During the Second World War, Americans feared the threat of aerial attacks. While it was technically possible for the German or Japanese militaries to launch strategic bombing attacks on major cities on the east and west coasts of the United States it was unlikely to happen. It was even more unlikely that small cities like Elmira would be targeted. That did not make the fear go away, though. It was logical to think that this area could be targeted because of all the factories producing materials for the war effort. Many cities and towns across the country were in the same situation. As a way to ease the minds of its citizens, the U.S. government created the Office of Civilian Defense in May 1941. The Air Raid Warden Service was part of that.
Air raid warden helmets were painted white so that they
could be identified more easily during a blackout.
|Handbook for Air Raid Wardens, 1943|
Air Raid Wardens were also responsible for overseeing air raid and blackout drills. Blackouts were ordered only on the authority of the War Department and everyone needed to be ready and know what they had to do when that happened. On January 4, 1942 a county-wide blackout drill was held. The local newspapers advertised the drill in the days leading up to it.
|Elmira Star-Gazette, January 3, 1942|