The Civil Defence role of Gipping Rural District Council was:
• Coordinate ARP matters in the parishes
• Establishing Fire Services / schemes
• Provision of training / lectures
• Provision of Air Raid shelters
In 1938 the minutes of the ARP Committee note the following with reference to First Aid matters. To qualify for grant/support for First Aid Posts a population of 3,000 was required. Parishes could not combine to achieve the required population. To qualify for a First Aid Point required a population of over 400. Hospital accommodation was being dealt with by the Ministry of Health which would make use of existing hospitals and make provision for the removal of casualties from First Aid Posts.
First Aid matters continued to feature regularly during 1939. The provision of ambulances and attendants was a priority along with training for the attendants. Although First Aid classes were being arranged, it was proving difficult due to a shortage of doctors to run them. This was a cause of concern for some Parishes – for example Helmingham and District Parish Council reported that its volunteers for First Aid Parties had no knowledge of First Aid and nothing had been done so far to arrange classes.
The question of the Home Office First Aid box, issued to Parishes with a population of more than 400 caused resentment in those Parishes which did not have the required population. The Home Office confirmed that Parishes could not combine to get a First Aid box. The Committee had to send a letter to all such Parishes that they would have to make their own arrangements. It was noted that the First Aid boxes put together by these Parishes were in many cases better than the box issued by the Home Office (which was considered to be most inadequate). The Committee circulated a recommend contents list for a First Aid box.
Both Haughley Park Mansion and Shrubland Park Mansion had been offered as hospitals for use in times of emergency. The Ministry of Health did not think they would be suitable.
An ARP Circular form East Suffolk County Council which scheduled to who anti-gas clothing would be issued to was discussed. It was noted that it would not be issued to Utility Squads who would have to use their own civilian respirators when receiving anti-gas training.
With war looking likely Home Office Circular 86/1939 was read out to the Committee on Jun 5th stating that all steps should be taken to expedite Civil Defence measures. The Committee was also notified of a scheme under consideration for the evacuation from London of school children with teachers and others. East Suffolk County Education Committee were allocating schools for the children and returns had to be made regarding available accomodation in Parishes concerned. A conference had been orgainized in Ipswich for arrangements to be made with the railway company.
On Jul 3rd arrangements were made for the evacuation of married quarters at Wattisham Air Station in case of emergency. People would be evacuated to Needham Market. A paradox was noted that while at the same time these arrangements were being made, arrangements were being made under the Government Evacuation scheme of London in case of emergency to billet evacuees in Ringshall Parish which was adjacent to the airfield!
It was noted that the issue of bleach powder for gas decontamination (per Home Office letter dated Jun 15th) would be the responsibility of East Suffolk County Council.
The Committee was notified by East Suffolk County Council that the County ambulance officer was now entrusted with the duties of organizing the ambulance. Ambulances and cars together with the necessary staff were to be based at Bramford and Needham Market.
Fire Fighting arrangements were also under consideration. On Jul 3rd the Committee discussed a letter form the Home Office dated Jun 21st detailing application for fire fighting appliances. A quote to supply Parishes with sand for fire fighting was received from Associated Sands & Minerals Ltd for £21-7-6 but as the Home Office had refused a grant for this the Committee deiced it would be a matter for each Parish to source sand locally for fire fighting. Messrs Webber & Sons of Combs reported that they had been told by the Factory Inspector to apply to the Council for training of men for fire fighting.
Lectures and training continued to be organized. A Civil Defence exercise was planned to be held on 9/10 Aug in conjunction with the blackout. The Borough of Eye had arranged to have a daylight practice on Jul 8th.
Clarification on Air Raid Warning signals was requested. The Committee noted that it was the duty of chief Wardens to make the arrangements.
In February 1940 the minutes note continuing courses on First Aid, Anti-gas and instruction on dealing with incendiary bombs. The minutes for March note that equipment for Rescue personnel had still not been received from the Ministry of Home Security.
In March the Committee noted that the Home Office had sanctioned the purchase of two self-propelled fire engines, 8 to 10 manual pumps and 20 stirrup pumps for emergency use. In addition a trailer pump would be provided for the Parish of Bramford. However arrangements for calling out the Fire Services had still to be settled. It was agreed to produce, in coordination with Wardens and Police, a comprehensive emergency Fire Fighting Scheme.
In May the Committee discussed training farm workers to deal with incendiary bombs until the arrival of the Auxiliary Fire service.
The July minutes note that a mobile ambulance stationed at Stowmarket had now moved to Debenham.
The residents of Needham Market had raised money for the installation of a siren but were £12 short. The Committee agreed to pay the balance but took ownership of the siren, noting that it would remain in Needham Market for the duration of the War.
The residents of Bramford requested Anderson Shelters – they were only a short distance from the Borough of Ipswich where shelters were being issued. However as they were in the Gipping Rural District Council area they were not eligible. East Suffolk County Council did however provide Public Air Raid shelters at Bramford (three) and Needham Market (one).
East Suffolk County Council considered that one mortuary for the whole district was inadequate. Further premises were to be provided at Debenham, Bramford and Haughley.
The Home Office instructed a canvass of the District Council area of names and addresses of people who would be willing to provide accommodation, for 24 to 48 hours, for people rendered homeless due to enemy action. This was carried out by the WVS and approximately 1,500 people could be accommodated. The leaflet “Help for the Homeless” was also distributed.
The minutes do not detail much after 1940 but the following are of interest.
• Minutes for March 1942 note that the shelter at Needham Market was in a shocking state. The electric light fitting was damaged, sandbags deliberately burst and the contents of fire buckets emptied on the floor and very insanitary conditions. The Regional Commissioner’s Office agreed to supply Needham Market with Morrison table shelters.
• Minutes for Nov 1942 discuss feedback after a raid on Needham Market where two HE bombs were dropped. No 2 Aid Post (Congregational School, Church Street) had been damaged during the raid but no work had been undertaken to carry out repairs (five weeks after the raid). There was a delay in the ambulances turning out as all three were garaged in the same location with difficult access to the highway. It was considered that it was essential that the ambulances be garaged separately and have easy access to the highway.
• The minutes for March 1943 discuss the Ministry of Home Security Circular regarding Fire Guards. This was intended for large Boroughs and there was no need to introduce such a scheme for the Rural District Council. The Regional Commissioner did however notify the Council that the Ministry of Home Security had decided to prescribe the Rural District Council area under Defence Regulation 27B and that as such the Council needed to submit a scheme to the Regional Commissioner for approval. The Commissioner pointed out that he did not expect a Wakeful Watch but wanted assurances that personnel were adequately trained and schemes in place for training.
Gipping Rural District Council ARP Committee minutes, SRO