Memorial for town’s bombed firefighters
A service to remember six firefighters who died when a German bomb landed on the former Eastbourne Central Fire Station in 1943 was held last week.
Firefighters, civic dignitaries and relatives of the dead stood side by side at the 70th anniversary memorial which was held on the former site of the station at 1 Grove Road, now the council offices.
The site is marked by a plaque bearing the names of John Bailey, Fred Mewett, Pearl Chitty, John Hunter, Fred Duke and Walter Goacher.
During the brief service by acting chaplain to the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Robert Lovatt, hymns were sung, prayers said and the Last Post was played.
Joan Bennett, a former control operator in 1943, and Don Payne, the son of a survivor and grandfather to ESFRS employee Emmy Bastin, who currently works at ESFRS in Health and Safety, were there to pay their respects.
Emmy, who did a reading during the service, said, “Obviously, it was a harrowing event for my great grandad to go through and it only seems fitting that I should be there to support my grandad and to pay my respects, I felt very privileged to do so.
“Because I currently work for the fire service I have strong empathy for the situation and you feel bound to it in some way, on both a personal and professional level.
“Ironically, I work for Health & Safety but back then this was not the kind of thing they would have had in his day, as it was only introduced to the Service in 1974.”
Eastbourne’s mayor Mike Thompson hosted the service and said, “It is very fitting that we all share the memory of the brave fire officers who sacrificed so much during the war years and, in particular, those who lost their lives. What they did must never be forgotten.”
The German bomb struck at 3pm on Sunday February 7 in 1943, at the former Central Fire Station killing the six fire officers and injuring many more.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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