On The Home Front
The People and Parish of North Mymms 1939-45
Published by the North Mymms Local History Society
Chapter Four - The Auxiliary Fire ServiceChapter Five - Children in the Parish
Note: The following are the personal reminiscences of Leslie Abbott recorded at the October 1987 meeting of the North Mymms Local History Society.
At the time when it was considered hostilities were imminent, it was thought that those who had time could join one of the services, the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) or Auxiliary Fire Service.
The people I recollect were Gordon Little and Dick Ayres. It was decided that Brookmans Park should have its own fire station and where the bus-stop is at Bradmore Green and Potterells Dairy. It contained all the equipment needed for processing milk from local cows and subsequently distributed round the local district.
Whoever was responsible, whether the Ministry of Defence or what have you, decided, in their wisdom, to take over the dairy and transferred it to the fire service.
There was room to park a vehicle and they did erect some wooden bunks which were frightfully uncomfortable, but nevertheless there it was. So, having set up that, they didn't give us any equipment and we were supposed to turn out and learn how to put out fires, which was a little difficult with no equipment.
We came to the date of the outbreak of war, September 3rd. We were told to assemble at Brookmans Park Hotel, which had just commenced being built in 1939 and was not finished.
We all assembled on the car park and the statement was made that, because we had not received assurance from Germany, we were therefore at war.
Eleven o'clock had hardly faded away when the siren went. Nobody knew what to do, we just stood there. It was a false alarm and the all-clear went. I think it was some enthusiastic chappie at the police station who wanted to play with the siren.
The War Office decided, in their wisdom, that we should have some equipment. A little police fire pump was delivered. We needed something to tow it with and they produced a very ancient motorcar. I have a recollection that it was called a Mormon. I have never heard of it before or since. I think it was a United States vintage motor-car.
It was provided with a hitch to which the aforesaid pump could be attached. Now this car was a beast and had to be started by hand and it really strained our backs to get it started. It was not very efficient equipment.
We had various false alarms and tore out, hopefully for the car to start, hitched on the pump and off we went. But I think the climax to the whole situation was when we really thought there was a fire somewhere down at Waterend.
Off we went in the car. The only snag about the whole proceeding was that we got to Waterend and found we had left the pump behind. As I recollect it was something of a Fred Karno fire service.
Nevertheless we were trying to do our best, which was not really much because after that we were called up. So what happened to the famous Brookmans Park Fire Service I don't really know.
Personal reminiscences of Leslie Abbott recorded at the October 1987 meeting of the North Mymms Local History Society.
On The Home Front - The People and Parish of North Mymms 1935-45
Index - On The Home Front
Chapter One - A Message From The Vicar
Chapter Two - The Special Constabulary
Chapter Three - The War Comes Home - Parish Bomb Damage
Chapter Four - The Auxiliary Fire Service
Chapter Five - Children in the Parish
Chapter Six - Keeping Busy on the Home Front
Chapter Seven - The North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital
Chapter Eight - The Secret Visitors
Chapter Nine - Church and People
Chapter Ten - Epilogue
Chapter Eleven - People
North Mymms Parish Magazine
Crockford's Clerical Directory 1939
Who's Who 1988
North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital 1940-46: A brief description by H.M.Alderman
Who Was Who (various years)
Note: Many thanks are due to Dick Colville and Leslie Abbott for allowing their reminiscences of the war years in the parish to be published. Also to Mr Colville for allowing the essay by his wife Dorothy to be reproduced. The North Mymms Local History Society