Home front war heroes who protected St Paul’s Cathedral during Blitz honoured in new light show

As well as Smith’s bravery they’ve also highlighted the story of a female firefighter Gillian Wilton-Clark (then Gillian Tanner), who drove a lorry full of petrol into a blazing London, while bombs fell overhead. 

A member of the auxiliary fire service, her vehicle contained 150 gallons of petrol, that would be used to refuel the fire pumps, used to put out the fires at Bermondsey docks. 

By 1942, over 42,000 men and women were serving in the National Fire Service.

Dr Ellin said Mrs Wilton-Clark’s role often required her to take out supplies to firemen, usually “it was cups of tea and sandwiches to keep the men going”. 

But rather than delivering sandwiches on the 20th September 1940 “she was delivering petrol to an area that was still under attack and she took the fuel to the men who were fighting the fires at Bermondsey docks, so this was a massive blaze,” said Dr Ellin.  

He added: “She would have had to have gone on all sorts of different diversions to get round craters in the road and rubble, all during the black out.” 

Both Mrs Wilton-Clark, who in 2016 died aged 96 in Wales and Lieutenant Smith received the George Cross for their bravery. 

The installation is part of Fantastic Feats: the building of London, the City of London’s six-month cultural events season.