James Knight

Rank: Civilian

Regiment/Service: ARP Warden Civil Defence

James Knight lived his wife Nellie and their family at 113 Hindle House Arcola Street Hackney. By day he worked as a Lorry Driver and in the evening he took up civil defence duties as an Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Warden.

Some other ARP Wardens registered by Hackney Borough Council and listed at Hindle House were: #435? – Frederick Jones of No. 89, #4351 Albert Salisbury of No.93 & #4350 William Ayling of No.90.

The ARP was an organisation set up prior to the Second World War dedicated to the protection of civilians from the danger of air-raids. Air Raid wardens or ARP wardens had the task of patrolling the streets during blackout, to ensure that no light was visible. If a light was spotted, the warden would alert the person/people responsible by shouting something like “Put that light out!” or “Cover that window!” They could report persistent offenders to the local police. They also patrolled the streets during air raids and doused incendiary bombs with sandbags where possible.

Other duties included helping to police areas suffering bomb damage and helping bombed-out householders. ARP wardens were trained in basic fire-fighting and first aid, and could keep an emergency situation under control until official rescue services arrived.

There were around 1.4 million ARP wardens in Britain during the war, almost all unpaid part-time volunteers who also held day-time jobs. Initially, wardens were expected to be on duty three nights a week, but expectations were increased as the bombings grew worse. They had a basic uniform consisting of a set of overalls, Wellington boots, and an armlet, along with a black steel helmet, and small silver-colored badge. Although the standard procedures proscribed the ideal warden to be at least thirty, men and women of all ages were wardens. In certain instances, given special needs of communities, even teenagers were wardens.

arp-poster

ARP Warden poster courtesy IWM

Sources:

  1. Gotcha – Ronnie Knight
  2. Wikipedia
  3. 1939 Census