Like to try re-enacting? Interested in NFS history? Like vintage vehicles? Interested in WW2 events? Like to have a go? Then why not join us? Have a look at ‘About Us’, and get in touch. Email:

Recent videos of us in action: Woodhall Spa Air Raid (2013) by Tricky Imp, Rufford Air Raid (2013) and by Ian Beck,  Lowdham Floods 2012, Crich Tramway Museum 2012.  newsreel of the air raid at Rufford by Ian Beck. James Walker made this video at Rufford 2012 using a tiny camera attached to his person whilst he went up the ladder! Our current leaflet is here: NFS Vehicles Group recruiting with 2014 events, and has the events list on the back.

You can contact us at or call David on 0115 9664938.

We are pleased to be associated with Home Front History. Visit their website

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Decontaminating our gas masks

Having read about the possible dangers of asbestos in WW2 gas mask filters, we decided it was time they were decontaminated to make them safe.

Removed fire pads

Removed fire pads

In fact, provided the filter is in reasonable condition, it should be perfectly safe. In service-issue gas masks (as opposed to the civilian-issue) there is a fibrous material resembling cotton wool in a number of layers, each layer sandwiched between two perforated metal plates.. Then there is a thick layer of activated charcoal chippings, sandwiched under pressure between two heavy-duty mesh barriers, with fabric and cotton wool to strain out any particles.

However, the argument is that given the fact that we do not know what has happened to it in the last 70 years, it could have got wet, and the barriers could have rusted through and be about to disintegrate.

Removed charcoal and gauze.

Removed charcoal and gauze.

So the bottom of the can was de-soldered and the plates and fibre removed, using a soapy spray on the fibre before starting to make sure that there were no airborne particles.  Next, the charcoal was removed, and the inside of the can carefully inspected for stray fibres. To make absolutely certain that no fibre could possibly escape, the insides of all the cans were then coated in varnish, which was liberally applied, and poured out ensuring that any remaining particles are fully encapsulated. The base was soldered back on, and the can repainted.

Two cans were treated differently. One was in such nice original condition that we decided not to damage it, but to seal any fibres permanently inside. This was done by pouring a large quantity of epoxy resin into the side air vents of the can, and ensuring that it covered all of the inside areas. Any fibres would then be trapped in.

The sectioned can showing internal construction.

The sectioned can showing internal construction.

The final one was decontaminated as above, but the perforated plates were also decontaminated and varnished. The can was then carefully re-assembled using cotton wool with layers of different lengths, to show the can in section so we can see its construction.

Civilian-issue cans cannot easily be dismantled, so these were sealed with epoxy resin.

We have a certificate from an asbestos contractor for the safe disposal. We can now, hand on heart, say that all our gas masks are safe.

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On the Home Front at Rufford Abbey, 27/28 September

The NFS & AFS Vehicles Group are again staging a major air raid on the old abbey Rufford Air Raid 2013buildings, with sirens, V1 approaching, ARP clearing the street,  a single big explosion, civilians evacuated by ARP, the NFS tackling the fire, WVS assisting with evacuees, medics treating casualties, casualties to stretchers and into ambulance. 2:30-3pm. (Being the 70th anniversary of 1944, we will use a V1 doodlebug soundtrack instead of our usual bombers.)

As doodlebugs did a lot of damage, but often didn’t start a fire, or only a small one, we will just have a single hose playing onto the fire, which is quickly put out. The Turntable ladder will be used to rescue a casualty from  high window.

Rufford Air Raid 2013Another new feature planned for this year is to have the ambulance drive off round the turning circle as the NFS clear up, ending the display. The ambulance will then re-appear arriving at the Field Casualty Station, to allow a display of treating a casualty by the St John Ambulance nurses. 3:00pm-3:15pm.

All NFS, ARP, Home Guard and Police, WVS and civilians, casualties, medics and ambulance reenactors are invited to take part. Note that to take part, we request you:

Casualties by Paul Herrmann (2)Woodhall Spa air raid by Mick HillWendy and Norman Brown will be the stretcher case ‘bloody casualties’, but we invite any other civilian or uniformed re-enactors to have cuts, bruises and grime makeup to make the evacuation of the Abbey more realistic. Bring a tatty shirt or blouse that can be dirtied if you can.

Posted in 1940s Events, Air Raid, Dennis No2 TA Trailer Pump, K2 ATV GLT676, K4 TL GXN215, Mobile Canteen, Re-enactor info | Tagged | Leave a comment

Newstead Abbey Fire Event 31 August

20140831_110727The East Midlands branch of the FSPG brought together a number of historic fire engines to make an impressive display as part of the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue open day at Newstead Abbey. It was very interesting to compare modern and historic equipment side-by-side.



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Woodhall Spa photos

There are some really great photos from the air raids from Mick Hill that have just been published.



Hope you enjoy them, even if you weren’t there!

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Retford War weekend, 9-10 August

We are taking the Turntable Ladder, the K2 and a couple of pumps – the Large Dennis, and the Beresford Stork, as well as the Mobile Canteen.

On Saturday, we will be doing pumping demonstrations and training, and hope to get the Turntable Ladder up a couple of times. On Sunday, the NFS will deal with a stray V1 doodlebug which comes down in the Market Square.


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Air Raid at Woodhall Spa

Somehow the Germans got wind of an important visitor to Woodhall Spa over the weekend of 19th and 20th July 1940, and mounted a hit-and-run air raid on the Golf Hotel where the VIP was expected.

Woodhall Spa air raid by Henry James (33)A lone bomber passed over a few times, dropping a mixture of High Explosives and Incendiary bombs. Luckily, the HE bombs did little damage to the hotel, although the incendiaries started a significant fire. The telephones were also knocked out of action. Woodhall SpaAs the fire took hold, the ARP wardens evacuated a number of people with minor injuries, but eventually concluded that two people were missing, confirmed by witnesses that they were still in the building. As luck would have it, an Army despatch rider saw what happened as he was passing, and called in to render assistance. He was sent to the local fire station to summon help, which arrived in just a few minutes.

Woodhall Spa air raid by Henry James (18)A Turntable Ladder was used as a water tower, so a big jet of water could be sent onto the burning building using a trailer pump. Other firemen got two lines from the front-mounted pump on a Fordson Pump-Escape, and directed jets of water to the seat of the fire near the front door of the hotel.

Woodhall SpaAs soon as the fire was under control, an elderly couple were found badly injured in the hotel, and were brought out on stretchers and treated before being taken to the waiting ambulance.

Once the ‘All Clear’ was sounded, a car escorted by a guard of motorcyclists pulled into the hotel. It can now be revealed that the VIP was none other than the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill himself. Woodhall SpaHaving escaped this attempt on his life, he inspected and congratulated the hard-working firemen and civil defence staff that had so bravely fought the fire. He also gave a rousing speech to the assembled crowds, in which he said that, following the recent rescue of the BEF from Dunkirk, he expected the Battle of Britain to commence.

Woodhall Spa air raid by Henry James (29)There was another attempt on Mr Churchill’s life later that evening, when another lone bomber had engine trouble, and crashed nearby without managing to drop the bomb load. A single airman bailed out, but got caught in a tree, also near the Golf Hotel. Many people attending a dance there came out to watch the National Fire Service use the Turntable Ladder to lower the German down from the tree, while onlookers accused him of ‘bombing our chippy’. Sadly he broke his neck in the incident, and was pronounced dead at the scene, although members of the armed forces were on hand to arrest him, had he lived.

It is thought that over 50 people were involved in the air raid, including the NFS, ARP, Civil Defence, WVS, motorcyclists, medical staff, casualties and technical services.

Many thanks to: Mick Hill (Ministry of Information), Henry James, John Lee and Paul Herrmann for taking the photos. Also thanks to the Officers of the National Fire Service, without whom this would not have been possible.



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Air Raid at Kelham Island, Sheffield, this weekend

We are planning to take the Turntable Ladder (which is currently round the corner at the National Emergency Services Museum) and a trailer pump to Kelham Island Industrial Museum for their 1940s event this weekend (12/13th July).

A lone bomber drops some bombs on the factory just across the water from the museum, and the NFS respond by setting a pump into the river, and pumping water to a ground monitor, or the ladder monitor, onto the burning building opposite.

If available to take part, please contact David Moore ASAP, by phone or email to

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Particpants Briefings for Woodhall Spa

ARP and Police
Although there are several pages in this briefing, it is not all stuff that you need to know off the top of your head. Some of it is  a check list of uniform and equipment and other parts are for information about the sequence of events in the display. As with last year, if you have  a specific role to play at a specific time, this is stated in the text where your name is in bold. These are the bits that we need you to know. ARP & Police – Woodhall Spa 19.7.14

There is  a separate briefing document for the NFS crews and one for the NFS officers which combines everything (and some other bits) all in one. NFS Crews briefing – Woodhall Spa 19 7 14

Health and Safety
Please see our safety page and read the relevant sections of the NFS-AFS Risk Analysis V3.

Please let me know if you have any questions about these briefing and I will reply as soon as I can.
Dave Needham, Officer-in-Charge

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Derby Emergency Services Show cancelled 14-15 June

Sadly, the Derby Emergency Services Show is cancelled, as the grounds at Elvaston Castle are already waterlogged, with a lot more rain forecast over the next week.

That is a real shame, and completely gutting for all those who have put in so much work to organise it, and it means that the green vehicles won’t get much of a run this year.

There is a small upside, though, in that we will now be able to spend the whole weekend at the Great Central Railway 1940s weekend based at Quorn Station.

Because of space considerations, we won’t know till we get there on the Friday how much space there will be, and whether a full-scale air raid is practical. However, we certainly will be doing a small air raid, in which a young girl in the crowd just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and gets hit by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb dropped by a lone raider. If we can run a pump, we certainly will. The Turntable Ladder will be demonstrated.

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Pre-season preparations

Had a productive day today with Michael. Almost completed painting the inside of the Mobile Canteen, and then we went on to testing pumps. We inflated one of the recently acquired 2,500-gallon dams, with the intention of pumping water into it to try it out.

The Beresford initially wouldn’t start, until we noticed that the spark plugs were all removed! Drain plugs all replaced, and we eventually started it, but on two cylinders. Two plug leads were swapped, and that made it work properly again. Good suction, but it remains difficult to start when warm.

We moved on to the Coventry Climax FSM pump, but could not get that to raise any vacuum, until we found a bolt missing. It was rather inaccessible, but refitted it. Then the pipe feeding cold water to the heat exchanger came loose. Luckily, that was an easy repair. but we did not get round to pumping any water.

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