A Fire on V-J Night



A Fire on V-J Night


A cutting about a series of fires at Corsham on V-J night. There is discussion about the ineffectiveness of the fire brigade.

Temporal Coverage





One newspaper cutting


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Allegations Against N.F.S. at Corsham Council Meeting.

Chairman Says “I think it a Disgrace.”

Amazing allegations regarding the way a rick fire at Corsham on V-J night was dealt with were made at the monthly meeting of the Corsham Parish Council on Monday evening.

It will be remembered that five outbreaks of rick fires occurred in the Corsham area on V-J night, and the one referred to at the Council meeting was the outbreak near Jaggards Lane, on Moor Barton Farm.

The Clerk (Mr. H.B. Coates) reported that he had received a letter from Mr. A.G. White, of Moor Barton Farm, telling how the fire had been dealt with, and after the letter had been read it was carried unanimously that the Press be asked to report the matter fully and that the N.F.S. be sent a strong protest.

Mr. White, in his letter, said the fire broke out at 10.30 p.m., and the Chippenham N.F.S. arrived at 11.5. The Corsham fire bells and sirens, he alleged, failed to function. “The Army Fire Service arrived some time earlier than the N.F.S., but neither the N.F.S. nor the Army Fire Service knew where the hydrants and static water tanks were, and on being given instructions failed to locate either, and returned to the scene of the outbreak.

“They were sent off again with a guide, connected the hose to the hydrant and then found no pressure. The static water tank was under lock and key and had to be forced by a local man after he had fetched the necessary tools. The N.F.S. and A.F.S. trailer pumps were by then both out of action, and the Army Fire Service returned to base for a third pump. Meanwhile the N.F.S. driver refused to leave the fire to fetch water in his lorry-tank (400 galls.) until ordered to do so by the Leading Fireman, who, however, could not be found.

“The N.F.S. then discovered they had not enough hose to reach the static water, and Sergt. Axford, of the Police, advised the N.F.S. and A.F.S. to co-operate. Firemen were trying to connect the hose by the wrong ends and had to reverse the lengths after they had been laid.

“Eventually a supply of water was obtained, but this failed after about four minutes owing to burst hose. The A.F.S. then suggested going to Corsham to attend to a fire there, in spite of the fact that four other ricks were near the outbreak.

“Meanwhile the N.F.S. tender moved off to fetch water from a hydrant at Westwells, but its lighting system had failed, and it therefore had to be preceded by a man with a lantern. After making three journeys the water supply arrived, but no N.F.S. or A.F.S. man was near the fire and no nozzle was fitted to the hose, so two sailors and two civilians climbed to the top of the rick – by now well ablaze – and let the water run over it.

“Again, after about five minutes, the supply failed – at least four lengths of hose were faulty. A continuous supply of water was not obtained until approximately 1 a.m.,” concluded Mr. White.

Mr. F.G. Dyke: If that is the N.F.S. it would be better if we had the old brigade back.

In reply to a question, the Clerk said the fire bell had not been working for over a month.

When Mr. A.R. Gough asked why the siren was not used, Mr. Dyke replied that that could not be sounded during the hours of darkness.

Hon. Mrs. Methuen: If my house was on fire I would see that it was sounded. I think we should send a very strong protest and ask why our brigade, who would at least know where the hydrants were, were not called out.

The Chairman (Mr. H.R. James): I think it is a disgrace to find that after all the money and organisation that has been spent a thing like that should be allowed to occur.

Mrs. Methuen: Our old brigade was voluntary and cheap, and we could not always expect things too good, but with these officers who have such great salaries we have the right to expect a high standard.

It was agreed that the letter be forwarded to the N.F.S. authorities.



“A Fire on V-J Night,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 18, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/38064.

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