America Calling - Civilian Defense Reenacting

Discussion in 'WWII' started by KilroyCD, May 9, 2008.

  1. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,966
    Location:
    Lancaster County, PA
    The Office of Civilian Defense needs you!
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    Well actually, Kilroy's Homefront Commandos needs you. Kilroy's Homefront Commandos is perhaps the only organized Civilian Defense Living History group in the US. (If there are any other groups, I'd really like to hear from them.) We are always looking for recruits, and I was thinking, "Why not try the Lounge?" There are a lot of us here with similar interests.
    One might ask what Civilian Defense reenactors do. Despite being a non-combatant, there is a lot one can do with Civilian Defense impressions. The main thing is that you should have a willingness to educate the public.
    Most people think of Air Raid Wardens when you mention Civil Defense. All well and good, but there was quite a bit more to it than "Put that light out!" There were many roles within Civilian Defense, and a number were pressed into service in the defense of our country. The Auxiliary Police for example, helped to guard important defense related facilities, bridges, tunnels and the like. Some Auxiliary Police units fashioned themselves after Military Police units, and in fact some of the units were trained by the military.
    Here's one such unit from Pennsylvania:
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    Here I am as an Auxiliary Policeman helping to guard the entrance to Fort Miles, the Coastal Artillery installation at Lewes, Delaware:
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    That photo was just taken on April 26 of this year.
    Whether one is doing an impression of an Air Raid Warden, Auxiliary Policeman, Auxiliary Fireman or any of the others, it's important to stay in first person, as if it is actually 1942 or 43. That is important from an educational (for the public) standpoint, plus it adds immeasurably to the authenticity.
    Our group has been developing ways to educte the public, and one of the more interesting (and entertaining) things is our incendiary bomb demo. In this demo we show how to fight a German 1kg (2.2lb) incendiary bomb. First, we educate the public about why it's important to keep your attic clear of junk, as these little bombs can punch a hole through your roof and start a nice big fire in one's attic. Keeping the attic clear helps one fight the fire, plus gives the bomb less "fuel" to ignite. During the talk, I let the public look at and handle an authentic (but inert) WWII German incendiary. Then we have a dummy made from wood (with an authentic set of tail fins) that we fit a smoke charge to. Without getting too deeply into the details, we then show the public how to fight and dispose of them. Of course, sometimes we have fun and show people how not to handle them, such as when Abbott and Costello "help" us:
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    Anyway, to make an already long story even longer, uh, I mean cut it short, we are always looking for more members. We especially need them at our Fort Miles events. We are one of the resident groups at Fort Miles, and that is because of the CD involvement there during the war. Fort Miles was the headquarters for the defense of the Delaware Bay and its coastline up to and including the southernmost reaches of the Delaware River. This included both military and civilian aspects of defense, so the Civilian Defense HQ at Fort Miles was rather important. We are in the midst of recreating that HQ, and are looking for more individuals who might be interested in this project and becoming a part of it. Here's a part of our display last November:
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    Oh, and did I mention it's right on the beach? That makes it even better!

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    PM me if you might be interested in helping or joining Kilroy's Homefront Commandos.
    Cheers,
    -Chris (aka "Kilroy")
     
  2. kpreed

    kpreed Guest

    I think what you are doing is great!:eusa_clap I wish you where closer I would be with you. I have all the correct stuff and wear my volunteer A.W.S. pin on my suit even now. If I had a period correct wheelchair (I have Ataxia and in a chair now) and a local C.D. group I would be all set. Keep up the good work!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. kpreed

    kpreed Guest

    I guess I will post a photo of me, my service dog and my A.W.S. pin when the B-17G "Liberty Bell" was in a nearby town.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    Sounds like a neat deal Kilroy. I have khakis, a cutter cap and an air raid warden's M-1917 tin pot. The latter needs new paint and a decal - the kind with the stripey triangle meant to depict a siren.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Practically Family

    Messages:
    755
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Looks cool! I just resigned fom Emergency Management, which is the new version of Civil Defense.

    oh, btw, in case you didn't know, google video (if I recall corectly) has the duck and cover video from the cold war era.
    They did Duck and Cover
     
  6. I had seen a Huell Howser episode on PBS recently that was about the Great Los Angeles Air Raid and in it he had a group of guys that were re-enactors as the gun crew of a coastal anti-aircraft battery with working searchlights. That popped into my head after reading your thread.

    Best wishes!
     
  7. locobuster

    locobuster New in Town

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    West "By Gawd" Virginia
    I wish I was closer to you as well; this is a portion of history which doesn’t receive enough press. I have a small, but growing collection of CD related items (a M-1917 that I am restoring, an Air Warden armband, patches, decals and numerous shelter-related items) and I would love to find some way of educating people about what happened on the homefront during WWII and the Cold War.

    It’s ironic that Freebird mentioned Duck and Cover. I just introduced my Sociology class to that movie the other day. Many had no clue what the Cold War was all about, much less that we had drills like those portrayed in the movie. Even though I equated the threat of nuclear extinction to the current threat of terrorism, most of the younger students somehow just didn’t seem to understand the level of anxiety during the period. I didn’t even attempt to explain how the Cold War continues to effect on our daily lives in the 21st century.

    BTW, I am curious if anyone knows a good source for replacement decals for M-1917s?
     
  8. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,966
    Location:
    Lancaster County, PA
    Nobody is reproducing those decals, and certain types in unused condition are worth more than the helmet!
    If you're looking for the basic CD ensign, those are easier to find and I'd suggest eBay as a starting point. If you're looking for any of the others, again, eBay would be where I'd start. However, I'm hesitant to put an original decal on a helmet. The decal is a collectible in its own right. I have restored several helmets and have hand painted the insignia on them. That was commonly done during the war, so there is nothing wrong authenticity-wise with doing that. Here's a Fire Watcher's helmet I restored and painted the insignia on:
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    I have several original hand-painted helmets in my collection, and frequently the insignia was painted a bit oversized (like the Auxiliary Police helmet I'm wearing in one of the shots above). That's one of the things that makes CD collecting so interesting, there's quite a variety.
    -Chris
     
  9. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,966
    Location:
    Lancaster County, PA
    Fletch, if you need someone to cosmetically restore your helmet, I could do that for you. Mind you, the Air Raid Warden's decal would be painted on, as I explained in my post above that I feel unused CD decals are collectibles in their own right.
    Seeing that you are from NY, by chance are you planning to come to WWII Weekend at Reading PA in June?
     
  10. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,966
    Location:
    Lancaster County, PA
    Ken, I wish you were closer to us. We'd enjoy having you with our group.
     
  11. locobuster

    locobuster New in Town

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    West "By Gawd" Virginia
    Kilroy, would it be alright if I PM'd you about some details pertaining to M-1917 helmets?
     
  12. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    I'm going to be in the recording studio all that weekend, but one of these days I would certainly like to check out that great event. Looks as tho you do great work on the helmets too, so I may have some business to do with you first...

    (Interesting that no one tries to repro the decals. You only see AAF sleeve roundels, and they're damn expensive. There's decal paper for computer printers, so how hard can it be?)
     
  13. kpreed

    kpreed Guest

    Thank you! I really support your efforts and would love to help in anyway I can.
    Even from here. Best of luck!
     
  14. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,853
    Location:
    Bennington, VT 05201
    CD Helmets

    This seems to be a knowledgable group. Can you tell me what the designation is for the deeper, "construction hardhat" type helmet that Civil Defense used? Were those post-War? I used to come across them all the time, but had no interest back then. Now I have interest, and never see them. I guess that's the way it always goes.

    -Dave
     
  15. fortworthgal

    fortworthgal Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,646
    Location:
    Panther City
    I think Civilian Defense is a very overlooked impression, that can be really neat!

    I have done it once at an event, but then I ended up repainting my helmet OD, as the paint was in horrid condition, and it was an actual '17 helmet with some of the original OD finish still left on it! I have an armband and the civilian gas mask bag with mask, but need to find another helmet... preferably one of the deeper "non-17" types. I'd love to have an air raid warden setup to display. Regardless, I think it is a really cool impression!
     
  16. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,966
    Location:
    Lancaster County, PA
    By all means, please do!
    -Chris
     
  17. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,966
    Location:
    Lancaster County, PA
    Dave, I've been trying to find the designation of the deeper helmet like the ones in my posts above. They are wartime helmets, and were used postwar as well. However, the designation has eluded me over the years. If you're talking about the fiberglass helmets like the ones in these photos, then they are definitely postwar: http://michigancivildefense.com/id6.html
     
  18. locobuster

    locobuster New in Town

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    West "By Gawd" Virginia
    PM sent, Kilroy. Thanks in advance for any help!
     
  19. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,853
    Location:
    Bennington, VT 05201
    Interesting, I'm glad I'm not alone in wondering. I hope you'll post here when and if you find out.

    That makes me wish I'd bought one all the more. You know, it just occurred to me that my other grandfather who had a war-critical job served as an Air Raid warden in Saginaw, Michigan. So there's a bit of a family provenance here.

    I've never seen a fiberglass one before! The blue ones look like they have almost a metalflake finish. 1960s?

    -Dave
     
  20. locobuster

    locobuster New in Town

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    West "By Gawd" Virginia
    I finally got around to photographing some of my small Civil Defense collection, included here are my Air Raid Warden's armband, two decals that went on CD vehicles (60's vintage,) a CD "Communications" patch, a small decal that looks like a CD Shelter sign, two Patient's Effects Bags that came out of a shelter somewhere in Ohio, and the helmet I plan on restoring sometime later this summer.

    [​IMG]
     

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