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Report - swanpool fuel depot


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
visited here after a tip off from a freind so couldnt resist over the christmas break. it was bombed on 30th may 1944 at midmight a bomb hit one of the large tanks causing a river a of ignited petrol to run down the hillside . bet that was a sight to see
i did try to put a link up about it . could get it to work oh well
on with the pics
























thanks for looking :thumb


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Stolens from

This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by Rod Sutton on behalf of Mr Bolitho (the author) and has been added to rhe site with his full permission. he fully understands the sites terms and conditions.
At midnight on May 30th 1944 German aircraft attacked the Swanpool Fuel Depot near Falmouth. During the raid a bomb struck one of the large tanks, causing it to rupture and allowing an immense river of ignited petrol, travelling with great rapidity, to pour down the hillside towards the cottages at Swanpool.
Men of the National Fire Service were summoned to the fire, including my brother, John Bolitho, an American Citizen. The German planes were machine gunning the area, so my father, the late Percy Bolitho, informed John that as he was a volunteer he was not obliged to go; however, to his credit, John, then a young man of 17 years, replied that he had volunteered, and therefore must go.
During the attack fire fighting services and their pumps were called from over Cornwall to the scene. However, many of these fire crews were not familiar with the area, so were told to assemble at the fire station at Falmouth Moor. John Bolitho was detailed to guide them to Swanpool. It is an interesting and humorous fact that an American citizen guided the Cornish fire fighters to the conflagration!
After the pumps arrived, John was detailed to a team of fire fighters, and he remained on duty with his fellow NFS firemen until the fire was extinguished the following day. The immediate task was to protect the village by throwing up a water screen between the fire and the houses. The residents were temporarily evacuated and none of the houses were seriously damaged.
Fire fighters used foam to deal with the river of burning petrol. One group, including John Bolitho, directed foam into the burning tank, risking their lives to contain the fire, thus preventing the conflagration from attracting aerial attacks. So great was the heat that the firemen themselves had to be sprayed with water.
A bulldozer, driven by another courageous American volunteer, was used to dam the stream of burning fuel and divert its flow away from the village.
However, so much petrol had soaked into the ground, that even after the stream of burning was contained, and the whole area had been smothered in foam, the enormous heat caused the petrol to vaporize producing deadly ‘flashbacks’ setting the whole area ablaze again.
The firemen also had to contend with pockets of oil, which due to the heat of the inferno, suddenly exploded without warning into towering fireballs of flame, reaching heights of up to 60 or 70 feet in the air.
So close were the firemen to the inferno that one of their pumps with its equipment was destroyed. The NFS firemen worked without a break for 21 hours before the fire was finally extinguished.
By their outstanding bravery and efficiency in containing this vast conflagration, not only were houses and other property saved, but also considerable quantities of fuel. Mr. Herbert Morrison, the home secretary, commended the firemen for their ‘admirable firemanship’.

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