Bakewell woman gets medal for London fire service role in WWII Blitz
A Bakewell care home resident has been honoured with a medal for her role in the London fire service during the Second World War Blitz.
Bakewell’s first and only female fire officer Alyson Hill, and area service manager Bob Curry visited Burton Closes Hall this week to present the Defence Medal to Doreen Maltz, 95.
Bob said: “It has been a real honour to present Doreen this medal for her dedication to the fire service.”
Doreen signed up to the fire service aged 19 when the war broke out, and received six weeks of training before being posted to the London Red Cross Street fire station.
A gruelling schedule saw her working 48 hours on, 24 off as bombs rained down on the city during the Blitz.
She said: “Some nights were dreadful. Firemen were out all night, half of London was alight. Some ended up at St Barts Hospital; one or two unfortunately died.
“Life went on – you just had to accept the air raid sirens going on. One day incendiary bombs landed on the roof – it was my day off, but one of the other fire women went up to the roof and put out the fires with stirrup pumps. She was given the OBE after the war.”
Doreen also spent over a year at Saxmundham Fire Station in Suffolk after the US had taken over an airfield nearby.
When she moved to Burton Closes Hall, on Haddon Road, in 2016, she talked to manager Carl Fisher about her experiences in the war.
Carl has since become a town councillor, but he began researching Doreen’s story and discovered she was eligible for the medal, which was created in 1945 to recognise British and Commonwealth civilian service.
Current home manager Hazel Jones said: “It has been an honour to help fulfil Doreen’s wish to receive this medal.”
After the war ended, Doreen worked as a bus conductor, then a machinist in her father’s workshop.
She also joined the Red Cross, volunteered in hospitals, worked on the cheese counter at Sainsbury’s and ran a drapery shop in north London until she retired.