Emergency Services => Fire Services => Topic started by: Riding With The Angels on September 24, 2009, 20:41:10

Title: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: Riding With The Angels on September 24, 2009, 20:41:10
This tomb at West Wickham remembers the tragic deaths of five Auxilliary Fire Service personel in 1941.

(http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h282/RidingWithTheAngels2/Sub%20album%203/IMG_0114.jpg)

(http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h282/RidingWithTheAngels2/Sub%20album%203/IMG_0115.jpg)

In 1941, the London Fire Brigade, under intense pressure from the many fires caused by enemy bombing, had frequently to call in reinforcements from outlying areas. It was on one such occasion on 19th March at West Ham that five Coney Hall Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) men lost their lives. They comprised the crew of a pump, one of a convoy on the way to a five at Silvertown, which was obliterated in a land-mine explosion in Plaistow Road.

Wesley Drew, Stanley Short, Frederick Moore, Dennis Fitzgerald and Leslie Palmer were buried in this one grave in St John's the Baptist Churchyard, West Wickham, Kent. A simple wooden cross on a brick plinth was erected in 1942 and unveiled by the Mayor of Beckenham, Alderman W.J. Sampson J.P. on Easter Sunday 5th April 1942 with the dedication by the Rector, the Rev. Shaw Page.

Plans were made as early as June 1947 for a more permanent memorial but due to many difficulties in a post war Britain, with both material and money in very short supply a new memorial was not in place until October 1953. In fact it may not have been completed by that time except the memorial was badly damaged by a falling tree!

The new memorial was unveiled on Sunday 25th October 1953 by the Mayor of Beckenham, Alderman W.J. Sampson J.P. By coincidence the same man who had unveiled the temporary war time memorial 10 years earlier was now serving another year as Mayor. The dedication was by the Rector of St. John the Baptist the Rev. John Hough.

While wartime comrades stood guard at the corners with heads bowed, Divisional Officer C.T. Davis, Kent Fire Brigade laid a wreath on behalf of the Fire Service.

John Drew aged about 13 years also placed a wreath in memory of his father, one of the AFS fire-fighters killed in 1941.

Next to the memorial is the double grave of two further AFS fire-fighters killed exactly a month later. Ernest Beadle and Norman Mountjoy were among 33 AFS fire-fighters killed when their temporary Fire Station received a direct hit during an enemy air raid on the night of 19/20 April 1941 at Poplar, in East London.

Taken from http://www.bromley.gov.uk/environment/conservation_urban_design/memorials/beckenham_a.f.s._war_memorial.htm (http://www.bromley.gov.uk/environment/conservation_urban_design/memorials/beckenham_a.f.s._war_memorial.htm) Photo's by RWTA
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on September 29, 2009, 07:59:11
The Wartime Fire Service in the Medway Towns sufferred casualties as a result of enemy action as well. Leading Fireman Beer was killed at Elaine Avenue Strood when the ARP post was bombed. Firemen Gibbons and Chater were killed on the Esplanade when their post took a direct hit from a parachute mine, and Fireman Ryder was also killed on the Esplanade outside Shorts during an air raid. Their names appear on the National Firefighters Memorial outside St Pauls Cathedral in London.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: splashdown on October 22, 2009, 21:01:48
Hi afs.
 My grandfather was the William Beer that you referd to. As far as my mother knows he was killed by shrapnell hitting him in the chest. My aunt has a first aid book with the shrapnel hole in it and i have a photo that was inside the book.  She will try to dig out some photos of him at the fire station at the top of strood hill if you are interested.   
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: Riding With The Angels on October 23, 2009, 19:40:27
Wow. That would be great. A personal link to a member on KFH to a significant person in a thread.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: bromptonboy on October 24, 2009, 14:56:45
Hi AFS,

The book Front Line County by Andrew Rootes mentions an air raid on the St Williams Way area in Rochester early morning on Tuesday 8th April 1941 in which two members of the AFS were killed when their sub-station recieved a direct hit. Do you know of this? Also did you know of an AFS Station in Mill Road Gillingham. I picked up some info from the BBC Peoples's War website in which a contributor mentions he was a fireman and worked from the Mill Road post.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 24, 2009, 21:24:33
The damage at St Williams Way was caused by a parachute mine. I think these acted as anti-shipping mines if they fell in water and exploded if they fell on land. They were particularly nasty because (a) you couldn't hear them coming (a falling bomb made a rushing noise), and (b) they didn't dig into the ground before exploding; the explosive force spread out horizontally and caused much more damage than a bomb of the same size, and these were  big. This one was even worse because it landed right on the edge of the concrete wall where Onslow Road joins St Williams Way, so that it was like an air burst at the roof level of the houses (Actually those houses were in Wickham Street with their back gardens on St Williams Way). Of  course the blast also went up the hill, destroying houses in Onslow Road and Amherst Road. To this day you can still see the new concrete in the wall where the mine hit.

I think it was the on same night (there was more than one mine dropped that night) that an AFS sub-station on Rochester Esplanade got a direct hit and some firemen were killed, and this may be the one referred to in Reply#1. Fortunately (not for the firemen, of course) there were no other buildings nearby. It was near the bottom of Bakers Walk. I lived close to the main AFS station which was at the junction of Foord Street and John Street, and remember seeing the wreckage of the trailer pump and other gear in the yard there.

I went to Troy Town School at the time, at the junction of King Street and John Street, and the firemen from this station were accommodated in one of the classrooms. I can remember a fireman would poke his head through our classroom door and say to our teacher 'yellow' to tell her of a preliminary warning. The air-raid alerts were in stages: 'Yellow' meant that an attack was likely and ARP services went to standby; 'Red' meant an attack within (I think) 10 minutes, when the sirens would sound; 'Green' signified 'All Clear'. Railway marshalling yards, factories etc requiring outside lights carried on after the Red warning, until the 'Purple' warning was given when raiders were more-or-less overhead, when all lights were put out.

Anyone not familiar with the area can find the roads I've mentioned on Google Earth.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 25, 2009, 09:32:04
Hi Bromptonboy.

Yes it's the incident relating to the deaths of AFS Firemen Cyril Gibbons and Francis Chater who were killed on 8th April 1941. Yes, Andrew Rootes' book Frontline County is an excellent book and has proved to be a valuable research publication. As regards Mill Road I do know that it was a Sub Station with NFS Station 30B2U as part of B Division Fire Force 30 (Kent). As you may have read elsewhere on my postings, I'm trying to find out where the AFS sub stations in Chatham were and I would like to include Gillingham as well. I have all the NFS stations for Medway but not the AFS as some of these were not used as proposed under the original ARP for the towns (I have Rochester's which includes parts of Strood).
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 25, 2009, 10:34:24
Hi Peterchall

Thanks for your very interesting post. You must have seen plenty of activity at the Station! I knew the 3rd Officer there, Cyril Daniel, who lived (like some of the Firemen) in Foord Street itself. I remember him telling me about Troy Town school being used for emergency storage for furniture and on occasions, accomodation! He related an incident to me when he thought the station was going to be bombed, but it missed Foord Street and landed in Ross Street. That would have been around 1940.

I don't know if you are still local to that area now but the station was demolished about 18 months ago and flats have been built on the site. The same thing happened to The Majestic garage that stood on Star hill until the mid 90's.

With demise of Foord Street went the last building in Rochester used by the Fire Services. I do have photographs of Foord Street station during the War, and afterwards in the 50's when it was a Kent Fire Brigade Retained station up until 1957, but I have no means to upload them, at the moment. I will also need to get permission from KFRS museum curator to do so as they are copies from their collection.

I live very close to Wickham Street and as you say, that landmine killed 8 people in Wickham Street as well as devasting parts of Amherst Road and Onslow Road.

I would be interested to know if you might know the  whereabouts of the NFS Divisional Headquarters in Pattens Lane were? So far I have been unable to locate its exact position.

Again thanks for the posting.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 25, 2009, 12:02:58
Hello All,

Whoops! My comments (Reply#5) about air-raid warnings were not quite right; I've now dug out some information that I think is pretty accurate.

The country was divided into 'Warning Districts', 111 at start of the war, increasing to 157 by 1943. These received the following 'Air Raid Messages' direct from Fighter Command HQ:
   YELLOW: Enemy Aircraft (E/A) 15 minutes flying time from District boundary. Organisations on the ?Warning List? were notified.
   RED: E/A 5 minutes from boundary. Organisations on the ?Action List? were notified and the public sirens were sounded.
   GREEN: Cancelled the RED message.

   WHITE: Cancelled the YELLOW message.

From 25 July 1940 warning was normally no longer given of single E/A. To prevent a risk from these to organisations that had by necessity to show outside lights, a new message, 'PURPLE', was sent to them at night, to tell them to turn off the lights.

There was also another stage in the warning system - the 'Jim Crow' lookouts at each individual factory - that could be the subject of some interesting discussion.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 25, 2009, 22:07:52
Hello afsrochester,

I have very distinct memories of an incident that must be the same one related by Cyril Daniel. I lived at 23 Ross Street and my mother and I were standing in the garden watching some aeroplanes milling about when one came towards us and two little black dots fell from it - bombs! We made a rush for the cellar as the noise of the falling bombs got louder and we were at the top of the steps when there was a crashing noise in the cellar; we found half a paving stone there and could only conclude that it had fitted neatly edge on through the grid of the cellar flap outside! A clear memory is that there was no noise of the explosion, more a thump felt through the ground. We lost all the windows and some roof slates.

One of the bombs had destroyed two houses about 5 or 6 houses further up the road. One of these belonged to a Mr Brackley, who ran a fleet of taxis that were kept in a garage in Foord Street. It may have been his garage that was requisitioned as the AFS station, but after 69 years I can't remember.

It was at a late stage in the Battle of Britain, when the raids were made by fighters carrying a couple of small bombs, and I've always thought it was one of these being chased and jettisoning his bombs, rather than a deliberate attack.

I'm trying to get hold of some Rochester City archives that might throw more light on this, as well as some of the other events we've discussed.

PS: I'd love to see those wartime pictures and hope you can upload them.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 26, 2009, 15:06:54
I have got a part copy of Rochester's incident records, but they are a copy of a copy of a?..etc! So in the time that I would spend scanning, re-sizing and otherwise doctoring to make them readable, I can just as easily reproduce them myself. I have used some abbreviations, otherwise everything is as it appears, typed in full, on the original.

City of Rochester
Incidents 1939 - 1945
1940
August

   9th: High Explosive (HE) Rochester Airport and Stadium, stand damaged. Unexploded bomb (UXB) Borstal.
   15th: HE Rochester. 5 houses demolished others damaged. 9 injured.
   19th: HE Rochester Airport and open fields.
   28th: HE open ground Borstal. 150 incendiary bombs (IB) Rochester. Cathedral roof slightly damaged, also houses.
   30th: Aeroplane crashed at Strood. 1 slight injury. 12 houses damaged.
   31st: HE Strood and Borstal. 8 houses demolished, others damaged. 1 fatal, 7 injured. IB Strood.
September
   2nd: HE Rochester. 3 houses demolished. Ambulance Party car burnt. 11 injured.
   4th: HE Rochester. 13 UXB Borstal. 6 houses demolished others damaged. 8 injured. IB Rochester Airport. 1 Fatal, 2 injured.
   6th: HE and IB Rochester Airport, Stadium and Borstal.
   13th: IB Rochester.
   16th: HE and UXB and IB Strood. Houses damaged. 3 injured.
   18th: HE Strood and Rochester. 2 houses demolished, others damaged. 3 fatal, 15 injured.
October
   5th: HE Rochester.1 house demolished. 1 fatal, 8 injured.
   8th: HE Rochester. Gas retort house damaged.
   15th: HE, farm at Borstal. Buildings damaged and livestock killed.
   16th: HE Rochester Airport and Borstal. 3 houses demolished. Slight injuries.
   17th: Oil bombs Strood. 1 fatal, 7 injured. HE Borstal and Bridgewood. 5 fatal, 3 injured. Army lorry burnt out. Houses damaged.
   (Unreadable): ?..HE near Short Bros.
   (Unreadable): ???????.3 houses demolished.

There is now a gap in my copy until:

November
   2nd: HE open ground Borstal.
   5th: HE open ground Borstal.
   6th: HE Strood. Houses damaged.
   11th: 17 HE Strood. Houses and gas main damaged. 2 fatal, 1 injured.
   17th: HE Gas works. 1 injured.
[   16th: HE Rochester and Strood.

1941
January
   10th: IB Rochester. Houses slightly damaged.
February
   21st: HE Borstal. Sea wall damaged.
April
   8th: Parachute mines Rochester. Houses demolished and damaged. Shop in Short Bros damaged. 12 fatal, 94 injured. IB Strood.
   19th: HE Rochester. 2 houses demolished, gas main burst. 4 fatal. IB, ARP HQ, houses, store house Fort Clarence, all damaged by fire.
August
   6th: HE Rochester. Houses damaged. 4 injured.

1943
January
?   17th: Fire pots and UXB open ground Rochester. 1 slight injury.
September
?   15th: HE, farm, Cuxton, Rochester. No damage.

1944
January
?   21st: Casket IB in open fields.
?   29th: IB fields and foreshore.
February
?   3rd: IB Rochester.
?   18th: Parachute mine Strood. 16 houses demolished, 153 damaged. 3 fatal, 32 injured.
March
?   2nd: HE Strood. 15 houses demolished, 1,000 damaged. Railway lines, signal cables, goods station, sewage pumping station all damaged. 20 fatal, 70 injured.
?   22nd: Canister IB Strood. I house damaged.

My copy ends here but there is obviously more.

The pages are stamped ?ROCHESTER UPON MEDWAY, CITY ARCHIVES?

Re 17
Oct 1940
: This ties in with my posting in Kent Defences> General Defences> Chatham Gun-wharf>Reply#30, ?an ATS driver who lost her legs when her truck was hit by a bomb while at Fort Bridgewood?.

Re the Ross Street incident: When did it occur? It was a Saturday morning and the only Saturday listed above is 5th October 1940, but more than one house was destroyed and I don't think there were any serious casualties. Curiously, Andrew Rootes' book 'Front Line County' lists 8 fatalities in Chatham and 2 in Gillingham on that day, but none in Rochester. The only November Saturday listed is the 2nd, when bombs fell at Borstal. That leaves only 19th and 26th October as possible dates - was it the 2nd of the unreadable dates in my copy, when 3 (and not 2, as I thought) houses were destroyed? Wood & Dempster's 'The Narrow Margin' shows the morning of 19th to be misty with little activity; on the 26th there was intense German activity and bombs were dropped on Maidstone and London, so that seems the most likely date for the 'Battle of Ross Street'.

Re St Williams Way etc: The only parachute mines dropped on Rochester were those on 8th April 1941, and confirms that Firemen Gibbons and Chater were killed on the Esplanade that night, and there were no AFS casualties at St Williams Way as 'Front Line County' seems to suggest. Was Fireman Ryder killed when the shop at Short's was damaged?

Re the NFS HQ in Pattens Lane: The only suggestion I can make is that there was a Childrens' Home where Bob Bean House is now. This is pure conjecture, but could that have previously been the HQ?
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on October 26, 2009, 19:53:00
im sure on the forum somewhere is scanned copies of these
they are written by a  typewritter

anyone help?
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 26, 2009, 22:23:57
Hi Peterchall.

Thanks for the posting.

If I can do my best to answer your questions in order.

1. 17th Oct 1940.

As we know, KHF member Splashdown's Grandfather Leading Fireman Wiiliam Beer and ARP Ambulance Driver Kenneth Jenner were killed when their ARP post was bombed in Elaine Avenue, Strood. There were 5 other deaths. 2 were seriously injured and 8 slightly hurt. Source; Frontline Kent Casualty figures, The Firefighters Memorial Trust, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commision.

2. The Ross Street Incident.

 I'm afraid I don't know the exact date, only Cyril referring to it as being early on during the War. However, it may well be on of the dates in October 1940 as you suggest as the Fire Station was moved from the Common (Corporation Street) to Foord Street in June 1940 due to the expected invasion and subsequent demolition of bridges etc.to delay the Germans. I do have a  photo of the bomb damage in Ross Street but as you know, I can't upload anything at the moment. Also the picture is copyrighted to Kent Messenger.

Cyril did commit some of his memories to tape for me as he found it very difficult to write,(he was in his Mid 80's at the time. He died in 2000 aged 91) He did also make mention if I recall correctly, in his memoirs, A Collection of Memories,  reference to the incident, but as he said in the foreward "I can remember incidents but cannot remember dates." His memoirs were produced via Kent Fire Brigade Museum now sadly all sold and no longer available.

3. Re St Williams Way etc.

 7 were killed in Wickham Street, not 8 as I said originally. I will post the casualty list for 8.4.91 with address' later. The other civilian casualty was Mrs Batchelor of  Willis Avenue who I would suspect, died as a result of the AFS Sub station blast. AFS Firemen Chater and Gibbons were killed instantly, Firemen Barnes and Durling were badly injured. This brings the casualties to 10. I am convinced that Fireman Ryder from Chatham AFS died in St Barts Hospital the following day as a result of injuries sufferred during the same raid. The newspaper report on his death mentions, as you state reference to Shorts being hit. This would bring the death toll to 11 as given in Frontline County and also ties in with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's reports.

As you say, the blast went up the hill as well hitting Amherst Road and Onslow Road. I am amazed that nobody was killed there given the proximity of where the landmine landed actually on the retaining wall of the back gardens of Amherst Road across the road from Wickham Street. The blast took out the corner shop at 1 Onslow Road and also half the gable end wall of 2 Onslow Road. A neighbour of mine recalls playing in the ruins of 1 Onslow Road as a child.

4. NFS B Division HQ Pattens Lane, Rochester.

 That's now 4 possible sites I have; the others being where the OAP bungalows are in Pattens Lane, City Way End, where Redland Shaw now stands, along from the Huntsman Pub, and where the old Torrens Nursery used to be, further along!

Anyway hope this helps. Thanks again.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 27, 2009, 08:01:26
Hi Chatham-Girl85

The document you refer to is in Wartime Kent Topic under General Wartime On the Home Front posted by Rossco on 28/5/08

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 27, 2009, 09:49:26
I thought I would post the original ARP plan for the Fire Service for Rochester City Council and the NFS Fire Stations from August 1941.

As a result of the Air Raid Precautions Act 1937, and The Fire Brigade Act 1938, the following plan was proposed. 1 Main Station, 2 Auxiliary Stations with 12 Sub Stations 7 in Rochester and 5 in Strood.

Main Station.
Rochester Corporation Street

Auxiliary  Station.                                                       Auxiliary Station,
Majestic Gararge, Star Hill                                           London Road, Strood                              

Sub-Stations Patrol HQ's                                             Sub-Stations Patrol HQ's

1. 233 City Way                                                       8. Arthrills Garage, Frindsbury Hill
2. J. Giles Farm Buildings Hill Road Borstal                      9. Denhards Garage, Commercial Road,
3. 69 City Way.                                                      10. Jubilee Inn Darnley Road.
4. 94 Cecil Road                                                      11. 128 Brompton Road
5. Naylors Garage Foord Street                                  12. Hinges Farm
6. Lloyds Garage High Street
7. Wilson's Garage Ridley Road.

The original idea was that each of these posts would be allocated  crews (that would muster there on the Air Raid Warning being given,)  along with a Towing Vehicle with a Trailer Pump. When the air raid commenced,  they would patrol their allotted areas and deal with any incidents that they found.

It soon became obvious that that would clearly be impractical, because of mimimal communications , the wasting of petrol and poor operational use of manpower, so the plan was re-organised and some of these stations were never used. 3 Stations in Rochester that were created as a result of re-organisation were Willis Avenue,(to cover the Shorts factory) Wouldham (to cover outlying districts) , and Priors Gate House, solely for the protection of the Cathedral.

The Strood Sub Station at the Jubilee Inn I suspect, was relocated to Elaine Avenue ARP post as it is quite close the Jubilee, under the re-organisation plan, and it was not uncommon for the Fire Service to share posts with the ARP.

In 1941, following the Blitz, it was decided to form a National Fire Service Coming under control of Central Goverment, The Home Office, (as it still is to-day) creating a unified, standardised Fire Service.

NFS Stations B Division Kent Fire Force Number 30

Divisonal HQ Pattens Lane Rochester.

Stations and Station Numbers

Central Fire Station Chatham 30B2Z
Chatham Town                    30B2Za
Chatham Ordnance               30B2Y
Waldersalde                        30B2Ya
Chatham Glencoe                 30B2X
Luton                                 30B2Xa
Central Fire Station Rochester 30B2W
Majestic                              30B2Wa
Wouldham                            30B2Wb
Bluebell Hill                           30B2Wc
Gillingham Central Fire Station  30B2V
Gillingham Green                    30B2Va
Mill Road                              30B2U
Byron Road                           30B2Ua
Wigmore                               30B2T
Webster Road                        30B2Ta
Rainham                                30B2Tb
Solomon Road                        30B2Tc

Central Fire Station Chatham was in The Cut (and still as KFRS Chatham Retained Station) Central Fire Station Rochester was in Foord Street and survived after the war as Kent Fire Brigade Rochester Retained Station until 28th July 1957 when the station closed. Central Fire Station Gillingham was in Green Street (and still is as KFRS Gillingham Retained Station.)
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 27, 2009, 12:09:20
Hello afsrochester,

Your listing of AFS sub-station 5 as Naylor's Garage answers the query in my Reply#9. Naylor's was a 'proper' garage - i.e. it repaired cars. Brackleys was just a 'storage' for his taxis and was next door.

Go to www.aboutmyplace.co.uk and get a birds-eye view looking north; it looks as if that garage is still there!

Have you any info on the Emergency Water Supply (EWS) tanks that were distributed round the area? The only one I can definitely remember was in the Vines, at the corner of Crow Lane and Vines Lane. It was a big steel tank about 3 feet high, and would have been ideal for sailing model boats if it hadn't been covered in wire-mesh! Another EWS source was along the Esplanade where there was a big open space with an embankment round it, and was full of water. It was between the road and river, and we kids knew the path round it as the 'towpath'.

Regards,
peterchall
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 27, 2009, 15:28:21
Hi Peterchall.

I meant to have included this snippet of information, again via Cyril Daniel.
When Foord Street was commandeered to be the main station when they were moved out of Corporation Street, the garage was also being used by Naylors Funeral Directors to store their cars! Understandably, Naylors were none too impressed but a working compromise was found which allowed them to share. How long that arrangement lasted however, I have no idea. Must have been a bit chaotic!

Re Emergency Water Supplies.
Have a look under Wartime Kent, General Home Front, topic Emergency Water Supplies. I've posted what I know of
the ones in Rochester. If anyone knows of ones in Strood, I'd be pleased to hear.

Thanks. AFS Rochester
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 27, 2009, 17:57:06
Hi Numanfan.

Wow! I don't think I've ever seen this particular photograph. Would you be able to tell me the title and author of your book please? Obviously it is taken at the same time as the one used in Frontline County but looking down St Williams Way towards the Delce. The rubble in the road on the right is almost certainly that of the retaining wall that the parachute mine landed on. The Frontline County photo is taken at the junction of Onslow Road and St Williams Way.  I don't recall seeing this one when I went through the KM's photograph archives about 4 years ago.

Thank you very much for posting it.

All the Best

AFS Rochester
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 27, 2009, 19:42:19
Hi AFS Rochester,

I should have said Naylor's garage MIGHT have been a 'proper' one, but my standard excuse is that it was 69 years ago! But the other garage was definitely Brackley's.

I've found Rossco's posting of 28/5/08 and the information on my missing dates is:

1.   20th October 1940: HE near Shorts Bros.
2.   26th October 1940: HE and Oil Bombs Rochester. 3 houses demolished, others damaged. Signal box (unreadable) damaged. 3 injured.

26th was a Saturday (I know it happened on a Saturday because I wasn't at school and Dad was at work), so that seems to settle the date of the bombs on Ross Street. Either there were 3 houses destroyed there, or 2 in Ross Street and another one somewhere else.
Many thanks to you & Rossco.

Now for something else:
While in school one afternoon there was an almighty 'THUMP', and when we came out just after there was a great pall of black smoke overhead. A tug and some oil barges had been blown-up by a mine in the Medway, and some mates and I went to what we called the 'Back Fields', next to Short's, to see a patch of burning oil on the water a bit further up-river. My memory tells me it burnt for several days, but common sense says the tides would have dispersed it (69 years memory again!).

I left Troy Town School in July 1941, so it happened before then and is most likely associated with the parachute mines of 8th April - was there an additional mine that fell unnoticed into the river? However, the City of Rochester records don't mention anything like this, nor can I find anything in the book 'Front Line County'. Has anybody got any information?

Best wishes,
Peter
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 27, 2009, 20:38:06
Hi Numanfan.

Many thanks for the information on the book. I have seen the other photograph on the KHF. Merc posted it last year in June. 

Thanks again,

AFS Rochester
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on October 31, 2009, 20:18:37
I've done a bit of delving into German Parachute Mines in WW2 and have come up with the following, gleaned from various sources.

There were two types of mine:
LuftmineA of 500kg (1100lb), 1.7m (5ft 8in) long, &
LuftmineB of 1000kg (2200lb), 2.6m (8ft 8in) long.
From various accounts I would assume that most, if not all, were of type B. This picture shows a whopper!

                             An unexploded parachute mine sits in a garden on Score Lane, Chidwell.
                
             28 November 1940
                            (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/An_unexploded_parachute_mine_sits_i.jpg)

It seems they were designed as magnetic or acoustic anti-shipping ground mines (i.e: they rested on the seabed rather than floated) and exploded if they came down on land. One source says they had a 22 second delay fuse if they came down on land, and I imagine this would be to give time to sense whether or not the mine was under water. Could the release of weight on the parachute when the mine touched down have started the clock ticking? The one shown doesn't seem to have a nose fuse, although there is a fuse (or is it a water sensor?) in its side.

I have tried to find all instances of Parachute mines in the Medway Towns, using 'Rochester City Archives' and Andrew Rootes' 'Front Line County'.

1.   14th December 1940:
Two mines at Chatham, one in Ordnance Street where 15 people were killed and 123 injured, and the other on open ground in Boundary Road.
2.   8th April 1941: (Reply#4 onwards). One mine on St William?s Way and two on the Esplanade Rochester. I have always believed that the one at St William's Way fell on the edge of the retaining wall at the bottom of Onslow Road and this made the damage worse, but I doubt if anyone who survived actually saw it. If it was fitted with a 22-second fuse, would it have stayed there? Did it in fact fall off the wall and explode in the road? This could account for the damage being less in Onslow Road and Amherst road because they would have been protected by the wall; it may even have reflected more of the blast towards Wickham Street and made the damage there worse.
3.   (Reply#19 "While in school one afternoon there was an almighty 'THUMP'"). My account of the oil barges blown up by a mine, I think soon after 8th April, making a total of 4 dropped that night. I don't think any German bombers could carry more than two of the big mines, so were there 2 Luftwaffe 'culprits' that night? Is there any record of a time interval between the dropping of the mines?
4.   18th February 1944: (Reply#10) Mine at Strood, but I can't find out where.
5.   19th April 1944: Mine at Strood, again I don't know where. 4 killed, 70 injured.

That is all I can find about mine incidents in the Medway Towns, but I have found 3 more in other Kent places:

1.   4th October 1940: The 3-man crew of a tug was blown up by a mine in the River Swale.
2.   18th November 1940: Two mines at Folkestone. 14 killed, 60 injured.
3.   18th November 1941: Two mines at Sturry, near Canterbury. 15 killed, 11 injured. All the previous mine incidents were near the sea or a river, so could have been aimed at dropping them into water (so far as one of those things could be aimed!), but this one was miles inland. The war has been over for a long time now, so let us be generous and assume it was a damaged bomber jettisoning his load.

'Front Line County' index does not distinguish between mines and bombs, so without reading it in detail I can't claim to have found every instance of mines - in fact I doubt that I have; also I'm sure there are other sources. So I'm hoping for more information from the rest of you.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 31, 2009, 21:23:25
Hi Peter.

Thank you for posting the photo and your research into parachute mines. My God, no wonder it caused so much damage. The size of it!

8th April 1941. Cyril Daniel told me that it landed on the wall. He went to that "shout" and said "It was a real mess." You pose some very interesting and thought prevoking questions with your suggestions as to what actually happened. The truth is, we will probally never know.

  The fact that there seems to be so few documented surviving first hand accounts of the raid, does make it difficult to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Apparently, there was a chap cycling to work going down St Williams Way when the thing detonated and it blew him clean off his bike, and he was quite some distance from it. This was told to me by a member of the public at the St Margaret's Church 60th VE Day exhibition that I took part in.

I do know that there was serious damage and fatalities caused in the Station Road Area of Strood as well as Cliffe Road. Both my parents lived in Strood, in Kitchener Road and Jersey Road, during the War. I am making further enquiries to see if any more information can be brought to light.

As soon as I have anything, I'll post it straight away.

Thanks again.

Regards

AFS Rochester   Brent.


Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on October 31, 2009, 22:45:00
Thanks for the Photographs Numanfan. I've not seen the Temple Farm estate one before.

Regards

AFS Rochester.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on November 01, 2009, 10:14:28
there are some good photos like these in the doodlebugs and rockets book by bob ogley
not sure of the number
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 01, 2009, 10:34:26
Thanks AFS Rochester and Numanfan,

So Cyril Daniel also thought the mine at St William's Way exploded on the wall - we can't both be wrong. On second thoughts it could have stayed on the earth bank that the wall supported, until it exploded with the same effect. Damage in Onslow Road and Amherst road would have been less than Wickham Street because their rows of houses were end-on to the blast.

The incident in Station Road was on 2nd March 1944 and, despite being one of the most serious of the war, was caused by bombs. I don't know about the Temple Farm one, but it doesn't look serious enough for a mine, and it looks like a bomb crater in the foreground.

Earlier in the war I would have found out where the bombs had dropped and gone with my mates to gawk at the wreckage of someone's home, oblivious of the fact it could just as easily have been our own homes (ghoulish little b*****s, weren't we?). But by 1944 we had become immune to such -excitement?, which is why we hardly gave those events a second thought, apart from hoping the next one wouldn't drop on us.

My defining moment of WW2 came one night standing in the garden during an air-raid alert. Some aircraft were going over when there was the 'brrrr' of cannon fire and a moving light appeared in the sky, which burst into flaming pieces as a German plane came down. I was yelling "Hooray, they've got him" when my father, an ex-regular soldier who'd fought in WW1 and not known for his love of Germans, said "Shut up, there's men in that!"

Suddenly those flaming pieces said everything about the awfulness of war!

Later, in 1945, newsreels of Belsen and Auschwitz made us realise that all the trauma of the past 6 years had been for a very good reason.

So perhaps this is the appropriate time of the year, and an appropriate place in this history forum, to remember that if we forget our past we are liable to repeat our mistakes in the future.

Sorry about that - I got carried away. So here's a lighter note: A long-range fuel tank fell off one of our fighters and hit a street lamp in Darnley Road, Strood - it was the first time it had been alight since the blackout began!

Best wishes,
Peter
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: seafordpete on November 01, 2009, 10:46:12
The one shown doesn?t seem to have a nose fuse, although there is a fuse (or is it a water sensor?) in its side.


The holes in the sides are fuze pockets, the Germans didn't use nose or tail fuzes. Not certain but I think impact would start the timer if it wasn't over ridden by a hydrostatic switch  tripped by the mine sinking. German fuzes were wonderfully complex in design leading to the potential to fail as well as the fact that they were mostly built by slave labour and many samples exist where tiny faults were deliberatley left in the mechanism
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 01, 2009, 21:39:28
Hello Numanfan,

I've had another look at the list of incidents in Strood for February 1944 and the only one listed is the parachute mine on the 18th, when 16 houses were demolished. So your picture of Temple Farm must have been that incident. Apologies if I seemed to disbelieve you.

Regards,
Peter
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: numanfan on November 01, 2009, 22:48:02
No apologies required Peter.

Reading tales from people like yourselves, who lived through those terrible times, is what makes this forum so interesting. And whilst reading different stories, if I have a picture in a book that is related to the story I'll upload it to help jog memories, support the story etc.

Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 02, 2009, 11:10:32
Re Reply#28: I wonder if an impact fuse would have been sensitive enough to detect the landing of the mine. If it was that sensitive it must have also been sensitive to bumps from whatever cause while in the aircraft, which is why I conjectured about the 'weight on the parachute' method.

British bombs (except for 4000lb, 8000lb, and 12000lb blockbusters) had a safety pin attached to the aircraft by a wire 'arming link'; when the bomb was released the pin was pulled out by the link and the bomb was armed - this meant a bomb could be dropped 'safe' by electrically releasing the link from the aircraft so that the bomb fell with the safety pin and link still in place.

I presume the Germans had some sort of safety system but it must have been different to the RAF method. Any ideas?
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: seafordpete on November 02, 2009, 12:51:47
I'm sure a wet impact would not be distinguishable from a dry one  .
Remember that Brit bombs apart from the method you mention were in fact armed by the rotation of the mini propeller at one end or the other which wound the firing pin in to allow activation by trembler  on  impact or to break a vial of acid or solvent (depending on type) on chemical time fuzes.
By 1940 the Germans were using ECR fuzes (Electric capacitor resistance )  that were charged as the bomb left the aircraft ( hence the flange and 2 pins on the fuzes). The charger was on an extending arm that only completed the circuit once it was sliding out as the bomb released. The electric current was then held back by a series of resistors and capacitors until it reached the firing capacitor which was attached to a trembler switch to the detonator for impact fuzes, or to start a clock on the long delays or another chain of resistors and capacitors  for short delays such as anti shipping where you need to penetrate before detonation. Long delay fuzes (No 7 series ) were protected by a mechanical anti handling device zus40  which held into the fuze pocket by a couple cams and the gaine (explosive bit of the fuze) sitting into a recess holding back a sprung firing pin,  if the time fuze was pulled out  the zus stayed behind and fired.
Initially it was found that the ECR fuzes could be discharged by placing a penny coin in the charging pins, this worked well until the Daily Sketch or Mirror printed the story and within 24 hrs the next BD crew that tried were killed.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 02, 2009, 14:46:08
Actually I was thinking that the parachute would let the mine down too gently to trigger a normally sensitive impact fuse.

The mini-prop on RAF bombs gave an arming delay so that the bomb would not explode under the aircraft if dropped too low. Each size of bomb had a specified minimum safety height for dropping. There were bombs with a few seconds delay that could be dropped from a low height, but gave the aircraft time to get clear. Two problems with those were (a) hard-luck for another aircraft which might be following, (b) hitting the ground at a shallow angle could allow the bomb to bounce and explode in the air just behind the dropping aircraft!
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 03, 2009, 11:43:09
Hi afsrochester, I think this might be in your province.

I remember hearing that Rochester, Chatham, and Gillingham all had separate brigades with different hose fittings and equipment that was not compatible with the others. This could cause problems if they had to help each other, and it was this sort of thing throughout the country that eventually led to the formation of the National Fire Service (NFS).

I have recollections of the NFS having hose-laying lorries with lengths of hose already connected together on reels on the back. These could be run out quickly as the lorry drove along and were used when water had to be conveyed over a long distance. Fire pumps would be spaced at intervals along the line to boost the pressure. I think I'm only repeating what I heard; I don't remember actually seeing them.

This one I have got some notions of seeing, although it's very vague: It is of metal pipes about 6m long x 150mm diameter (20 ft x 6 in) with some sort of quick-fit connector, being laid in the gutter on City Way as a lorry drove along, presumably as a more permanent emergency supply. Did I really see it? Before anyone comments - I was too young to have been on the booze!

I know this isn't a fire service thing, but there was an Army- v-Home Guard exercise one Sunday morning, after which the Army gave some of us local kids a ride on a Churchill tank up Star Hill. That's something I definitely remember. WW2 wasn't entirely nasty events.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on November 04, 2009, 10:35:23
Hi afsrochester, I think this might be in your province.

I remember hearing that Rochester, Chatham, and Gillingham all had separate brigades with different hose fittings and equipment that was not compatible with the others. This could cause problems if they had to help each other, and it was this sort of thing throughout the country that eventually led to the formation of the National Fire Service (NFS).

I have recollections of the NFS having hose-laying lorries with lengths of hose already connected together on reels on the back. These could be run out quickly as the lorry drove along and were used when water had to be conveyed over a long distance. Fire pumps would be spaced at intervals along the line to boost the pressure. I think I'm only repeating what I heard; I don?t remember actually seeing them.

This one I have got some notions of seeing, although it's very vague: It is of metal pipes about 6m long x 150mm diameter (20 ft x 6 in) with some sort of quick-fit connector, being laid in the gutter on City Way as a lorry drove along, presumably as a more permanent emergency supply. Did I really see it? Before anyone comments - I was too young to have been on the booze!

I know this isn't a fire service thing, but there was an Army- v-Home Guard exercise one Sunday morning, after which the Army gave some of us local kids a ride on a Churchill tank up Star Hill. That?s something I definitely remember. WW2 wasn?t entirely nasty events.


Hello Peter.

Yes, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham all had separate brigades, although there had  been a mutual assistance agreement in place between them for a good many years. I'm not sure what hose couplings Chatham and Gillingham had but Rochester had the snap together type or Instantaneous to give it its correct term. These are the standard couplings used today.

As you say, mis-matching equipment, particularly hose couplings was a major headache during the Blitz. Apart from Instantaneous, there were several other types of hose couplings before the War, Round Thread, V Thread, Ball and Cup, Hermaphorodite and Storz to name but a few. There were adaptors available, but clearly that was only going to be a stop-gap measure, until the formation of the NFS on 18th August 1941.

Hose-layers are used as a "rapid deployment" of hose where water sources are some distance from the fire. It is laid flat, or "flaked" on top of itself. They can deploy the hose at 30mph. Your description of pumps being regularly spaced for water relay is spot on!

Yes, you did see those steel pipes. I've seen a photograph of them on Rochester Bridge. Cyril Daniel was heavily involved in their installation.

Thank goodness there were some light-hearted moments amongst the horrors of WW2.

Rochester NFS took delivery of an ECU or Escape-Carrying (Ladder)-Unit soon after their introduction, and the driver delivering the appliance had stopped to ask where the Fire Station was. Instead of sending him to Foord Street, he was sent to Star Hill where upon swinging it round to enter the Fire Station, the head of the ladder struck the wall above the doors and was knocked clean off the appliance. It proceeded to roll down Star Hill, finally coming to rest at the junction with Victoria Street. Bearing in mind that a wheeled escape ladder weighed 3/4 of a ton and was over 50 feet long, it could have been a lot more than the driver's pride that got hurt!

Hopes this helps,


Regards AFS Rochester.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 04, 2009, 12:57:14
Afsrochester,

Many thanks for the reply, which has restored my faith in my own sanity. Re the steel pipes, it seems that they were installed permanently. So I did see them being laid, but probably not on City Way, and I probably thought it was some kind of exercise.

Funny how the more I write the more I remember, and the more answers I get the more questions they raise, and not just on the subject of this discussion. I've just remembered something else: Yes, I did see canvass fire hoses run along the street for a long time (more than a day?), but for what reason and exactly where, I don't know. What I particularly remember is wooden hose-ramps laid over the hoses so that traffic could pass without damaging the hoses.

Regards,
peterchall
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: splashdown on November 04, 2009, 19:28:45
Hi afs sorry it took so long
(http://i487.photobucket.com/albums/rr231/splash60/IMG_0001-1.jpg)    


grandad Beer is second from the left in both photos i am trying to get some more photos
 
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: splashdown on November 04, 2009, 19:30:22
(http://i487.photobucket.com/albums/rr231/splash60/IMG_0002.jpg)
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: peterchall on November 05, 2009, 10:42:03
Hi afsrochester,

Another memory flash:
Foord Street had a turntable ladder (TTL), built on a Leyland bus chassis, with a half-cab like an old-fashioned bus, but open topped with no doors (why was it always the practice not to give firemen weather protection on fire engines?). It had a crew of 2, the driver (who presumably went up the ladder) and the operator sitting at the ladder controls.
Am I correct?

Peterchall
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on November 06, 2009, 17:26:40
Hi Peterchall.

I've been through the vehicle allocations for Rochester, and according to them,  Rochester never had a (TTL) Turntable Ladder.

However, Chatham had a TTL a Leyland TD7 Merryweather 100ft. Reg GLW 423  which covered the Medway Towns and would have been seen at various places. The only known photograph of it in Rochester, is in a private collection, which was taken down on the Esplande. It continued in service until the late 50's when it was replaced by a Bedford TL.

The design of the vehicle, indeed vehicles of the period we are talking about, are of a design that dates  back to
the Horse-Drawn era, and were known as Braidwood Bodied. In the late 30's, Leyland were the first manufacturers to build an enclosed bodied appliance (on a commercial scale) ie ;that enclosed the crew, but these were few and far between. Tradition then in the Fire Service ruled every aspect, and anything new was always frowned upon, regardless of how good or sensible it might be.

The driver operated the ladder and the no2 went up it.

Hope this helps.

Regards

AFS Rochester
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on November 07, 2009, 15:49:55

Wonderful photographs Splashdown.  Thank you for sharing them with KHF. The two officers in the centre front row of the group photo would be Tommy Harrison Chief Officer (with the silver T pieces on his shoulders) and on his left Third Officer Cyril Daniel. The photograph in the workshops raises a question.

I would like some help here please. Trailer pump L1 has its cover up. Is the reg no KJ 3172 - I might be able to get some additional information from this number.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on January 15, 2010, 17:12:23
Hi afs sorry it took so long  


grandad Beer is second from the left in both photos i am trying to get some more photos
 

From the scant records that exist, Trailer pump L1 would have served at the Jubilee Inn/ Elaine Avenue.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on February 18, 2010, 17:06:36
Here is the known list of Fire Service Casualties for the Medway Towns sustained in WW2.
 

       Name             Rank           Age    Date of Death                Incident Information

1. A C Smith        D/Rider           26      22.5.40               Killed in Road Accident in Strood

2. W A  Beer          L/Fireman       30     17.10.40             Killed in Action at Elaine Avenue ARP Post

3. F C Chater        Fireman         34       8.4.41                Killed in Action at Willis Avenue   AFS Post

4. C C Gibbons      Fireman          31       8.4.41               Killed in Action  at Willis Avenue   AFS Post

5. F F Ryder          Fireman         33       9.4.41               Died from Injuries following raid at Short Bros

6. I E Hurley      Company Officer  31     19.12.41    Died from Injuries following Road Accident in Chatham

7. A J B Sifleet       Fireman          ?       26.2.42               Killed in Road Accident in Maidstone

8. E  Lower            Fireman         38       16.4.45    Died from Injuries following a fall during a Ladder Drill  
                                                                              at Rochester Fire Station

* Fireman George Kennard age 37 died at his home 14.12.40 in Ordnance Street Chatham during an Air Raid
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on April 17, 2010, 11:51:10
A few pics:

AFS crew on the Bedford pump at Foord St station
(http://i666.photobucket.com/albums/vv23/premierdrums/Fire%20Brigade%20-%20Misc%20pictures/bedford-foord_st.jpg?t=1271500997)

Rochester's first trailer pump, at the station in 'the Common' Christmas 1938 with Fireman Ashdown & Gregory celebrating!!
(http://i666.photobucket.com/albums/vv23/premierdrums/Fire%20Brigade%20-%20Misc%20pictures/first_trailer.jpg?t=1271501185)

Inside the drill yard at Foord St (L to R - Fireman Blessard, Messenger Boy Hendricks, 3rd Officer Daniel, unknown, unknown, Daniel Jnr, Fireman Carless)
(http://i666.photobucket.com/albums/vv23/premierdrums/Fire%20Brigade%20-%20Misc%20pictures/drill_foord_st.jpg?t=1271501288)

Pics courtesy of KFRS Museum and personal collection.


Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: styx on June 02, 2010, 16:36:18
I also remember playing on No. 1 Onslow Rd. as a boy. It was originally a general store that was run by a Mr. Barty and his wife. They moved shop to Arthur Rd. after the bombing. Our own house, halfway up Onslow Rd. was damaged that night and we were moved to a council house on St. Williams way opposite the hospital as tempory accommodation until the repairs were complete. After the bombing our gas stove was jammed up the passage and the front door had been blown right across the street. Needless to say, the roof had been blown off.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on August 20, 2010, 00:03:23
Rochester AFS' Priors Gate House Crew with a Coventry Climax TP. This sub-station was solely for the protection of the Cathedral.
I believe the Gentleman at the rear, with the peaked cap and T-pieces on his shoulders must be the Pre-War Chief Officer of the City of Rochester Volunteer Fire Brigade, Mr S.T. Downes. He ran a Confectionery Shop at the bottom of St. Margaret's Street, just across from Priors Gate House.
(http://i666.photobucket.com/albums/vv23/premierdrums/Fire%20Brigade%20-%20Misc%20pictures/rochesterafscathedral.jpg?t=1282258818)
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on August 26, 2010, 22:10:01
This must be one of the last photographs taken at the station in The Common/Corporation Street between September 1939 and June 1940 when they were forced to relocate to Foord Street.
(http://i666.photobucket.com/albums/vv23/premierdrums/Fire%20Brigade%20-%20Misc%20pictures/cstr.jpg?t=1282856898)
Photograph courtesy of KFRS Museum.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on November 07, 2010, 14:21:29
If anybody can identify ANYONE from the fire service in any of the photographs  that have been posted, can they please let me know?

Many Thanks, AFS Rochester.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: unfairytale on November 07, 2010, 14:32:44
Whitstable 'fire engine' WW2.
(http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1064/5154516136_84e97622a0.jpg)
Ebay photo.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: unfairytale on November 07, 2010, 14:36:22
Dover crew spring into action.
(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3416/4638891821_488ecdae95.jpg)
Illustrated Magazine, Aug 1940.

Deal firemen take a break.
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2704/4117724039_531e91ba73.jpg)
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: ethelbert on October 28, 2011, 18:40:37
Fascinating reading. My grandfather Ron Piper was involved in rescuing 6 people after the bomb fell on Ordnance Street, Chatham on 14th Dec 1940. I have a detailed local newspaper report that mentions Mr Ronald Piper of Watts Street (joiner and volunteer fireman) and Lance Corporal W H Styles, RASC rescued the people and both were awarded medals for their bravery.
3 people were trapped in the wreckage: Mr and Mrs Mattocks and their son Oliver. The rubble was dragged away. Another 3 were trapped in a cellar beneath a shop: Mr Moir, manager, Miss I Gouge, an assistant and Leonard Humphrey, the shop boy.
Piper and Sykes cleared away heaps of rubble and dropped into the cellar next door. They then cut their way through the brick wall, the work was extremely dangerous and the walls were likely to cave in at any time. Wood and slates were piled to a height of about 20 feet about the helpers and fire was imminent. It was raining heavily at the time and the rescuers were only working by the faint light of a torch, with the constant threat of falling debris. They worked from about 6.30-8.45pm. Mr Piper was shown in an official report to have complete disregard for his own safety.
Ronald went on to serve as a volunteer fireman until the 1950's or 1960's. I think he was attached to the station under the arches on Military Road. Somewhere I have a leaving card to him signed by many members of the service, I will try and find it.
I will also post some separate photos of some firemans` training exercises.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: ethelbert on October 28, 2011, 18:50:59
What I forgot to say is that there is also a mention of the incident on Ordnance Street in the fascinating book
"With resolve-with valour" by David Knowles 2002.
(Volunteers of WW11 on the home shores.)
Not specifically about Kent but lots of stories of fire brigade/red cross/ARP etc.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on September 29, 2013, 13:46:55
This post is in response to jerryteale's post of 28/9/13. in Kemp's Fire Topic. Welcome to the KHF! :)

From "A collection of Memories" by Cyril Ambrose Daniel, who was 3rd Ofiicer with the City of Rochester Fire Brigade during the War.

Now the real war in the air had begun. As I recall we had a very big raid on our local gasworks in Gas House Lane, just off the river. They had just filled up the coal retorts when the Stukas dive bombed. Two bombs made direct hits, one on Retort House and the other on the gas control valves. Not long after therefore, a large blaze developed. The raid was just after midnight. I attended with 3 pumps and got to work with four hydrants and one pump from the river, in total supplying 8 main jets.

We desperately tried to get the flames under control so that the bombers would not be able to use them as homing beacons for Rochester, (Shorts Aircraft Factory was just up-river) to try and help prevent them from delivering more nastiness.

When daylight came, we could see the extent of the damage. One of the firemen said "Come with me Guv, I think there's a man`s hand in the coke heap, and sure enough there it was, and with a little digging the rest of the body was found. Much to my surprise the body was still alive but unconscious. We managed to revive him and he was not apparently injured. All he wanted was his glasses and a large glass of beer! We did find his glasses but no beer. He was sent off to hospital for a check up and was found to be suffering from shock, as we found out later.

It appears he was on watch (fire watch) near the valve pit when the second bomb hit the gas valves and blew him into the 30 foot highcoke heap. The coke rolled down on top of him, but he had passed out and could not help himself. The bomb fractured all of the outgoing valves, cutting off the supply to the town. The job took three days to deal with, but it took some three months to get the gas supplies back on line.

Hope this will be of interest.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on December 27, 2013, 13:25:25
(http://i666.photobucket.com/albums/vv23/premierdrums/buickstraight6RochesterAFSStroodElaineStreetvehicle_zpsebb2ba23.jpg)

Rochester AFS Buick "straight 6" that was used for long distance work. This vehicle is known to have attended incidents at Plymouth, Southampton, Birmingham, and London during the Blitz.

It is seen here at L/F Bill Beers Funeral at Strood Church in Cuxton Road, Strood in October 1940. I believe this vehicle was also allocated to Elaine Street sub-station (where he was killed) as there are photographs in this topic that show Bill working on trailer pump A2 in Strood workshops, plus the ladder markings A2, on the roof of the vehicle..

Photograph courtesy of John Meakins. Former KFRS Museum Curator.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on April 08, 2016, 13:30:47
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the air raid in Rochester that killed 3 AFS men, 2 from Rochester and 1 from Chatham as well as 8 civilians. There are accounts of the raid in this topic.
There is also an extended report in today's Medway Messenger to mark the occasion.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: KeithJG on April 11, 2016, 13:08:25
From the Chatham Rochester & Gillingham News on May 12th 1939
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: afsrochester on May 02, 2016, 20:44:08
Thank you for posting the newspaper cutting KeithJG. 
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: lutonman1 on August 21, 2018, 19:25:33
In reply to afsrochester, about afs sub station`s. There used to be one asf pump station at the top of Ordnance Street, where it joins Grosveror Avenue. It was above the arp post in the girls school play-
ground, at the top. I was a member of the arp, in that post as an arp messenger, from 1941--1945.
The bombing of Wickham Street, must have happened before we returned from Wales in July 1941,
as evacuee`s. Same as the Ordnance Street bombing, before we returned.
Title: Re: Fireservice war heroes
Post by: Mickleburgh on August 21, 2018, 23:45:00
Wonder if `Fireservice war heroes` includes my Dad, who was directed to the AFS (Gravesend) at the outbreak of war. Unfortunately he was soon rather discredited when, in his day job as a painter and decorator, his blow torch set fire to some curtains and the brigade had to turn out to save the house burning down! He got the boot and after a brief period at Chatham dockyard finished up in the Home Guard for the duration.  :)