Initially titled as a single page wall sheet and later a double-sided broadsheet, The Midnight Watch included news relating to the Fire Guard and was "To be displayed in Fire Guard posts and wherever Fire Guards gather". Although there is a date of 1940 on the footer of this sheet, I believe it was issued after the formation of the Fire Guard in August 1941. It would appear it was initially published bi-monthly and later quarterly; issue No. 18 is dated October 1943 and issue No.19 is dated February 1944 for example.
Of note on this sheet is the Battle Honours section relating to Holborn ARP Warden Maurice Cohen Starr (George Medal recipient) and Warden Clifford Arthur Thomas Stratton and Fire Guard Walter Alfred Ricketts (both British Empire Medal recipients). The London Gazette snippet details their award. Ricketts was the first Fir Guard to be awarded a bravery medal.
Kilburn Heroes in the Blitz details the events behind the awards but sadly it omits Ricketts name:
Seventeen-year-old Clifford Stratton was an electrical engineer’s assistant who lived at 42 Buckley Road in Kilburn (later in the 1950s and 60s he is shown at No. 48). He had been a volunteer warden for six months.
On the night of Wednesday 16/17 April 1941, 685 German bombers attacked London. This was the largest attack since the Blitz began and some planes made two or even three sorties that night. A huge number of buildings were destroyed, and 1,720 Londoners were killed in what became known as 'The Wednesday'.
Clifford was part of a team of stretcher bearers who rescued a man and two girls trapped on the fourth floor in flats in Portpool Lane, off the Grays Inn Road Holborn. The building was on fire and more bombs were falling. Climbing to the top of their ladder they found it was too short, so they jumped onto a windowsill, and after tying the girls and the man to their backs, they were lowered to other wardens on the ladder. They were incredibly lucky, a few minutes after the rescue, part of the building collapsed.
The team leader, 30-year old Maurice Cohen, was awarded the George Cross, and Stratton was given the British Empire Medal (civilian). Clifford was a scout in the 15th Holborn troop, and he was also given a Silver Cross scout award. He had only recently returned to warden duty after an operation on his foot."
Send me items to blog about via my contact page