“Everything is so dazzlingly beautiful that I feel like the Disciples did at the Transfiguration”

Stanley Spencer had made it home.

Fernlea, Cookham
December 16th, 1918

Dear Flongy

I received your letter today darling; your call for me. Oh everything is so dazzlingly beautiful that I feel like the Disciples did at the Transfiguration. I believe I could even go as far as to kiss Col Ricardo or Dr Batchelor but I don’t think they would quite understand.

Well, I will come if you don’t hear to the contrary on Friday 20th. I feel rather tired dear just now, but everybody says how well I look & seem too pleased to see me.

Your loving brother
Stanley

Letter from Stanley Spencer to Florence Image (D/EX801/110)

German PoW on the run “is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding”

Three Germans PoWs on the run were foiled by the brave actions of a Berkshire policeman and three Special Constables.

6 July 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE

Lt-Col Poulton attended the Committee and stated that he had been absent from his Police work for three years, and he thought it was time he returned to such work; that his Army work was now so organized that it could be easily carried on by some other officer; and that he had now reached the age of 60; and suggested that the Secretary of State be asked to apply to the War Office for his relase from Army Service to enable him to resume his duties as Chief Constable of the County, as from 31 August, 1918.

Resolved:
That the Secretary of State be asked to make the application to the war Office as suggested.

Resolved also on the motion of the Chairman [J. Herbert Benyon] and seconded by Sir R. B. D. Acland, knight: That the very best thanks of the Committee be accorded to Col. Ricardo for services rendered as Acting Chief Constable.

Capture of three escaped German prisoners

The Acting Chief Constable has brought to the notice of the Sub-committee the action of PC 105 Reginald Jordan, stationed at Burghfield, and of Special Constables Webb, Holland and Hill, in effecting the capture of three Prisoners of War who had escaped from Bramley Camp on 24 April 1918.

PC Jordan challenged these men whom he met at Burghfield at midnight, and, finding they were foreigners, attempted to arrest them. After a struggle in which one of them is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding), the Germans succeeded in escaping, but were discovered and recaptured the following evening by PC Jordan – with the assistance of the Special Constables above-named, who had been working indefatigably all day in search of them.

The Military authorities sent £4.10s.0d as a reward, which was apportioned as follows: PC 105 Jordan, £2; Sergeant Taylor (who had also assisted) and the three Special Constables, 12s.6d each.

MOTOR CARS

The two motor cars which were so kindly placed at the disposal of the Superintendent at Maidenhead and Wokingham at the commencement of the war by the late Mr Erskine have now been returned to the present owner, Mrs Luard of Binfield Grove, and I beg to recommend that a letter expressing the gratitude of this Committee for the use of the cars, which have been of very great value to the Police, be sent to that lady.

I should also like to take this opportunity of referring to the loss sustained to the Force by the death of the late Marquis of Downshire, who, as a Special Constable from the commencement of the war, had kindly placed his valuable time and the use of his two cars (free of any charge) at the disposal of the Superintendent of the Wokingham Division, and by this means saved the County a great deal of expense.

I recommend that a letter be written to the present Marquis from this Committee, expressing regret at the death of his father, and its appreciation of his generous services.

The present Marquis of Downshire has very kindly placed his car at the disposal of the Superintendent at Wokingham on condition that the County keeps the car insured, [and] pays the licence duty and cost of running.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

“Exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties”

Burghfield’s postmaster was commended for his work as a Special Constable.

Special Constable George Cooper

It will be learnt with pleasure that attention having been called to the good services of our old friend Mr G Cooper, Postmaster of Burghfield, who was one of the first to be sworn in, Colonel F C Ricardo, the Acting Chief Constable of the County Police, issued on 13th December a memo expressing his great gratification, and stating

“It is evident that Special Constable Cooper has displayed exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties; and taking into consideration his age and his business requirements, I can only record my high appreciation and commendation.”

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Three teeth lost to a hostile aircraft

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the Berkshire Constabulary met on 9 October 1915 to consider various war-related matters, including an unfortunate accident resulting from the shock of an air raid, whetehr the Chief Constable should abandon his job to take up a role with the army.

A circular having been received from the Board of Trade (Railway Department) dated 6th September, 1915, addressed to Council Authorities, recommending that every effort should be made to accumulate stocks of coal in consequence of the probability that, owing to the number of miners who have joined the colours, the supply for home consumption next winter will be less than usual, instructions were issued to Superintendents to purchase sufficient coal to last the winter (or partly so) if it could be properly stored.

Accident to Special Constable G. E. Loader
The Divisional Officer, Berks Special Reserve, Wokingham Division, has reported that Special Constable G. E. Loader met with a serious accident on 13th September, 1915, while proceeding to his post on an alarm being given as to the approach of hostile aircraft. He ran into a post in the dark and injured his jaw, three teeth being knocked out, which he is having replaced by new ones. I beg to recommend that as the accident happened when on duty, the cost of the new teeth should be paid for out of the Police Fund. The amount would be £1. 19s. 4d.
Recommended for approval. (more…)

An unduly large number of young men of enlisting age in the police

Deputy Chief Constable Colonel Ricardo had been checking to see how the practice of calling up Reservists to the police was working out. He was generally pleased but thought some young men were using police work as an excuse for not joining the army.

BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE
INSPECTION BY COLONEL F. C. RICARDO, CVO
Maidenhead Police Station

28th June 1915
To the Chief Constable of Berkshire
Sir,

As Chief Organising Officer and Commandant of the Berkshire Police Special Reserve, I was naturally very anxious to ascertain by personal inspection the results of the organization which, in accordance with your request, I initiated in September last.
I therefore, with your sanction and approval, consulted the Divisional Officers as to the feasibility of holding Divisional Inspections during the months of May and June. I was much gratified with the interest shown in the suggestion, and am pleased to be able now to report that I have concluded my inspection of all the eight Divisions.

Admirable arrangements were made for these inspections in each case by Divisional Officers, assisted by the Superintendents of the several Police Divisions to whom much credit and thanks are due.

The result of the inspections may be looked upon as very satisfactory and the attendance parade highly praiseworthy, taking into consideration the inconvenience and difficulties which must have been experienced by a great many members of the Force, and the sacrifice of leisure which their attendance must have entailed.

Undoubtedly the organization of the Force generally has been attended with good results. As regards numbers, the Force, according to the latest returns rendered, has now a total strength of 3,298, which is numerically a falling off of about 800 from the returns rendered in November 1914, when the force attained its maximum strength of approximately 4,100. The decrease in numbers is due in a great measure to enlistment of members in His Majesty’s Military Forces, so cannot be looked upon otherwise than as advantageous, at all events from a National point of view.
Drill has been well carried out and the instruction imparted most creditable to the Drill Instructors.

I was much struck by the great steadiness in the ranks at inspections, and the physique of the men was quite up to expectations. In this respect I would specially mention the Wantage Division in which an exceptionally fine body of reservists has been enrolled.

I would also like to bring to favourable attention the Maidenhead Division, which I consider is deserving of praise for conspicuous steadiness on parade, and a general state of efficiency which is undoubtedly the product of very careful supervision.

I regret that I had to comment at one or two of my inspection parades upon the unduly large number of young men of enlisting age in the ranks. In most cases the explanations offered for their enrolment were satisfactory, but undoubtedly there have been instances of a want of rigid adherence to the instructions laid down in the Text Book which, with your approval, I compiled for general guidance when I commenced the organization of the Force.

I am glad to be assured that Rifle Drill and Musketry have been practised by a fair proportion of the men and that interest has been taken in the instruction of detachments in First Aid work.
A mounted detachment of 12 men has been formed in the Abingdon Division, and, judging from their appearance, equipments and equitation, I am confident they would be a very valuable addition to the Police Force on [sic] an emergency. I consider special credit is due to this detachment for the trouble and personal expense entailed in rendering themselves so efficient.

Reading Division

The presence of an unduly large number of men of enlisting age in the ranks was noticeable…

Maidenhead Division

It was brought to notice that about 64 men have quitted the Division to enlist in the Army, which is evidence of the fact that a proper sense of duty has been instilled into those members whose enrolment was in the first instance somewhat irregular.

Report of Deputy Chief Constable, in Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Thousands of police reservists and Special Constables sign up

The Chief Constable and the Clerk of the Peace informed the Standing Joint Committee of the County Council and Quarter Sessions of the effects of the war on the police force and the Clerk’s department.

10 October 1914
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

On the outbreak of the war the two boarded-out horses from the 11th Hussars were, at the request of the Military Authorities, returned to Aldershot….

The allowances to the wives of Police Constables recalled to Army service are, I now understand, to be altered from the 1st October, 1914, by an increased allowance from Army funds…

As regards the single Constables, I would ask that some consideration may be made them… I would, therefore recommend that the following three unmarried Constables (Army Reservists) who were recalled to the Army for service on 5th and 6th August, 1914, and who have been regularly contributing for their mothers’ support should be granted the allowance of 7/- per week:-
PC 36, George A. Eales
PC 163, Philip Hubbard
PC 214, Harry Easton
and that the money be paid monthly to the mother in each case.

Since the date of your last meeting in August, I have called up one more Police Reservist to take the place of a Police Constable called upon to resign. The total of First Police Reservists now serving is therefore 44.

Formation of a Police Special Reserve.
I beg to report that on the outbreak of war the duties of the Police were increased out of all proportion to the strength of the Force. It was necessary to recall all those away on annual leave and to suspend the weekly rest day. Forty-four 1st Police Reservists have since then been called up for duty. The demands on the time of the Officers and Constables have been very great, consequent on the necessity for continuous watching of the main bridges over the Thames, the railway lines, the requisition of Police by the Military Authorities for mobilization, purchase of horses, vehicles, and billeting, and the posting and distribution of many Orders. The registration and watching of alien enemies under the Aliens Act, 1914, further added important duties for the Police to carry out.
In order that the Police might get some assistance at such a time I issued a Special Constables appeal, a copy of which is attached.
Consequent on this appeal I received the very greatest help and assistance throughout the County, and especially as regards the guarding and watching of the bridges (railway and main road), the railways, waterworks, lighting works and other vulnerable points; and as a result of this splendid and patriotic response to my appeal, I have now a Berks Police Special Reserve Force of nearly four thousand (4,000) under the following organization:-
Chief Organizing Officer Colonel F. C. Ricardo, CVO
Assistant Chief Organising Officer Colonel W. Thornton
Divisional Officer, Abingdon and Wallingford Police Division
Colonel A. M. Carthew-Yorstoun, CB
Divisional Officer, Faringdon Division Francis M. Butler, esq.
Divisional Officer, Maidenhead Division Heatley Noble, esq.
Divisional Officer, Newbury Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Hungerford Sub-division Colonel Willes
Divisional Officer, Reading Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Wantage Division E. Stevens, esq.
Divisional Officer, Windsor Division Colonel F. Mackenzie, CB
Divisional Officer, Wokingham Division Admiral Eustace, RN

To all these Officers I am very much indebted for their valuable help and voluntary service in this organization. The efficiency of our organization is entirely due to their energetic work.

This Force has for several weeks been drilling and doing patrol work in conjunction with the Police in many parts of the county. Classes of instruction in first aid to the injured are being formed, and miniature rifle ranges are being used by the kind permission of the owners, and new ones about to be given for such use.

We have been careful to exclude from the Reserve all those who are eligible for and whose circumstances permit of them joining the Army.

I have further received great help from the Berkshire Automobile Club, and owners of motor cars generally throughout the county, in placing motor cars at the disposal of the Police when required.

I would ask your authority to swear in a total number of Special Constables not exceeding 2,000, and to provide the necessary batons, whistles and chains, armlets and other necessary articles of equipment…. Under these conditions of appointment of Special Constables, the service is a voluntary and unpaid one.

A report by the Clerk of the Peace with regard to his staff was presented as follows:-

Gentlemen
I have to report that in consequence of the War, the following members of my staff are absent on service:-
H. U. H. Thorne, Deputy Clerk of the Peace Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
E. S. Holcroft, Assistant Solicitor Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
R. G. Attride, Assistant Solictor (Mental Deficiency Act)
Lieutenant, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
H. P. Tate, Senior Clerk, Taxation Department Private, Honorable Artillery Company
F. J. Ford, Clerk, Taxation Department Gunner, Berks Royal Horse Artillery
J. A. Earley, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
J. A. Callow, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment

Mr Tate is actually abroad on active service and the remainder have all volunteered for foreign service.

In consequence of the great depletion of my staff, I have, after consultation with the Staff Purposes Committee, arranged with Mr C. G. Chambers, of the firm of Blandy & Chambers, Solicitors, Reading, to assist me in the legal work during the absence of the Deputy Clerk and the Assistant Solicitors…
It has also been necessary for me to make temporary arrangements for the clerical work and I have engaged the following:-

Miss M. A. Burgess, Shorthand-Typist, at 12/6 per week from 7th September, 1914
Miss Norah Scrivener, Shorthand-Typist, at 10/- per week from 14th September, 1914
Stanley A. Bidmead, Office Boy, at 5/- per week from 1st September, 1914.

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 10 October 1914 (C/CL/C2/1/5)