By Tim Essex-Lopresti
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There was no actual manning of the Reserve and volunteers were released from their commitment. Reaction The stand-down of the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service, coming so soon after the re-organisation of 1967, understandably came as a very great shock and disappointment to the thousands of men and women who had given such loyal and devoted service for so many years and to over 2000 staff employed on civil defence duties. Demonstrations of protest against disbandment took place in many parts of the country and a mass parade was held in London.
The Parting of the Way At the Annual Conference of the Association of Civil Defence Officers in June 1967 Lord Stonham, Minister of State for Civil Defence at the Home Office, stated ‘The role of the volunteer is a vitally important element. The problems call for leadership of the highest order. We still need volunteers of a high calibre with qualities of leadership. The country owes a debt to the volunteers who give selflessly of their time to the public service. ’ Again Lord Stonham in November 1967 addressing an Elected Members Study at the Home Office School, Falfield, ‘I cannot over emphasize the fact that a substantial reserve of trained people is a cornerstone of the new arrangements… (He was referring to a recent comprehensive review of Home Defence planning and reorganization of the Civil Defence Corps)… and it is imperative that Corps authorities should try to maintain an effective and enthusiastic local division, containing people of high calibre and ability to lead’.
Com 5. Civil Defence Corps 1949 - 1968 3rd September 1953: Emergency feeding exercise in Dudley, West Midlands serving the Mayor & Mayoress, Alderman & Mrs Silcox Note the use of an improvised hotplate. H Cartwright Archive equipped buildings still stand and are to be manned in an emergency - who by? The doubts about the viability of Home Defence without trained personnel stand out. The defence of the people in wartime demanded that there should be no misunderstanding, but the Government would not submit its scheme to an impartial study.
A Brief History of Civil Defence by Tim Essex-Lopresti