A FORMER World War II firefighter has been celebrating his 100th birthday with a visit to Solihull Station.
Dennis Bick joined the Auxiliary Fire Service in 1938, just before the start of the Second World War.
First a fireman at Sheldon Action Station, he was quickly promoted to become Company Officer at the main Solihull Fire Station in 1940.
“I enjoyed being part of the service. It was an important part of my life,” said Dennis who attended more than 1,000 plane crashes during the war.
“I served through the Birmingham and Coventry Blitz. It’s an experience that you never forget and never want to see again.
“The night Coventry Cathedral was bombed will always remain in my memory.
“There were 500 bombers over Coventry that night. We went in about 5pm that evening and I came out about lunchtime the following day.
“We didn’t get the appliances out for eight days. It was impossible - there were craters everywhere.
“But it’s a strange thing, going through the war. The things you remember the most are the funny things. Your brain shuts off from the bad.”
Dennis later became Company Officer for the Home Office Fire Brigade in London, before quitting the service in 1946 to resume his career as an architect, at the Ministry of Works.
On October 21, he celebrated his centenary with friends and family at Nuthurst Grange Hotel, before Solihull Commander, Dave Boucher, invited him back to the Station on Tuesday, November 6.
“It’s a privilege and an honour to have such a distinguished former service member back,” said Dave.
Dennis added: “It’s about seventy years since I was here last. When I was here it was quite primitive, just a control room and about six cottages. Now it’s completely transformed.”
The centenarian, who has two daughters, five grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren, lost his wife Audrey in 1996. A keen pianist, he still plays every day.