Evercircular: Civil Defence

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The Evercircular letters are less detailed about home Civil defence roles.  The Civil Defence roles were taken by those who remained at home. Being ineligible for active service (the Forces) by dint of health or age or in a preferred occupation did not excuse lack of participation.

Some, like Bill Thurbon (WTT) were busy in many spheres, using his specialised knowledge across several groups as well as fire watching at work.   As personal situations changed so did the roles taken – moving between Air Raid wardens, Fire Watchers, Auxiliary Fire Brigade, Home Guard, First Aid and Observer Corps.

  • Arthur Sansom transferred from Fire Brigade to Home Guard in Liverpool.
  • Tom Germany left the Observer Corp and joined the Home Guard

Some stepped out of these roles as they were called up.

Reserved jobs

Bill Thurbon (WTT) anticipated registration on the 12th April 1941, aged 38, but is reporting in August that he is ‘reserved until Christmas’ and later that it was deemed that St John’s College could not function without his presence.  He had taken on two offices at this point.  He later failed his medical and remained at St John’s for the rest of his working life.

Tom Germany worked in three factories, one seemingly a printing works, another a munitions factory and the third Short’s aircraft works repairing planes – but it is not stated if this was in a reserved profession or because of his health.  Bill Thurbon writes ‘Tom is now a war worker’ in October 1941, presumably at this change of employment.  The letters do not reveal if this was a Ministry of Labour decision or personal choice. 

Arthur Sansom was working in Liverpool on an unnamed task, but was not in the armed forces.  He hints ‘(one day we will get an engine that will work)’ and those knowing his profession would have some understanding of his job, although it is never mentioned.

The roving Acting Headmaster J Covell worked with refugees/ evacuees running camps outside of term time.  Many schools were denuded of male teachers but why he moved between schools to fill these posts on a temporary basis is unclear.

Civil Defence

One of the first mentions is Kath Thaxter killed whilst fire watching.  The name is one known to the correspondents but no other reference is made until Les Chapman met Harold Thaxter and commiserated.  Fire watchers were mentioned as being killed in the Air Raid of 24th February 1941; this is the occasion of Kath’s death.

Tom Germany reports leaving the Observer Corps and joining the Home Guard at the point he changed jobs.    He later reports ‘getting bayonet practice and drill’. 

Ken North, although in the Pay Corps in Kidderminster, was involved in the planning of rest canteen at Labour Hall ‘if Jerry should play any of his tricks’.  At this date, 1941, it was probably bombing rather than invasion that was being considered.

Stan Phillips was involved in the Auxiliary Fire service and later the NFS, as well as standing fire watch in ‘the shop’.  He reports wet drill, using water in practice, and being sent to Girton College to stand fire watch.  Later, failing the physical he was awaiting Ministry of Labour placement.

Ken, on discharge from the army as unfit does not seem to have been reallocated government work. 

  • AFS      Auxiliary Fire Service              Stan, Arthur
  • NFS      National Fire Service
  • HG       Home Guard                           Basil Moss, Arthur Sansom, Tom Germany,
  • ARP      Clearing? Station                                            WTT
  • Fire Watching                                           Kath, Stan, WTT    (generally at work)
  • Air Warden STA (station)                                            WTT
  • Teaching first aid to Undergraduates and land girls      WTT
  • Red Cross Instructors course                                      WTT

Home Guard

‘Basil looking very posh in his Home Guard kit.’

Arthur in Liverpool      ‘Transferred from Fire Brigade to Home Guard’   ‘slow training’  Supplied with 5 rounds of .303 but the rifle only takes .300’

Tom Germany                         ‘getting bayonet practice and drill’   ‘on exercise on Girton footpath ‘stopping all the sweethearts and inspecting their ID’

Appreciation of HG from Evercircular

See also

  • Local History/WW1WW2/ Collection of War Service Details
  • Local History/WW1WW2/Refugees and Evacuee

JWR Archivist Sept 2019