National Fire Service cap badge

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National Fire Service cap badge

This cap badge belonged to my grandfather. During the war he volunteered to join the armed forces, but because he had no sense of smell he was turned down and told to enlist with the fire service instead (it never made sense to me either).

He was on duty in Liverpool and Manchester during Luftwaffe bombing raids. Liverpool got it worse than anywhere outside London (though Hull is often said to have been the most bombed city after London). Over 4,000 people killed, and nearly half of them during the week long ‘May Blitz’ of 1 – 7 May 1941.

Of these attacks, Wing Commander Guy Gibson (the man who led the Dambusters raid) wrote in his book ‘Enemy Coast Ahead’
“The last few nights Liverpool had got it badly. The fires that were started, despite the valiant efforts of the NFS, were still burning the next night, and all the Hun had to do was aim at these.”

Gibson’s book was written while war was still raging, in 1944. After the war, my grandfather said that he and his pals had orders to ignore the burning buildings and make straight for the docks; they were told to save the ships at all costs. Which probably explains why Gibson saw the city still burning the day after.

Guy Gibson did not survive the war. His de Havilland Mosquito crashed at Steenbergen in the Netherlands, 19 September 1944.

Off duty and in Blackpool, Autumn 1941. My mother in the pram. Trip to the seaside after the May Blitz on Liverpool. It was during the blackout, so there will have been no illuminations of course!

Blackpool 1941 - Robert aged 35, Maria aged 30, my mum in the pram.

14 comments on “National Fire Service cap badge
  1. Neal. says:

    I used to have a Firemans helmet from the war, same shape as the tin hats but this had leather wrapped round it. No sense of smell is a strange one, maybe they thought gas would be used again.

  2. pasujoba says:

    Great shot Ian , you were right it is different .
    Do you recall me telling you that my father also served in the NFS in Liverpool during the war. He too had a similar badge but I didnt know what it was till now .

  3. het broertje van.. says:

    Wow, very impressive story, "at Steenbergen" of all places!!!!

    Great stuff here Ian………………..and thanks man.


  4. Tech Owl says:

    Fantastic shot of the badge Ian – lovely notes to give a personal touch as well

  5. mick cooke says:

    great story and great photo of the badge,,
    always great stories to go with your photos

  6. Keartona says:

    Fascinating bit of history with a personal touch… and great composition too.

  7. andyholmfirth says:

    This really is a striking photo Ian.Insightful bit of family history too.

  8. Kingsdude/Dave says:

    Nice composition Ian and a great background story

  9. redrocker_9 says:

    Excellent presentation here Ian, very striking.
    I always enjoy the history with your shots too ^.^

  10. Kingsdude/Dave says:

    Some interesting theories Ian about Gibsons fatal crash in the Netherlands ranging from a fuel problem to them being shot down by German gunners after attacking a train on their trip home – don`t suspect the real story will ever be established now ?

  11. Billy Currie says:

    Fantastic story and as always, great interesting information.

    You must be very proud to have the badge, something to keep for ever.

  12. jr55 (John Richardson) says:

    Great image, and a history that must make you proud.

  13. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    So much history in that little badge, you must be very proud to have it. It’s also an excellent way that you have taken the shot, suits the subject very well.

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