CHAPTER 18 STORES AND EQUIPMENT

The volume of stores and equipment which had to be provided for Civil Defence purposes was amazing. Initially, it seemed as though it would be a simple matter to equip a service such as the Civil Defence but even the accommodation provided by Pretoria Avenue School (which had fortunately been closed in 1938) proved inadequate on occasions for the storage of all the items which had to be dealt with. In 1938 before Government Stores had been issued to any considerable extent, we purchased such items as we thought might be required and later were glad that we had done so for, purchasing at that earliest date, we saved some thousands of pounds as compared with prices we would have had to pay later. The Government issues of equipment were designed to provide all that was necessary but from time to time, local authorities were advised to make local purchases as the Government stores would not be ready. These local purchases were subsequently replaced, as wastage occurred, by the Government s stores and, of course, where purchases had been made locally they were regarded as grant-earning. The question of storage was not only one of space but regard had also to be given to the advantages and disadvantages of centralisation as compared with dis¬persal. If we had all our eggs in one basket we might lose all the eggs from one bomb. If we scattered them over the town in Sub-Stores we offered a greater number of targets for the bombs to hit. Ultimately, a compromise was arranged by which each of our ten A.R.P. Districts had its own special store of personal equipment for the services and a limited amount of general equipment, while the bulk of the stores in hand were held at Pretoria Avenue with a sub-store at Highams Park. Losses of equipment naturally occurred from time to time at Incidents and, in addition, some items were lost by persons removing from the town on leaving the service and taking with them their equipment. In theory all this equipment ought to have been recoverable but in fact the difficulties proved exceedingly great. Over 1,100 different items appeared in the Stores Ledgers, the number of each item varying from 3 in the case of Electric Fires to 1,210,000 for sandbags. In between these came all sorts and conditions of materials and equipment necessary for the proper performance of Civil Defence work. As one looked round the Central Store or consulted the records, one was bewildered with the variety of items: and, of course, uniforms, boots and steel helmets by the hundred and thousands.

Surely the late Mr. Whiteley would have revelled in such a profusion

Part I - General

Part IIa - The Services

Part IIb - The Services

Part III - The Story of the Raids

Part IV - Flying Bombs & Rockets

Part V - To the Unknown Citizen