CHAPTER 25 " EXTRA DUTIES "

Although this chronicle is concerned primarily with the work of Civil Defence personnel in connection with raids and the results thereof, it is not so widely known as it might be that, during the non-raid periods, in addition to undertaking training of various kinds, the personnel rendered valuable assistance in many other respects. Apart from purely A.R.P. work, all the Services performed duties which directly relieved the Local Authority and the Government of the necessity of providing other employees for certain essential work and for which other labour would otherwise have been required. The following is a summary of such duties but does not cover all the details furnished by Heads of Services. (I give the Services in alphabetical order except that Headquarters Services are placed last).

Ambulance Section.

Assisted by Light Rescue, the Ambulance personnel undertook the manning of the three Municipal Ambulances and one car, providing a driver and attendants (day and night) for each vehicle. This saved the Local Authority the equivalent of 13 whole-time employees, and from January, 1942, to December, 1944, 14,340 cases were handled involving a mileage of 81,855 miles. When Municipal Ambulances were out of com-mission, C.D. Ambulances were used in emergency. Ambulance personnel also assisted at Clinics, as mentioned in the next Section

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Casualty Services - General.

The Casualty Services comprised Ambulance, First Aid Post and Light Rescue personnel and, in addition to the duties detailed under these headings, all the Sections assisted at the following: -

Some of these duties were performed daily, others as and when required. All were subject to the needs of the Service but, during the twenty-four months ending December, 1944, 48,439 hours of service were recorded: equivalent to over 1,000 men-weeks of work for the Council. (This excludes the value of having trained persons available in a stand-by capacity.)

Drivers.

Drivers' duties were generally included with those of their Section of the Service, but all drivers had their own vehicles to look after and to keep clean, painted and ready to go out. (The Heavy Rescue Lorries, the Light Rescue vehicles and the Ambulances involved, of course, more than merely looking after the engine, and the driver was responsible.) In addition, drivers were called upon to provide transport for conveyance of goods to and from Rest Centres and Food Stores, for carriage of C.D. Stores and equipment, for conveyance of lecturers and equip¬ment to training courses, for conveyance of pay clerks, etc.

First Aid Posts.

The personnel at the Posts, (including the Trained Nurses), played their part in the work performed by the Casualty Services as a whole, detailed above. First Aid treatment was given at the Posts adjoining Schools for the many minor accidents which took place in the Schools, the equipment being provided by the Local Authority. In addition, all Posts afforded First Aid treatment in respect of ordinary accidents to the general public, the equipment in these cases being generously provided by the local St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society.

Heavy Rescue.

The Heavy Rescue Service played its part in the " carrying " duties and was naturally called upon when the loads required a heavy vehicle whether for transport of heavy loads or considerable numbers of personnel to places outside the Borough. The Heavy Rescue Service was also used for demolition or shoring of structures rendered dangerous by enemy action and for dealing with storm damage. Certain items of structural work were normally carried out by the Heavy Rescue Service (including such matters as replacement of sandbags by concrete blocks for blast walls), as were also renovations and decorations at District Centres. The erection of platforms for Parades or training, the preparation of the Training site in Prospect Hill, of the Sub-Training Centre, Falmouth Avenue, assistance with the erection of brick ranges, are other examples of the type of work performed. The repair, repainting and refixing of the Shelter and First Aid Post location signs were also undertaken by these personnel.

Light Rescue.

Apart from their share in the work of the " Casualty Services-General (see above), the Light Rescue Service played their part in the " carry¬ing " duties mentioned under the heading of " Drivers " above and, in addition, assisted with the renovations and decorations at the District Centres.

Wardens.

The cleansing of our hundred Public Shelters was primarily a matter for the Local Authority but, apart from the clearance of the lavatories, the work was undertaken by the Wardens. The Wardens renovated their own posts and assisted with erection of brick ranges. The recruiting and organising of our Fire Guard Service largely fell on the Wardens' shoulders and was accepted voluntarily as an addition to their responsibilities. A similar situation arose in the organising and recruiting of the Invasion Defence. Over and above their assessable specific duties the Wardens provided that link with the public which is so especially necessary during War and which could not be achieved by ordinary publicity. The Wardens' Posts were used as collecting and disseminating points for information on such matters as Anderson and Morrison Shelters, Rat Campaign, Fire Guard Registration, Council Recreational activities, Emergency Water arrangements, etc.

Headquarters.

The A.R.P. duties of whole-time personnel at H.Q. comprised largely Report Centre work but, in addition, we had four mobile canteens, two H.Q. cars and a Warden's Guard at the West entrance to the Town Hall. The Report Centre personnel were primarily telephonists for receiving and transmitting messages in connection with Incidents and, of course, Exercises. That aspect of their Work is dealt with elsewhere, but in this Section reference should be made to their manning of the switchboard in connection with the administrative work associated with the C.D. General Office and for which provision would otherwise have had to be made on the Town Hall Switchboard.

From a record kept between 1st December, 1941, and 31st March, 1945, it was found that over 157,000 calls were handled on the A.R.P. switchboard. We also had a system of transmitting instructions and obtaining daily returns by telephone calls between C.D. H.Q. and the District Centres and First Aid Posts, and the records show over 108,000 calls to and from Districts dealt with in this way. There was therefore a total for the forty months of over 265,000 calls or some 1,500 a week. During the twelve months ending March, 1945, the figure rose to 2,000 per week.

The Report Centre personnel, however, not only dealt with telephone messages but also undertook the following:-

H.Q. Drivers not only drove the two H.Q. Staff Cars but also manned the Mobile Canteens and kept all in clean and running order. The daily wallet delivery ensured speedy distribution of papers between H.Q. and all A.R.P. premises and included distribution of documents between other Town Hall Departments and certain Council premises. (It was estimated that at one stage this daily delivery was saving postage charges for the Council's A.R.P. Department alone at the rate of between £300 and £400 a year.)

The H.Q. Transport Service provided for transport of Emergency Committee members and for conveyance of H.Q. Staff Officers and of Group and Regional representatives on visits of inspection. During " alert " periods they conveyed " Key " personnel to their posts. The Wardens Guard permitted (but controlled) access to the Town Hall at all hours of day and night for A.R.P. purposes. The Wardens, during weekdays also, relieved Town Hall porters and staff of many queries or directed the public to the Departments appropriate. I have throughout the foregoing endeavoured to understate rather than overstate the case, and it must be remembered that (apart from training) almost without exception, the additional duties were undertaken voluntarily and were such as could not, until fairly late in the war, be made a legal obligation on those performing them.

I want, therefore, to conclude with an expression of appreciation for the way in which (both in the Districts and at H.Q.) our people willingly and freely took on these extra duties as part of their contribu¬tion to the war effort.

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