Eye-opening cigarette cards trained Brits for incoming air raids

In 1938 Britain, the prospect of war with Germany — and the bombing of civilian areas — was looking increasingly likely.

To prepare citizens for these attacks, the government set up Air Raid Precautions (ARP), an organization tasked with training and marshaling Britons to prepare for and respond to bombs and gas attacks.

One way the ARP spread information was through cigarette cards, small images and text which were distributed in packets of cigarettes.

These cards, produced by tobacco company W.D. & H.O. Wills in collaboration with the government, carried lessons on setting up bomb shelters, wearing gas masks, extinguishing fires and numerous other ways to secure the homefront.

Equipping your refuge room: furnish with table, chairs, tinned food, tin for bread, etc., crockery, cutlery, books, wireless, gramophone, playing cards.

Image: Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

Equipping a refuge room: washstand, basin, towels, soap, water, chamber pots, toilet paper, disinfectant, stirrup pump for fire-fighting, mattress and bedding, gumboots, raincoat.

Image: Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images