Fire, Ambulance & Civil Defence

11. County Council Services

The Fire and Ambulance Service

THE destructive power of fire is appalling and was undoubtedly dreaded by primval man and by the animals with which he lived. One of man’s first steps up the ladder of civilization was his discovery of how to produce fire; with it he warmed himself; cooked his food and fashioned the implements with which he tilled the soil, hunted and made war. He used fire as a weapon of war, and it is still so used, as the vivid memory of the second world war reminds us. Fire is a good servant but a bad master, and the history of civilization is liberally sprinkled with evidence of whole cities and towns being destroyed by fire. Writers at the time of the Roman Empire mention fire engines in the shape of “siphos “, which were, without much doubt, large syringes or squirts; it may be, however, that these were not Roman inventions but copies of appliances used in Constantinople, where they are said, again in Roman writings, to have been in common use since the fourth century. After a disastrous fire in Rome every citizen was instructed to keep in his house a means of extinguishing fire. This precaution has a familiar ring when one remembers the distribution of stirrup pumps during the last war.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF FIRE-FIGHTING EQUIPMENT

It is very probable that the Romans introduced the “sipho” during their occupation of this country, but it is remarkable to note that in 1666 the hand-squirt was still in use as a fire-extinguishing appliance in the Great Fire of London, which rendered almost half the population of London homeless and at last made the people of this country conscious of the need for better protection against fire. This can be regarded as being the stage from which fire protection dates, in anything approaching a reasonable form, although manually operated pumps of considerable size and capacity, which had to be transported on wheels or sledges, had been in existence in parts of Germany for upwards of ioo years. The type of pump produced was that of a manually operated piston forced along the bore of a cylinder and ejecting water under pressure. Manual pumps based on this principle persisted until the latter half of the nineteenth century. They were reasonably efficient, but very extravagant in the manpower required to operate them. The first steam-driven pump was designed in 1829, and others followed, but it was a good many years before these were really satisfactory and began to supplant the manual pumps. They mark the second stage of the development of fire-fighting equipment.

The Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century and the rapid evolution of power-driven machinery did more to develop fire-fighting equipment than all the previous centuries had achieved. Not only were pumps improved out of all knowledge, but new types of ladders and fire escapes were evolved, the principles of which are still in use to-day. There was also a consequential improvement in pumping capacity; the poverty of the water-supplies in cities and towns was shown up in strong relief, and the improvements which have taken place since are too well known to recount.

The third stage of the development of firefighting equipment came in the early part of the present century with the common use of the internal-combustion engine. Some of us can remember the old horse-drawn fire engines and the thrilling spectacle of a pair of eager horses, generally greys, galloping through the streets with a steam fire engine which emitted showers of sparks and clouds of smoke from its highly polished brass funnel. It has been said that much of the glamour departed from the Fire Service with the horses. Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that with complete mechanization speed and efficiency have progressed in leaps and bounds.

THE FORMATION OF FIRE BRIGADES

There appears to have been a slow and spasmodic growth of village or town “fire parties” from the time of the Great Fire of London up to the middle of the nineteenth century, and towards the end of this period the term ” volunteer fire brigades” began to be used. Generally the members were public-spirited citizens who also probably enjoyed a spice of adventure. Such parties or brigades might be voluntarily organized, assisted financially by public subscription or, in some cases, by a wealthy local patron. Of necessity the resources of these brigades were very limited, as was their range of operation.

During the same period a commercialized form of fire protection was provided in the more central and built-up part of Middlesex, which was later to come under the control of the London County Council. The large insurance companies formed fire brigades whose duty it was to extinguish fires in the premises of insured persons, but these brigades usually dealt with a fire only if the occupier was insured with the brigade’s own company. It was not unusual for a brigade attending a fire to refuse to handle it on finding that the unfortunate occupier was not insured with the appropriate company, and in order that their brigade could identify those properties which they wished to protect against fire, the insurance companies made a practice of affixing plates (fire-marks) to properties insured by them. The object of maintaining these fire brigades was solely to save an insurance company some, at least, of the expense which would fall upon it in meeting a policy-holder’s claim. The general conception of a fire brigade as a public service had not then dawned. This really began in 1832, when the London Fire Engine Establishment was formed by ten of the larger insurance companies pooling their fire brigade resources. This number was later increased, so that by 1864 thirty companies were included.

Under the provisions of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act, 1865, the Fire Engine Establishment assumed official status for the first time as the Metropolitan Fire Brigade under the direction of the Metropolitan Board of Works.

Later in the nineteenth century a number of local authorities, under powers given them by the Public Health Act of 1875, set up brigades, often manned by volunteers, and from these small begin-flings their fire brigades developed, at first with perhaps one whole time professional man, or possibly a nucleus of such men. Most progress was made from 1930 onwards and many new and modern fire stations were built and provided with up-to-date equipment; some of these stations in Middlesex rank among the finest in the country to-day.

The Fire Brigades Act, 1938, required the local authorities to provide efficient protection against fire and improvements were effected in many parts of the country, but it is difficult to judge the full effect of the Act because it coincided, to a great extent, with the formation of the auxiliary fire services formed in anticipation of the outbreak of war.

When war broke out in 1939 all the local authority brigades with their auxiliary fire services were grouped into Regions. Middlesex became part of the London Region and a scheme of mutual assistance was evolved with mobilizing arrangements whereby large-scale help could be sent where it was most needed. Time after time, in addition to dealing with its own fires, the County sent large-scale reinforcements not only into inner London, where the attacks were even heavier, but to Southampton, Bristol and many other cities.

This organized defence against fire was very good up to a point, and experience of heavy and prolonged incendiary attacks in many parts of the country showed the need for even closer co-operation and standardization, particularly of method and equipment. In consequence and as a war measure the Fire Service was nationalized in 1941 and the CC National Fire Service” became a familiar title during the last years of the war. It rendered excellent work in the raids which were experienced during the last four years of war, and the vast pooling of knowledge and experience which resulted from amalgamating the nation’s fire-fighting resources and from their working together to a common end had an effect which cannot fail to be of lasting benefit to the community and to the fire services of the future.

FIRE AND FIRE HAZARDS

Reference has been made to the Industrial Revolution and mechanical progress of the nineteenth century. Before dealing with the new organization under the Fire Services Act of 1947, it would be as well to dwell for a moment on the increased fire hazards which progress had brought in its train. New industries were set up, old ones were revived or intensified, and there were few which did not make use of fire or heat either in their processes or to drive their machinery. The introduction of electricity added further risks, until the potentiality of fire to-day has completely outgrown all the preconceived ideas of, say, 150 years ago.

To reduce to simple language the principles upon which fire extinction is based, there are, in the first place, three essentials to fire

(a) FUEL, that is, the substance involved;

(b) OXYGEN;

(c) IGNITION TEMPERATURE, that is, sufficient heat to raise the temperature of the substance involved to the point at which it commences to combine so rapidly with the oxygen that fire is produced.

(a), (b) and (c) can be referred to as the three sides of a triangle. When the triangle is complete fire results, but when one or more of the sides is removed, the fire dies out.

All forms of fire extinction are based on simple principles, which can briefly be described as starvation (removal of fuel), smothering (exclusion of oxygen) and cooling (reduction of the temperature below the ignition point of the fuel).

This illustration is used extensively in fire-service training on both fire extinction and fire prevention. In the case of the latter, however, the object is different; instead of removing one or more sides of the triangle, the principle is to prevent it being completely formed.

FIRE PREVENTION

No consideration of the Fire Service is complete without some thought being given to fire prevention, of which one of the earliest instances was the curfew of Saxon and Norman times. The normal method of heating buildings then was by means of a fire on an open hearth in the centre of the room. As the floors were generally covered with rushes upon which some, at least, of the inmates slept, it can be realized how important it was that the fires should be put out at night. Curfew (or couvre feu) was signalled by the ringing of a bell, when all fires had to be extinguished. Anyone who failed to do this was subject to severe penalty.

Very few other effective instances of fire prevention can be traced through history until comparatively recently, but it is now universally regarded as a highly important matter, and the subject of considerable legislation, concerning, among other aspects, building construction, means of escape from buildings, and the storage, transport and use of inflammable substances or liquids. The Fire Service to-day has experienced officers who specialize in carrying out inspections and in advising on the prevention of fires and on minimizing their effects. This work is invaluable and their services are in great demand, which is a most encouraging sign as it means that industry and the general public are becoming more and more fire conscious. It is probably safe to say that a fire service will always be necessary to combat fires which are caused by carelessness, neglect and sheer ignorance of cause and effect, but the success of a fire service in an organized or industrial area should be measured not by the large number and size of the fires which it extinguishes but by the smallness both in size and numbers of the fires which occur.

THE MIDDLESEX COUNTY FIRE SERVICE

Since the provisions of the Fire Services Act of 1947 came into operation, the Middlesex County Council has become a “fire authority “, and its fire service is controlled and administered by the Fire Brigade Committee, through a Chief Officer, very much on the lines of other departments of the County Council.

From 1941, until the County assumed control in 1948, all the fire service resources in Middlesex came under the control of the London Region of the National Fire Service. It will be appreciated, therefore, that years of effort have resulted in welding what were originally twenty-six separate fire brigades in Middlesex into a cohesive and efficient organization. Full advantage has been taken of the lessons which were learned before and during the war in formulating the present organization.

Operational Organization

Under the new system, calls for the Fire Service are still received at any fire station, whether given in person, by a telephone message or by the operation of a street fire alarm. In principle, the nearest available fire appliances will respond to the call, regardless of any local or county boundary. Mobilizing controls will ensure that, whenever necessary, stations temporarily denuded of their appliances will have replacements drafted to them to maintain the fire cover in the locality. In addition, if assistance is needed at the fire, appliances will be sent to converge on it from all points of the compass and again the remaining strength of the Service will be re-disposed between stations so as to provide the best possible overall cover. The County’s resources can in any emergency be augmented by calling on neighbouring counties for help under mutual assistance schemes and, similarly, Middlesex will extend help to its neighbours in time of need.

For many years the public has turned to the Fire Service in all kinds of trouble and danger; railway or street accidents, persons overcome by fumes or trapped in lifts, are but some of the instances. The Service regards this as a proof of confidence and trust on the part of the public and will always be ready to render humanitarian service.

Equipment

There are three main types of fire engine, or “appliance” as it is technically called; pumps, pump escapes and turntable ladders; a brief description of each may be of interest.

A pump, as its name implies, is the appliance which provides the fireman with water under pressure for fire-fighting. The normal modern pump has four deliveries with hose connections and will supply 700 gallons per minute at 100 lb. pressure per square inch. This power will be better appreciated when it is realized that it represents over three tons of water per minute and that jets can be thrown well over ioo feet either vertically or horizontally. The pump will also provide itself with water from a depth of about 26 feet; as a practical illustration, within this limit it can stand on a bridge over a canal and “lift” its water from the canal below. It carries 1,000 feet of hose, a 30 foot extension ladder and many miscellaneous items of equipment.

A pump escape is a pump which, instead of a so-foot extension ladder, carries a wheeled ladder which can be “slipped” on to its own wheels and extended to a height of 50 feet through a wide range of angles. This is the normal piece of lifesaving apparatus, and it also affords an excellent means of entering a building for fire-fighting purposes.

A turntable ladder is a telescopic steel ladder mounted on a turntable on the chassis of the appliance. It is operated by power from the road engine and can be elevated at any angle, rotated on its turntable and extended to a maximum height of 100 feet. It is fitted with mechanical and electrical safety devices so that it cannot be extended beyond safe limits at low angles. It can be used as a ladder for rescue operations, as a crane for lowering persons by line from buildings and it is fitted with a monitor at the top so that it can be used as a water-tower for directing a jet of water into a fire in a high building. Most turntable ladders are fitted with pumps so as to be capable of providing their own supply of water.

There are other appliances available, including an emergency tender, a foam tender, hose-laying lorries, salvage tenders, water tenders and two hose and foam tenders which have been specially evolved to deal with aircraft fires and with other fires which might occur some distance from the nearest water. These are smaller and faster appliances which combine the features both of hose layers and foam tenders, with the object of laying a long line of hose (2,500 feet) and producing water or foam jets in the shortest possible space of time.

For rescue work in places where it is not possible to use wheeled escapes or extension ladders, use is made of hook ladders, which are carried by appliances at all stations. A hook ladder is a short, light ladder fitted with a steel hook which can be affixed to a window-opening. With this ladder a fireman can scale the face of a building by passing from window to window and carry out rescues by means of a lowering line.

There is another valuable piece of equipment, the self-contained breathing apparatus, which enables the fireman wearing it to go into smoke-laden or poisonous atmosphere for periods of up to an hour with complete safety.

Personnel

Having dealt briefly with the equipment, what of the men who use it? Firstly it must be remembered that there is a human limit to their endurance, especially in heat and smoke. Once that is appreciated, it can be said that they are specially selected as good physical types and that training and experience enable them to stand up in an extraordinary way to the gruelling punishment of fire-fighting. Firemen on active duty are always called upon to make an all-out effort, often for long periods under conditions of acute physical discomfort. Yet, strangely enough, the more fire-fighting they get the better they like it, and as a body they are immensely public spirited.

Water

Mention has been made of the use of large volumes of water at fires. The Fire Service is always on its guard against the fact that to avoid damage by fire and at the same time cause large-scale water damage to property cannot be regarded as good fire-fighting. Whilst water must be used and some consequent damage is often unavoidable and, whilst the object will always be to attack fires from close quarters so as to effect extinguishment in the shortest possible time, at the same time every care is taken to minimize the effect of water damage with the equipment carried on salvage tenders.

In spite of all the improvements which have taken place during the last fifty years, planning is and will continually be going on in connection with the provision of water. One of the duties of a fire authority is to take all reasonable steps to ensure that an adequate supply of water is available for fire-fighting. Specialist officers on the headquarters staff are responsible for ensuring that the development of building in the County is watched carefully, and no opportunity is lost when water-mains are being laid to incorporate adequate safeguards against fire. It may be of interest to note that there are already some 26,600 street hydrants on the water mains in the County.

Communications

Speed is essential to efficient fire protection, and speed of mobilizing appliances at fires is dependent upon good telephone communications. Fortunately for Middlesex, it inherited from the National Fire Service a good network of private wire telephone communications, and the installation of only a few additional lines was necessary to enable each station to telephone direct to the appropriate mobilizing control, and vice versa, without going through any intermediary links. The prevention of telephone delays enables attendances to be made at fires in the shortest possible space of time.

Radio System

In addition to this telephone network, the County Fire Service now has its own short-wave radio system, by means of which the men and appliances actually in attendance at a fire are kept in contact with the Headquarters Control Room, which is the nerve-centre of the Service. Not only is the transmission of operational messages thus considerably speeded, but appliances and men actually in transit can, if necessary, be diverted to a different destination where they are more urgently required.

Fire Prevention

Reference has already been made to the importance of fire prevention. Because of this importance Middlesex has a staff of fire-prevention officers attached to headquarters, whose duty it is to give advice on request. This applies particularly to business premises of high risk, and the work of this branch constantly increases.

Whilst an efficient Fire Service is essential, it is practically impossible to offset its cost directly against the saving which it effects from fire loss. Nevertheless, when the appalling damage and loss which undoubtedly would be caused by unchecked fire are considered, there can be little doubt that the cost of the Service is saved many times over in the course of a year. In short, the Service is still, as in the days of the old insurance companies’ fire brigades, an insurance against loss.

AUXILIARY FIRE SERVICE

History has repeated itself, inasmuch as since 15th November, 1949, fire authorities have once again been required by the Home Office to recruit, train and maintain auxiliary fire services and to plan an emergency fire organization to come into operation in the event of the country being involved once more in war.

The Home Office supplies the uniform for auxiliary fire-service purposes, together with the appliances and the equipment with which the men train and upon $ which, after they have qualified as fire-fighters, they ride to fires to supplement the efforts of their professional colleagues. Enrolment is also open to women volunteers who, although they do not engage in actual firefighting operations, are required for such essential duties as those of control-room staff, radio operators, drivers and despatch riders.

AMBULANCE SERVICE

It was not until the coming into force on 5th July, 1948, of the National Health Service Act of 1946 that the County Council had any statutory responsibility for providing an ambulance service. Before that date the County Council maintained a certain number of ambulances at the County hospitals for use in connection with those hospitals. Some of the borough and urban district councils within the County exercised their powers under the Public Health Act, 1936, and maintained within their areas ambulance services intended primarily to deal with accidents and other emergencies. Certain of these local authorities made a charge for the use of ambulances, others provided a free service. In addition, a number of the larger voluntary hospitals provided ambulances for the use of their own patients. Other transport for the sick and injured was provided by the voluntary societies, such as the British Red Cross Society and the St. John Ambulance Association. Mention must also be made of the great work carried out by the Hospital Car Service operated jointly by the British Red Cros Society, St. John Ambulance Association and the Women’s Voluntary Services. Whilst these latter services were provided by the voluntary organizations and most of the drivers gave their services free, a charge was normally made to defray some of the costs.

This picture was radically changed by the Act of 1946, under which the council of every county and county borough was required to provide ambulances and other means of transport for the conveyance, where necessary, of persons suffering from illness or mental deficiency and for expectant or nursing mothers, from places within the area of the local authority to places in or outside that area.

Arrangements had to be made, therefore, by the County Council as from 5th July, 1948, to provide a complete ambulance service; the new service was to be free and, as you have read in Part II, the Health Service was being expanded, and therefore a considerable increase in the volume of ambulance traffic was to be expected.

There were few existing ambulance stations at which vehicles and crews could be housed, there was no existing telephone communication network and there was no ready-made administrative organization. In view of all these factors, and so as to provide a full ambulance service from the date when the Act came into force, the County Council decided that the Fire and Ambulance service should be run as one combined Service, so that the resources of the former could be used to build up the latter.

COMBINED FIRE AND AMBULANCE SERVICE

The combination of the two services is limited to organization and administration; fire appliances are manned by firemen specially enrolled and trained for that purpose; similarly ambulances are manned by ambulance driver/attendants and attendants. The County Council had become responsible for the fire protection of the whole County in 1948, and plans were made, therefore, to use all the existing resources to provide for an ambulance service.

Under the provisions of the National Health Service Act, ambulances and other vehicles which had been provided by hospitals and local authorities were transferred to the County Council and housed at thirty-three fire stations and at ten temporary ambulance stations, and the Fire Service communications network was used to the full. The demands made on the service were very great; in the first 3 years the number of accident cases carried was increased by 50% and the number of sick patients carried was almost doubled.

Functions of the Ambulance Service

An ambulance hurrying to the scene of a street accident is, unfortunately, a familiar sight, and ambulances are probably thought of mainly in this connection. The greater part of ambulance work is, however, less spectacular.

Accident Branch

Ambulances specially equipped to deal with accidents and similar emergencies are kept at twenty-eight fire stations throughout the County. These ambulances and their crews, who are trained in first aid, are always ready to respond immediately to accident and emergency calls. A call which is received at a station when the ambulances are away attending other calls is instantly transmitted to a control centre, from which the nearest available ambulance is ordered to answer the call.

“Sick-removal” Branch

“Sick-removal” cases far outnumber accident cases, and it will be realized that for each ambulance seen speeding with its bell ringing to an accident there are many other vehicles carrying out the day-to-day task of transporting sick persons to and from hospitals, clinics, maternity homes and other treatment centres. No matter what the destination may be, the County Council is responsible for the transport if the need arises within the County on medical grounds, always provided the patient is not capable of travelling by public transport.

In the years immediately after 1948 the County Council had prepared a development plan, which provided for the building of ten ambulance depots at various places throughout the County. All ambulances and “sitting-case” vehicles—the vehicles used for patients who do not have to be carried in a recumbent position—were to be housed in these depots, which would cater for the needs of the surrounding districts. They would also assist in the accident work if this became necessary in an emergency—e.g., in the event of a train accident or aircraft crash.

This plan was approved by the Ministry of Health, but, because of prevailing shortages, some delay was inevitable before new buildings could be put up, and to meet urgent needs the plan was put into operation by using ten temporary depots. The plan is now operating with benefit to the public who have to use the Service, and it ensures that the best use is made of the vehicles and other resources. Eventually these temporary depots will be replaced by new buildings.

Ancillary Functions

The Ambulance Service carries out as special services other functions of a humanitarian nature, such as transport of bedside oxygen apparatus, of “iron lungs”, of blood plasma, of oxygen, and of gas and air analgesia apparatus.

HOSPITAL CAR SERVICE

In the opening paragraphs of this story of the Ambulance Service, mention is made of the hospital car service which is operated jointly by the British Red Cross Society, the St. John Ambulance Association and the Women’s Voluntary Services. The hospital car service continues to play its part within the framework of the Ambulance Service by providing cars and drivers who give their services voluntarily, except for a small mileage allowance, and, by arrangement with the County Council, take many patients to and from hospitals and clinics. The hospital car service was started during the second world war to meet the needs of the emergency; it has since carried on with its fine work and tribute is gratefully paid to all those voluntary workers who take part.

12. Civil Defence

THE duties of the County Council in relation to civil defence commenced with the provisions of the Air Raid Precautions Acts of 1937 and 1939, under which the County Council was charged, in the event of hostile attack from the air, with the duty of making arrangements for the protection from injury and damage of persons and property within the County.

After the Munich Treaty, recruitment to the A.R.P. Services (as they were then called) on a part-time basis was pressed forward and, with the rapidly deteriorating international situation in the early months Of 1939, the training of instructors and volunteers for control-room staffs, for wardens, rescue, ambulance, messenger and for decontamination and repair personnel, was speeded up with the full cooperation of the Middlesex local authorities.

Shelters were built, rest centres established and equipped and arrangements made for evacuation from certain key areas of school children and other priority classes of the population. The County operational plan was framed and developed, a plan which, with modifications as new methods of attack developed, continued to function throughout all the phases of subsequent enemy action.

The whole of Middlesex was incorporated within the London Civil Defence Region, the area of the Metropolitan Police District, and, with the addition of five Hertfordshire districts, formed Group 6 of the London Civil Defence Region. In order to ensure speedy operational action, Group 6 was divided into three subgroups.

The first enemy bombs in Middlesex fell on 12th July, 1940, and by the end of the following month most of the local areas in Group 6 had suffered enemy action. From that time until the night of 10th/11th May, 1941, the enemy attack was practically continuous, with the heaviest weight of attack falling on those parts of the Group nearest to central London or those with important targets within their borders. The enemy commenced the use of parachute mines in mid-September, and it was in handling these mine incidents that the technique of” incident control” was both tested and perfected. The A.R.P. Services found that the search for possible casualties was a task as arduous and as important as the more obviously essential work of rescue and first aid.

Three of the outstanding incidents of the blitz in Middlesex occurred in the early part of the war. On the 29th September, 1940, at about ten minutes to two in the afternoon, the enemy made a daylight attack intended, presumably, for Northolt Aerodrome. More than 200 H.E. bombs fell in the Borough of Ealing in a relatively small area around Ruislip Road, Greenford. The night of the 3oth November, 1940, saw one of the heaviest attacks launched on a single area of Middlesex, namely, the Borough of Twickenham. From 7.20 p.m. until 1.54 a. m., 133 H.E. bombs and many hundreds of incendiaries fell in the Borough. The control-room recorded 257 incidents and dispatched over 170 mobile civil defence parties to deal with some 150 casualties and extensive damage to property. Several hundred firemen were also employed in dealing with the many fires. In the early evening of the 13th February, 1941, what became known as the “West Hendon incident” occurred. Before the sounding of the alert one of the enemy’s largest-calibre bombs fell in a housing estate close to the Welsh Harp. Casualties and damage to property in all three attacks were heavy.

The A.R.P. Services (later known as the Civil Defence Services) of the Group demonstrated the value of training in dealing with these heavy attacks and in the hundreds of other incidents, each of which in its own way produced problems for the civil defence organization as well as misery and hardship. The blitz ended with the attack of 10th/11th May, 1941. On that night twenty of the thirty-one districts in the Group suffered attack, but nevertheless Group 6 was able to respond to calls for assistance from inner London, and ambulances and stretcher parties were sent to help in Southwark, where the attack was most intense.

Then followed the great “lull”. Raids took place from time to time, but there appeared to be no concerted attack. In Middlesex there were damaging raids in June and July 1941, in July, August and September 1942, and again in March, April, May and October 1943-

During this comparatively quiet period much had to be done to perfect the Civil Defence Services. The strength of the whole-time services was drastically cut and there were major re-organizations. The stretcher-party service was amalgamated with the rescue service, and wardens were given training so that they could function on the spot both as first-aiders and as rescue men in simpler cases. The threat of invasion had to be countered and the Civil Defence Services were required to co-operate with the Home Guard, so that the fullest help could be given in the event of attack, whether by land or air. Finally, there were the lessons to be learnt from the days of the blitz. Not the least of these was the realization that the feeding of people whose homes were partially wrecked or whose water, gas and electricity supplies had been affected had not been adequately provided for. The Ministry of Food set up an Emergency Feeding Scheme, and it was in Middlesex that a scheme for mobile emergency feeding was first worked out—a scheme which was approved by the Ministry and adopted in many other counties.

The next sharp attacks were made in the spring of 1944. The main weight of H.E. bombs, of a heavier calibre than in the 1940/4′ blitz, fell in the Thames valley areas, but it is worth remarking that all save one of the local areas in Group 6 suffered damage in these raids. It was during these attacks that heavy damage was sustained by North Middlesex Hospital on 19th April, 1944. Again the Civil Defence Services, despite the reductions in their whole-time strength were found more than adequate to meet the tasks set them, and the emergency feeding units were brought into effective operation.

Among the possible forms of attack for which the Civil Defence Services had prepared were both poison gas and antipersonnel bombs. Only one attack was made on Middlesex with anti-personnel bombs, in January 1944, and that attack was with 1-kg. bombs, not the much-advertised “butterfly bombs “.

The final attack by flying bombs (V.Is) and by long-range rockets (V.2s) constituted the severest test both of the Civil Defence Services and of the general public. The main flying-bomb attack continued from the 16th June to 29th August, when the majority of the bombs in the Group fell in the south-western areas. The attack by long-range rockets fell most heavily on the north-eastern parts of the county and had to be met by Civil Defence Services weakened by reductions in strength. It will be generally known that throughout these last heavy attacks the Civil Defence Services were aided to the fullest possible extent by their comrades of the National Fire Service. The work which had to be done far exceeded the work of rescue and first-aid, for it was mainly the men of the N.F.S. and C.D. Services who gave the first necessary repairs to damaged houses.

Throughout the whole course of the war the Civil Defence Services enjoyed wholehearted co-operation and assistance from all the allied services—the Police, the N.F.S., the W.V.S. and the Home Guard. This good comradeship was remembered in the final operation of the services when representatives paraded at Wembley Stadium for a Thanksgiving Service and the salute was taken by General Sir Frederick Pile, Commander-in-Chief, Anti-Aircraft Command. On that occasion, in the presence of the Chairman of the County Council of Middlesex and thousands of citizens, the thanks of the people to the Civil Defence Services were formally expressed by the Chairman of the County Civil Defence Committee.

In December 1948 the Civil Defence Act received the Royal Assent and in 1949 the County Council, as a Civil Defence Corps Authority, once again took up the task of planning to safeguard the lives and property of the inhabitants of Middlesex for the future. With the advent of the atom bomb and the development of other new forms of attack, the task of the County Council and the local authorities in planning for the protection of the citizens had been greatly increased. Plans were made and are still being formulated to provide those services necessary to the continuance of the daily life of the citizen under air attack.

Middlesex civil defence planning makes due provision for the recruitment, organization and training of personnel to provide the man- and woman-power for the collection and distribution of information on damage arising from hostile air attack and for the control and co-ordination of action to be taken at the scene of damage resulting from such attack; the clearance of debris from highways, streets and public places; dealing with damaged and unsafe buildings and the decontamination of highways, streets, public places, buildings and their contents affected by toxic agents; the cleansing of personnel and the decontamination of clothing similarly affected. Evacuation and billeting arrangements have to be perfected and measures decided upon for the care of the homeless in rest centres and by re-housing; provision for first aid to and repair of houses; maintenance of water supplies; emergency sewage disposal; the provision of shelters and the disposal of the dead. Services for all these functions have to be planned between the County and the local authorities.

About 30,000 volunteers, willing to give roughly sixty hours a year to Civil Defence training, are necessary for the five sections of the Middlesex Division of the Civil Defence Group to provide the essential peace-time nucleus on which the Middlesex Division has to expand to its war-time establishment of 96,000.

The task in front of the County Council and the local authorities is a formidable one, but viewed in the light of the spirit of service shown by the citizens of Middlesex in the years 1939-45, it is a task which the civil defence committees are tackling with confidence, strong in the assurance that, if again called into action, the former A.R.P. Services, re-created and re-moulded in the new Civil Defence Corps, will show that same high devotion to duty as was displayed by those who served their country and their county so well in World War II.