WWII Women's Voluntary Service for Civil Defence Badge
WWII Women's Voluntary Service for Civil Defence Badge - Silvered bronze and red enamels, maker marked "MARPLES & BEASLEY BIRMINGHAM" on the reverse, very crisp detail, 21.7 mm x 29.2 mm, horizontal pinback, light contact, better than very fine. Footnote: On May 16, 1938, the British government set out the objectives of the Women's Voluntary Service for Civil Defence. It was seen “as the enrolment of women for Air Raid Precaution Services of Local Authorities, to help to bring home to every household what air attack may mean, and to make known to every household (in the country) what it can do to protect itself and the community.” In the words of the then Home Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, "as regards their civil defence functions, the Minister regards the Women's Voluntary Service as occupying ... much the same relationship as that of the women's auxiliary services for the armed forces of the Crown." The WVS was a voluntary organization, so no one held a specific rank at a local level. If someone existed as a group leader for a certain task one week, she could simply be part of a team with another group leader the next week but for a different task. As a voluntary body the WVS did not have a compulsory uniform. It did have a uniform, designed by Norman Hartnell, The Queen's couturier, but it was not free. Many WVS members went about their work simply wearing the WVS badge on their lapels. The work of the WVS covered a very broad spectrum. Lady Reading had a simple philosophy for the WVS: if the job needed doing, it was done. As an example, the WVS organized first aid courses in the cities that were thought to be likely targets for the Luftwaffe. However, while the WVS organized such courses, they did not provide the training as this had to be done by qualified staff. The WVS played a key part in the evacuation of civilians from urban areas. The WVS had been asked to pinpoint areas of safety and billeting for evacuated children. Moving children out of the cities proved reasonably easy. Getting them to a known area of safety proved a lot more difficult as trains did not always arrive at an expected destination or would turn up at a reception point unexpectedly. The WVS is credited with helping to move 1.5 million people (the majority were children) out of cities in the early days of September 1939. The WVS also played a major role in the collection of clothing required for the needy. In October 1939, Lady Reading broadcast to the United States about the need for clothing in the UK. The broadcast led to large quantities of clothing (known as "Bundles for Britain") being sent over to Great Britain by the American Red Cross. These were distributed from WVS Emergency Clothing Stores. When troops returned to ports after the evacuation at Dunkirk, members of the WVS were there to greet them and hand out food, drink and warm clothing. The WVS also played a vital part during the Blitz of London and other cities.