ARP in Rural Areas

The danger to Rural Districts in the event of War was considered to be much less than in Urban Districts. It was considered that the chance of an organized air attack on a village was negligible and that danger should only be anticipated from stray bombs dropped at random. However it was still felt that Rural Districts should make some preparations for dealing with casualties, including gas, and fires.

The Home Office issued instructions that Rural District Councils would be expected to make their own arrangements. The scheme adopted in East Suffolk in 1938 was that each Borough or Urban District would become a sub-centre and be responsible, as far as possible, for the surrounding Parishes. These Parishes should look to the sub-centre for supplying any ARP service that they could not provide themselves but in the event of these services already being engaged the Parish would have to use its own resources as far as possible.

Guidance was issued as to the measures to be taken in Rural Districts which included the following:

Treatment of casualties

Local doctors and nurses should be trained to deal with the expected type of casualties including gas. St John Ambulance and The British Red Cross society should also be organized and trained to assist. All personnel should know the location of the nearest First Aid Post, Casualty Clearing Station and base hospital. It was suggested each Parish should provide a minimum of four people to form First Aid Parties. In the case of scattered hamlets it was realized it would not be possible for people to reach First Aid posts in the case of gas and they should be taught, by attending organized lectures, on how to decontaminate in their own homes.

First Aid Posts

A building was required with a good supply of hot water. The building should be made gas proof and in times of War a water supply in barrels kept at the post with a means of heating them.

Air Raid Wardens

To be recruited by the police and be ready to assist the local population in times of emergency.

Utility Squads

It was recommended each parish form at least one Utility Squad of six men under a leader to deal with fire, rescue, demolition of damaged buildings etc.

Fire Fighting

To be undertaken by the Utility squad with assistance from the sub-centre if the fire was too great for local resources.


The telephone could not be relied upon in times of emergency to contact the sub-centre. Each parish would have to arrange alternative means of communication, e.g. motor cyclists and cyclists. Three or four cyclists were recommended to perform the role of messenger.

Decontamination of Material

This was the only emergency that Parishes should not attempt to tackle. Instead all cases of contamination were to be reported to the sub-centre which had specially trained mobile squads who would deal with the incident.

Protection of the Public

Lectures to be given, for example by the Women’s Institute, to give advice in preparing refuge rooms in houses. Also copies of ARP Handbooks in all braches of the County Library.

Parish ARP representative

All Parishes should nominate one member to attend the sub-centre ARP Committee. In some cases Parishes could combine with a nominated member. This role was later combined with the senior warden who became responsible for all ARP matters in the Parish.

In summary it was recommended that each Parish should organize the following:

• Parish ARP Representative (later combined with the duties of the senior warden)
• Air Raid Warden ( to be recruited by the police)
• First Aid Party of at least four trained workers
• Stretcher bearers
• Utility Squad – one or more squads of six men under one leader
• Communication squad – three or four motor cyclists and cyclists
• Available transport and drivers that could be used as an ambulance

In terms of grants for any Parish ARP matters, this would only apply under the 1937 Act if the Parish was acting as agents of the County Council with its prior approval. In 1938 the County Council considered that no useful purpose would be achieved by authorizing Parishes to act as agents. So any expenditure that the Parishes incurred in these days would have to be borne entirely by the Parish.

In 1941 the Regional Commissioner circulated a letter to Rural District Councils outlining the establishment of Parish (Invasion) Committees to coordinate matters should the Parish become temporally isolated as a result of Invasion.

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