Film ID:
YFA 551

CIVIL DEFENCE

1941

Visitor Tabs

Description

This amateur film, set in Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, shows clear examples of the work that different Home Front agencies undertook during war time. As well as capturing a Warship Week in the heart of the town, the film includes interesting scenes showing a female ARP officer going about her work.

The film opens in the centre of Bridlington, local Dignitaries (including the Lord Mayor) stand on a wooden stage, conversing with one another. A shot captures the gathered crowd, and in the front rows young school boys and female officers can be seen. From an elevated position, the filmmaker captures the crowd from behind, showing that they are facing a sign that reads, 'Bridlington Warship Week', which several soldiers stand in front of it. The local dignitaries make speeches to the large crowd of men, women and children that have gathered.

A march past then takes place; first to move past the camera are a marching brass band, followed by the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions), as well as the Civil Defence messenger service, who are made up of mixed genders. A close up then captures a sign that reads, 'civil messenger defence service'. The important guests continue to watch from the stage as fire trucks and other military vehicles pass, and some have signs that read, 'Rescue Parties', 'Bridlington Warship week - Nov 29 to Dec 6, 'Lend all you can to beat the Nazi man' and 'most of Bridlington lending enthusiastically until Nazi insolence terminates'. The crowd then disperse and wander in various directions across the street. A large group of school boys head off to follow the procession with a policeman keeping order.

Outside a building signs reads in order, 'A.R.P Headquarters' and 'Gas masks this way'. A close up of a poster then reads, 'W.V.S. housewives,' and a picture in a corner shows a smiling woman. A female schoolteacher sits at her desk scribbling notes. A school boy knocks before entering and sets his gas mask container down on the desk. The teacher unpacks the gas mask and inspects it. Throwing the container into the bin, the teacher places the gas mask over the boys head, marking the required strap measurements with a pencil to ensure a tight fit. She then places a clip on gas mask band at each pencil mark, before packing it into a box and handing it back to the boy.

In another room, women work checking that other gas masks are in good condition and then set about disinfecting (using a bottle labelled formalin) and drying them all.

On a snow covered street, a female ARP office (in civilian dress) walks towards then camera and knocks on a front door. A woman in a patterned overcoat leads her to a shed that contains tools, a ladder and a hose. The woman is then shown working facets, gas meters and other household items requiring inspection. The ARP officer then makes notes in a book, while an identity card can be seen lying on the table beside her. ARP officer then enters a house which has a sign on the front door that reads, 'Air raid wardens post'. Inside, she takes down a box marked, 'D.3.', from a high shelf and places her pad in amongst the files it contains.

On a field a bespectacled man holds a small shell in his hands, before he addresses a group of fire guards in long trench coats and helmets. A close up shows the 'Fire guard' arm band, before there are shots of the men laughing. The group then stand around a smoke canister, watching as one of the recruits rushes in and places to canvas bags over it. A simulated fire then takes place in an outdoor reconstruction of a house. A fire guard dives in low next to fire - avoiding the smoke - and directs the hose towards the flame, while other crew members use a handheld pump to propel the water. Once the main blaze is under control, the fire guard moves in with the hose to extinguish the remaining embers.

Inside a darkened room a bell rings, before a close up captures a sign that reads, 'Silence report room'. Shots capture individuals standing by a brick wall wearing helmets: one of which reads 'Mayor'. The filmmaker then captures an officer talking on a telephone at a desk, and the following close up shows a form which he scribbles on. The form is then passed through a blacked out window that has 'incoming' written it. A junior officer takes the form and hands to a senior officer at a desk for his signature and other requirements, before passing it around to a medical officer and another officer at a large map of the region. The officer at the map, while talking on the telephone, places a pin into the reports source location, before attaching symbols which denote whether the report requires electric or fire squads. The sequence closes with more shots show officers talking on the telephone and marking maps.

Firemen, at the top of the station, relax by playing chess, darts and snooker. A close up of a sign reads, 'no gambling aloud' as several men play cards. The film closes with four officers of mixed genders playing dominoes, while an officer reads the paper.