Fireman Frederick Alan Rae was killed in action with London Fire Brigade on 17 October 1940 aged 21.

 

Frederick was born in 1918, the son of Robert Denham Rae and Gerttrude Ellen who lived at St Eloi, The Avenue, Totland. No records exist to suggest what work Frederick was involved in when he first left school but by 1935 his elder brother (by five years) Hector Robert, was a member of the Freshwater Rover Scouts Fire Brigade that attended a serious fire in the bar of the Royal Standard Hotel on 2 January 1935.

No doubt Frederick was impressed by the activities of his senior sibling and soon followed suit. When the Freshwater and Totland Joint Fire Brigade Committee formed a combined brigade in March 1938, colloquially termed the West Wight Fire Brigade, Frederick was appointed the role of Second Engineer, quite an achievement for one so young.

It was a role he didn't fulfil for long. By December of the same year the Brigade were disappointed to lose him but wished him well for the future of his full-time career with London Fire Brigade. It is known that he served at Southwark Fire Station, station No. 60 of the LFB, and was resident at the station with dozens of others when the 1939 Register was taken of the premises at 94 Southwark Bridge Road.

 

 

 

The old Southwark Bridge Road Fire Station, one of those closed in 2014 by the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

By the time the Blitz began in early September 1940, Frederick was an established member of the Southwark crew and would have experienced the shock of those early days of intensive bombing which included, on 7 September, the horror caused by a direct hit on the Ewer Street air raid shelter just a short distance from the fire station.

In October the Resume of the Naval and Military Air Situation reported to the War Cabinet that;  On the 15th October the enemy reverted to the dropping of parachute mines. New devices reported were a combined incendiary and explosive bomb. About three-quarters of the night attacks were directed against London. Damage to civilian property and public buildings has been widespread in London and in other areas. A feature of the damage has been the number of huildings of national importance which have been affected.The approximate figures for the week ending 0600 hours, 16th October, are 1,567 killed and 4,634 injured. These figures include the estimated figures of 1,380 killed and 3,729 injured in London.

A day later Frederick and two of his colleagues were killed when a bomb struck the mess room that they were using adjacent to the fire station. His Superintendent wrote to his parents soon after; We have lost a good comrade who will be very much missed by us all. 

 

The report in the Birmingham Mail of 18 October 1940.

The report in the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette of 18 October 1940.

Frederick's remains were returned to the Island. His funeral was held on 24 October at Freshwater's All Saints Church. His brother, by now a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, was at sea and unable to attend but his parents were supported by a representation of London Fire Brigade. His coffin was borne to the grave by his friends and former colleagues of the West Wight brigade including Second Officer F. Benham with Firemen F. Cook, F. Cleverley and L. Young. 

Tragically for his parents their grief was to be compounded; Frederick's brother died when HMS Hood was sunk just seven months later. Annually for at least ten years after their deaths Robert, Gertrude and their elder sister Olive, posted a memorial to them in the County Press, alternating the dates of the posting between the dates of their deaths.

From the IW County Press of October 14 1950.

Rest in peace Fireman Rae and Petty Officer Rae.