Britain Needed Help
During WWII and the bombardment from Nazi Germany, in a 60 day period beginning Sept. 1, 1940, London, England reported:

Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters cap badge.

• 16,276 small fires
• 1,314 medium fires
• 110 serious fires
• 14 conflagrations

Other major centres in England experienced similar devastation, putting enormous strain on the National Fire Service. Something had to be done — Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, working with the British government, developed a plan for a contingent of Canadian firefighters to assist in the United Kingdom. A total of 422 men volunteered from across Canada, to form the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters under the direction of G.E. Huff of Brantford, Ontario.

Winnipeg’s, Senior Firefighter, John Stewart Coull, killed in a V-1 Rocket attack, near Wimbledon.

The Corps arrived in Britain in May,1942, and manned six stations:

• London – HQ
• Southhampton
• Portsmouth
• Plymouth
• Bristol

In a 2 1/2 year period, Corps members worked countless times, at risk in perilous conditions, to effect rescues and battle fires started by the bombing. Three members were killed and three others were seriously injured.

The Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters – Portsmouth, December 6th, 1944. Photo courtesy of David Purdy, Littleover, Derby, England.

Before the Corps’ departure to Canada in late 1944, thousands of grateful citizens lined the streets of London as the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters paraded from Trafalgar Square to take the salute in front of Canada House. The photo at right was taken prior to a farewell luncheon held at The Royal Beach Hotel, Portsmouth, England.

For a complete list of the Firefighters by province,
click here

The Canadian Fire Fighters Museum has an extensive collection of photos, albums and artifacts from the Corps. The photo at left shows a portion.

To stream a free National Film Board of Canada film with more info about The Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters during World War II, play the video below (Opens in a new window).