Corp Of Canadian FireFighters in England During WW II

 


        The Images of Denis Samuel Posten  
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September 11th, 2001
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H. J. Lambert, S.C.O. & Sam Posten


Canadian Corp of Firefighters in England During WWII



 
July 17, 2007

NEW
The new book about Britain's Fire Service during World War Two which includes as its main feature, the story of the Corps of Canadian Firefighters will now be available in January. The publishers have decided to print in hardback rather than paperback as was originally planned. The cover price will be UKŁ 14.95 plus shipping at the standard rate. Advance orders can be placed from October 1st 2007 by email to southampton.1@btinternet.com You will not be asked to send any money at the time of reservation. Attention of John Leete.

UPDATE - Interested users can purchase this excellent book at:

Julian Scheff
Customer Service
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60610
julian@ipgbook.com
800-888-4741 ext 222
312-337-5985 fax
www.ipgbook.com
Expert distribution services for innovative publishers

 

   Overview Of The Mission  

The following feature on Canadian Fire Fighters in England during WW II is based on photographs and articles provided by Kathy Posten. Kathy discovered the photographs, taken by her father, Sam Posten, while he was stationed in England during WW II as a member of Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters, #4 Company, and wished to share them with you, in recognition of her father and the other men and women who contributed to the war effort in the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters in England. Most of you will be aware of enormous damage resulting from the "blitz" bombing of the cities of England, particularly London and Plymouth, during WW II. The damage from the bombs and the resulting fires is clearly seen in the following photographs, a personal account of the images seen by Sam Posten, who, armed with a Brownie camera, had created this historical record. At the time of this writing, Sam is 86 years old and unfortunately, has suffered memory loss of this period in his life. As such, many of the locations of the photographs and the names of individuals pictured are unknown. If you recognize any of the individuals or the locations of these photographs, or have any other information to contribute in this regard, we would love to add it to this feature (email The Webmaster)

Denis Samuel "Sam" Posten
by Kathleen Posten

Denis Samuel "Sam" Posten was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, on July 24, 1914. He is the son of Dumitru R. and Floarea, Postelnicu, "Dan and Florea, Posten," who came to Canada as Romanian emigrants in 1911. They settled in Regina, where they owned and operated a corner grocery store. He has three brothers and three sisters, and one stepsister. He attended public and collegiate school in Regina and after graduation was employed as a butter and ice cream maker with the T. Eaton Co. Ltd.

From August 1940 to May 1942, Sam Posten was in reserve army training with the Second Battalion of the Royal Regina Rifle Regiment, as a Rifleman. On June 6, 1942 in Ottawa, he enlisted with the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters. Despite having no previous fire fighting experience, he was taken on "Strength of the Corps," on June 8, 1942, with the rank of Junior Fireman. On August 26, 1942 he was posted to Station 19A-1L in Plymouth, England, from H.Q. London, for basic training. After basic training he received a service promotion to the rank of Firemen on December 8, 1942. He received a promotion to Senior Fireman on June 8, 1943, and to Leading Fireman on June 8, 1944.

The Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters in England began to demobilize in December of 1944 and Sam Posten returned home in January, 1945. He was officially discharged from service on March 6, 1945. Sam returned to his former life and on Nov. 10, 1951, in Regina, married Mary Eva Glasser from Prelate, Saskatchewan. They have two children, Denis and Kathleen. From the age of 65 to 85 he was employed with the Corps of Commissionaires, working at the National Defense buildings of HMCS Queen and the Regina Armory.

Like many people who have directly experienced the horrors of war, Sam Posten does not talk about them often, except around Remembrance Day with comments like, "War was HELL and I hope you never have to go through it!" He has occasionally mentioned the bombing Blitz on Plymouth and London, and all of the damage that was done. He recalls the air raid sirens and the sounds of the bombs - "sort of a wired whistling sound, both would start shivers down your back and the hairs on your neck to stand up." Of his view of the role of fire fighters in England during WWII, he says, "we worked long and hard, like crazy fools sometimes." (see diary entries by Sam Posten in "The Destruction" section)

Canadian Firefighters in Britain
reprinted from FIRE 1943 Overseas Edition

The Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters was formed subsequent to a visit to Britain in the summer of 1941 by the Rt. Hon. William L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, who assured the British Government that Canada would be only too willing to assist in the Battle of the Blitzes with a corps of Canadian firemen. It was at first the intention to have the corps come over as a branch of the Canadian Army, and be recruited under the Department of National Defense. Later, however, it was deemed advisable that inasmuch as the Fire Service in Great Britain was operating as a civilian organization the Canadian contingent, too, should be a civilian body. Major-general L.R. La Fleche, DSO, the then Associate Deputy Minister National War Services, was charged with the responsibility of providing a firefighting corps representative of the Dominion for duty in Great Britain with the National Fire Service of that country. On January 30, 1942, the Canadian Cabinet Council ratified, by Order-in-Council, the appointment of Flight-lieutenant G.E. Huff, MM, Royal Canadian Air Force, who was at that date fire prevention officer No. 2 Training Command, Winnipeg, as commanding officer. In normal times he commanded the fire department of Brantford, in Ontario, which force he had entered in 1919, but, on the outbreak of war he had been granted leave of absence, for the duration of hostilities, so that his fire engineering skill might be at the disposal of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

On February 16, 1942, he reported to Ottawa, seat of the Dominion Government and without delay began the task of banding together the various units which now constitute the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters. It was decided that the corps should be truly representative of all parts of Canada and with this thought in mind, the commanding officer asked his brother fire chiefs from coast to coast for aid in enrolling the personnel. The response by those Canadian fire chiefs was magnificent; it resulted in very successful recruiting, and at no cost to the Canadian Government. Coincident with the announcement of the first "blitz" raids on England, countless numbers of professional firemen, and civilians alike, had volunteered their services to the British Fire Service, through the medium of the Canadian Government, and had been prepared to give up their positions, leave their homes, families, and all that was near and dear, to assist in the battle. However, it was not until the formation of the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters was finally approved by Order-in-Council on March 3, 1942, that their dream began to materialize.

This was the opportunity for which personnel of the Canadian Fire Service and civilians alike had been waiting since first hearing of the magnificent work done by the British Fire Service during the Battle of Britain. The response to the first announcement was spontaneous as is proved by the fact that the corps has representatives from the nine Canadian provinces and 107 Canadian municipalities, in the East from Halifax to Vancouver in the west, a distance of almost 4,000 miles. At no time was there any shortage of applicants. Even to-day there is a long waiting list of candidates on file.

Members of the corps received a complete medical examination prior to reporting at Ottawa and, upon arrival, a final medical examination was given, including inoculation and vaccination, similar to the Canadian Active Service Forces. After being enrolled in small groups, the members began preliminary training in Ottawa during the time they were waiting to be supplied with uniforms and equipment prior to embarkation for overseas.

The advance party arrived in Great Britain by air on May 24, 1942-Victoria Day, a Dominion holiday, and the first contingent arrived exactly one month later. Completing its training - the trailer pump to the Canadian firefighter in the Dominion is essentially a British appliance - this first contingent assumed active duty on August 1, 1942.

The final contingent arrived on December 19, 1942, and, six weeks later, was in its operational stations. Thus the corps was formed, organized, and operating in Britain in less than 12 months from the date of Chief Huff's reporting at Ottawa.

For the purposes of pay and allowances, medical care, hospitalization, dental treatment, pension for disability and death, members of the corps have the same rights as if they were members of the Canadian Active Service Force; while for operational duties they are an integral part of the NFS. They man their own stations in four key cities on the south-west coast of England. They are under their own officers, and the corps has its own administrative headquarters in the London region.

Seventy per cent of the officers and men of the corps are professional firefighters vitally interested in gaining experience which will benefit them upon their return home. Every endeavor has been and is being made to have them attend advanced courses of instruction in the NFS schools and college. They undergo physical training courses at Royal Marine barracks and personnel are attending army and industrial schools on war gases and so forth.

The corps is unique in that, for the first time in history, a group of professional firemen has left its own country and volunteered to operate, in its own profession, in a theatre of war.  

         
Corps of Canadian Firefighters

   

 

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