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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Possible events for 2015

2015 looks like being a rather special year. We have the 75th anniversaries of Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation in May, followed by 75th anniversaries of the Battle of Britain in the Summer, and the Blitz in the Autumn. Of course, the London Blitz ran from 7th September to 29th December (and continuing in fits and starts until 21st May the following year), punctuated by Coventry on 14th November, followed a few days later by 10 days of raids on Birmingham, and Sheffield 12th/15th December.

We also have the 70th anniversary of the V2 rockets, which landed on London and further afield between September 1944 and February 1945. But the main action was the liberation of Europe, with the bombing of Dresden on 14th February, the deaths of Hitler and Mussolini in April, and the long-awaited victory in Europe on 8th May. There were the nuclear bombs in Japan on 6th and 9th August followed by the Japanese surrender on 14th August, finally bringing the fighting of the war to a close.

Sadly, far from the war winding down, there was much pain and suffering right up to the very end.

So what of events?

The regular Chesterfield event in February or March has been cancelled for next year.

Always a nice start to the season is the Historical Bazaar at Rufford over the 25th/26th April.

There is a major event at Margate to commemorate Operation Dynamo from Wed 20th to Mon 25th of May, which would be nice to go to with the Mobile Canteen, and join with the Heroes with Grimy Faces, it being their ‘home patch’.

The Great Central Railway have their 1940s weekend on 5th-7th June, which will obviously have a ‘Victory’ feel, although it could have a ‘Battle of Britain’ theme.

The Emergency Services Heritage Show at Newark Showground on 4th/5th July will be a great opportunity for a big green AFS display using Green Goddesses, RL Trucks, Land Rovers, Motorbikes, and lots of 6″ hose and tons of water. Should be a wartime display opportunity as well.

Kelham Island have just confirmed the date for their 40s event in July, but we have to miss it this year, as it clashes with Woodhall Spa.

Hot on the heels of this show is our big one of the year, at Woodhall Spa on 17th-19th July. Despite the ‘Victory’ theme, can we please have an air raid as well?

We do not know if Retford will continue following the major washout last year, but a town-centre event would be nice.

Following a lull, the Blitz returns to Rufford on 26th/27th September, with the last main 1940s event of the season at Papplewick Pumping Station usually around 10th/11th October.

We could make a first visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Wartime Weekend, on 16th-18th October.

We understand that Nottingham Central Fire Station is due to close possibly next year, or more likely in 2016 – it would be nice to do something to commemorate its passing if possible.

Likewise, it would be good to mark the Coventry (Sat 14th), Sheffield (Sat 12th Dec) and London (Tues 29th Dec) Blitz anniversaries.

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Photos of the ‘Salute to the Forties’ at Chatham Historic Dockyard 2014

Although a long way, we decided to join our friends the ‘Heroes with Grimy Faces‘ and take the mobile canteen, which was very well received.

During the weekend, the Picture Post came and did a photo shoot of the inside of the canteen, and of firemen and women gathered round for refreshments after a shout.

Some photos and an article appear in the current edition of the Picture Post.

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Papplewick 2014 photos

Papplewick - Simon Bailey (3)We took a small crew and the Turntable Ladder, and the K2 and a pump. The TL was demonstrated, but without water, as it was a bit breezy on Saturday. On Sunday, the wind got up and we were not able to do anything with the TL. We also had the mobile canteen, which was very well received.

However, on both days, we ran the pump with a variety of different branch and nozzle combinations. A popular one was with a 1-inch nozzle, with the branch supported by our new branch-holder, which we acquired just a couple of weeks earlier.

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Talk from Church Parade at Papplewick

Bible Reading John 4

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

Now Jesus had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

The Water of Life

In the film Schindler’s List one of the many harrowing holocaust scenes shows a group of Jewish prisoners stripped and sent into a shower block. They look apprehensively at the shower nozzles to see what will come out – they have all heard rumours of the gas chambers and wonder of this is the end. Suddenly water comes out of the nozzles – this is not the gas chamber after all – it really is a shower – and they rejoice in the water as it flows over them.

So here we are at Papplewick Pumping Station, built by the Victorians to pump water out of a deep well, to provide safe, clean water for the people of Nottingham.  750 million people today still do not have access to safe, clean water, which is about 1/10th of the world’s population.

And into this world comes Jesus – And he talks to a woman at the well – we can identify with her easily, because she is like us, She is a sinner – that is clear – But we also suspect that she is, like most of us who have fallen low, she is also herself a victim.

And Jesus says to her:
“I will give you the water of life”

Not just physical water but that water of eternal life
which will overcome

  • every sin,
  • every brutality,
  • every abuse of power,
  • every act of terror –
  • it will even overcome death and the gas chamber itself,

for it is the water of eternal life.

What is this Water of Life, that wells up within us, and overflows out? It is the Spirit of God – that life that brings out the best in all of us, that inner strength, the desire to live, and love, and bring out all that is lovely and good. It is the Spirit of God, which, like fresh clean water, brings new life, brings healing into our land, and our lives.

Thinking about the Water of Life, where does it flow?  Does it flow just in the high places, amongst the mountain tops and the Church steeples, amongst the great and the good?

No, water flows downhill, and if today you feel downcast, never the mind how low you fall, for the water of life will always be like a stream tumbling into the very bottom of the valley, making its way surely to the lowest place.

And if you are in a low and dark place,
there will the water of life assuredly come.

Praise God for the water of life

  • Let’s drink it
  • Lets cherish it
  • Lets share it.
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Just a short note to say that we are taking the K2 with a pump, the Mobile Canteen and the Turntable Ladder. Additionally, we may take the Pump Escape on Sunday if there is any prospect of doing some training with the escape (as Papplewick is one of very few locations where we can get the Escape to work).

We will do some demonstrations with the pump and TL, which will also provide a crew training opportunity.

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Church Parade at Rufford Abbey – Liberation from Tyranny

Bible Reading John 3 v 13-18

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Rufford Church ParadeTalk by David Moore

Seventy years ago last month, Paris was liberated. D-Day have happened a few months earlier, in June 1944, and the Allied Armies were sweeping through Northern France, with the Germans in retreat. There was no longer the dreaded Gestapo spying on one’s every move. The ordinary French people no longer lived in fear of imprisonment or execution for defying the German tyranny. They no longer were ordered what to do by the hated foreign invaders. Liberation changed people’s lives, and gave them freedom.

execution by firing squadBut there was a price. Many of the Free French who had resisted the Germans died fighting, or were executed. But it was worth it, because the terror was taken away.

Most of the time.

Because there were pockets of dogged German resistance. Despite knowing that the tide of the war had turned, and that they stood no chance of victory, they still fought on.

wwii-hitler-in-paris-et-2x1They still caused pain and damage. They had done a lot of damage to London with the V1 flying bombs, but now most of the launch sites had been overrun by the allies. The Allied Liberation prevented the Nazi forces continuing their vengeful damage.

And many years before that, another three Allies brought a long-planned liberation into action. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, had seen the suffering that sin had brought. The Trinity knew the fear and damage that was caused by people doing what they knew was wrong. Jesus brought liberation to the world. In fact, he also bought that liberation, at a price. And this was the price:

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus died. He paid the ultimate sacrifice, just as many Free French and Allied soldiers had done 70 years ago. The Gospel goes on,

God so loved the WorldGod did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Being a Christian is not about being ‘holier than thou’, or having all the answers, but accepting the free gift that God gives. And that free gift is liberation.

But there are still pockets of resistance. Although evil is defeated, like the Germans 70 years ago, they don’t accept defeat, and so in this life there is still pain and heartache. And some of that resistance is from within, 5th columnists, the traitors within. We ourselves still do things we regret. But the good news is that the enemy is defeated, and in Jesus, there is forgiveness and a new start. With Jesus, we are condemned no more, but given the true freedom of living a life of love and purpose.

As John Newton wrote all those years ago,

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.


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Photos of Air Raid at Rufford, Sept 2014

We have just received a report from the ARP wardens as follows:

The Abbey - Mervyn Stevens

The Abbey – Mervyn Stevens

At around 2:20pm we received word from our colleagues in Leicester that a doodlebug had passed overhead, and was approaching us. At 400mph, it would be with us in around 10 minutes. We scoured the skies, and sounded the alarm. We heard it approach, and cut out so we know it would be close. In fact, Rufford Abbey took a direct hit. There was an event on there involving armed forces as well as civilian families, so the race was on to evacuate the walking wounded and get them into the care of the WVS, who luckily were already present at the event.

ARP warden leads a family to safety - John Lee

ARP warden leads a family to safety – John Lee

A couple of families got out safely, but as the roof collapsed, an elderly couple were badly injured, as was a middle-aged man. There was a lot of blast damage, and the abbey building is now a complete wreck, but luckily there was only a small fire. The NFS had heard the V1 from some distance away, and were already near us when it landed, and they were on the scene within minutes. They used the TL to get water onto the fire, as well as hand-held branches. An ambulance arrived very quickly, and the two casualties were loaded.

A casualty is lowered from the building in a Neil Robertson rescue stretcher - John Lee

A casualty is lowered from the building in a Neil Robertson rescue stretcher – John Lee

The NFS crew went into the building with rescue equipment in search of the third casualty, and eventually found him buried under rubble and in a very bad way. A Neil Robertson rescue stretcher was called for, and eventually the casualty was lowered down. But the shock was too much, and he passed away at the scene. A doctor pronounced him dead, and to avoid demoralising the gathered crowd, the corpse was hastily put into the back of the NFS K2 van and taken away to the local mortuary.

Firemen bring out an injured colleague - John Lee

Firemen bring out an injured colleague – John Lee

While searching through the rubble, a pocket of leaked gas exploded, seriously injuring Fireman Townsley, who was brought out and carried to First Aid, suffering from wounds and serious burns to the chest and face.

Civilian casualty and injured fireman arrive at the field hospital - John Lee

Civilian casualty and injured fireman arrive at the field hospital – John Lee

The casualties were treated jointly by the Red Cross and the St John Ambulance crew who were nearby. All the Civil Defence staff joined the NFS for a cuppa afterwards.

But I don’t think the Abbey will ever be the same again.

Thanks to John Lee, Mick Hill, Robert Blincow, Martin Clewlow and Merv Stevens for the photos.

Posted in 1940s Events, 7V PE, GGN802, Air Raid, Beresford Stork Trailer Pump, K2 ATV GLT676, K4 TL GXN215, Mobile Canteen | Tagged | Leave a comment

Rufford Abbey Air Raid timeline

Important note for all participants: Briefing at 10:30 in the Turning Circle (Saturday)

Start at 2:30 (Both Days)

  • Siren is start of scenario.
  • End of siren is cue for start of V1 approach sound.
  • ARPs look to the sky, and point to the approaching bomb. Try to all look in the same direction!


  • Uninjured evacuees come out as directed by ARP, to WVS rest centre. Because this is before the arrival of the appliances, and as the rest centre is a safe area, untrained people can participate.
  • Wendy first seriously injured casualty. Staggers dramatically, frets about Norman, faints, assisted by ARP and nurse, transferred to stretcher by ARP.

Firemen arrive and put out the fire

  • Firemen arrive:
  • Fordson PE (nose to dam) to get water on ASAP
  • Ambulance arrives and turns round. Parks out of the way facing ramp by field hospital.
  • K2 and pump to park by PE. Drop pump. Turn round to face ramp.
  • TL to position for rescue
  • May do short squirt from TL (to be decided).
  • ARP report further persons missing inside
  • Firemen into building with tools
  • Water off and silence
  • Casualty found, Neil Robertson stretcher taken in, TL prepared for rescue.
  • Hoses can be made up at this stage by anyone at a loose end – it will save time later


  • Once the small fire is out, the injured casualties start to emerge.
  • Norman, Will and Di eventually emerge. Norman between shoulders of 2 firemen. Likewise Di. Scope for First Aid by ARP, doctor, nurse etc.


  • John calls to say that casualty is now in NR stretcher ready for lowering.
  • Rescue line is lowered from pulley block by fireman at ladder head
  • Casualty is lowered. On reaching the ground, it is carried round TL to be visible.
  • Doctor pronounces casualty dead at scene, covers with blanket
  • Corpse (still in NR stretcher) carried to K2. K2 departs to mortuary.


  • Ambulance is summoned by messenger
  • Ambulance reverses into place centre stage. Casualties loaded.
  • Ambulance departs, and waits in turning circle

Firemen and Monty/Churchill

  • By this stage, hose should be made up.
  • K2 arrives back after ambulance leaves
  • ARP and Firemen fall in for inspection line
  • Dignitary arrives.
  • Inspection
  • 3 cheers
  • Dignitary departs.
  • Fall out
  • Vehicles depart
  • This is the end of our 30-minute slot

Casualty treatment at field hospital (3:00pm)

  • Ambulance returns from turning circle. We are now no longer at the air raid scene, but at the field hospital some way away.
  • Eventplan stewards remove the crowd barrier so people can get close to the action
  • The field hospital is adjacent to the WVS rest area and the mobile canteen. Sympathy and tea is dispensed
  • The St John Ambulance nurses tend the casualties.
  • Monty or Churchill visit the work and congratulate the staff, and encourage the wounded.
  • When complete the casualties ‘rise’, and take a curtain call. (Approx 3:15)
Posted in 1940s Events, 7V PE, GGN802, Air Raid, ARP, Casualties, First Aid, K2 ATV GLT676, K4 TL GXN215, Mobile Canteen, Police, Re-enactor info, WVS | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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