Too young to fly in the last war – and too old to fly in this one. Poor George was grounded. And it transpired, he was also too old for the army, or the navy.
After much thought, he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), just two weeks before the first air raid on Merseyside by the Luftwaffe. Over the following 18 months, firemen everywhere did the best they could with relatively unsophisticated equipment. A prime example was the Auxiliary Towing Vehicle acquired shorty after war was declared. Very basic with a ladder affixed to the roof; hoods fitted over headlights (ineffective in the blackout); a white stripe painted on each wing so they could be seen in the dark and a bell to alert everyone to their urgency.
The hand coloured photograph shows AFS Firemen at Abingdon Road Fire Station grouped around their fire tender. Relaxing after the previous night’s air raid, the words of London’s AFS Commander made during a visit to Liverpool were undoubtedly on their collective minds…
“Enthusiasm, courage and endurance are not enough. Knowledge and experience are needed because there is a science and an art to fire-fighting. The science can be taught at the fire station, the art can only be learnt at fires.”
George and his colleagues were learning fast!