A plaque for a firefighter who was killed during the Blitz has been unveiled.
Edwin James Booth was a Stoke firefighter who was deployed to fight fires in Coventry on 14 November 1940. He was injured, along with several members of his crew, and never regained consciousness. He passed away two days later, on 16 November 1940.
He was survived by his wife Edna May Booth, and his two sons Robert, then aged 10, and John, aged 8. At the time of his death Edwin was 38 years old.
Over half of Coventry’s homes (43,000) were either damaged or destroyed in the massive air raid of 14 November 1940. It has been called the ‘single most concentrated attack on a British city in the Second World War’ and lasted for 11 hours.
The plaque was unveiled at Hanley Community Fire Station in Stoke-on-Trent. Edwin was a firefighter in Hanley.
The Fire Brigades Union’s Red Plaque Scheme commemorates firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Jack Lee, FBU Staffordshire brigade chair (acting), said: ‘The Blitz was a horrific time in our country’s history, and 14 November was utterly devastating for Coventry. These would have been extremely challenging circumstances for firefighters to work in, and the bravery of Edwin and his colleagues will have saved many lives. His courage was part of a huge, vital effort in a time of tumultuous conflict. It is vital that we remember individual sacrifices like Edwin’s when we remember the wider horror of wartime, just as it is vital that we remember the wider context of Edwin’s sacrifice when we focus on it.’
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘Edwin lost his life fighting fires on one of the fire service’s most difficult nights in history. The Fire Brigades Union is very proud to play a role in remembering Edwin and what he did. It is absolutely vital that his sacrifice is not forgotten. This plaque will help ensure that.
‘Red Plaques are in prominent locations within communities. The plaques make sure that firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered as people go about their daily lives. It is vital our communities see their links to those who lived before them and gave so much. The plaques also help firefighters feel their own connection with those who served before them and remember those who lost their lives doing so.’
The Red Plaque Scheme is fully funded by proceeds from the weekly Firefighters 100 Lottery which has been able to create several plaques each year since it began in 2017. Over time, as supporters of the Lottery continues to grow, more Red Plaques can be placed at the heart of communities affected by firefighter fatalities.
Edwin James Booth was born and raised in Fenton, Stoke on Trent. When he left school, he became an engineer at the Great Fenton Colliery before he joined Stoke on Trent City Fire Brigade in 1925.