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Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Civil Defence Association


George Cross

Civil Defence Volunteers 1948 - 1968

The international situation in the late 1940s began to deteriorate and the ‘Cold War’ commenced. This lead the government to reconstitute a volunteer civil defence force under the Civil Defence Act 1948. The new body was known as the ‘Civil Defence Corps’. It was not long before the USA, the USSR and other nations gave evidence of nuclear capability which culminated in the development and testing of the Hydrogen (H) Bomb.

The training of the CD Corps volunteers continued generally on a pattern established during World War Two, but updated to take account of problems posed by nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

Although the Home Office considered the CD Corps as a war-only organisation, it is an established fact that many thousands of volunteers used their training to effective use during ‘peacetime’ emergencies. These included the East Coast floods of 1953, storms, train crashes, the Aberfan disaster of 1967, and many other local and regional incidents and emergencies too numerous to list here.

It was therefore with shock and disbelief that the government announced that the 75,000 strong CD Corps together with other volunteer organisations with a CD role i.e. Industrial Civil Defence Service, Auxiliary Fire Service and the National Hospital Service Reserve were to be ‘stood down’ on 31 March 1968. The official reason given was financial cuts due to problems with the economy, but many volunteers were convinced that political expediency lay behind the decision.