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Auxiliary Fire Service & National Fire Service in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- Auxiliary Fire Service & National Fire Service during the Second World War -

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Auxiliary Fire Service & National Fire Service

       The Auxiliary Fire Service was formed from volunteers at the outbreak of war, to assist the regular fire brigades. Initially many wrongly saw firemen as dodging the forces, but when the bombing began their value was realised. Fire was a huge threat to the British people, emergency firewater tanks were installed in many towns and where a large water supply such as a river was available pipes were laid to provide water for fire fighting. Many of the ranks were made up of women, in March 1943 there were 32,200 women serving with the National Fire Service. For the part time fire fighters, men were on duty every fourth night and women every sixth night.

    The name was changed to The National Fire Service in August 1941 when the regional regular Fire Brigades and the AFS were merged. After the war the Fire Brigades were split and one again were organised on a regional basis.

    If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.

    Those known to have served with

    Auxiliary Fire Service & National Fire Service

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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    James Aubrey Hanks

    James Aubrey Hanks served with the Auxiliary Fire Service in Bishop's Stortford, Herts and spent much of his time in London during the Blitz, attending the big fire at Purfleet refinery.

    I'm trying to find out about his service record and where it might be kept. My father died in Oct 1998. Unfortunately like many of his generation he never spoke about his wartime experiences. I have recently retired from the Fire Service, serving in both Essex and South Yorkshire.

    Michael Hanks

    Arthur Shepherd Sargent

    My father, Arthur Shepherd Sargent, was with the Auxiliary Fire Service and was stationed in Middlesbrough. This photo was taken around 1940.

    Ken Sargent

    George A. Cook

    I am now 80years of age and before I pass on I would like to find out more about my dear father, George Cook to pass on to further generations. I, like so many other young men was only interested in chasing young girls and not taking all that much interest in my fathers war. Just lately I have found out that he must have been in the thick of battles having been into hospital at Etaples in 1917 for a gunshot wound and then into Rouen hospital 9th August 1918 for results of a gas shell. He apparently served 4years and 303 days with the 1st Btn Cambridge Regiment and then the 7th Btn Suffolk Regiment, so must have seen a vast amount of fighting. I would love to know in what battles he must have fought and any other aspects of his war.

    He had great courage and joined the AFS in Ipswich during WW11, going to the dock area where he came home with a live, perfect condition incendiary bomb which I de-fused and used the contents to make fireworks. I kept this bomb on display in my hall until about four years ago when I presented it to the Ipswich museum and I only hope it has been saved and not destroyed.

    Russell G. S. Cook

    Vernon Thornton

    I am trying to find out about the service of my father Vernon Thornton in the AFS/NFS during WW2. I believe that he served in a special group that dealt with chemical fires up and down the east coast of Yorkishire from Hull up to Newcastle and possibly in Coventry. He was based in Dewsbury in the West Riding. As all the archive records seem to have been destroyed, I would appreciate any information.

    Jeremy Thornton

    Fireman John Sheldon Wesley "A" Clark

    Taken in 1942 behind the NFS garage in Front Street, South Hetton. It was later used by William Sinclair’s St Clare Coaches. My Dad is at front right and third from the left, is his friend, colleague and Church Warden Emeritus, George Stewart, he was a bricklayer down the mine.

    Like most of the young men in the village, my Dad, Sheldon Clark, was a miner at South Hetton Colliery. Nevertheless, he joined the AFS and "did his bit" whilst continuing to do his duties underground; I believe he was at this time a "shot firer", which entailed driving "roadways" underground by means of drilling holes and packing them with explosives. He never told me details of any fires; South Hetton is a long way from Germany, Denmark and Norway and had only one target worth mentioning (the coal mine with its associated railway installations) and, with one exception, never attracted the attention of the Luftwaffe. There were, however, two incidents which he did mention.

    The first occurred one night when the rig (which I believe was a van towing a trailer) was called out to the nearby village of Murton. There was (and still is) no direct road, so the van was driven at high speed in the blackout through the village of Easington Lane, where it turned off for Murton, which was to be reached via a notorious right-angle bend known as "Tattenham Corner". I believe the name has some significance to race goers. The night was dark, the illumination fron the van's lights was poor and the speed was excessive. Inevitably, at Tattenham Corner, the rig left the road. Fortunately, damage and injuries (apart from to their pride) were slight. What about the fire? Dad never said, but I assume it was attended to by a crew from one of the neighbouring towns.

    The second incident did involve Dad personally. One night he was on his way home, whether from work or the decrepit shed where the fire rig was housed, I cannot recall. Dad was walking behind a couple of colleagues who were deep in conversation. He heard an aircraft approach and looked up to see a couple of parachutes heading his way. The two in front of him were completely oblivious; correctly surmising the 'chutes were attached to land mines rather than to Fallschirmjaeger, he jumped on the two unsuspecting lads, knocking them to the ground, and told them to keep still. The first projectile hit the railway embankment, causing some damage but the earthwork protected the three young men sheltering on the other side. The second fell further away, in some allotments behind a street of houses (Fallowfield Terrace, for those familiar with the area).

    Expecting carnage amongst the chickens he knew to be kept there, Dad went to investigate the outcome. Surprisingly, however, despite the drogue effect of the parachute, the land mine had sunk deep into the boggy ground before going of, with the result that almost all of the explosive force had been directed harmlessly upwards and, like the humans involved, most of the chickens had got away with it (I'm tempted to say "by the skin of their teeth", but I'll try not to).

    Sheldon Clark

    Edward "Micky" Peters Station 34 D 4

    My relative Edward Peters was in the Auxiliary & National Fire Service, and served at station 34 D 4, has anyone got any idea where this station was? All I know was that it was West London.

    Bob Peters

    Lillian May "Hen" Henly Telephonist

    Mum is now 88 and enjoyed her shifts as a telephone operator on an obviously extremely busy switchboard directing the crews all over London in the Blitz. She is extremely well, living in Catford, and would love to hear from any colleagues.

    Moira Early

    Edward Cornelius Bagnall

    My father Ted Bagnall worked at the BSA during the Second World war and served in the Auxiliary Fire Service based in Birmingham city. My mother also worked at the BSA for part of the war. Her name was Maud Ellen Bagnall. She must have left employment before 1943, as I was born in February of that year. I believe my father sustained an accident to his eye around this time and spent a considerable amount of time at Blackwell Hospital (Lickey Hills). If anyone knows of them, I would be very, very grateful to hear from them.

    Valerie Lewis

    John Henry Bullen Station A-4X

    My father, Jack Bullen and his brother both served in the AFS as volunteers, stationed at Ash under Guildford Station, both men were on reserved occupations. The photograph is of my Father with three other crew members, and one of their trailer pumps outside of the Station. My Father is the second on the right, but unfortunately I am unsure of the names of the other men.

    David Bullen

    Station Commander. William Palmer Sharp West Float, Birkenhead

    He joined the Auxiliary Fire Service in 1937 after a long period of unemployment having previously been a steward in the Merchant Navy. I understand that he rose to the rank of Station Commander and was stationed at West Float dock in Birkenhead until 1943 when he was discharged due to ill health, suffering from duodenal ulcers after contracting malaria whilst at sea.

    John Sharp

    Luigi Aldo "Lou" Metalli

    Peter Metalli

    Vincent Hughes

    Born 1919 and a native of Salford my Dad, Vincent Hughes was unable to join the regular forces because of a childhood injury to his elbow. He served in the Auxiliary Fire Service and National Fire Service fighting the Blitz in Manchester and also being shuttled down to Liverpool Docks on a few of the worst nights. He and a pal managed to get into the doorway of a building and sheltered while they were surrounded by fire. That night a good part of Deansgate blazed when they lost water pressure from the canal.

    Dad has been gone a few years now but when I was little I had a wallet with various of his unit badges studded on to it. I'd love to hear from anyone who knew anything about the AFS and NFS units in the Manchester area, especially anyone who knew my father in those years.

    Brian Hughes

    Reginald Harold Brown

    I am trying to trace my late father's Fire Service history. I know he served at Robertsbridge when doodle bugs were falling short but little else. I think he also served at Rushden Fire Station at one time.

    Roger Brown

    Section Officer. Philip George "Pip" Pettifer Grimsby

    My father, Pip Pettifer was an auctioneer and estate agent before the war and was in the AFS in Grimsby so, on call up, he joined the newly formed National Fire Service along with his great friend Charlie Brow. He served in Grimsby throughout the war, with spells as relief officer in the Blitz in both London and Liverpool.

    When he married in 1941 he and his bride, May, travelled from the church on a fire engine. He was a keen cricketer and, at some point, played for the National Fire Brigade team at Lords, but who against I don't know. After the war he continued full time in the fire service until 1974, serving in the Holland County Fire brigade as Divisional officer and Deputy Chief.

    Diana Pettifer

    Reg Gawn

    My Dad, Reg Gawn, served in the AFS at Pinner Road Harrow Fire Station. As kids we had some of his old kit to dress up in. At times he was on the same crew as Ernest Lough “Oh for the Wings of a Dove” . I recall him telling us very little of what he went through, but I know that he was a driver, and at times on the top of a 100ft turntable ladder in the City of London. He and Ernest Lough were on the same crew the night the City Temple was destroyed, and that was where Ernest had recorded as a boy soprano. Any links with my dad would be welcome

    Ian Gawn

    Albert Edward Kidman Dockhead

    I have been trying to find out under which 'division' my father Bert Kidman, served from 1939-45. He received, or should I say through the help of my cousin, post-humously a Civil Service Medal. I have his Fireman's axe, photos of him in uniform & with his 'section' and his medal. I want to create a 'display' incorporating the pre-mentioned items in a case for my son & grandson - is it possible to be sent a 'logo' or emblem that my father would have served under to that I can carve it for the display. Was it the Auxiliary or LFB he belonged to? Can anyone help me, I have tried the LFB museum - they wouldn't help.

    John Kidman

    Henry Ackland

    My Grandfather was Harry Ackland who joined the AFS full time on the 24/08/1939, Class 'B' AFS number 18393. He was stationed at Bethnal Green Fire Station (East London) where he served until the end of the war. He covered most of the East/ West End especially the Docks, after narrowly escaping death on several occasions tackling fires he had to contend with UXB's (Unexploded Bombs). He used to drive the fire engine to the blazes and he was the one fighting the fires whilst up the long ladders.

    My Grandfather wasn't the one to talk about his experiences apart from the fact that he was buried alive for several hours before being rescued and after losing several of his fellow fireman to falling buildings.

    He was one of the first on the scene at the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster. Due to the fact that he was stationed so close to the disaster and living in Mendip Houses on Globe Rd, which are situated at the rear of Bethnal Green Fire Station, his station was virtually the first on the scene of the disaster so he was one of many fireman to help carry out the injured and those who died as they we're being taken to the waiting ambulances. He said it was absolute chaos as so many people were trying to get out of the station at the same time that people were trampelling on one another while he was trying to help the injured and at the same time there were bombs still being dropped. He said he would never forgot that night.

    If anyone recognises my Grandfather or those who were stationed at Bethnal Green Fire Station during the war, I would be interested in hearing from you.

    Perry Martin

    Ernest Elliott

    My Grandfather, Ernest Elliott lived in Chatham Kent and I believe he served in Kent. His brother Charles Edwin Elliott also served in the same unit. Does anyone remember either of them? Records for these Services are very difficult to find. Any further ideas? Where can one find photographic evidence? I am tracing my family tree and would like to learn more about the National Fire Service and the Auxiliary Fire Service in WW2. Are there any books dedicated to their heroic efforts?

    I discovered this site by chance and am very impressed and much in awe of the tales to be read. Thank you for any assistance that you may be able to pass on. Keep up the good work.

    Ann Webb

    Sidney Arthur Cornes

    My father, Sidney Arthur Cornes, joined the AFS prior to the war aged about 30. In due course he became a member of the NFS when the merger took place. Because he could drive (he was a commercial traveller for a coal factory) he became a driver and remained in the Fire Service in South London throughout the War. I know very little about his service and would be grateful for any sources of information about this time.

    David Cornes

    Fireman Henry Ackland National Fire Service

    My Grandfather was Harry Ackland joined the AFS full time on the 24/08/1939, Class 'B' AFS number 18393. He was stationed at Bethnal Green Fire Station, East London where he served until the end of the war. He covered most of the East End especially the Docks, after narrowly escaping death on several occasions, in tackling fires he had to contend with UXB's (Unexploded Bombs). He used to drive the fire engine to the blazes and he was the one fighting the fires whilst up the long ladders. My Grandfather wasn't the one to talk about his experiences apart from the fact that he was buried alive for several hours before being rescued and after losing several of his fellow fireman to falling buildings.

    When the Bethnal Green Tube disaster happened, as he was stationed so close to the disaster and living in Mendip houses (Globe Rd) which are situated at the rear of Bethnal Green Fire Station, his station was virtually the first on the scene of the disaster so he was one of many fireman to help carry out the injured and those who died as they we're being taken to the waiting ambulances. He said it was absolute chaos as so many people we're trying to get out of the station at the same time that people we're trampelling on one another while he was trying to help the injured and at the same time there we're bombs still being dropped. He said he would never forgot that night.

    If anyone recognises my Grandfather or those who we're stationed at Bethnal Green Fire Station during the war, I would be interested in hearing from you.

    Perry Martin

    Leading Fireman Reginal Horace Gawn Harrow Central

    Dad. Reg Gawn, was a volunteer fireman, aged 30 at the start of the war. He served at Harrow Central Fire Station (Pinner Road, N Harrow). I am trying to find out more about his war record - I do know he learned to drive in the Fire Brigade and that he was involved in the Blitz in London and in Portsmouth. He was at City Temple the night it was blitzed in May 1941, and on the same crew that night as Ernest Lough, who as a boy had recorded "Oh For The Wing of Dove" at the City Temple.

    Ian Gawn

    Cook. Marga Levy

    Marga Forester, 90, of Wynnewood, a Holocaust survivor who escaped from Nazi Germany to England on the famous Kindertransport, died Sunday, Feb. 9 at home. Mrs. Forester, the former Marga Levy, was married to fellow Holocaust survivor Frank Forester, who died of respiratory failure Dec. 3, also at home in Wynnewood. He was 88. They were together 69 years.

    As children - she was 16, he was 13 - the two left Germany on separate Kindertransports, the rescue effort in which Britain agreed to take in 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland when the Nazis were gaining power. Although the transports saved 10,000 Jewish children and babies from the Holocaust, most of the youngsters never saw their parents again, according to the Kindertransport Association.

    "I vaguely remember being given 10 days' notice that I was going to be able to leave Germany and travel to England on a 'children's transport.' I was so excited, I felt sick all the time and spent my last 10 days at home in bed," Mrs. Forester wrote in a memoir. On the train platform in Berlin, she recalled thinking her parents looked sad. "I wonder in retrospect if they had an intuition that they would never see me again," she wrote. As the train from Berlin neared the border with the Netherlands, SS men boarded to check passports. "We were petrified in case they would stop us from leaving Germany. . . . Once in Holland, we felt free!" she wrote. The children took a ferry to Harwich, England, where they were met by the Jewish Refugee Committee. She was lodged in a boardinghouse in Birmingham before being sent to the countryside to escape German bombing.

    She later learned her transport in July 1939 had been one of last ones to get children out of Germany. Once Britain entered World War II in September 1939, the rescue missions stopped. She also learned that her parents and younger brother died in a concentration camp.

    Frank Forester had arrived on an earlier transport, in December 1938. His parents disappeared; he never learned their fate. "That's what brought them together. They were both orphans," said the couple's daughter, Carole Parker. They met at the boardinghouse where they both lived. He served in the British army; she cooked for the British Fire Service, the agency responsible for fighting the fires started by German air raids. The two married in 1944. After moving to London in 1950, the couple and their daughter came to the United States in 1956 and settled in Chicago


    Harry Francis Barnes

    My grandfather Harry Francis Barnes born 1905 served with the Auxillary Fire Service. I know nothing about his time working for them. I only know that he served in the Kentish town area. We have two photographs of him, one standing in front of an engine numbered 75X. what does this stand for? They have been awarded a trophy, what would this be for? Can any other information be found from the photograph?

    Donna Miller

    Drvr. Frances Simpson Justice

    My mother, Frances Justice, learnt to drive at age 17 in 1934 and, I believe, worked as a chauffeur to a managing director at a steel works in Manchester. During the war she worked as a driver for the Fire Service in Manchester, tasked with driving the fire chief. She spoke of an amazing fire when a magnesium 'dump' went on fire and lit up the sky with a very white light.


    Daniel Joseph Carpenter

    My grandfather never spoke about what happened and until he died I never even knew he was part of the AFS. His name was Daniel Joseph Carpenter he lived in Kentish Town so I assume he was based in the area as well. I'm amazed when I read what these men and women did during the war. I write this as I watch a documentary on the Blitz that is bringing it all alive to me and I must admit bringing a lump to my throat.

    It would be great if others who may recognise anyone in the photos could contact me.

    Carole Carpenter

    John Waring

    My dad told me of his memories serving in the AFS in our home city Liverpool. He was John Waring, known as Jack. He drove fire engines and one can imagine how scary it was to do this through potholed and rubble strewn streets often without street lights and shaded driving lights. He said that he and the crew christened his engine "Limping Lena"!

    His greatest memories was working at the time of the "May Blitz" in Liverpool in 1941. The German air raids caused havoc amongst the Liverpool docks and the Atlantic conveys having arrived in the port. The city centre had many beautiful department stores including the famous Blacklers store, a majestic building which caught fire due to a hit. My dad then became a member of the merged force as the NFS. At least for some time he worked out of the Dale Street, City Centre Fire Station.

    I can remember when later, as a young lad, I played amongst the rubble of bombed buildings with my friends just across from the rear pedestrian entrance to the station in Old Swan.

    Ray Waring

    George Frederick Keen

    George Frederick Keen and George Henry Leach, were members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Home Guard. They attended a bombed munitions train in Tongham, Surrey around 22nd of August 1940. Read more.

    George Henry Leach

    George Henry Leach and George Frederick Keen, were members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Home Guard. They attended a bombed munitions train in Tongham, Surrey around 22nd August 1940. Read more.

    Guy Ivor Featherstone (d.23rd April 1941)

    My uncle Guy was killed, aged 40, in the bombing of Plymouth while serving with the Auxiliary Fire Service. He was injured on 23rd April 1941 and died the same day in Swilly Hospital.

    Mary Hind

    Fire Off. Oswald George Halliwell

    My father, Ossie Halliwell was working for British Aluminium before the war. Born 1908 at 31 he was too old to be called up. He was also in a reserved occupation. Collecting pranged aircraft, Spitfires or Heinkels, any type, as long as they were Aluminium. They would be melted down into ingots at the Banbury Foundry. The ingots were then shipped (by Lorry) to Southampton (Spitfires) Bristol (bombers) or Manchester.

    He was involved in the Conventry Blitz and I believe he qualified for the War and Defence medals. I believe he may also have qualified for the 39-45 star occasionally awarded for major action in the UK? Viz the London and Coventry Blitzes.

    Any info on this would be welcome. I have also found the Bar to an Auxiliery Fire Service Medal. Six Months service? Recommended for OBE? Any help would be welcome

    Mike Halliwell

    Frederick Scales

    My father-in-law, Frederick Scales NFS No 721370, served with the local authorty 39 to 41 and then with the NFS 41 to 45. He was discharged due to reduction of establishment from area 31 on 24th September 1945. Could anyone please tell me if Frederick was entitled to any medals for his service and if so how his daughter can apply for them or them?

    Peter Maher

    Benjamin Armitage King's Own (Royal) Lancashire Rgt.

    I joined the AFS (Fire Service) for three years, then I was called up for military service and served in the King's Own at Lancaster. There were eleven from Wallasey. I was the only survivor, the last one from Wallasey and still around. My company was sent to Swansea to be in charge of the wooden bridge. It was a past-time and Lil came down, she was here for four or five days. We were also in charge of the fish market. The Sally Army came around with tea and cakes for a nominal fee. We were billeted behind the church hall and I had just got to bed when someone came and kicked me and said a couple was getting married and no best man had turned up, so I was the dogs body. So I went to the church and stood for them. After, I went to their house, had a drink, wished them good luck, and back to my sleep.

    We were called back to Lancaster and on to the Pollock Camp, where we were rigged out with tropical kit to go to a hot country. But on the way to Port Said, we were then changed to winter gear and landed at Port Said. We found a NAAFI with clean table cloths. You paid one peasta for bacon, one for tea, one for chips, one for egg, and finally one for cake. One for bread if one wanted. Approximate total about two shillings.

    We were the first convoy to travel through the Mediterranean. There were destroyers on the flanks, and cruisers and battleships guarding the merchant men. One particular ship had a red flag, which meant it was carrying ammunition. It was struck and blew to pieces. There were two destroyers and most of the merchant ships went. We entered Pantolere Straits and the heavy battleships and the Arc Royal pulled out. HMS Manchester, which I was on, got torpedoed in the back and a four-inch gun turret. Quite a number of sailors and soldiers were lost. We had to turn around and go back to Gibraltar. You could touch the water from the top deck of the ship and I could not swim, very dicey.

    We stayed at Gib for four days, then we embarked on the cruiser HMS Hermione and set sail at midnight, destination again Malta. I was on the upper deck talking to a sailor when the skipper said 'Hear this - we are not stopping at all.' Then we cut an Italian submarine in two. We did not pick up any survivors, just kept on moving. We arrived at Malta and Maltese stood on the walls of Grand Harbour cheering the cruiser in. Malta is only seventeen miles by nine and it had over 9,000 tons of bombs on it. '9020' did not have quite so many and 'Cos' had nothing at all.

    Malta was the only island unoccupied. If the Germans had taken it the war may have lasted much longer. But Hitler decided not to send his Eleven division in. 'Haw Haw' said he will leave Malta to starve, which it nearly did. I went down from eleven stone to around eight stone. It was so bad, notices were put up: 'Anyone caught stealing would be severely dealt with.' The cruiser HMS Welshman' and a submarine would come once a fortnight, mostly with ammunition and mail. HMS Welshman was one of the fastest in the Navy, but Jerry got it because of lack of planes, so that Jerry could land and take off at will. The American aircraft carrier USS Wasp had forty-five planes on it and every one was shot before it could operate. One great feature was the oil tanker called the Ohio. It had a hole in it where you could drive two double decker buses through. Either side of the tanker was a destroyer tied to the tanker, to get it into the harbour. One Friday night, a dozen 'E' boats came to attack but our gunners knocked hell out of them. One of our gunners had his arm blown off being too slow to pass an order. Things eased up in Malta and we were off.

    Doc Cole was a great fellow and he told me that I could not go as I was downgraded, so I asked him who signed the medical records. He said I did and had better writing than him. So I said 'Here goes, I am upgraded as from now H.A. Cole, doctor.'

    We had a few weeks before we left Malta so we still had SLEK parades. Salkeld had a bad neck, full of inflammation. I was treating it using my scalpel. I cut the bad stuff and told him to hold the chair arms while I put on lotion, and he nearly hit the roof. I told him he could go on duty at the airfield, he was chuffed. He was killed before lunch.

    It was my turn to go to Luca aerodrome. I got friendly with an airforce officer. He said that he blew up bombs, I said I was medical and would look after him. Then he called me over and said would I listen to this bomb ticking [at] both ends. He put a fuse in both and said 'Over the wall with!' And it nearly blew the wall down. I invited him over to our canteen. He was lucky, a large lump of shrapnel shot through the wall and stuck in his bedding. He was very lucky to be at our place.

    This is now cheerio to Malta and we boarded a cruiser, destination: unknown. Crossing the water we got mixed up with Captain Potato Jones's convoy watch. To our advantage we were due to attack Leros but we were too late and the First Battalion went forward in our place and got a severe bashing, so we became the First Battalion King's Own.

    We left Egypt and sailed for Italy. Landing at Taranto we moved forward to Ancona. There was a large hotel. Jerry held one part of it, we held the other. We eventually got shut of Jerry, but he left some booby traps for the engineers to sort out. We could climb on to the roof and count how many he had on sick parade. If his red flag was not out our gunners would give him a few shells to liven him up. Sewion Singh was my first Sikh driver, but he ran away to the Tenth Indian Field Section. Sikh number two was worse than the other. I gave him an instruction: straight on and turn right. The poor chap put his head lamps on and Jerry woke him up. [I] jumped in to the ambulance [and] took him back. Captain Jones said he had a good man, an ex-taxi driver, So'an Sing. He was crazy but a good driver. He took control of the ambulance [and] mad, I even got scared he would get off his seat and bang like Hell out of the ambulance. He was a good driver, a little erratic. Threatened him with a big stick. He said: 'give me stick and I will fight you.' [I said]: 'Get behind that wheel and drive or I will fight you without the stick.' I asked him if he had food. He told me that there was only one sheep a marrators cut the sheep's throat across and a Muslim cut the sheep down. An argument ensued, who will win? In the meantime someone did not mind up or down: they swiped it.

    Next day we moved on to 'Forlee' and Forlee in Poplar. These were divided by a wooden bridge. Forlee was on time covered by our unit and on the other side was the Devon Light Infantry. We were knocking hell out of each other and to handle the fray Jerry flew over and dropped a bomb right in the centre of the bridge and there endeth that lesson. I still had my mule (Elmer) going toward the River Po. There was a rope stretched across. I had a medical pannier on one side of the mule and a stretcher on the other side. I was up to my armpits but managed to make the trip but Tyson, a Liverpudlian, had a big radio on his back but the weight took him down stream. We found him later on the sand and on the riverside. We went further up and twelve feet back and reburied him.

    We caught up with Doc Cole and the padre. Captain Bill Beresford, he was not too happy being so far ahead. We found a deserted Jerry first aid post, all it contained was a full operating kit and paper bandages. The operating kit was worth over five hundred pounds, so I stuck [it] in my medical kit. Doc Cole and I went forward to find a better place for a medical unit. The padre said 'Don't leave me here' and tagged on behind us and lo and behold a six-foot Jerry jumped out of [the] bushes shouting [in English], Bombers, mercy, mercy,' and put his hands up. None of us had a gun to hold him. I persuaded Doc Cole to book out two Tommy guns and ammunition for self preservation. Because you can feel safer with guns than Red Cross armbands at night. We ditched the padre as he was nuisance value. We went to 'A' company and met a Scotch Church army man. He had a mule with pannier with cakes in and a tea urn full. But, alas, the lid was loose and the tea was going over the mule. The faster it was going the faster the tea spilt. The mule was going towards Jerry lines so they got tea and cakes and even a mule for nothing.

    The following day we were to attack the Germans, the Canadians on the left and the British on the right. We had a good house for a medical post. Jerry started to shell the post: if the shell burst of the right I dodged to the left and vice versa. I was fixing a Gerry's leg which was badly fractured but I failed to hear this shell and received a big hole in my head. That ended my partnership. It took twelve hours to get to hospital and a further five hours treatment. I had a local anaesthetic. I got over this then I flew to Naples, went into Ninety Second Hospital. After a few weeks I was demobbed long-term. Released from hospital, [I] went on the liner the Oranjee. Left Naples, back to Liverpool. Put on a train to Shaftesbury, Dorset and got my discharge.

    Philip Handyside

    Aaron "Arky" Cohen Glasgow

    My father, Aaron Cohen, served in the Glasgow AFS during WWII and attended fires during the Glasgow blitz. Any further information about him would be welcome. I have a couple of photos of him with colleagues in his unit.

    Bernard Cohen

    Mark Fisher


    Jack Bathie (d.17th/18th Sep 1940)

    Jack Bathie, died on 17/18th September 1940, whilst on duty, serving in the Aux Fire Service during the Blitz. The night he was killed he was in a 3 story building at 7-9 Rathbone Place, London. German raiders apparently pounded the city for 10 consecutive hours. He died with 8 other AFS. From what I can find on the internet, the building at 7-9 Rathbone Place was in the HQ 722, B District, South Division and was used for Mess and Sleeping Accommodation only.

    He lived in Islington with his family and on the day of his funeral their house was bombed, leaving the family unable to say goodbye. His son's name is George and was evacuated to Cornwall shortly after this, he would dearly love to pay his respects to his father. I have searched a few cemetery listings around the Islington area, to no avail. I was informed that because he lived in Islington but died in Soho this might make his grave harder to locate.

    I would appreciate any information or advice on how to find where Jack was laid to rest.

    Lianne James

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