Monday, 3 March 2014

The Blitz

The Albion Park Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade used a 1942 Ford V8 Army Blitz truck to fight fires around the area. The truck was converted to a fire fighting vehicle by one of the mechanics at Max Brewster’s local Albion Park garage.

Unfortunately, the Blitz had not been completed at the time of the terrifying Commercial Hotel fire at Albion Park and as a result the hotel was lost amongst the flames. Members of the volunteer brigade had not been shown how to operate the Blitz and all efforts to put out the blaze failed.

Soon after the famous Commercial Hotel fire, Jim Wilson was appointed Captain of the fire truck and took on the task of finishing the truck by modifying the pumps, belts, hoses and controls. The Blitz attended many fires on local farms, grass fires, and many accidents and fires on Macquarie Pass.

One evening a semi trailer was on fire at Macquarie Pass and the Blitz was called. The truck was pushed to the limit when it was driven up the pass in second gear....and the motor blew up. Claude Harris, Albion Park local volunteer fire fighter and partner in the family garage W. G. Harris and Sons, found another ford V8 motor, fitted it to the Blitz and it ran perfectly from then on.

The Blitz was eventually replaced by a Bedford truck and forgotten about for many years, until to the amazement of the Albion Park locals one of the older volunteer brigade members’ sons was at the country town of Yass NSW, when he saw an old Blitz at a wrecking yard and took some photos. Sure enough it proved to be the old Albion Park No.1 Ford Blitz.

The Blitz was recovered and a committee was formed to raise money to restore the truck. Three Rural Fire Service Life Members worked on the truck from dawn to dusk for three years, and with much help from the local businesses and community, the Blitz truck was restored.

The Blitz is housed at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Museum at the Illawarra Regional Airport Albion Park Rail.

150 Years of Shellharbour, Dorothy Gillis, 2009, The Tongarra Heritage Society Inc.

First fire tender at Albion Park
First fire tender at Albion Park.
Lew Horton's trucks in L R Mood's old garages. A Ford Blitz
Wagon is on the left, a Hillman Panel Van on right.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Warilla Volunteer Fire Brigade
Warilla Volunteer Fire Brigade 1956.
L-r: Stan Drake, Frank Potter, Cliff Edwards, Fred Ward, Jack Maxwell, Wally Voss, Dick Cannon, Brian Smithers, Bill Barker, Bob Cook, Keith Wellard.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.

Oak Flats Bushfire Brigade
Oak Flats Bushfire Brigade
Members of the Oak Flats Bushfire Brigade with their Isuzu Fire Tender.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

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