IN 1956, as a teenager, I remember standing on Bournemouth beach at about 2pm on a sunny day and watching a cliff fire.

The County Borough of Bournemouth (at that time), fire brigade were on top of the cliff and hardly visible in the thick black smoke produced by the burning gorse. Occasionally the smoke cleared a little and I could see the firemen fighting the blaze.

As I stood below the cliff I thought I saw a fireman fall down the cliff face but I had been too far away to get to the top of the cliff to say what I thought I had seen. Although by that time it would have been far too late, it seemed unbelievable until the next day in the national newspaper I read that S/O Collingbourne had fallen to his death.

It taught me as a 16-year-old to be wary of fire that not only destroys animals and vegetation but can take life.

Firemen, you are to be applauded for your work and prompt actions in such a time as this.


Stinford Close, Bournemouth