Hadleigh Fire Station during World War II

The Auxiliary Fire Service

In 1938, as the government prepared for what appeared to be inevitable conflict involving the use of bombing from the air, each Fire Authority was required to form an Auxiliary Fire Service, under the direction of the local Chief Fire Officer. Members of the AFS were unpaid part-time volunteers but, if necessary, could be called up for full-time paid service. Men and women could join, the latter mainly in an administrative role. The Auxiliary Fire Service and the local brigades were superseded in August 1941 by the National Fire Service.

Some bombs did fall on Hadleigh as it lay under the flightpath for enemy bombers targeting London. On the night of 18th June 1940, St. James the Less church suffered damage from enemy action. On 17th November 1944, a flying bomb badly damaged the Mission Hall of St. Barnabas on the corner of Woodfield Road and Church Road. There was also bomb damage to Kingsway Parade, Park Chase and near the Salvation Army Temple.

Auxiliary Fire Service 1939
Essex Fire Museum, Grays
Preparing for war
Essex Fire Museum, Grays
Auxiliary Fire Service
Essex Fire Museum, Grays

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  • My father Alan Knevett was 15 at the time and narrowly escaped injury when the flying bomb hit in November 1944.

    By Brent knevett (15/05/2019)
  • Does anyone have any names of the ladies in this pic?

    By Beverley Fisher (13/06/2014)
  • We think our father, Eric Welton, is in the middle row, fifth from the left. We have never seen this photograph before. We believe he had to act as a pallbearer at the funeral of a colleague, possibly killed on duty. It affected him deeply at the time. Has anyone any confirmation of this event?

    By Sally Reeve and Roland Welton (20/11/2011)

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