As well as carrying out their normal work, many people also volunteered for the Civil Defence Service, spending one night in three to be at the control centre and another night ‘on call’. Volunteers were allocated to different units depending on experience or training.
Some served as air raid precaution wardens who patrolled the streets at night to make sure no lights could be seen through the blackout. They were responsible for handing out gas masks and organising the public air raid shelters. They were also responsible for reporting the extent of bomb damage and need for help from the emergency and rescue services. Rescue Parties accessed damaged buildings to retrieve the injured or dead. They would turn off gas, electricity and water supplies, and repair or pull down unsteady buildings.Trained first aiders provided on the spot medical assistance, while more serious injuries were passed to first aid posts by stretcher parties and to local hospitals by ambulance personnel.
Auxiliary fire fighters were allocated a designated area to watch and monitor falling incendiary bombs. Small fires could be doused with buckets of sand or water or by smothering. Larger fires were reported to the National Fire Service for them to deal with.
Welfare services provided mobile canteens as well as finding suitable accommodation, issuing new documentation (ration books, identity cards) and money to buy food.
During the Crimean war Frenchman Alexis Soyer revolutionised the feeding of the army with his massive boilers designed to feed the troops quickly and efficiently. During the Second World War, these were used to provide hot food and drinks in bombed out areas.