Fireman Bartrum, rear right, with Ryde Fire Brigade, 1935.

Reginald Archibald Oscar Bartrum was born on 3 January 1906 to his parents William, a general labourer, and Alice. 

The family spent much of Reginald's younger years at an address in High Street, Oakfield. The 1911 Census evidences that Reginald was the second youngest of eight children ranging between the ages of 19 and 4. Little more is known of his young life until a marriage record appears for 1931 when he married Dorothy Emily Mursell in Sunbury-on-Thames, then in the county of Middlesex, now Surrey.

I have rewritten much of the original text on this page following a visit by his daughter Jan to Ryde Fire Station in September 2021. Not only did Jan honour me by bestowing on me the care of her fathers original brass helmet and his medals, but also she produced a copy of an original service record. Prior to that the earliest reference to him being a member of Ryde Fire Brigade I located in a report of the IWFBF drill competition held in the grounds of the Frank James Hospital, East Cowes, on 31 August 1934 where he performed for the Ryde team that came second to Shanklin in the motor-turnout drill. Other press reports suggests that on several occasions he is noted as having performed songs at Ryde Fire Brigade social events.

The record that Jan gave me evidences that he was first passed as medically fit for service with Ryde Fire Brigade in July 1933. His next recorded medical wasn't until July 1940 and shows that by then he was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service. His record shows that he made the sideways move from brigade to part-time AFS on 25 October 1939. On 3 September 1939, the day the war began, he was, like many others, brought into wholetime service. 

The record restarts on 18 August 1941, the day the National Fire Service was launched. On that day, as a member of the NFS, service number 248835, Reginald was serving at 14D4Y, which was the station and training centre at Ryde's Edward Street on the site of the requisitioned Stainers dairy yard. He remained there until transferring to 14D2W (Bembridge) on 15 October 1943. On September 15 1944 he moved to A5Y in Fire Force 34 - London. Station Alpha 5 Yankee was in the north-west of the city although at this time I'm not sure of its precise location. 

Reg Bartrum, second from right, while training as an NFS motorcylist at Drayton, Hampshire.

From discussing this move with Jan, it seems apparent that Reginald was one of the Island firemen who volunteered to serve in the capital in order to give a city fireman a relative break after many years of exhausting blitz firefighting.

Such exchanges became increasingly common and were much appreciated by some of the shattered firemen of London who benefitted from a few months service in a relatively low-risk environment such as the Isle of Wight. Reginald remained in London until the end of November where he sustained an in-service injury, and was then placed on the NFS reserve list.

On 27 March 1946 he returned to service at Ryde at what was then, following a post-war reorganisation of the NFS, known as station Delta Four (Ryde retains its number 'four' designation to this day). He remained in continous retained service until 1 April 1948 when the imposition of the Fire Services Act enforced the disbandment of the NFS and the Isle of Wight County Fire Brigade was established, his record showing on that date IWCFB as his employer.

Throughout this service the family home, where Reginald and Dorothy raised their daughters, was 18 Well Street, Ryde. On 15 September 1955 he was among over-100 members of the service and retired veterans who attended Newport Fire Station where a restored Victorian manual fire engine was presented to the service by its owner. That engine is the Shand Mason appliance that today resides at the service training centre in Ryde. Reginald's attendance was two-fold, both as a service show of appreciation to one Mr King for donating the appliance and also as Reginald was among the first group of Island firemen to be awarded the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, instituted just over a year earlier, presented to him and eleven others by Mr King . His record evidences that he became officially entitled to the medal on 2 December 1954.

Reginald passed away aged 55, at the Royal National Hospital on 25 July 1961 just under five months after he retired from the fire service to which he had given so much of his life.

Rest in peace Fireman Bartrum.

Thank you Jan (nee Bartrum) for the long trip from Cambridgeshire to revisit old haunts and for the visit to the modern Ryde Fire Station and for the honour of being appointed custodian of Reginald's helmet and medals.

Jan at Ryde Fire Station with her fathers brass helmet, 10 September 2021.

Fireman Bartrum's medals. From left to right - NFBA Bronze 10-year service medal, WW2 Defence Medal, 20-year Lon Service and Good Conduct Medal, St Johns Bronze Medallion.