Special plaque brings together 48 names of fallen firefighters for the first time

Laura White
Laura White
Blue Watch Commander Rob Baxter with the plaque of firefighters’ names – Copyright Chris Saville

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz, a special ‘Red Plaque’ will be unveiled in honour of the World War II firefighters who fought the flames that engulfed the city.

For the first time, the names of 48 firefighters, consisting of 45 men and three women, killed during the Plymouth Blitz, have been brought together and their names engraved on a special ‘Red Plaque’. The plaque will be mounted on a fire station in the city as a permanent reminder of the courage and sacrifice of the firefighters involved.

The initiative, led by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and supported by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS), has involved almost three years of detailed research to identify the names of the 48 firefighters killed during the Plymouth Blitz.

The project, headed by Southwest firefighter and FBU rep Tam McFarlane, has been undertaken as part of a UK wide initiative to honour the bravery and sacrifice of fallen firefighters.

‘The initiative has been funded entirely by the Firefighters100 Lottery and with the help of Luke Pollard MP and other members of the Plymouth ‘Blitz 80’ initiative, the team has been able to put together, for the first time, what is believed to be a definitive list of all the firefighters who were killed in the city during the Blitz.

Commenting on the initiative, FBU representative Tam McFarlane said: “The period of the Blitz was a defining period in the history of the UK Fire Service and the Firefighters of today are determined that the bravery and sacrifice of our predecessors is always remembered.

‘The terror and destruction brought by the attacks on Plymouth must never be forgotten, but we can also draw inspiration from the incredible courage of the men and women of the Fire Service who left the shelters to run towards the fires and explosions.

‘The fires created by the bombs which fell on Plymouth were so large and destructive that crews travelled from Cornwall and elsewhere to support their colleagues in the city.

‘During this desperate period, firefighters worked in circumstances which are almost beyond imagination. They risked their lives on a nightly basis, fighting fires with limited water supplies and limited equipment, digging through rubble in desperate attempts to save as many lives as possible.

‘The Fire Brigades Union is proud to have been able to bring together, for the first time, all the names of the fallen firefighters who fought the Plymouth Blitz and display them on this special Red Plaque. Working with DSFRS we will make sure that the plaque is mounted so that everyone in the city can view it and reflect on the courage and sacrifice of Plymouth’s firefighters.”

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: “It’s an honour to be able to join the Fire Brigades Union in commemorating the courageous firefighters who put themselves in harm’s way to save lives during the Plymouth blitz.

‘It’s hard to comprehend the horrific scenes these firefighters would have faced. What is clear, though, is that these were courageous and selfless acts, which we are still rightfully recognising 80 years on and will continue to remember long into the future.”

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