Sheffield blitz fire hero meets crews

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One of the last surviving firefighters to have tackled the Sheffield Blitz met his modern day counterparts during a visit to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Doug Lightning, aged 96, and his granddaughter Julie met staff at headquarters on Arundel Gate, Sheffield.

The great-grandfather was on duty on December 12, 13 and 15 in 1940, when air raids left 693 people dead, destroyed 3,000 homes and made a tenth of the city’s population homeless.

He joined the fire service in 1938, retiring 25 years later.

He said: “The secret to Blitz firefighting, with so much on fire and so little we could do, was to have a plan and prioritise what we could save.

“I particularly remember being called to the Marples building close to where I was based on Snig Hill.

“I stood and looked at the building which was burning fiercely and remember thinking, ‘If we had the men, hoses and water we could put this fire out’ - but we had none of those things.

“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.

“I’ve never been that knackered in my life.”

Doug, who is originally from Balby, Doncaster, was presented with a memento by chief fire officer James Courtney.

Station manager Trevor Bernard said: “It’s hard for anyone now to comprehend what those dreadful nights in Sheffield must have been like, let alone for the firefighters called on to put out fires in the most dangerous conditions imaginable.”