The government set up a national ARP organisation, encouraging ordinary members of the public to volunteer. ARP stood for Air Raid Precautions. Men and women were encouraged to become Air Raid Wardens, members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Civil Defence Nursing Service, Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance.
There were around 1.4 million ARP wardens in Britain during World War 2, mostly unpaid with day time jobs. Their uniform consisted of overalls, an armlet and a steel helmet with ARP or A written across the helmet .It was a an extremely important job and some were awarded the George Cross.
Air Raid Wardens were allocated blocks of streets. Their tasks were to direct people into the shelters when the air raid warning sounded, making sure that no outside lights were showing and rescuing people trapped in collapsed buildings. Thirty four wardens, both men and women were killed in the Belfast raids.
The ARP helmet that we have selected as our object of the month for February 2013 was worn during the Belfast Blitz. It will be on display later in March at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in a small temporary display in the gallery of our Recent Acquisitions.
Photo: courtesy of Bryan Ruledge.