Archivist Updates

Item of the Month: Civil Defence Collection

Committee member John Bidwell has selected the Civil Defence Collection as the Item of the Month.

A plain white document box hides numerous officially produced and issued documents inside, giving a peep into part of everyday life for local people over the 40’s/50’s/60’s during WWII and the Cold War.

  • National Registration Identity Cards (including one for a person under 16 years) – these cards were obligatory until Feb 1952,
  • Ration books, Points Coupons (food) and Clothing Book/Cards (listing how many coupon points were needed to be able to buy clothes, cloth or wool) – used to ensure people received food/clothing to which they were entitled and no more, I think it helps to understand the ‘make do and mend’ approach of the time, a world away from internet shopping of today.
Just a few of the ration books, points coupons, and National Identity Cards in the Society collection.
  • Government Evacuation Scheme – An official form giving a brief overview of the need to care for evacuee’s, followed by an even more brief application form where if you were interested you filled in your name/address and indicated how many boys/girls you were prepared to care for (no mention of a DBS check in those days!).
  • Home Guard Proficiency book – issued 1942/3 and over 125 pages covers a number of topics;
    • Practical questions
    • Problems of strategy
    • Tactical problems
    • New weapons
    • German infantry weapons
    • Answers to practical questions
Home Guard documents, and instructions from The Rural District Council of Ely.

Difficult to look at this without thinking of Dad’s Army in Warmington on Sea, although at the time it was of course a very serious training requirement.

  • The Rural District Council of Ely – A letter listing all known water wells (over 50) in the village giving the name of the premises and address, I assume this was to be able to continue to provide water for the village if the official supply was in any way impacted.
  • Civil Defence in the 50’s/60’s – various official documents giving advice on potentially what could happen during the dark days of the cold war.
    • Civil Defence Warden training documents and scenarios detailing mock exercises and potential casualties/damage.
    • List of Royal Observer Corp observation posts in the local area including Littleport (open from 1960to 1968).
    • Government information booklets – information on Hydrogen bombs, nuclear fallout, war-plan and ‘what you should do’.

Latest acquisitions

We have also added a number of newly acquired items to the archive this month including;

  • Hope Brothers Ltd gold tone cufflinks
  • Postcard of Black Bank Station
  • Used postcard of William C Barber’s print shop, Victoria Street.
  • 1904 postcard of the Ice Skating Cup and Spectators at Littleport.

By John Bidwell

John Bidwell is a Committee Member of The Littleport Society.