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The British Police Constabulary had a tough job during the Second World War. In addition to their peacetime duties of law and order, a job made more difficult by the blackout and petrol rationing, they also they also had to work closely with Civil Defence workers during and after air raids. The sounding of sirens was the duty of the police, any officers who were off duty would report for duty at the sound of the siren. During the raid the police handled reports of bombs and emergency communications, via their network of direct-line police boxes. (The 999 telephone service was not implimented until after the war and there were no handheld radios) In the first two years of the war the police were also responsible for assisting the fire brigade in fire fighting and rescuing casualties. The police also prevented looting from bomb damaged buildings, black market trading and shared responsibility with the army for recovering any escaped prisoners of war.
The police were also responsible for national security, they helped to protect key local installations and monitored foreigners or "aliens" in case they were spies or saboteurs. In addition to the laws of the land a whole new set of regulations were brought in for the duration of the war. The police were responsible for the issue of gas masks, ensuring that they were correctly fitted and carried at all times. They also visited schools to undertake gas drills and educate children to the dangers of unexploded bombs, butterfly bombs and shrapnel.
The many police officers were on active service in the armed forces, leaving the constabulary staffed by only the older officers. To fill this gap the war reserve police was set up, many retired officers returned to work and men from the reserved occupations were recruited as special constables. Boys bewteen the ages of 14 and 18 were recruited as Police Auxilliary Messangers. Their role was to assist the police with communications by delivering messages on foot or on bicycle.
If you served with the Police Force during World War Two we would love to hear from you.
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As 2005 is the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two, we are celebrating by extending the Wartime Memories Project to collect as much material as possible. If you or any of your family or friends would like to contribute we would love to hear from you.
If you live in the UK we may be able to arrange to have our professional video crew record the telling of wartime stories, to create a lasting resource which will be used for education.
We would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in taking part.
I am delighted to discover this interesting website! My "uncle" (actually my father's cousin), Frank Innes-Bruton, served very proudly as a police "special" during WW2 and on into the years following. Being a Special meant a great deal to him and gave him a sense of pride and satisfaction.
Are there any records of the men who served in this way? For the matter of family history I would like to any other details available.
List of those who served in the Police Force.
- Sgt Harry Barrett
- Edward Besley. (Special War Reserve Constable Glamorgan Constabulary)
- Sgt Gordon S Bleackley
- Acting Sergeant Buckle. (Feltwell)
- Sgt Thomas Carter. (Kenley)
- Special Constable Fred Chipperfield (Ipswich) Read his story
- PC David Davies (Glamorgam Constabulary)
- PC Bill Dummer. (Glamorgam Constabulary) Read his story
- Chief Superintendent David Emlyn Evans B.E.M. (Glamorgam Constabulary) Read his story
- Chief Inspector Edward Greeno. (London)
- Special Constable Christopher G Hinge.
- PC. Arthur W Howard. (Norfolk) Read his story
- Chief Constable Joseph Jones (Glamorgam Constabulary)
- Special Constable William C Joyce. (Renhold in Kempston)
- Frank Innes-Bruton. Read his Story
- Special Constable Matthew Layzell. (North Shields) Read his story
- Inspector David Mainwaring (Glamorgam Constabulary) Read his story
- PC Charles Memory (London)
- Special Constable Walter Murray
- Special Constabulary Inspector Joseph Stuart (North Shields) Read his story
- Special Constable Clifford C Thomas (Devonshire)
- Inspector Gwillym Williams (Swansea Police) Read his story
- PC Dick Willis. (Plymouth)
If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.
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