London Fire Brigade

WWII Firewoman Emily 'Rene' Carter's funeral held in Westminster

15 October 2015

A funeral for a woman who helped protect London from fire during World War II and spent over 40 years in the service was held in Westminster.

Emily Carter, known as Rene, joined the Auxiliary Fire Service just two days before the war with Germany was declared.

Women undertook some training but did not fight fires in the Second World War. Instead they became fire watchers and drivers, managed the communications network and worked in mobile canteen vans.

A rank system for women of the fire service was developed during the war in recognition of their service.

When the war was over and men came back to their jobs, Rene and lifelong friend and colleague Olive, moved to Surrey Fire Brigade where Rene was promoted to Senior Leading Firewoman.

Rene and Olive worked in the control room and when Greater London Council was set up the pair transferred back to the London Fire Brigade.

'Humility' and 'humour'

Harry Simmons, Rene's former control colleague, said: "Condolences on the sad loss to her family in the passing of Rene. I knew of her for about 10 years during the 1970s while I was young control officer making my way in the Brigade.

"I only got to work with her in 1979 and only for a short period. I was temporarily promoted to take charge of an opposite watch.

"But I learnt a great deal from her during that time. Humility, humour, the ability to deal with all people with respect under any circumstances."

Rene lay in St Faith's Chapel in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday and a service was held.

The funeral took place at 11am on Thursday,15 October at St. Stephen's Church, 38-42 Rochester Row, Westminster, SW1P 1LE.

Rene retired from the Brigade on the 3 March 1980. Rene and Olive stay in contact with the Brigade and regularly attended the Brigade's carol service every year.