AFS Messenger Arnold John Ferrari passed away on 5 April 1941 as a result of enemy action at the tender age of 16. He is believed to be the youngest member of any Isle of Wight firefighting organisation to be killed in action.


Arnold John Ferrari, the son of Giacomo and Dorothy of Palmerston Road, Southsea, was evacuated by his parents to the Island with his younger brother Peter a few months before.

Wishing to do his bit for the nation during wartime he signed up as a messenger for the Auxiliary Fire Service barely 16 years old. On 5 April he was at Yards Hollow near Shorwell (his temporary residence), a seemingly unlikely target for enemy attention, when high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped.

Some conjecture existed regarding the reasons for his death. The physical cause was for certain, the severing of the main artery in his chest. How that occurred remained ambiguous with some Press reports suggesting he was struck by a fragment of anti-arcraft shell and others by a fragment of an exploding incendiary device. Accessing documents at the National Archives revealed the latter to be the tragic truth and I've included the poignant parts of the report below which emphasise the true heroism of one so young.

His funeral was held at St Peter's, Shorwell, attended by his parents, brother, grandparents and many of his former school friends from St Luke's, Portsmouth, the Mayor of Newport, the Chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee, Chief Officer Fairbrass of Newport Fire Brigade and seventy firemen from stations at Newport, Cowes, Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor.

Rest in peace Messenger Ferrari.