people suffering from the effects of these gases. Click the player below to hear Peggy's account of gas training. Civil defence workers were also trained to use a stirrup pump, operated in a bucket of water, to put out fires until the fire brigade should arrive.

Photo: A collection of equipment belonging to an air raid warden
A collection of equipment belonging to an air raid warden. Property of The DeCoverly Collection.
A report centre received calls from the individual warden's posts, notifying them of outside activity during an air raid. The telephonists would then relay the information to the emergency services and rescue workers. If the telephones failed, then volunteer messengers were sent out on bicycles to collect information and deliver it to the appropriate authority. Both men and women worked in the Civil Defence, but only men were allowed in The Home Guard. This was Britains second line of defence, staffed by those too old for the regular forces, or those who could not be spared from their jobs to go away and fight. These were the people in 'reserved occupations', such as farmers and some skilled workers whose products were needed in wartime. However women were allowed to train in defence with the WVS, although they would not be allowed to fire guns unless the enemy invaded. Click the player below to hear Ivy's views on the home guard.

Photo: WVS defence training
WVS defence training. Picture copyright Imperial War Museum neg HU36277
Home icon
The ATS Wrens WAAF Landarmy WVS and WI Industry Nursing Entertainment