Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include Edward VII.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Rescuer, identified in BBC photo as John Stewart, carries child from ruins

On the nights of March 13 and 14, 1941, German aircraft targeted the Scottish town of Clydebank and the surrounding area with bombs and incendiaries.

It was a prime destination for destruction - and the wartime fire and rescue services performed valiantly, battling the blazes and burrowing for victims.

Factories in the city, part of greater Glasgow, manufactured aircraft engines and munitions for World War Two. There were also shipyards.

Workers living in nearby tenements sustained terrible losses, with t
he attacks killing 
528 people and injuring more than 600 others, according to the BBC.

On March 14, the previous night's fires ``were still blazing furiously, and the enemy, taking full advantage of the resultant illumination, carried out a further attack,'' according to an article entitled ``Clydside's  Ordeal By Fire'' by M. Chadwick.

 ''The seriousness of the situation can be gauged by the necessity to put into action over 200 pumps with the proportionate number of officers and men,'' 
according to the Chadwick article, posted on the website of Graeme Kirkwood.

Chadwick also told the story of fire brigade m
essenger boy Neil Leitch, age 16, who was repeatedly thrown from his bicycle on March 13, peddling to the Partick Fire Station to deliver his message:

``On one occasion, he was so badly injured that he was carried into a first aid dressing station. After the minimum amount of attention, he insisted upon proceeding with his message, contrary to the advice of the ambulance officers.

``He informed them that he must get this message through, as it was very important, and in spite of his injuries, continued on his way to Partick Fire Station. Just before he reached the Station, it was hit by a high explosive oil bomb and he received further injuries. Despite this, he heroically carried on and finally delivered the message.''

Tragically, Leitch succumbed to his injuries, Chadwick wrote.

was gazetted by King George VI for his bravery and his nephew, James Leitch, went on to serve in the fire brigade, according to the BBC.

At a 2015 tribute to Leitch and others like him who died in the line of duty, senior fire officer George McGrandles of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said:

The role of the boy messengers isn't widely known but it was absolutely vital. They took on an incredibly dangerous role to ensure fire crews could get to where they were needed even when bombs destroyed communications channels.''

James Leitch said:  
"I grew up hearing about my uncle Neil ... These boys were forgotten. To me they deserve recognition.''