Post-War Canadian Civil Defence Helmets

August 25, 2013

by Roger V. Lucy

During the Second World War, the Canadian Department of Pensions, Health and Welfare (DP&H) was responsible for the Air Raid Precautions Service (called the Civilian Protection Corps – Corps de Protection Civile in Quebec), and in addition to acquiring helmets from DND stocks, and factory rejects, ordered 155,000 mild steel helmets in 1942 from General Steelwares to equip various emergency agencies. These helmets were made of magnetic steel and their chin- strap lugs were spot-welded, rather than riveted, to the brim (one was used the model for the helmet that rests on the Tomb of Canada’s Unknown Soldier). They are also marked G.S.W.  D.P.& H. and lack the date or batch number found on military helmets. ARP helmets are normally in their issue khaki, and may have a letter to designate the wearers function i.e. F for Fire Service, P for Police, U for Utilities and W for Warden.  Senior Wardens wore white helmets with a symbol to designate their level.  The letters ARP or CPC may also be found on the front of the helmet.[i]

Helmets were again distributed to the Civil Defence organizations after the War.  In May 1951 the Department of National Health and Welfare, which was in charge of Civil Defence coordination gave permission for the distribution of helmets. The anticipated requirement was for 150,000 helmets. In April 1952 Treasury Board authorized $40,350 to buy 27,400 surplus helmets from Visco Petroleum Products of Toronto and 6,000 from Salvage Disposal Corp of Montreal.  There also exists correspondence from this period from dealers offering US Office Civil Defense helmets, many examples of these hemets with Canadian Civil Defence markings exist, although there is no record of their purchase. Examples also exist of Mk.II helmets fitted with US made liners -correspondence about receiving mildewed liners would seem to describe liners of this sort.

Fig 1 – Black helmet for Engineering section

Civil Defence helmets were issued to a variety of emergency agencies, usually at the provincial or city level , and were colour-coded to indicate the wearers’ functions. Civil Defence Operational Operational and Training Circular 7/51 of 29/05/51 laid down the following colours for CD helmets:

  • Auxiliary Fire Service  – Red
  • Auxiliary Police Service – Blue
  • Wardens – White
  • Rescue and Engineering – Black
  • Ambulance and Medical – Green
  • HQ and Welfare – Khaki

Civil Defence Operational and Training Circular 19/53 of 12/08/53 further directed that the CD badge (a yellow disc with a blue maple leaf in the centre and  blue border with CIVIL DEFENCE) be applied to the front above the brim. Helmet colours were also changed slightly:

  • Health Service was now maroon (Cilux “Rex Maroon” – a rather flat brown shade thereof),
  • Welfare Service was green (Cilux “Bristol Green” a sort of emerald shade)
  • Damage Control was yellow (Cilux “Patrol Yellow”)

By October 1952 16,500 decals had been obtained and were distributed as follows:

  • BC 1,000
  • Alberta 1,000
  • Saskatchewan 500
  • Manitoba 1,000 English, 100 French
  • Ontario 4,000
  • Quebec 2,000 English, 3,500 French
  • New Brunswick 500 English, 200 French
  • Nova Scotia 1,000
  • Newfoundland 500
  • Reserve 4,400 English 1,700 French
  • Training 600

The 1953 colour scheme was reissued in January 1958. “Damage Control” was now termed “Sector Control”. A new pattern CD decal was also issued (although the old pattern could still be worn).

This used an internationally recognized symbol, with the linked letters CD in yellow on a yellow -rimmed blue shield.[ii]

Fig 2 – MKII helmet manufactured by CLC 1943, and worn by HQ and Welfare

The 1953 colour scheme was reissued in January 1958, however “Damage Control was now termed “Sector Control. Both old and new pattern CD decals could be used – the new pattern presumably the linked letters CD in yellow on a yellow rimmed blue shield.

A document of 9/4/52 issued by the Vancouver CD Coordinator gives the following rank insignia – there is no documentary indication if this was used in other districts, but examples coming from other provinces indicate that at least elements of this system was used elsewhere.

MKII helmet manufactured by CLC and dated  1943. Marked to the EDMONTON Civil Defence (Warden), early decal.

Warden Service (White helmets)

  • Chief Warden – three black diamonds below the CD decal
  • Assistant Chief Warden – idem 
  • Sub-division District Chief Warden – two black diamonds below the CD decal
  • Assistant Sub-division DCW – one black diamond below the CD decal
  • District Warden – two black bars above or in line with the CD decal
  • Assistant District Warden – one black bar above or in line with the CD decal
  • Sector Warden  – SW below the CD decal
  • Post Warden – PW below the CD decal
  • Warden – W below the CD decal

Coordinators (khaki helmets)

  • Coordinator or Director – three white bars below the CD decal
  • Assistant Coordinator or Director – two white bars below the CD decal
  • Sub-division Coordinator or Director – one white bar below the CD decal

MKII Helmet manufactured  by CLC, dated 1941 and clearly marked POLICE.

Auxiliary Police Service (blue helmets with POLICE in white at the front, over the CD decal)

  • O/C Police – Crown (over the insignia)
  • Assistant O/C Police – three white diamonds  (over the insignia)
  • Inspector – twowhite diamond  (over the insignia)
  • Sub Inspector – one white diamond  (over the insignia)
  • Sergeants – two white bars each side
  • Corporals – one white bar each side
  • Constables – no rank badge just the APS insignia

Fig 3 – Fire fighter, late decal.

Auxiliary Fire Service (red helmets with FIRE in white at the front, over the CD decal)

  • Chief – 11/2″ white band around the side and top
  • Deputy Chief – idem
  • Assistant Chief – 11/2″ white band around the side
  • District Chief – two 1/2″ white band around the side separated by  ½”
  • Captains – one  ½”white band
  • Lieutenants – 11/2″ black band around the side
  • Firemen – – no rank badge just the AFS insignia

Medical Service (green helmets with CD insignia)

  • Chief Medical Officer – MO in white over three white bars
  • Deputy Chief Medical Officer – idem
  • Divisional Medical Officer – MO in white over two white bars
  • District Medical Officer – MO in white over one white bars
  • Doctors – MO in white
  • Nurses – N in white
  • Ambulance Drivers – D in white
  • Health Department – H in white
  • Red Cross – Red Cross on white ground

Engineers Black helmet with CD insignia and white letters ands rank markings


  • Water – W
  • Sewer – S
  • Gas – G
  • Electric – E
  • Roads – R
  • Bridges – B

Rank badges (below the section letter)

  • Section Chief – three bars
  • Assistant Section Chief – two bars
  • Sub-Division Chief – one bar

Fig 4 – MKII helmet manufactured by CLC 1942, and worn by an Assistant Chief Electrical Engineer.

Fig 6. - The exterior has received yet another paint job Cilux “Rex Maroon” the new colour assigned to Medical/Ambulance organizations in 1953.

Fig 5 - This helmet is a recycled Mk.I from the Great War. The chin-strap lugs have been removed and replaced by web straps riveted to the brim, The web and oil-cloth liner is a type made by a US Company, Cairns, and is often found in commercial US civil defense helmets, The helmet has been painted green, which in the original 1951 colour scheme was used for Medical/Ambulance organizations.