LONDON BLITZ: A Fireman's Tale

Book number: 94794 Product format: Hardback Author: CYRIL DEMARNE OBE

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Bibliophile price £8.00
Published price £14.95

First published in 1980, Cyril Demarne's eyewitness memoir of firefighting during the Blitz was reissued ten years later to include a further 144 amazing photographs. On the outbreak of war Cyril was an instructor but he was soon in the thick of firefighting, recording the numerous setbacks, colourful language and determined optimism of the Blitz spirit. He became one of the nucleus of professional firemen preparing men of the Auxiliary Fire Service for the maelstrom of the Blitz. In 1941 he was serving in West Ham, one of the worst blitzed areas, and was transferred back there in 1944 with the advent of the V2 rockets. The 7th September attack on the Thameshaven oil refinery called for a massive team effort, and an unusual photo shows the dense cloud of black smoke from a Luftwaffe pilot's perspective, while a ground photo has a distant view of St Katherine's and Millwall docks burning beyond Tower Bridge. An early victim of the Blitz was the West Ham ambulance and decontamination centre, shown here reduced to rubble. There are many amusing anecdotes, for instance when the chief fire officer visited the docks he expressed his view of the firemen's efforts in no uncertain terms. "Haven't you been on a ship job before?" he asked one man, getting the reply, "I've never even seen a ship before, I'm from Rugby". Photos of the attack on May 11th, 1941, show a burnt-out Woolworth's on Old Kent Road, the floor of Westminster Abbey deep in debris, and a warehouse with all windows blazing at Elephant and Castle. The Blitz ended soon afterwards as Hitler turned his attention to Russia, arguably his biggest tactical error. One of Cyril's most poignant experiences after the war was showing a fire officer from Hamburg round the devastated city, only to be told that it did not compare with the Allied bombardments. 156pp, many black and white photos.

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ISBN 9780900913679
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