It was essential that close liaison existed between the Military and Civil Defence Services during:
- An air blitz on towns prior to invasion
- During invasion, i.e. a blitz on a town followed by an attack by an enemy ground attack.
It would be necessary for military representatives to give an outline of defence arrangements to Emergency / Invasion Committees so the potential effect on civilians could be assessed. Key points that would affect the civilian population included defended localities, minefields, demolition, road and rail blocks and battle headquarters.
Arrangements that would need to be in place included:
- Military action to be taken on ‘Stand To’ and ‘Action stations’.
- Arrangements for ringing church bells as a warning.
- Arrangements for cooking for and feeding Home Guard.
- Work civil labour may be required to undertake.
- Co-ordination of civil and military medical facilities.
- Arrangements with road blocks to ensure essential civilian traffic can continue to move prior to and as far as practical after invasion.
The Civil Defence Services were entitled to ask for Military assistance but they were expected to have exhausted their own resources first. Little help from the Military could be expected after “Stand To” had been ordered as most troops would be moving to their “Action stations”. During an air blitz on towns, not followed by invasion, such as happened at Coventry, Military assistance would be forthcoming if needed.
During an air raid prior to invasion, the Civil Authorities could demand Military assistance provided that:
- There was no interference with the Military operational role
- There was a grave emergency following a raid
- The work, in the first instance, was beyond the capabilities of the Civil Authorities
In the first instance the request for Military assistance would be made to the Regional Commissioner. If communication broke down, heads of the various Civil Defence Services could ask local Military Commanders for assistance.
Troops ordered to assist were not to enter towns until a coordinated plan by the Military and Civil Authorities had been decided upon. The Home Guard were to be considered as troops for the purposes of this order. All tools supplied by the Military were to be used by troops only – they were not to be considered part of the Civilian pool. Troops were to be responsible for their own food, water etc. Certain towns had Town Commanders appointed – part of their role was to ensure that such a scheme was put in place and exercises carried out to ensure these schemes were workable.
Types of assistance and points to consider for schemes included:
- Clearance of essential routes
- Aid in police duties – traffic control, prevention of looting and rioting etc
- Provision of communications
- Aid in fire fighting and rescue work
- Recovery of valuable commodities in damaged premises
- Arrangements for feeding the civil population
- Loan of water carts etc
- Demolition of dangerous buildings
- Restoration of essential public utility services
- Clearance of debris to assist with all the above
- Security – i.e. dealing with Fifth Columnists
- Public relations and maintaining morale
- Medical and hygiene services
- Provision of water for drinking and fire fighting
- Immediate reconnaissance of sites for slit trenches to supplement Air Raid shelters, to enable digging on “Action Stations”
- Provision of clothing
- What proportion of the towns population should be brought into the defence perimeter – suggested only those persons whose houses were required for the use of the defence of the town or where in the line of direct fire or likely to brought under the fire of the defence.
- Dealing with refugees
- Location of Civil Defence posts.
In the first part, Military assistance would be provided by local troops. In exceptional cases troops held in reserve (including Command Reserves) could be called upon. If Command Reserves were to be called upon, in 1940 the arrangement was that they would move from their concentration areas by road and assemble in the area Clare or Bury St Edmunds before moving forward.
The Defence Scheme of 54th Div 1942 details the measures to be put into place to assist Ipswich in the case of a heavy raid. A Recce party was to be assembled and was to consist of :
As soon as a request for Military assistance was agreed, the Recce party would report to the ARP Control Center at Town Hall, Ipswich. The Recce party would establish its HQ at the ARP Control Centre and establish wireless communication with Div HQ and report on the level of assistance required. Any troops sent to assist would be withdrawn immediately in the event of “Stand To” being ordered.