Sunday, 17 January 2016

Postman's Park (39): saving adults from fire



Not only children but also adults at risk from fire have prompted incredibly heroic and determined rescue efforts. We have already seen how Police Constables Robert Wright of Croydon and George Funnell of Hackney, and firemen Joseph Andrew Ford and George Lee, died in similar attempts; Sarah Smith maybe did or didn't attempt to put out a fellow dancer's burning dress.

The efforts of one Mrs Yarman (her name was in fact Mary Jarman) were astonishing, if ultimately doomed. When she and her husband awoke to find their house on fire at two in the morning, they managed to get downstairs through the flames. However, as soon as Mrs Jarman remembered that her 77-year-old mother (or mother-in-law) was still sleeping upstairs, she was determined to save her. She crawled through thick smoke up the stairs, but her husband pulled her back halfway. He then rushed out for help, and as soon as he was gone she made two more attempts. The second time, her husband found her and had to drop her unconscious body to safety through a window before jumping himself. Three days later, she died from her burns; the old lady also died in the fire. It is perhaps particularly sad that although her husband's name and occupation are recorded on the plaque, her own are not.

MRS YARMAN, WIFE OF GEORGE YARMAN LABOURER AT BERMONDSEY, REFUSING TO BE DETERRED FROM MAKING THREE ATTEMPTS TO CLIMB A BURNING STAIRCASE TO SAVE HER AGED MOTHER DIED OF THE EFFECTS MARCH 26 1900


George Frederick Simonds showed similar bravery although his rescue attempt and death were swifter. He was a general dealer in Prebend Street, Islington (and, John Price points out, actually called Frederick George Simons) and friends with Mrs Corke, an elderly widow who lived nearby. When he saw that her house was on fire, he immediately rushed in to save her but became overwhelmed by smoke. He did make an attempt to escape from the staircase window but missed his footing and fell eighteen feet into the yard below. Meanwhile, Mrs Corke had escaped from the back of the house.

GEORGE FREDERICK SIMONDS OF ISLINGTON RUSHED INTO A BURNING HOUSE TO SAVE AN AGED WIDOW AND DIED OF HIS INJURIES, DEC 1 1886.


James Bannister rushed into a burning draper's shop in Bow to rescue a shop assistant overcome by smoke. The business was a large one, spreading over three buildings but with only one exit, and the conflagration correspondingly impressive. Bannister was a labourer at the auction rooms opposite, and rushed in to save people - but was later found dead, overcome by fumes, a few feet from the similarly-overcome body of window-dresser Henry Ludlow.

JAMES BANNISTER OF BOW, AGED 30, RUSHED OVER WHEN AN OPPOSITE SHOP CAUGHT FIRE AND WAS SUFFOCATED IN THE ATTEMPT TO SAVE LIFE, OCT 14 1901.

Finally, returning to the theme of men in uniformed service with which we began, John Slade was a private in the Royal Fusiliers. This was a local infantry regiment formed in 1685, also known as the City of London Regiment. However, unlike the firemen and police officers killed in the line of duty, Slade was off-duty when he rushed into his own home to save others from fire; he too died in the attempt.

JOHN SLADE, PRIVATE 4TH BATT ROYAL FUSILIERS OF STEPNEY, WHEN HIS HOUSE CAUGHT FIRE SAVED ONE MAN AND DASHING UPSTAIRS TO ROUSE OTHERS LOST HIS LIFE, DEC 26 1902.




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