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1942 Austin K2 Auxilliary Towing Vehicle
Fire Engine Photos
No: 7391   Contributor: Pete Matten   Year: 2008   Manufacturer: Austin   Country: United Kingdom
1942 Austin K2 Auxilliary Towing Vehicle

1942 Austin K2 Auxilliary Towing Vehicle (GLT 396)of the National Fire Service.Some 4,000 of these vehicles were ordered by the Home Office during the Second World War for the N.F.S.who used them to tow heavy trailor pumps.Based on the 2 ton lorry chassis,they were fitted with utility bodywork accomandating a crew of six,hoses and a 30ft ladder.The Austin K2 units were not designed to carry water,they just carried equipment and crew.

Through bomb and flame,they stood their ground,with just an axe,or branch in hand.
No thought for themselves,just others around,they gave so much,protecting our land.

As bomb after bomb,fell to ground,that terrible noise,that terrible sound. The young and the old,they all did their bit,those very brave firemen,sadly now many dead.

Many have gone,but will not be forgot,for all that they did,and much they could not
They all did their best,in our hour of need,those hundreds of firemen,a very brave breed.

We'll never forget them,and all that they did,to make this world better,and life better to live.
God bless the many,that have sadly now gone,we shall remember them,freedom and peace cannot be wrong.
Picture added on 10 April 2008
add commentComments:

Great restoration, and a good photo.

Would any of our knowledgable readers have this truck's area and station, as represented by the code, under the "NFS" logo ?

Regards, from Canada,

Added by Pat Rivers-Bowerman on 26 August 2008.
Pat, its very difficult to pin point the exact station because records are very difficult to find, area's of each Fire-Force and HQ's are documented. The actual markings on this vehicle (if correct?) shows that it was with 32 Fire Force which covered West Sussex, Surrey and part of Hampshire.The C stands for Division, and the last two number and letter stands for, sub station Z commanded by the main station 3. Each Fire-Force had so many main station's, and under that main station it would have control of no more then 6 sub-stations and so on.This Fire-Force
command centre was in Woking in Surrey.Hope this info is of some help.Pete.

Added by Pete Matten on 07 September 2008.
Who owns this Pete? They may want to know the TrP for this is currently on ebay...


Added by Mike Cotton on 15 December 2008.
Station 32C3Z was Bognor Regis. Not sure if this appliance was actually allocated there or if the owner has used "artistic license".

Added by Dusty on 15 December 2008.
I took this photograph maybe 2/3 years ago and the owners were Barry and Linda
Lambeth from Bognor Regis in West Sussex.Its showing 32-C-3Z.But, it was owned
for many years by Mick Paull and family(Mick's the organizer of Odiham F/Show)
of Odiham and it did have the markings as 14-A-2T.Its actual history was not known by the then owner who restored it in the markings of Odiham Fire Station.
I also have a photo when it was Mick's(14-A-2T)towing Dennis trailer pump with
the markings the same as the Austin K2 ATV.
Barry may well have done some more research on the vehicle now owning it, but
until I see him I really can't say but I straight away noticed that for some
reason my pictures are of the same vehicle, but with different markings????.

Added by Pete Matten on 15 December 2008.
Hi all, when I tried to trace the service life of this vehicle, I had 2 locations from fleetlists. War time I believe was Kirkaldy and post war it came up in Park Street Fire Station in Leeds. 32C-3-Z was indeed the NFS code for Bognor Regis, our home town. The trailer pump on e bay is the Dennis number 2 I sold in favour of a Forest Protection TrP.Anything else I can help with, please e mail.

Added by Barrie Lambeth on 16 December 2008.
Barry, thanks for adding that little bit of information to the vehicle,
there's lots of interest being shown on the NFS period at the moment.

Added by Pete Matten on 17 December 2008.
Barry, my old dad says he rode this very machine whilst it was at Leeds where it towed a pump, he thinks the pump was a Dennis.Apparently it left Leeds and was stored at Yeadon for several years around 1949. Hope this helps but his memory isnt what it was!

Added by John Stott on 17 December 2008.
Hi John, many thanks for that, I hoped one day someone would say that. When Mick Paull bought it, it was green and had doors on the back, other than that we know no history, sadly.Does your dad have any memories of incidents or perhaps the odd tale of the period he could tell? I am currently tracing the history of the fire brigades that make up todays West Sussex F&R, including the AFS and NFS, for the Amberley Museum Fire Station, (which opens with the new season in February)and talking to some of the older retired firemen, there are some interesting stories out there that we should be recording now or they will be lost.If anybody else can help with photos, facts or tales, please e email.I am in the process of setting up a Trust at the museum to protect the collection and confirm its long term survival. If anybody wants to know more, again please e mail, Pete Matten has been visitibg at the Fire Show for some and will I hope be able to give a non biased opinion.Regards to all, Barrie.

Added by Barrie Lambeth on 17 December 2008.
Chaps the Dennis No 2 Trailer pump, complete with GLT396 reg. now is on ebay as we speak - I'm assuming they're not already together - would be nice to see them back together...


Added by Mike Cotton on 17 December 2008.
Barrie, I am having him at Xmas so will show him the pictures to see what he remembers, on the phone he said it took part in mobile column duties with the AFS and that the "new" Bedford pumps replaced them slowly hence storage at Yeadon. If it went to the AFS that would explain the green! Will e mail with anything else he manages to trawl out of his head!

Added by John Stott on 18 December 2008.
Thanks John.Merry xmas.Barrie

Added by Barrie on 18 December 2008.
The Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre at Amberley near Storrington in West Sussex holds its annual Fire Show on the 4th and 5th July,2009.

Added by Pete Matten on 01 July 2009.
Myu father was a member of 32 Fire Force based in Woking, I have a first hand account written by him of a night fire-fighting in the Blitz if it's of interest

Added by Alastair Macfadyen on 15 November 2010.
I would certainly be interested Alastair. Could you send it to my email address if possible please.

Added by Dusty on 15 November 2010.
While on the NFS theme, Amberley Fire Station have purchased the only known surviving hose layer from the NFS period. It is a Fordson 7V and was stationed at Horsham. It is in need of some restoration which will be carried out as funds permit.Barrie.

Added by Barrie Lambeth on 16 November 2010.
I own a similar vehicle. Austin K2 ATV & trailer pump reg. no.GLC 889. Have owned this vehicle with a friend of mine for 40 (yes 40) years. I am based in Devon and the vehicle is seen abuot at rallies in the Summer. Pictures can be supplied.

Added by John Corah on 28 March 2011.
Hi John, I would like to see photos of your ATV if you could post them. Barrie.

Added by Barrie Lambeth on 28 March 2011.
Does anyone have any details or records of NFS stations in Somerset. I believe the county was covered by Fire Force 17. The reason I ask is a couple of weeks ago I visited the Bath Arms Public House in Cheddar and in the car park is a building which bears a very similar construction to those built by the NFS during the war years. I know the existing Cheddar Fire Station was already in existence but could there have been another station?. The building has three bays with an office on the side and is certainly very elaborate and large to be just a garage for the pub. The roller doors are also made out of wood which I'm told was common during the war years due to the shortage of metal and steel.

Added by Paul Pickford on 12 September 2011.
Can anyone help the Leicester city fire brigade museum society as looking for any info or website where I can get some of the story behind a fire engine with the reg gxa 520. Its looks just like the picture above.

Added by John Elliott on 15 June 2012.
In 1948 GXA 520 passed from the NFS to the County Borough of Burton upon Trent Fire Brigade.

Added by Dusty on 15 June 2012.
Thanks Dusty for your reply. We know the fire engine saw service during the WW2 at Coventry during the blitz apart and when the County Borough of Burton upon Trent Fire Brigade painted it red and it was in use until the 70s. It is being restored at the moment. We would like to know a bit more history if anyone has an idea when I can it from.

Added by John Elliott on 16 June 2012.
I can't just locate my slide of GXA 520 at the moment, but I'll put the print that's on the computer on here. It ended its days with Burton-on-Trent as their Chimney Tender.

Added by Ian Moore on 16 June 2012.
Hi just wanted to know where you get parts from for your vehicle thanks.

Added by Arwel on 01 January 2016.
Hi, my mate owns an ATV, reg. No, GGN 676, plus a trailer pump. It is based in Bedfordshire. We go out to local shows and events doing re enactments. I also own an ex NFS vehicle, I bought her from Weedon in Northampton, a couple of years ago. She is a Dodge Q mobile dam unit. Reg. No. GXM 627. When I bought her, her body was in a terrible state, held together with a cargo net, when we took the net off, it just fell apart. She is based at the moment in Northampton, but I am hoping to move her down to Bedfordshire where I can spend more time in rebuilding her into her NFS livery and guise. Another friend of mine is looking at buying another NFS vehicle, an Austin K3 with a pump on the back, but more of that later. So in the not too distant future, between us we will have Three NFS vehicles, plus two trailer pumps to show.

Added by David Battersby. on 31 January 2016.
Hi, I was talking to tho current owner of glt396 at the weekend and should have taken his contact details. If anyone can help please email me


Added by Alan Humphrey on 08 August 2017.
Would you have any idea where Austin K2 GLE 54 was based during the War?

Added by Bill Headley on 28 February 2018.
I have no record of where GLE 54 was based during the War Bill.

Added by Dusty on 01 March 2018.
I think it was based in Coventry and moved to Burton on Trent after where it was modified and painted red.

Added by John Elliott on 01 March 2018.
I think it was at Coventry during the war and it was then moved to Burton on Trent after where it was modified and painted red.

Added by John Elliott on 01 March 2018.

Very interesting that 4000 of these were produced for the fire service. Do you have any comparable information for the numbers of heavy units, extra heavies, escape carriers/pump escapes and/or turntables which were built during the war years?
These K2 ATVs in many cases saw years of postwar service with numerous fire brigades, some of them well into the sixties, not only as fire tenders but in numerous front line and support roles...

Added by Rob Johnson on 01 March 2018.
I think I got the wrong registration. The one I was referring to is at the Leicester fire brigade museum society which I done research on. Sorry for my earlier response.

Added by John Elliott on 01 March 2018.
2, 000 were built in 1941 and by 1943 5, 750 K2 ATV's had been built. The majority with 6ft 9ins wide bodywork but some with 6ft 4ins bodies.Mine (GLC889)has the wider body as has GLT396.

Added by John Corah on 02 March 2018.
Re: ATV's being used for ages. Cardiff City had one on the run from Westgate St. as a Chimney wagon to well into 1960's. In red of course.

Added by Tony (Taff) Madsen on 02 March 2018.
GLE 54 was built in 1941. John Elliott - what makes you think it was in Coventry and then moved to Burton?

It appears in 1944 with the Holland War Agricultural Executive Commission, Boston, Lincolnshire. In 1949 it changes to Lincs Holland Agricultural Executive Commission, Station Road, Kirton, Lincolnshire. It would appear to have been used as a tea/NAAFI van for farm workers in Lincolnshire (not very practical as it's not 4x4).

In 1951 it is then registered to the Secretary of State at The Home Office before going to Belfast Fire Brigade in 1969 which became the Fire Authority for Northern Ireland in 1975. I believe that the Home Office may have placed it in a Reserve and it was deployed to Belfast at the start of "The Troubles". It was the Belfast Fire Brigade who believed it had been with LFB. GLE 54 is now preserved and undergoing extensive restoration work. Any more glimpses of its' past would be most welcome.

Added by Bill Headley on 06 March 2018.
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