Adapting from a peacetime role to one of greater magnitude than anyone could have expected, resourcefulness, bravery and self-sacrifice were to become the cornerstones of Britain's firefighting services during the Second World War. Rising to great challenges during air raids and always exceeding the expectations of a grateful population, these `heroes with grimy faces' remain the unsung heroes of the war on the home front.
Their story is uniquely enhanced by the arrival in England of over 400 volunteer firemen from Canada. The Canadians took up Britain's call for help in dealing with the onslaught of enemy air raids, yet it wasn't until 1942 that the first contingents of the Corps of Canadian Firefighters arrived in Liverpool. These men, having braved a journey across the U-boat infested Atlantic Ocean, faced an equally uncertain future on the streets of war-ravaged cities including London, Bristol and Plymouth.
Their relatively unknown contribution was nonetheless significant and every member of the Corps played his part in helping to win the war on the home front. Many members of the Corps sustained injuries and three made the ultimate sacrifice. This is their story.
Journalist John Leete has been fascinated by life on the home front during the Second World War from an early age. He has authored several history books. In addition, he has regularly contributed to Family Tree magazine and Berkshire Life magazine. John was location manager for the ITV series Summer of '44 (2004) and has worked with many museums, the Armed Services and major organisations in the UK and abroad relevant to the history of Britain's home front during the Second World War. Brian Berringer was formerly the Director of Fire Prevention at Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, Ontario, Canada. He served in the Canadian Fire Service for thirty-two years and was instrumental in promoting fire safety to the community at large. In 2012, Brian was the proud recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Medal for his contributions to public safety throughout his career. In his retirement, Brian continues to share his expertise as an instructor in the Pre-Service Fire Fighter course offered by Confederation College.