Portsmouth Blitz Firefighters

Portsmouth Blitz Firefighters

This Red Plaque honours the twenty-one firefighters who lost their lives protecting Portsmouth during the blitz between 1939 and 1945. It was unveiled on the 27th of September 2019.

As a strategically important port, Portsmouth was a major target for the Luftwaffe during World War Two, facing constant bombing and fires. Whilst bravely defending people and property at the dockyard during the war, twenty-one brave people from Portsmouth and Gosport were killed both during and after air raids.

These fallen firefighters exemplified Churchill’s description of the professionals as ‘heroes with dirty faces’ – yet they worked in dismally unheroic circumstances. Constantly on duty, underequipped, barely paid, and living in cramped conditions with their families, these individuals’ selflessness in volunteering to defend their city, community and country from fire was even greater.

The Red Plaque commemorating the bravery of these twenty men and one woman – Auxiliary Fire Service member Queenie Pickett – was unveiled in 2019 within the city’s historic dockyard. Their Red Plaque recalls their courage and sacrifice, recognising both the specific impact of their protecting the UK during wartime, and the daily bravery of firefighters everywhere.

The names of the twenty-one firefighters listed on the plaque are as follows:

Harry Whiteman (Portsmouth Fire Brigade)

Bernard Biggs (Portsmouth Fire Brigade)

Sydney Jordan (Portsmouth Fire Brigade)

Edgar Hobbs (Portsmouth Fire Brigade)

John Wareham (Portsmouth Fire Brigade)

Victor Blunt (Portsmouth Fire Brigade)

Maurice Rowe (Portsmouth Auxiliary Fire Service)

Frederick Marshall (Portsmouth Auxiliary Fire Service)

Queenie Picket (Portsmouth Auxiliary Fire Service)

John Mullane (Portsmouth Auxiliary Fire Service)

Patrick Harris (Gosport Auxiliary Fire Service)

Alfred Kinchenton (National Fire Service, Portsmouth)

Edward Palmer (National Fire Service, Portsmouth)

Charles Wingham (National Fire Service, Portsmouth)

George Smith (National Fire Service, Portsmouth)

James Phillips (National Fire Service, Portsmouth)

Stephen Bath (Royal Naval Dockyard Fire Service, Portsmouth)

John Wales (Royal Naval Dockyard Fire Service, Portsmouth)

Alfred Wardale (Royal Naval Dockyard Fire Service, Portsmouth)

Reginald Lintorn (Royal Naval Dockyard Fire Service, Portsmouth)

William Cripps (Palmers Factory Fire Brigade, Portsmouth)

Below are memories added by those who knew the Portsmouth Blitz Firefighters or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for the Portsmouth Blitz Firefighters that you wish to add, please include your memory below.

Please help support our Firefighters with the Firefighters 100 Lottery, a weekly online lottery created to support firefighters, their bereaved families and to honour the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters killed in the line of duty. With your help we can have schemes such as the Red Plaque Project for memorials to those lives lost.

Learn about the history of the Red Plaque Project and discover other Firefighters that have also received Red Plaques.

Photo credits: Mark Thomas


  • Posted May 1, 2021 Reply Report

    Tam McFarlane

    The blitz was a defining moment for the fire service and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the firefighters who fought the fire storms at the time. I attended the unveiling of the Red Plaque for the twenty one firefighters who died protecting Portsmouth and its citizens during the blitz in WW2, it was an exceptionally well organised event which paid a fitting tribute to the firefighters who had lost their lives. All the organisers should be rightly proud of the role they played in organising this event with special thanks going to Mark Chapman who played such a key role in developing the plaque and the event where it was laid.

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