Brigade honours ‘Britain’s oldest firefighter’ from Clerkenwell

PUBLISHED: 11:00 10 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:32 10 May 2016

Jack, 105, with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Allen Perez

Jack, 105, with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Allen Perez


Fire chiefs threw a special party to honour a Blitz hero from Clerkenwell thought to be the oldest fire service veteran in the world.

Jack and his daughter Pamela, bottom left, with representatives from the Fire ServiceJack and his daughter Pamela, bottom left, with representatives from the Fire Service

John “Jack” Corbett, 105, served in Islington during the Second World War. The event at his Essex care home saw Mr Corbett presented with his service record, dating right back to the day he signed up in 1937, by both London and Essex brigade bosses.

Jack’s daughter Pamela Shrimpton, who was at the ceremony, this week shared some of her father’s memories from his days in Clerkenwell. “Firemen in those days were perceived to be ‘army dodgers’, with the impending war,” she said.

“But of course as things worked out the people that were firemen during the Blitz became real heroes, because of the dangers they faced.”

Deputy assistant commissioner Allen Perez said it was “an honour” to meet Mr Corbett as the brigade celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Jack pictured fighting a fire during the BlitzJack pictured fighting a fire during the Blitz

After the war Jack was moved to Hornsey, and went on to serve until 1965. But it was his memories from the war that stayed with him longest, Pamela told the Gazette.

“Dad’s particular area was Clerkenwell, but it included being familiar with St Paul’s Cathedral,” she said.

“During the time dad was there he went right up to the top and stood within the Golden Cross on top of the dome of St Paul’s.

“He said you could look out right across London and he could see across the docks, all the area that was so heavily bombed during the war.

John 'Jack' Corbett as a young manJohn 'Jack' Corbett as a young man

“For him it was a real experience to stand within that cross. And that experience has stayed with him throughout his life.”

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