08 Mar Firewoman Elsie Horridge – A story of dedication and endeavour during WWII
Whilst researching the National Fire Service (NFS) we discovered a great story of dedication and endeavour by Fm Elsie Horridge who served from 1938 – 45 in both the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) and NFS in the East End of London and beyond.
Elsie Horridge Fire Service Number was D955. This extract outlines her experiences during WWII.
I joined the AFS, part time in 1938 aged 20 at Station 22 Burdett Road, Bow E1. I completed one night a week and learned about the fire alarm system in the area and where the alarm posts were situated. On September 1 st I was called into my boss’s office in the City of London and told to report with my car to Burdett Road Station straight away. It would be six years until I returned. I was stationed between Coburn Road School and Southern Grove School AFS Stations, driving my light van to several stations in “C” Division with hoses and other equipment.
During the Blitz (1940-41) I was kept busy driving a mobile canteen to the City of London. I served tea and biscuits and Cadburys chocolate to the firefighters. Then I would return to the station and drive my van, with 20/25 2 gallon petrol cans, to the fire appliances in the City as they got low on fuel. After a while I was sent to Homerton, Hackney to drive a Mobile Kitchen, with two cooks and the three of us went out daily to different sub-stations while our kitchens were redecorated.
One time during a quiet spell we took part in a trailer pump competition at Lambeth HQ. One night, we were ordered to take the mobile kitchen to Norwich. We took with us a small support van which carried additional supplies. We could cater for up to 100 people and would serve, soup, pies, chops, sausages and bacon plus dried milk for the tea.
A few months later we were called back to London, and I went to Manor Road School, West Ham. Whilst at Abbey Road School I had an injury to my foot and was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital. When I returned I found that the school had been hit by a doodlebug and two firemen had been killed and a number injured.
In May 1944, I went down to Folkestone with my officer and 100 firemen in preparation for retaliatory bombings following D Day landings. We were there for three weeks. I was demobbed in September 1945 and returned to my old printing firm after six years as a firewoman.
We’re always on the look out for recollections and archive material about the experiences of firefighters in WWII and welcome any information you or your family may have to add to our archives.
Please email email@example.com if you have any information to share.