A fire service memoir



A fire service memoir


The memoir written by Fred during his time with the Auxiliary Fire Service at the age of 18. He observes a land mine parachuting to earth. It landed on the fire service sub-station killing 28. He persuaded his Station Officer that he wanted out and this was agreed provided he volunteered for the RAF.


Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage




One typewritten sheet with handwritten annotation on the reverse.


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There were more sombre moments too! One night in November, 1940, we were on stand-down having been in the City 10 nights on end with little to eat except for the odd half-sandwich and cup of tea brought to us by the Salvation or Church Armies. A sub-station of ours just a mile awaywas[sic] also on stand-down. A raid was on as usual and we watched a land mine descending, swaying from side to side on its parachute. It fell on our Sub-Station which was a huge three storey Victorian school. When we got there a few minutes later it was nothing but a tremendous heap of dust and rubble. We dug them out and laid them in a row on a cleared pavement, they were all dead, all 28 of them, men and women. At one stage we came upon a tin hat and lifting it found a head still attached to the body, all perfectly erect and hearing no outward sign of injury. It was Tich Young. Joe, those people, men and women (not me, I wanted out and luckily persauded[sic] our Station Officer to get me release from the AFS providing I volunteered for air crew – which I promptly did) of the Fire Brigades were the bravest people I ever met. Those from the school were buried at the nearby Charlton Cemetery and whenever I am in London (not so often nowadays) I go down there and stand by their graves for a few minutes. I can remember them all, their names and their faces. When I left the AFS, they gave me a silver cigarette case, which I still have, inscribed “Fred, give them the hell they’ve given us” It was the sentiment of the time and the reason why any conscience I have is always tempered.
[underlined] OVER. [/underlined]

[page break]

[underlined] Age 18. [/underlined] Joined London Fire Brigade Auxiliary Fire Service A.F.S.



Fred Whybrow, “A fire service memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/10498.

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