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AFS Badge

In July 1938 the Government created the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) to augment the fire brigade in wartime. These part-time fireman were recognised by the issue of a lapel badge first issued in August 1938 after completion of sixty hours training, reduced in June 1939 to one month of membership. The badge was made of sterling silver until June 1939 when it became white metal. During 1939-45 war, Witheridge had a locally manned Auxiliary Fire Service, and. Alan Vernon used to run errands for them, including on occasions collecting grass to make smoke for training. He remembers how they used to practice at a derelict Higher Park, lent to them by James Woollacott. On one occasion, their use of smoke and explosives resulted in the building catching fire. They all ran for buckets, and upstairs Fred Leach plied the hose. After a time, the fire subsided but there was no sign of Fred. What happened was that Fred had fallen through the floor into the debris below, but as he had held onto the nozzle whilst they continued to pump, he was soaked and very cross.

(FK) was in the Fire Guard; they used to practice "down in Winston Maunder's field" under the command of Bill Vernon. There was a tin shed there and they used to pile in green grass and set fire to it and then crawl around, one behind the other in the smoke, to practice. Once a fire practice was held in an old hut full of smouldering, damp grass for smoke practice and old "Cock Price", short for Cockney, got choked and had to be carried out, laid down and "pumped" for artificial respiration. At each "pump" he farted. "Oh" he said, "its those bloody taters the Missus gave me for supper."

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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