Last surviving fireman from the 1940 Sheffield Blitz dies aged 99

The King's Head Hotel on Sheffield High Street during the Blitz.
The King's Head Hotel on Sheffield High Street during the Blitz.

Doug Lightning - believed to be the last surviving fireman on duty during the 1940 Sheffield Blitz - has died at the age of 99.

The great-great-grandfather was one of the brave firefighters who risked their lives to stop raging infernos as the Luftwaffe dropped bombs across the the city between December 12 and December 15 in 1940.

Doug Lightning during the Second World War.

Doug Lightning during the Second World War.

The raids left 693 people dead, 3000 homes destroyed and a tenth of the population homeless.

Doug was just 21 when the war broke out and was one of only 68 fully trained firemen in the city.

He was hailed a hero for putting out a raging fire on the roof of the Town Hall - which he later learned housed a secret communications base.

His granddaughter Julie Shaw, aged 50, of Stannington, said: "He talked about the Blitz quite a lot and one incident that stuck out for him was when he put the Town Hall fire out.

Sheffield High Street, from the corner of Haymarket, during the Blitz.

Sheffield High Street, from the corner of Haymarket, during the Blitz.

"Afterwards he was told that this was the nerve centre for communications in the region. They had kept it secret so the enemy didn't know about this.

"Afterwards a police inspector took him down to the basement and he was surprised at how many people were working down there. The policeman said 'this is the man that saved the building' and everyone cheered and clapped. He never forgot that."

At his 96th birthday celebrations Doug said: "I still remember that first night of the Blitz, the noise of the bombs was deafening.

"I was scared most of the time and there was the constant misery of being wet through, the heat scorching you and the pain of cut hands from broken glass everywhere coupled with constant hunger and thirst."

Doug Lightning looks over coverage of the Blitz.

Doug Lightning looks over coverage of the Blitz.

He joined the RAF as a flight engineer in 1942 and was part of the squadron that led bombing raids over Germany.

He returned to fire brigade after the war and was based mostly at the former city centre station in Division Street for about 20 years.

Doug also worked as an insurance salesman, bar and restaurant manager and had his own business selling sectional garages. In later life he made bird nesting boxes and donated them to schools and nursing homes.

Julie said: "He was well-known in Sheffield and was a real character. He was always smiling, laughing and joking."

Doug Lightning lays a wreath at Stannington War Memorial in 2015.

Doug Lightning lays a wreath at Stannington War Memorial in 2015.

Born in Balby, Doncaster, on January 1 1918, he later moved to Sheffield and settled in Woodhouse.

He married his first wife, Muriel, during the war and the couple had three children – Richard, Margaret and Douglas – before they divorced some years later. He was later in a relationship with his partner Marjorie for more than 30 years until her death in 2003. He also had six grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Doug died on Friday, May 5, at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital after a short illness. The funeral will take place at Grenoside Crematorium on a date yet to be fixed. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue will provide a guard of honour at the service.