Great War London Telephone Service Badge for Air Raids, awarded to M.M. Collins, a female telephonist who volunteered to work in the London Telephone Service during the air raids of 1915 to 1918. Extremely Rare.
Great War London Telephone Service Badge for Air Raids, bronze-gilt and enamels, reverse engraved: ‘M.M. Collins War 1914-1918’. Extremely Rare.
Condition: Good Very Fine.
Awarded to M.M. Collins, a female telephonist who volunteered to work in the London Telephone Service during the air raids of 1915 to 1918.
Sold together with a quantity of letters from the 1980’s written to a previous researcher by former female members of the London Telephone Exchange, assisting him in his research into the badge. The research was subsequently published in the Orders and Medals Research Society Journal in the Spring of 1985, and the accompanying archive formed the basis for what we now known on this rare badge.
The London Telephone Service Badge was issued to female telephonists who were living within a certain distance of the exchange and who volunteered to be called out by the police and to report for duty at once because of a possible German air attack on London on any given night. They were paid from the time they arrived at the exchange until the all clear, then given a breakfast, and a room was provided in which to rest. In addition they received a payment of two shillings for being called out. Later volunteers were called for (over the age of eighteen) to be on duty to 8 am the following morning; with that day off, this duty was a popular one with the girls. With the badge they also received a latter of thanks from the Post Master General for volunteering. During the Second World War many worked in the Post Office telephone service in London during the Blitz. which was a different experience to bombings of London in 1915 to 1918. The air raid casualties in London during 1915 to 1918 were officially as follows: ‘Air raid shelter stampedes 14 killed, 14 injured; Falling shrapnel 24 killed, 196 injured; Enemy bombs, 488 killed, 1437 injured. In the Blitz on London 1940 to 1945, more than 34,000 civilians were killed, and 50,000 seriously injured. Telephonists then were awarded the Defence Medal, but in the Great War, the London Telephone Service Badge for Air Raids was there only badge of distinction.
During the period of 1915 to 1918, the female telephonists were expected to handle calls relating to aircraft, defence, police, fire brigade, ambulance, another matters of importance, could be affected. The majority of switchboards were located on the top floor of the building under a glass roof, certainly a dangerous spot to be on duty during an air raid.