by ypres Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:48 pm
Source (Direct Quote)
Heroes With Grimy Faces
Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and the British government developed a plan for a contingent of
Canadian fire fighters to assist the United Kingdom.
Volunteers came forward to form the Canadian Corp of (Civilian) Fire Fighters under the direction of Flight Lieutenant
G.E. Huff, MM, Royal Canadian Air Force, who was at that date fire prevention officer No.2 Training Command, Winnipeg,
as Commanding Officer. In peace time he commanded the fire department of Brantford, Ontario, which he had joined in 1919.
The Corps advanced party arrived in Great Britain by air on May 24th, 1942, the first contingent arrived exactly one month later aboard a transport ship in the Clyde estuary. The final contingent arriving on December 19th, 1942.
The Corps consisted of 422 specially selected Canadians and were welcomed by being paid the compliment of being stationed where they were likely to get the most excitement and danger, there stations being in;
Southampton - 2
Portsmouth - 2
Plymouth - 1
Bristol - 1
The Plymouth contingent, with some technical assistance from the N.F.S., built their own station; it was opened in March 1943 by the Duchess of Kent. By the time they arrived London had ceased to be a high priority target for German bombers, and the Southern ports, with Britain's invasion looming, were far more likely to offer scope to fire fighters. The Canadians did not arrive in time for the worst of the raids, but all of them heard the scream of an H.E. bomb and saw the blue-white light of an incendiary.
The Canadians were said to be a fine body of men; they were well disciplined, and had good fire fighting qualities. They were said to be always ready to volunteer for any sticky or dirty job, they looked eagerly to being sent on reinforcing duty, and they were never more than happy than when on the fire ground.
Upon arrival in England, the Canadians were transported to the National Fire Service Training Centre at 'Testwood' just outside Southampton where they completed a 4 week familiarisation course dealing with British fire fighting techniques, rescue work and first aid. Thus the corps was formed, organised & operating in Britain in less than 12 months. For the purposes of pay and allowances, medical care, hospitalisation, dental treatment, pension for disability or death, members of the corps had the same rights as if they were members of the Canadian Active Service Force; while for operational duties they are an integral part of the NFS.
Seventy percent of the officers and men of the corps were professional fire fighters interested in gaining experience which would benefit them upon their return home. Every endeavour was made for them to attend advanced courses of instruction at the NFS schools and colleges.
The corps was unique in that, for the first time in history, a group of professional firemen had left it's own country and volunteered to operate, within it's own profession, in a theatre of war.
Over a 2 1/2 year period, Corps members worked countless times at risk in perilous conditions to effect rescues and battle fires started by bombing. Three corps members were killed, three seriously injured and a further five sustained injuries.