Canadians To Go Home
ca. January 1945
OTTAWA-(CP)- Plans to demobilize the Civilian Corps of Canadian
Fire Fighters overseas has been announced here by the National War Services
Department. The present strength of the corps is 324. The first group will
leave Britain shortly and others will follow at intervals as stations are
The announcement said conditions no longer made it necessary
to maintain the corps as a protection against enemy attacks. While some had
volunteered for service with a special contingent to serve on the Continent
there is not sufficient reason for them to remain overseas.
LONDON-(CP)- The Civilian Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters who in 1942 left
the safety of their Dominion homes for the dangers of fighting blitz-created
blazes overseas have paraded for the last time to hear the official farewell
from a Britain that was thankful for their aid. Led by a 15-piece band, members
of the Canadian Corps marched through the heart of London, smart in their
blue uniforms with the red "Canada" flashes on their shoulders and as militarily
correct as Guardsmen on parade, to be reviewed by the heads of the fighting
services and Home Secretary Herbert Morrison. Canadian High Commissioner Vincent
Massey was also present and made the official farewell speech. Leading the
Canadians on the parade was Gordon Huff, M.M., former fire chief at Brantford,
Ont., and now head of the overseas corps.
Mr. Massey told the men, "Nowhere has the civil defence of
Britain been more admired than in Canada. You have played a very fine part
in that work. Now your work has come to an end...you have done a grand job.
I want to thank you for all you have done."
Later the fire fighters gathered outside London for a banquet
where Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P., thanked them for their efforts, pointing
out that although they had missed the big blitzes, "Almost all of you have
heard the whistle of a bomb and seen the blue-white light of an incendiary."
She told how Canadians had been stationed in such badly hit port cities such
as Plymouth, Bristol and Southhampton.
Canadian fire fighters had, she added, proved their adaptability
by quelling all types of blazes, including "Tankers with 3,000,000 gallons
of aviation spirit aboard, oil tanks containing several thousand tons
of oil set on fire by enemy action not so very long before D-Day and fires
in military stores, which, thanks to you, now are overseas instead of
having been turned into ashes. No job was too hot, too smoky or too dirty
for you; you tackled them all with a true fireman's courage and enthusiasm."
to Canadian Fire Fighters - The Lord Mayor of Plymouth at the final parade
of the Canadian fire-fighters before their departure for home.
CORPS OF CANADIAN FIRE FIGHTERS
Returning Home after Doing "A Grand Job"
The members of the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters -numbering
about 400 and representing 107 Canadian municipalities - are about to return
to Canada, after having been over here since June, 1942, and served in Southhampton,
Plymouth, Portsmouth, Bristol and other places on the south-west coast.
At a farewell march past in London on Monday Mr. Herbert
Morrison, the Home Secretary, took the salute in front of Canada House and
the firemen were addressed y Mr. Massey.
"You have done a grand job," said the High Commissioner.
"Nowhere has the Civil Defence of this country been more admired than in Canada,
and you played a very fine part in that defence. I thank you very sincerely,
and as the representative of Canada here I have been proud of you in the last
two and a half years. Relations between you and the N.F.S. have been very
happy. The Canadian Fire Fighters came to this country at a time when the
fire services were very hard pressed, and did some very good work."
a farewell luncheon the same day Cdr. A.N.G. Firebrace, Chief of the Fire
Staff and Inspector-in-Chief, Fire Services, said all members of the Corps
must have benefited from their fire experience over here. They had taken
part in serious fires of many types. No job was too hot, too smoky or
too dirty for them. They tackled them all with true fireman's courage
"The time has now come for you to return home - your
duty done - your reputation as a fine, well-disciplined body of men secure
- your skill and powers of endurance as fire fighters fully appreciated.
You cannot but have a feeling of pride and satisfaction at the way you
have spent these war years. We feel the same about you. These feelings
and memories will be very precious things to us all in times to come.
On behalf of the Ministry of Home Security I thank you for coming, I thank
you for the work you have done, and for the example you have set of steadiness,
of good behaviour, of whole-hearted cooperation with your comrades in
the National Fire Service. I wish you all a safe voyage and a speedy return
to your homes." Fire Chief G.E. Huff, the Canadian
commander, said they took back the happiest of memories, and added: "The
finest thing that can be said of anyone is that he knew his job and did
it. I think that can be said of the Canadian Fire Fighters. The N.F.S.
will go down in history as one of the finest fire services in the world."
FIRE FIGHTERS FROM CANADA
UNIT THAT MADE HISTORY
Plymouth said her official farewell yesterday to the Canadian
fire-fighters who came to this country in the hour of need and are shortly
The Lord Mayor (Ald. H.G. Mason), accompanied by the Deputy
Lord mayor (Mr. H.J. Perry), inspected the men, who were lined up outside
the fire station which they themselves built at Tor. and afterwards addressed
them from a platform draped with red, white and blue.
Senior Company Officer H. Lambert responded. Other officers
on the platform were Fire Force Comdr. G. Drury, Divl. Officer R.J. Smith,
and Divl. Officer A.Goldberg.
Citizens of Plymouth would remember their sojourn among them,
the Lord Mayor said, and recalled that it was in the summer of 1941 that the
Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, had visited this country, and
after seeing the devastation largely caused by fire went home with the happy
idea of forming a fire-fighting unit. That idea made history, for it was the
first unit ever mobilized in one country to fight fires in another.
On March 16, 1942, the Canadian Fire-Fighting Corps was formed,
and within three months some 43 of their number were in Plymouth and within
six months double that number.
Although they had not been called upon to take part in any
if the very big fires such as were experienced in 1941 they had proved their
efficiency in five or six raids and on a number of occasions during lull periods.
They had dealt with these fires with commendable efficiency and it was also
no mean feat on their part that they had been able to establish that fire
station. It was to their great credit that in spite of difficulties they had
turned to on their own and erected the station, which would probably remain
as a memorial of their visit for some time.
The Lord Mayor went on to compliment the men on their conduct
during their visit; it had, he said, been exemplary, and added: "You have
been good citizens while among us and I commend you for it." He also complimented
them on their Plymouth brides and said it would forge another link between
Canada and this country.
Speaking of the co-operation which had existed between them
and the National Fire Service, the Lord Mayor expressed the hope that the
experience they had had would be of considerable value to them on their return
Speaking of their keenness, enthusiasm, and outstanding efficiency,
which he said were worthy of the greatest praise, the Lord Mayor wished the
Godspeed, happiness, and peace on behalf of the citizens of Plymouth.
TRIBUTE TO PLYMOUTH
Senior Company Off. Lambert said that the force would like
to have remained until the end of the hostilities. He thanked the Lord Mayor
and "all those responsible for making our stay in Plymouth most enjoyable."
The citizens of Plymouth had at all times extended to them the most gracious
hospitality in very trying conditions. One of the most outstanding things
they would remember was the way in which the people had carried on. That was
something they would never forget.
On behalf of the force he thanked Fire Force Commander Drury,
and said it had been a great experience to serve with the N.F.S., and they
had gained considerable knowledge which would be very beneficial to them.
A great bond of friendship was made between the British and Canadian firemen.
The visitors were afterwards entertained to tea at the fire station.
The Canadian Fire Fighters who are leaving Plymouth received distinguished
visitors during the week. Left to right: Company Officer Mason, Lady Hartington,
Senior Company Officer Lambert, Lady Astor, Company Officer Bryce.