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Author Topic: Fireservice war heroes  (Read 47936 times)

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Offline peterchall

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #27 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
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seafordpete

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #26 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

Offline peterchall

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #25 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
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Chatham_Girl85

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #24 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

Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #23 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.

Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #22 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.



Offline peterchall

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #21 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
                            

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.
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Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #20 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

Offline peterchall

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #19 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
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Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #18 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

Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #17 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

Offline peterchall

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #16 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
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Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #15 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.)

Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #14 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.

Offline afsrochester

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Re: Fireservice war heroes
« Reply #13 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.

 

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