In 1938, as the government prepared for what appeared to be inevitable conflict involving the use of bombing from the air, each Fire Authority was required to form an Auxiliary Fire Service, under the direction of the local Chief Fire Officer. Members of the AFS were unpaid part-time volunteers but, if necessary, could be called up for full-time paid service. Men and women could join, the latter mainly in an administrative role. The Auxiliary Fire Service and the local brigades were superseded in August 1941 by the National Fire Service.
Some bombs did fall on Hadleigh as it lay under the flightpath for enemy bombers targeting London. On the night of 18th June 1940, St. James the Less church suffered damage from enemy action. On 17th November 1944, a flying bomb badly damaged the Mission Hall of St. Barnabas on the corner of Woodfield Road and Church Road. There was also bomb damage to Kingsway Parade, Park Chase and near the Salvation Army Temple.