World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                          Paul Taylor 

The Story of Leading Fireman – Charles Fredrick Taylor

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Bob Dixon, Jean Truxa (French Canadian), Lowie Sugarman, Charles Frederick Taylor, Fred Kingham
Location of story: Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle, Liverpool, Coventry
Unit name: National Fire Service
Background to story: Civilian Force

 The firemen shown in the photograph are wearing the uniform of the National Fire Service.

Charles Fredrick Taylor is shown standing third from the right.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Paul Taylor (Son of Charles Fredrick Taylor).

In the above photograph the names of the firemen standing in the back row from left to right are Bob Dixon, Jean Truxa (French Canadian), Lowie Sugarman, Charles Frederick Taylor and Fred Kingham. The name of the man on the right end of the row is not known. The man sat in the centre of the front row is the Fire Chief. However none of the names of the seated men is known.

My father joined the Fire Service in 1938, after being rejected for army service because of athlete’s foot. He had a varied service, e.g., like the night he and his crew were sent to Coventry, but on the outskirts of the city, they were told they couldn’t get into the City because of the intense bombing and fires. They were only able to stand and watch the City burn to the ground. Later that morning they set off back to Sheffield.

They were all Auxiliary Fire Service (A.F.S.) and under the law, at that time, they had the power to arrest people. On the night of 8th April, 1941 the A.F.S. was disbanded and the N.F.S. was created. This was disbanded in 1949.

My father and his crew worked day and night during the Sheffield Blitz. Sheffield High Street was a wall of fire from the Haymarket up to Fargate and right the way up to Pinstone Street and the Moorfoot. The Marples Public House on the corner of Fitzalan Square took a direct hit and only a few survived.

The Wicker was also badly bombed. While they were in the Wicker, they found a poor soul who thought he would be safe in a shop doorway until the bombing had stopped but the blast had killed him, so they laid him in the edge of the road to be recovered by the ARP. They went back to check on the poor man and found he had been moved back into the shop doorway. The blast had split a tram in half, the top deck was facing the Haymarket on the other side of the road.

They also had to help out in other cities, Hull, Newcastle and Liverpool. Whilst in Newcastle they were based on the docks and had to spray water on a ship, which had brought a load of Jute from the U.S.S.R. The Captain was a lady and she kept giving them vodka to keep the cold out.

They also had to work on the docks in Liverpool and Hull. Whilst in Hull, my Dad broke his back when the floor of a Flour Mill gave way.

One of the Fire Stations was based at Ringtons Tea on Ecclesall Road, and another was at a school on London Road. They had to put some incendiary bombs out that had landed on a Church in Upper Hanover Street. While they were doing this they were machined gunned by a ME109, luckily the only damage done was to the hoses.

They were told to go to Holly Street and report to an ‘Unexploded Bomb’ (UXB) Team who were trying to defuse a UXB. This had been dropped two streets away and had tunnelled under a complete street. They had to pump water out of the hole as the bomb had fractured the water mains. On London Road, my Dad and his crew found a UXB lying in the Road. They sealed off the area, they had to tie some rope round the bomb and drag it clear onto some spare ground and waited for the UXB Team to make it safe.

Back in Sheffield they were sent to try to rescue the crew of a U.S.A. B17 ‘Flying Fortress’ called ‘Mi Amigo’ that had crashed in Endcliffe Park on February 22, 1944.