Fireman Charles Smith

Fireman Charles Smith of Sandown Fire Brigade passed away on 7 June 1924 aged 36.

 

Charles was born in Brading in 1887, son of Alice and Alfred who was a labourer for the district council. By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to Heath Road, Lake, and he was still living there with his parents when the following census was recorded ten years later.

A year later in 1912 he appears in Chief Officer Dore's Annual Report alongside a colleague as one of two new firemen 'both living at Lake'. As the brigade installed a kind of sub-unit in Lake and opened a 'hose-station' there that year it's fairly safe to assume that he was recruited for that sub-unit (a report of a fire in 1921 adds evidence as he attacked a fire in the garden of a house named Englewood using the Lake hose-cart without the remainder of the brigade attending).

By now he was plying his trade as a blacksmith. Sandown were at that time a fiercely competitive and successful drill competition team and he must have shone brightly to get in to the four man team for the National Fire Brigades Union, Southern District event at Farnborough in May 1913 within a year of joining. They were narrowly beaten into second place by Bournemouth FB.

A year later in the same event, this time in Salisbury, he was again in the team which this time exceeded all expectations by winning three of the five trophies on offer; the best any Island team ever did in a regional competition.

In April 1917 he took leave of brigade duties and served as a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy and returned home in February 1919 to resume his brigade role.

A year later he was back in the brigade's drill team and a part of the famous winning of the National Manual Shield at Eastbourne. He was taken ill at home, 2 Heath Cottages, shortly before his untimely death at the Arthur Webster Memorial Hospital in Shanklin. He left a wife and four young children.

Rest in peace Fireman Smith.