SICHERHEITS UND HILFSDIENST (SHD):
Germany. 1937-1942. The Sichersheits und Hilfdienst (Security and Assistance
Service) provided the organized, mobile civil defense strike force for the 106
towns of the first category regarded as most vulnerable to wartime air attack in
the German air raid protection organizational structure. Established on 4 May
1937 (one source indicates a 1935 foundation date) it evolved into a conscripted
service, established as a reserved occupation whose members were exempted from
military service but were also not allowed to hold other employment. SHD units
were housed in barracks, with a rotating staffing pattern that allowed half of
the units personnel to sleep at home each night, callouts for attacks
permitting. The SHD mission included firefighting, rubble clearance, urban
search and rescue, building repair, emergency medical services, and the location
and delivery of disaster supplies.
The SHD consisted of five branches, distinguished by distinctive arm insignia:
Sanitatsdienst (Medical Service) a staff of Aesculapius,
Entgiftungsdienst fur im Gasspruren und Entgiften Ausgebildete (Decontamination Service) letter G,
Feuerloschdienst (Firefighting Service) letter F,
Instandsetzungdienst (Repair and Maintenance Service) letter I,
Veterinardienst (Veterinary Service) letter V.
Like the Reichsluftschutzbund and British Air Raid Precautions personnel (and unlike United States Civil Defense), SHD personnel were fully uniformed in a military style uniform.
The organization and equipping of the SHD was
directed by the Air Ministry; vehicles were supplied through the Army Equipment
Starting in 1939 a national, mobile, strategic reserve of three to four SHD battalions was established to allow rapid reinforcement of local SHD units in cities under heavy attack. These units were formed by drafting personnel from all of the existing SHD units. The mobile reserve table of equipment included appropriate transport, initially the KzS 8 light fire truck, and the available heavy rescue technology of the day (heavy jacks, pile drivers, and cutting and demolition tools).
As an example of the organizational structure adopted at the battalion level, SHD Motorized Battalion 34 was established in Nurnberg in 1940 with a table of organization strength of 493 personnel, 19 automobiles, 18 motorcycles, and 75 trucks assigned. This unit was divided into:
2 firefighting and decontamination teams - a third firefighting team without an E platoon was added in September 1940, and each team received a light firefighting platoon as its third platoon
1 repair team
1 medical team with a patient transport section
1 replacement section
1 supply train
In April 1941 the SHD motor pool in Nurnburg included:
15 KS fire engines (with a goal of 36 apparatus)
18 KzS 8 crew and equipment trucks
7 KL turntable ladder trucks
5 hose trucks
1 intelligence vehicle
214 light trucks
2 truck trailers (with a goal of 43)
49 motorized bicycles
This total of 333 vehicles fell short of the target resource list of 425 vehicles. At the same time Mannheim had a target strength of 416 vehicles (reached 70 percent of target strength) and Frankfurt am Main 473 vehicles (reached 78 percent of target strength).
By 1942, the early stages of the Allied air
campaign against German cities (included the bombings of Rostock and Lubeck) had
highlighted the deficiencies of the existing system. As a result the
mobile Battalions were transferred to the Air Force and became
Motorized Air Protection Battalions, and the remaining units were
reorganized, renamed the Luftschutz Polizei, and placed under national control
of the Order Police.
Sources: Davis, Brian L., Uniforms and Insignia of the Luftwaffe, Volume 2: 1940-1945, London, United Kingdom, Arms and Armour Press, 1995. Foedrowitz, Michael, German Firefighting Vehicles in World War II, Atglen, Pennsylvania, United States of America, Schiffer Military History, 1997.
Entry 0134 - updated 5 October 2003