Members of the Mitcham Air Raid Patrol, pictured at their headquarters
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|Notes / History
|The Air Raid Precautions service was set up by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in 1937, two years before the outbreak of war. Under the Air Raid Precautions Act of 1938 all local authorities were required to ready themselves in case of an air attack by recruiting ARP wardens to carry out a wide range of duties. Most wardens were part-time volunteers who carried out these duties as well as holding down full-time jobs. The controller of the ARP was normally the Town Clerk.
One of the most visible forms of ARP was the air raid warden. In the early months of the war, known as the phoney war, the Air Raid Patrols spent much of their time advising local people on air raid precautions and enforcing a night time blackout to ensure no artificial lights were visible from the air.
After the Blitz began in September 1940 they would report details of all incidents to their ARP post, from which the information would be passed to the control centre at the Town Hall. The ARP reports or Warden Message forms gave the location and details of an incident, an estimate of the casualties, the extent of the damages and the services required. Where fire was involved the wardens would call the fire brigade directly.