THE “real hero” of the Low Moor explosion has been remembered by the fire service in a ceremony held yesterday.

A framed tribute, to firefighter Robert Forbes, was presented to Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton and Councillor Joanne Dodds at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s headquarters in Birkenshaw.

The tribute, which features drawings done by the daughter of fire brigade historian Chris Smith depicting Forbes' heroic efforts of saving fellow firefighters from the disaster, will now go on display in Oakroyd Hall at the fire service’s headquarters in Birkenshaw.

Fire service historian and WYFRS head of support and performance Chris Smith carried out the research, uncovering the brave story of Robert Forbes.

During the explosion of 1916, fire officer Robert Forbes saved several unconscious firefighters from the fire by risking his own life to carry them to safety.

For his actions, Mr Forbes was presented with the Albert Medal for lifesaving by King George V, the highest honour available at the time to non-armed forces personnel.

Mr Smith said Mr Forbes was “the real hero of the Low Moor explosion”, and only uncovered his story while researching for his book, The History of Bradford City Fire Brigade, that Mr Forbes’ story was uncovered.

“Before researching the history this information was not known or has been lost in time to the current brigade and Bradford as a whole,” he added.

Councillor Joanne Dodds (Labour, Great Horton) sits on the West Yorkshire Fire Authority as one of Bradford Council’s representatives.

She said: “It was lovely to be invited and to give Mr Forbes the recognition for what he did.

“Mr Forbes was injured himself but still went back to pull people out from the fire, and that is what the picture shows.

“His efforts show the real bravery of what firefighters do.

“I think at the time, with the Great War raging on, he didn’t really get the recognition he deserved, he was a hero.

“I want to thank Chris for all the research and effort he has put into learning the history of the fire brigade in Bradford and for bringing Mr Forbes’ story to life so it can now sit with pride of place at the fire service’s headquarters.”

The Low Moor explosion of August 21, 1916, was one of the worst industrial disasters in British history. It happened at Low Moor Munitions Company, formerly the Low Moor Chemical Company.

As firefighters were tackling the blaze, there was a large explosion followed by more large and small explosions, completely destroying the works and causing significant damage to nearby homes, businesses and rail carriages.

The official casualty toll in the explosion was 40 deaths, including six firefighters, and 60 people injured, although many more outside of the works were injured by falling debris and glass.

Last year, to mark the centenary of the disaster, Low Moor Local History Group held talks and a play about the event, books were published about it, and a plaque to commemorate the disaster was installed in the Spen Valley Greenway.