Soloman Belinsky

Soloman Belinsky

Solomon lost his life in the line of duty after being fatally injured in the Leeds Blitz on the 15th of March 1941. His Red Plaque was presented on the 15th of September 2018.

A firefighter serving in Leeds’s Auxiliary Fire Service – the volunteer brigade organised during World War Two – Solomon was killed in an air raid while attempting to save the city’s museum. Solomon was an emigrant from today’s Belarus who worked as an upholsterer in Leeds, where he served in the AFS at Gipton Fire Station. He left behind a widow named Rachel and four children. Following his death, his daughter Anita joined the Auxiliary Fire Service at the age of seventeen.

Just after midnight on the 15th of March 1941 – during what came to be known as the Leeds Blitz – Solomon arrived with his AFS crew at Park Row in the city centre, where bombs were falling directly on the historic museum. As he fought to save the museum, Solomon was hit by a bomb, sustaining fatal injuries. He died seventeen days later at Leeds General Infirmary, becoming one of 818 firefighters killed at home in World War Two.

Solomon’s courageous service is remembered by war historians, Leeds’s communities, generations of his family, and his brothers and sisters across today’s fire service. His memorial Plaque can be found at his former post, The Old Fire Station in Gipton, which now serves as a community centre.


Photo credits: Fire Brigades Union

MEMORIES

  • Posted May 18, 2021 Reply moderated

    Tam.McFarlane

    PLAQUE FOR FORGOTTEN BLITZ HERO UNVEILED IN LEEDS

    This Red Plaque was unveiled at a historic fire station in memory of a Leeds firefighter who lost his life defending the city from air raid fires during the Second World War.

    Solomon Belinsky, a Russian born upholsterer from east Leeds, was one of 3,847 men and women who volunteered for the citys Auxiliary Fire Service in 1940, serving at his local fire station in Gipton.

    Leeds suffered nine air raids over the duration of the war with its heaviest on the night of 14 and 15 March 1941 when forty bombers attacked the city centre. Incendiary and high explosive bombs destroyed around 100 houses killing 65 people.

    Research by Leeds Beckett historian Shane Ewen revealed that just after midnight Belinksy turned out with his Gipton crew to Park Row where they tried to save the citys museum after it sustained a direct hit.

    However Belinksky was injured by a falling bomb and died 17 days later. The official cause of death recorded as Death from Enemy Action. He left a widow, Rachel, and four children, one of whom, Anita, also joined the AFS and served in Hull. The following month, the government nationalised the fire service to provide an improved nationwide system of fire protection. In total, 818 firefighters including 25 women lost their lives during the war. Their names have been recorded on the National Firefighters Memorial outside St. Pauls Cathedral in London, and are remembered every May as part of Firefighters Memorial Day.

    Shane Ewen said Volunteers made up an increasing number and proportion of firefighters during the war, swelling the membership of the Fire Brigades Union to 66,500. Many stayed on to help transform the service into a modern profession after the war.

    Men and women like Solomon Belinsky risked their lives to help make the fire service an indispensable arm in the countrys civil defence, they heroically fought fires while bombs rained down upon them. Many who survived suffered burns and broken bones as well as post-traumatic stress disorder having witnessed multiple fatalities.

    Belinskys contribution to the citys wartime defence was marked by the erection of a plaque at The Old Fire Station, Gipton, which is now a community hub.

    Neil Carbutt, secretary of the FBU in South Yorkshire, said As firefighters we know our history and we never forget the bravery and sacrifice of our colleagues past or present. Solomon Belinsky gave his live serving his community, as so many firefighters have done, and this Red Plaque will help to ensure that his courage and service is recognised and never forgotten.

    The plaque was unveiled on Saturday 15 September 2018, as part of a series of activities to mark Heritage Open Day at The Old Fire Station. The activities included heritage tours of the building, led by retired firefighters, a mobile gallery commemorating the centenary of the FBU, and two screenings of the Unions documentary film, called The Firefighters Story, which featured in the programme for the Leeds Scalarama Film Festival.

    The East Leeds Firefighters Heritage Group also launched a permanent display about Gipton Fire Station, which was originally opened in 1937, and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service had an engine and crew in attendance from Killingbeck for part of the day.

    More information about Solomon Belinsky, which was found after a great deal of research is detailed below and is also illustrated in the attached photos.

    Solomon Belinsky , Leeds Auxiliary Fire Service, Wounded in Action 15 3 1941 in enemy action on Leeds Museum, Park Row. Died at Leeds General Infirmary, 1 4 41, aged 41 Some sources list his age as 43 and one further source lists him as 45. Husband of Rachel of 19 St Albans Mount, Harehills, Leeds. Left wife and 4 children. Buried New Farnley Jewish Cemetery, grave 1 1 4.

    Also, FBU researcher Amy, has turned up Solomons naturalization certificate see attached which clears up the issue of spelling of his name.

    Married Rachel Patankoff, June 1921 in Leeds, according to the Register of Marriages.

    Leeds Town Hall and Museum hit by enemy action Heavy Explosive and Incendiary Bombs 15 03 1941 at 00 55. Attended by AFS and extinguished by hoses attached to the mains.

    LGI admission records are below
    Date of admission 15 Mar 1941
    In patient registration number 450 1728 LP
    Surname Belinksy
    Forename Solomon
    Age 45
    Residence PC Leeds City War Reserve 19 St Albans Mt, Leeds
    Locality where accident occurred Direct
    Nature of Injuries inj to leg
    Date of discharge DEATH 1 4 41
    No of days 17

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