Thursday, 14 February 2013

Thankful Thursday - From the Civil Defence School in Dhaka

Ernest "Billy" Barton

Following his demobilisation at the end of World War 2, my great uncle, Ernest "Billy" Barton - who had been a professional solider before the war - became an instructor at the Civil Defence Training School in Eastwood Park, Falfield, Gloucestershire.

The school was originally founded in 1936 as the Civilian Anti-Gas School with the aim of training groups of civilians in what to do in the case of a gas attack in a future war.

By the late 1940s, there was little concern about gas attacks.  Two things had changed that - Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And in 1949 the British government formed the Civil Defence Corps to train civilians in what to do in the case of a nuclear attack.

The Falfield school was re-established as the Civil Defence Training School specifically to train the Civil Defence Corps.

Each local authority, was required to maintain local corps made up of volunteers who meant to be able to provide rescue, medical and welfare services plus take on responsibility for local administration and control and support communication systems and monitor nuclear fall out.  No mean task.

Concern at the impact of a nuclear war, following the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was not limited to the UK.  Civil Defence Corps were founded in North America, Australasia and throughout Europe.

I have not found any reference to a comparable corps in Pakistan, but the thank you letters, (below), sent to Billy Barton in 1951 show there was a Civil Defence Training School in Dacca, then in East Pakistan but now capital of Bangladesh, and that Falfield provided training for its staff.

The British Civil Defence Corps was disbanded by the government in 1968 but civil defence training remains strong in both Pakistan and Bangladesh and there are still schools throughout both countries.

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