The deaths of two Birmingham firefighters – one believed to be the only in the UK ever to have died trying to rescue a colleague – have been marked exactly 100 years on.
Herbert Dyche (pictured below, left), who was stationed in Highgate, perished trying to save Acting Station Officer Alfred Moon.
Moon, based in Aston, had himself been trying to rescue two workmen following a major leak at Saltley Gas Works. Tragically, his efforts were in vain.
On 26 February 1919 there was a serious leak of ‘town gas’ during repairs at the site. Two workmen were overcome by the fumes.
Station Officer Moon was with the first crew to arrive. He entered using breathing apparatus which failed to protect him.
Dyche defied warnings about the risks and managed to reach the three. Tragically, his breathing apparatus then also failed him.
Today, 26 February 2019, the pair were remembered with a minute’s silence at our headquarters in Birmingham.
John Agar, a volunteer with our own Heritage Group, said: “A year afterwards, both Moon and Dyche were posthumously awarded the Meritorious Medal of the Professional Fire Brigades Association.
“Both men were honoured with brigade funerals. Moon was interred at a cemetery in Shustoke, while Dyche’s grave in Yardley remained unmarked until 1994 when West Midlands firefighters raised funds for a memorial.”
Unfortunately, the gravestone has since fallen into disrepair. Our Heritage Group are currently exploring the cost of having it reinstated.
Please click here to read a longer account of the incident, written by John Agar, a volunteer with our Heritage Group.