Stories: Henry Ackland

My Grandfather was Henry (Harry) Ackland who joined the AFS full time on the 24th August 1939, Class 'B' AFS number 18393. He was stationed at Bethnal Green Fire Station (East London E2) where he served until the end of the war.

He covered most of the East/ West End especially the Docks, after narrowly escaping death on several occasions tackling fires he had to contend with UXBs (Unexploded Bombs). He used to drive the fire engine to the blazes and he was the one fighting the fires whilst up the long ladders.

My Grandfather wasn't the one to talk about his experiences apart from the fact that he was buried alive for several hours before being rescued and after losing several of his fellow fireman to falling buildings.

Due to the fact that he was stationed so close to the disaster and living in Mendip houses (Globe Rd) which are situated at the rear of Bethnal Green Fire Station, his station was virtually the first on the scene of the disaster so he was one of many fireman to help carry out the injured and those who died as they we're being taken to the waiting ambulances.
He said it was absolute chaos as so many people we're trying to get out of the station at the same time that people we're trampalling on one another while he was trying to help the injured. He said he would never forgot that night.

If anyone recognises my Grandfather or those who we're stationed at Bethnal Green Fire Station during the war, I would be interested in hearing from you.

- For and on behalf of his Grandson Perry and his Daughter Margaret.