The Hull Lift
- Created: 24 October 2013
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The Hull Lift Method
The personnel of the Rescue Service were essentially building trades operatives well versed in constructional work, knowing all about struts and stresses. A few began training as early as January 1939 and in the course of time they mastered every phase of their particular job and were able to give courses to British and American Army Units as well as to Civil Defence and Fire Service men. Their efficiency was such that that their Head Quarters was raised to the standard of a Regional School and a method which they invented of lifting collapsed shelter roof slabs was accepted by the Ministry Of Home Security and circularised throughout the Country as "The Hull Lift Method"
Several hundred incidents were attended, the usual practice being to send two teams of ten men each. The average time to complete the rescues was ten hours, but there were occasions when six parties (sixty men) worked continuously for three or four weeks to make certain that the body of every single person killed had been recovered.
It was not of course work that could be rushed, a hasty act or badly handled pick or shovel could easily bring down an already shaky wall making the condition of the buried worse than before. Tunnels had to be dug and the sides buttressed and men had to crawl and claw their way through soil and clay, with perhaps a leaking gas pipe close at hand and on Winter days and nights lie in water which chilled their very bones. It need cold calculated courage as well as technical skill apart altogether from the fact that much of the work was done while a raid was in progress or during a period when the "Alert" was in operation thus forbidding the use of any worth while light. Even hand torches had to be used with the greatest care.
Altogether thirteen members of the Service were awarded decorations or commended for their services. Had ten times that number been recognised it would not have been too many for the people of Hull, for there were times when these men who followed their ordinary building trade avocation during the day, had to have their clothing dampened to prevent them catching fire.
Fire, Gas, Mud, Water, Falling Buildings, Tunnels, Complete Darkeness all have their terrors as a single units. The men of the Hull Building Trades, organised as Rescue Workers, faced them as a combination and more more often than not successfully accomplished what they had set out to do - Save People from suffocation and death under piles of rubble