I Was There! - 'All In the Day's Work' Says an A.F.S.

The War Illustrated, Volume 3, No. 55, Page 304, September 20, 1940.

Inspecting raid damage in London on September 10, Mr. Churchill sympathized with auxiliary firemen who had been on duty for many hours. "Never mind, sir", said one of them. "It's all in the day's work." That this is typical of the A.F.S. is exemplified by this story by Mr. L. Bastin, an auxiliary from Shoreditch.

During the week-end raids of September 7-8, London's firemen and the Auxiliary Fire Service carried on their dangerous work while bombs dropped round them, and many were killed or injured.

Mr. L. F. Bastin, of the A.F.S., had worked continuously at a blaze from 5 o'clock on Saturday, September 7, until after midnight. Even an injured ankle did not stop him working. He refused to stop until a rescue squad made him.

Later, in hospital, he said:

I saw hundreds of firemen working with bombs dropping all round. I counted 12 bombs as the rescue squad carried me to a car a quarter of an hour away.

On the dockside itself, right among the heart of those fires, civilians were standing round helping. Young girls and old men formed human chains passing buckets of water to the firemen when we could not get water from the hydrant. The spirit of the people was marvellous. I never saw anything like it.

I saw great lorries burning up like matches. The fire-boats came up and helped.

When Mr. Bastin reached a first-aid post there were five more injured firemen. "One man", he said, "had taken cover in a doorway when he heard a bomb whistling. His face was covered with splinters from the wood blocks in the road. He never murmured."

Nurses and doctors at the post also carried on their work despite the bombs. The first aid men driving to pick up casualties always got through somehow when a bomb dropped ahead of them.

Throughout the worst of the bomb dropping police were still at work roping off streets and directing the services. Although they could see the stupendous size of the fire, firemen going to the blaze were singing "Roll Out the Barrel". Daily Telegraph.

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