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Air Raid Precautions organisations were established in each State  of Australia during WW2. Their structure varied from State to State. In 1939 all of the the states were waiting on the release of the National Security Regulations which was part of the documentation supporting the Commonwealth War Book which documented Civil Defence planning arrangements.

Air Raid Precautions in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania were run by the Civil Defence organisation whilst in New South Wales it was was run by the National Emergency Services organisation.


Photo: Ian Jenkins

WW2 Civil Defence lapel badges from South Australia, which were responsible for the same functions as those of the ARP in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. The badges are colour-coded and each badge is numbered on the reverse and has a brooch pin fitting. The Adelaide manufacturer's name is also on the reverse side of the badge.

1. Red (Evacuation)
2. Yellow (Road Transport)
3. White (Warden)


1. Victorian Warden - The reverse has two lugs and the inscription "Issued by State Emergency Council" and were manufactured by 'Bentley'.

2. Victorian Auxiliary Ambulance - The reverse has two lugs and the inscription "Issued by State Emergency Council" and were manufactured by 'Bentley'. This badge is numbered on the reverse side.

3. Victorian General badge - The reverse has two lugs and the inscription "Issued by State Emergency Council" and were manufactured by 'Bentley'.

4. Tasmania Civil Defence Legion - It has two lugs on the reverse and the number.

5. Queensland Warden - has two lugs on the reverse, also the number
     and manufacturer "?andford"


The Air Raid Precautions Control Centre in Brisbane was located in the basement of the Roma Street Police Station. This underground room was located on Friday 10 November 2006 by workmen constructing the new $333 million Inner Northern Busway (Queen Street to Upper Roma Street) in Brisbane, Queensland.

On 20 August 1942, residents of south east Queensland heard their first air raid sirens. This turned out to be a false alarm. An allied aircraft had been mistaken for a Japanese aircraft, which resulted in residents from Nambour to Coolangatta heading for their air raid shelters. Civil Defence Minister Ned Hanlon praised the population of south east Queensland for their calmness. He went on to say "Citizens should not rush frantically about the streets directly an alarm sounds. From my observation in the main part of the city, this is what was done generally. Certainly, there was no panic."

The Prime Minister John Curtin was in Brisbane at the time of this air raid alert on 20 August 1942. He was in Brisbane to meet with General Douglas MacArthur at his GHQ, SWPA in the AMP building in Queen Street. The air raid sirens had sounded just as Prime Minister Curtin and his wife were being farewelled at South Brisbane Railway Station on their way to Sydney. Prime Minister John Curtin, his wife and Queensland Premier Forgan Smith mingled with a group of people who calmly moved to the nearest air raid shelter. Military personnel were seen to stand aside to allow civilians to enter the air raid shelters before them. General Douglas MacArthur's office diary shows the following entry:-

Thursday, August 20
Mr. Curtin and Mr. Sheddon called at 1030. Accompanied by Lieut. Col. Morhouse, said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Curtin at 1100 at the Railway Station, followed by inspection of the city during an air raid alert. Major General Northcutt, C.G. South Australian Army called at 1130. Major Wilkinson called at 1300. Mr. Fadden and Mr. Spender called at 1700.


Official Publications on Air Raid Precautions
(Note these are UK documents which were used in Australia)


No. 1 - Personal Protection against Gas
No. 2 - First Aid and Nursing for Gas Casualties
No. 3 - Medical Treatment of Gas Casualties
No. 4 - Decontamination of Materials
No. 5 - Structural Defence
No. 6 - Air Raid Precautions in Factories and Business Premises
No. 7 Anti-Gas Precautions for Merchant Shipping
No. 8 - The Duties of Air Raid Wardens
No. 9 - Incendiary Bombs and Fire Precautions


No. 1 - Organisation of Air Raid Casualties Services
No. 2 - Rescue Parties and Clearance of Debris
No. 3 - Organisation of Decontamination Services
No. 4 - Air Raid Wardens
No. 5 - Anti-Gas Training
No. 6 - Local Communications and Reporting of Air Raid Damage
No. 7 - Personnel Requirements of Air Raid General and Fire Precautions Services and the Police Service
No. 8 - The Air Raid Warning System
No. 9 - Notes on Training and Exercises


The Protection of Foodstuffs against Poison Gas
Garden Trenches
The Protection of your Home against Air Raids
An Atlas of Gas Poisoning
Specifications, etc., in regard to permanent Lining of Trenches
The Training of Air Raid Wardens
Pamphlet on Shelter from Air Attack
Wartime Lighting Restrictions


Image number: 112037 - State Library of Queensland

Preparing for Sunday night blackout tests at South Brisbane, 16 August 1941


Image number: 164629 - State Library of Queensland

Air Raid exercise in Brisbane in about 1941


Image number: 102818 - State Library of Queensland

Air raid warden and members of the Women's Auxiliary Australian
Air Force in one of Brisbane's air raid shelters during an alarm.


Photo: Lt. Mark T. Muller, Signal Corps (via Bill Bentson)

During an air raid drill at Somerville House in 1942. The post
with the siren is still standing at the school but in a new location.
The iron bar hanging down has gone. It was used to bang on
with a metal rod for the air raid alarm, as well at the siren. The
low white fence in the background of the photo is still there today.


Image number: gen00001 - State Library of Queensland

American soldier Lt. Mark Muller in an air-raid shelter
at Somerville House, Brisbane, in May 1942


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

An original WW2 sign used by the Americans at Somerville House during WW2.


Image number: 104158 - State Library of Queensland

Saltwater pipes installed in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, 1942.
Emergency saltwater fire fighting pipes were installed in
Brisbane during World War II for use in case of an air raid.




The Government and the People 1939-1941
Paul Hasluck

The Courier Mail
Thursday 20 August 2009
Our Queensland, Celebrating 150 Years, page 29


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This page first produced 2 December 2006

This page last updated 16 January 2020