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Plaque for forgotten wartime Leeds firefighter

PLAQUE: Relatives of Solomon Belinsky, Sam and Mervyn Brightbart, at The Old Fire Station Gipton. PIC: Gerard Binks
PLAQUE: Relatives of Solomon Belinsky, Sam and Mervyn Brightbart, at The Old Fire Station Gipton. PIC: Gerard Binks
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He was one of the forgotten heroes of Second World War, who volunteered fighting fires in Leeds during air-raid bombings.

Solomon Belinsky, a Russian-born upholsterer from east Leeds, was one of 3,847 men and women who volunteered for the city’s Auxiliary Fire Service in 1940.

Mr Belinsky.

Mr Belinsky.

The volunteer, who died following a Leeds city centre blitz in 1941, has now been honoured with a special plaque that was unveiled in his memory at The Old Fire Station in Gipton, where he served.

Neil Carbutt, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in South Yorkshire, said: “We hope that this small plaque in his honour will ensure that the community in and around old Gipton fire station know the story and sacrifice of Solomon Belinsky for generations to come.”

Leeds suffered nine air-raids during the war, the heaviest on March 15, 1941, when 40 bombers attacked the city centre. The bombs destroyed around 100 homes, killing 65 people.

New research, by Leeds Beckett historian Shane Ewen, has now revealed that just after midnight Mr Belinsky and his Gipton crew were called to Park Row, where they tried to save the city’s museum after it sustained a direct hit.

But the firefighter was injured by a falling bomb, and died 17 days later, leaving behind a widow, Rachel, and four children. Funded by the Firefighters 100 Lottery, the tribute is part of the Red Plaque Scheme, run by the FBU to remember those killed on duty.

It comes as a new documentary, The Firefighters’ Story, has been released, telling the story of the union’s history since its formation in 1918, which includes clips of volunteers tackling air-raid blazes in 1941.