Arrest of escaped German Prisoners of War

The Standing Joint Committee heard how Berkshire policemen had helped to recapture escaped PoWs.

5 October 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

Arrest of Escaped German Prisoners of War

Two German Prisoners of War, who escaped from Bramley Camp on 4 September, were arrested at Woolhampton by PC 117, Brooks, assisted by Special Constable Charles Taplin and two civilians.

Another, who escaped from the same Camp on 5 September, was captured by PC 64, Holloway, at Maidenhead Thicket.

The War Office Authorities, to mark their appreciation of the services rendered, sent a reward of £5, viz £1 for each of the Constables and civilians who assisted, and I have, under the circumstances, allowed them to receive the same.
Approved.

PC 158 Giles Rejoining Force

PC 158, Giles, who joined the Army on 6 December 1915, under the terms of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915, has been discharged from the Army as medically unfit for further military service in consequence of his left wrist being injured by a gunshot wound.

He rejoined the Force on 1 September, 1918, and has been given indoor work for the present, on the understanding that he will be medically re-examined in three months’ time by the Police Surgeon to see of there is any probability of his being fit for further Police duty.
Approved.

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

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Work of a very important nature

The Chief Constable returned to his police duties.

5 October 1918

A letter, dated 24 August 1918, from the Army Council was read, stating that the Council offered no objection to the release of Lieut-Col. Poulton to enable him to take up his duties as Chief Constable, and expressing the appreciation of the Council for the valuable services rendered by Col. Poulton since the commencement of the war – his work had been of a very important nature and had been carried out to the entire satisfaction of the Council.

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

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)

Policeman “seriously wounded when fighting in France”

A Berkshire policeman was badly hurt in the fighting.

5 January 1918
Constable wounded

I regret to report that PC 61, Percy Sellwood, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was seriously wounded when fighting in France on the 9th October last.

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

A policeman’s widow

The widow of a policeman who had been recalled to the army was allowed to keep her special allowance from the police force for a period after her husband’s death.

1 December 1917

The following report by the Acting Chief Constable as to proposed allowance to the widow of the late PC 58 Frank Brown was read:
I beg to report the death of PC 58 Frank Brown, who was killed when in action with the British Expeditionary Force on 9 October last.

The widow, Mrs Daisy Brown, was, at the time of his death, in receipt of an allowance of 9d per day under the Police Reservists Allowances Act, 1914, and I recommend that such allowance may be continued for a period of six months from the date of his death….

Adopted.

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

The cost of food and other commodities has more than doubled since the commencement of the war

Berkshire policemen were given a pay rise to cope with war conditions.

21 April 1917

The Clerk referred to the death of Lieut-Col Thorne, the Deputy Clerk of the Peace, who had been killed in action near Arras on 9 April, while in command of a battalion of the Royal Scots.

Resolved on the motion of Lord George Pratt, seconded by Sir R. D. Acland, knight, KC: That a letter of condolence be sent to the widow of rhe late Deputy Clerk of the Peace.

Police Constable 212, Frederick Charles Kimmer, has been called upon to join the Army, being under 23 years of age.

War Bonus

The cost of food and other commodities which has more than doubled since the commencement of the war, is being felt very seriously at the present rate of pay and bonus. The rate of pay of a Constable on joining, together with the 3/- war bonus, amounts to 26/11 per week, in addition to the incidental advantages he obtains in the way of clothing, boots, rent, rates and pension, and, in the case of single Constables, bedding, fuel and light.

Information has been obtained from all the County forces in England … and, placing the wages and war bonus with others… Berkshire compares very unfavourably with others… only 6 county forces coming beneath it.

Taking everything into consideration, the Committee recommend the following extra war bonus to all ranks .. to commence from 1 April, 1917, be payable until three months after the conclusion of the war…

32 per week for each member
1s per week for wife
6d per week for each child under the age of 15 years

It is estimated that the extra cost would be about £2,550.

Adopted.

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

A foreign accent betrays escaped German prisoners

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the police in Berkshire heard of an exciting incident involving escaped PoWs in Old Windsor. Meanwhile, single policemen were continuing to join the armed forces, while women and the retired were filling civilian jobs.

6 January 1917

The Finance Sub-committee report that at about midnight on 7 December, 1916, PC 177, George Crook, was on duty at Old Windsor when he met two men who were unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and, as they spoke with a foreign accent, the Constable telephoned to Superintendent Jannaway at Clewer, who instructed him to detain them and convey them to Clewer Police Station, where it was eventually discovered that they had escaped from the German Officers’ Internment Camp at Holyport that same night. As an appreciation of PC Crook’s prompt action and judgment in the matter, he has been advanced in grade of pay (2d per day) nearly three months earlier than he otherwise would have been.

Police joining the Army

The Chief Constable has written to Lieut-General Sclater, Commanding the Southern District, Salisbury, giving him the number of Constables under the age of 30 years serving in the Force, and a list of those now serving in HM Army, with a view to the possible release of such as can be replaced by men of the Berkshire Police whom it is advisable to release from further military duty, but who are fit for Police duties. (more…)

Great and sustained efforts by the staff of the Clerk of the Peace

The Standing Joint Committee heard that the Clerk of the Peace, who did the administrative work for the county Quarter Sessions, was struggling with the shortage of staff due to the war. Meanwhile, a young Berkshire policeman had died from wounds.


The report of the Staff Purposes Committee was presented as follows:
The Sub-committee have received an application from the Clerk of the Peace as follows:-

Sicne the outbreak of war those members of my permanent staff who have not joined the colours have been working under great difficulties, and although I have engaged certain temporary clerks, that assistance has been quite inadequate to carry on the work of the office efficiently without great and sustained efforts on the part of my permanent clerks. Furthermore, the work of my department being of a highly technical nature requiring special knowledge not easily obtainable, the temporary clerks require very close and constant supervision, which has caused an additional strain on the permanent members of the staff. In addition considerable war work has been thrown on me without any extra help – notably the War Agricultural Committee, which has been very heavy.

Owing to the scarcity of clerical labour it has been necessary, in order to obtain temporary clerks, to offer salaries far in excess – in proportion to the work done – of those of the permanent staff. I feel compelled therefore to ask the Committee to reconsider the salaries of the latter (who have all reached their maximums), and respectfully make the following suggestions:-

J. Gentry Birch (married), 28 years service. Present salary £160. 5s. 0d. Maximum to be increased to £180 by two annual increases.
A. W. Longhurst (married), 21 years service. Present salary £150. Maximum to be increased to £180 by three annual increases.
E. Arthur Longhurst (married), 12 years service. Present salary £80. Maximum to be increased to £110 by annual increases of £10.
S. L. Mills (married), 8 years service. Present salary £110. Receive £10 rise.
B. Vivian (single), 8 years service, age 22. Present salary £40. Maximum to be increased to £60 by two annual increases…

Eight members of the staff (including the Deputy) are on active service… I would respectfully ask that a sum be added sufficient to enable me to engage an additional clerk (at about 30/- a week)…

Adopted.

Acting Chief Constable’s report

I regret having to report the death of PC 78, Alfred Mark Thompson, which occurred on 24th August, 1916, from wounds received while fighting in France.

The deceased was a very promising young Constable, who at the time of his death was only 23 years of age, and had served 5 years and 4 months in this Force. He leaves a widow but no children.

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 7 October 1916 (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Wounded policemen

Three Berkshire policemen who had joined the army were reported to have been wounded.

8 July 1916
Constables Wounded on Army Service

I understand that the following Police Constables who joined the Army under the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915, have been wounded when fighting in France:

PC 113, Harry Robey
PC 11, Thomas James Moss
PC 219, Alfred F. W. Davis

PC 113, Robey, was wounded in the legs and knee, but as regards the other two Constables, I am glad to report that their injuries are not of a serious nature.

BCC Standing Joint Committee report (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Fathers at the front, children in trouble

On 15 April 1916 The Chief Constable of Berkshire delivered his annual report to the County’s Standing Joint Committee which oversaw police matters. There had been a reduction in serious crime, but an increase in minor and juvenile offences, which he ascribed to the numbers of absent fathers.

General remarks as regards crime during the year 1915

During the past year the number of Indictable and Non-Indictable Offences again shows a very satisfactory decrease compared with previous years. There is little doubt that the war largely accounts for this.

I would, however, point out the fact that there has been a very large increase in the total number of offences, both Indictable and Non-Indictable, committed by Juveniles. In 1914, the number of Juvenile offences (Indictable) was 39, whereas in 1915 it has risen to 82, and in the case on Non-Indictable Offences it has risen from 38 in 1914 to 82 in 1915.

These Juvenile Offences largely account for the increase in Stealing and Malicious Damage… and no doubt the want of control over children due to the absence of their fathers on Military Service and the consequent extra burden of work thrown upon the mothers, may be looked upon as a primary cause of this youthful indiscipline. The increase in the number of offences under the Education Act may also in a sense be attributable to the same case, owing to children being kept at home to help their mothers….

As regards Tramps, I do not think any comparison can be made between this year and other years, as the whole question of vagrancy has so altered owing to the exigencies of the war. Several Casual Wards have been closed altogether, and no doubt many of the men who would otherwise be classed as Tramps are now serving their country in some capacity or other or have found employment elsewhere.

Death of PC 144, F. B. Hewett
I regret to report the death on 30th December 1914 of PC 144, Francis B. Hewett, who lost his life when HMS Natal exploded and sank. He rejoined the Navy as a ship’s steward on 1st June, 1915, under the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915. He was 21 years of age, was unmarried, and had served 2 years and 2 months in this force at the date of his death.

Chief Constable’s Report to the Standing Joint Committee (C/CL/C2/1/5)

No power to pay for a sister’s season ticket

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw Berkshire’s police were not very receptive to requests from two young policemen who had joined the army, but wanted the County Council to help subsidise their families, who were struggling without their contributions to family income.

8 January 1916

PC210, Arthur J. Wicks, joined the Army on 1 December, 1915, under the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915. He stated that he had been contributing 2/- per week towards the support of his parents, and also paying £1.3s.9d. per quarter for his young sister’s railway season ticket from Twyford to Reading to enable her to learn dressmaking. His father is employed on the Great Western Railway and earns 18/- per week. The Sub-committee recommend that PC Weeks [sic] be informed that the committee have no power to contribute to the cost of his sister’s season ticket; and that so far as his parents are concerned, application should be made to the Army Authorities for an allowance.

PC 190, Thomas Irving, joined the Army on 1 December 1915, under the same Act, and stated that he had been contributing £1 per month to the support of his parents. His father is temporarily employed at Windsor Post Office, and earns about 27/6 per week. The Sub-committee are of opinion that any application by PC Irving for an allowance should be made by him to the Army Authorities.

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/6)

Helping policemen’s families

Berkshire County Council’s Standing Joint Committee, which oversaw the police, met on 4 December 1915 to consider possible extra allowances for the wives and other dependant relatives of policemen who had joined the armed forces.

4 December 1915
Enlistment of Police under Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915
In accordance with your instructions permission has been given to the following constables who have enlisted, viz:
PC 203 Harris
PC 213 Wheatcroft
PC 204 Harris
PC 141 Potter
PC 78 Thompson
PC 186 Newman
PC 210 Wicks
PC 215 Jeffcock
PC 41 Vile
PC 158 Giles
PC 55 Sellwood
PC 71 Wheatcroft
PC 123 Chipp
PC 65 Pottinger
PC 209 Read
PC 147 Rowland
PC 111 Offer
PC 32 Bates
PC 83 Bennett
PC 190 Irving

PC 32 Henry Bates has been contributing £2 per month towards the support of his widowed mother. The Sub-committee recommend that an allowance of 5/- per week be made to [her].

PCs 78 Thompson and 215 Jeffcock have been granted permission to marry, but this will not involve any allowance to their wives, as they will be entitled to the separation allowance from Army funds.
In regard to the allowance made to the mother of PC 36 George Eales, which was adjourned at the meeting in October for further enquiries, PC Eales having now stated that he had not regularly contributed to the support of his mother before his enlistment, the Committee have no power to continue the allowance to Mrs Eales, and it is accordingly recommended that it be discontinued.

The following are the allowances now granted…
Constable Recipient Rate per week
PC 58 Brown Mrs D. Brown (wife). 8/9
PC 105 Siney Mrs H. Siney (wife) 12/7
PC 214 Easton Mrs J. Easton (mother) 7/-
PC 216 Sparkes Mrs E. Sparkes (wife) 10/1
PC 163 Hubbard Mrs M. Hubbard (wife) 12/7

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Insuring the Assize Courts against air raids

The Standing Joint Committee of the County Council and Quarter Sessions met on 6 November 1915. They had to face the loss of more policemen to the Forces, and fears for courts and police buildings in the face o air raids.

A circular from the Home Office, dated 29 October, 1915, was read in which it was stated that every constable who wished to enlist should be allowed to do so if possible, and that every effort should be made by Police Authorities to facilitate enlistments by cutting down any police work which might not be essential, and by replacing regular police by the employment as Special Constables of men disqualified, by age or otherwise, from joining H M Forces….

Mr Preston moved, and Mr Walker seconded: That permission be given for a reduction of the Police Force, by enlistment, of ten unmarried constables; and that such vacancies be not filled up….

Carried. It was further resolved, on the motion of Mr Mount, MP, seconded by Mr Watson: That in addition to the ten unmarried constables mentioned in the above resolution, permission be given to a further ten unmarried constables to enlist; and that the vacancies thus caused be filled by first class reservists.

The Committee had brought to their notice the question of insuring the Assize Courts against damage by air-raids, and it was stated that the Assize Courts, County Police Station and adjoining buildings in which the Committee were concerned were insured against fire in the Atlas Insurance Co for £25,600…

Resolved: that the above mentioned properties be insured against damage by aircraft with the Atlas Insurance Co.

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

The County Surveyor offers himself

A letter from the County Surveyor to the Lord Lieutenant was read aloud to the Berkshire County Council Standing Joint Committee on 12 June 1915. It is hard to imagine one of today’s senior council officials volunteering to join the army, even if as terrible a war as the First World War were to engulf the nation, but Fred Hawkins of Berkshire wished to use his abilities on behalf of the nation:

Shire Hall, Reading
11th June 1915

Dear Sir

For a long time I have been anxious to volunteer my services to the Government during the War, but in deference to the strongly expressed opinion of Sir Robert Mowbray and Mr Ferard that my services were more required by the County, I have not hitherto felt justified in doing so. Now, however, matters have taken a different turn.

I understand unofficially that the Road Board in conjunction with the War Office are considering the formation of a Company of Engineers for work either in England or in France and Belgium for construction and repair of roads and bridges, and should such Company be formed, Public Bodies will be asked to release as many men as possible with practical road experience now in their employ.

Although I do not anticipate that my services will be required immediately I have been asked to put myself in a position of being able to take up an appointment at very short notice in the event of my being called upon to do so.

As I arranged for the general repairs to Police Stations to be carried out during the first quarter of the financial year as far as possible, most of this work will be completed by the end of this month, and I, therefore, consider that my present staff, with the addition of Mr Clayton, whose existing temporary appointment would in the ordinary course terminate about September 1st, should be able to carry on my work for the Standing Joint Committee, and even though the supervision generally cannot be so efficient, nevertheless, I feel strongly that it is my duty to give my services to the Government should they be required….

Yours truly
J. Fred. Hawkins
County Surveyor

[The Committee agreed to release him should he find a suitable opportunity.]

BCC Standing Joint Committee minutes, 12 June 1915 (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Constables lost, cars gained: the first impact on the police

The Standing Joint Committee of Berkshire County Council and the Court of Quarter Sessions, which was responsible for the county police force (the Berkshire Constabulary), held a special meeting on 15 August 1914 to hear the report of the Chief Constable on the initial impact of the war on his force:

A special report by the Chief Constable was presented and … resolutions were passed as set out below:-

1. Police Army Reservists called on to rejoin the Army on mobilization:- I have the honour to report that, on the outbreak of war between this country and Germany, the following Army Reservists serving as Constables in this Force were called on to rejoin the Army on mobilization:

PC 58 Frank Brown Married
PC 101 Charles H. Goodchild Married
PC 103 Samuel Theobald Married
PC 105 Jesse J. Siney Married
PC 36 George Eales Single
PC 163 Philip Hubbard Single
PC 214 Harry Easton Single
PC 216 Ernest E. Sparkes Single

One other Army Reservist, PC 51, James H. Wood, who is the Drill Corporal to the Force, was, on my recommendation, allowed to remain for duty with the Force instead of being called up for duty.

I would recommend that, pending any order of the Secretary of State, the wives and children of the Constables so called up should be given an allowance calculated at half the pay they were receiving on being called up for Army Service.

So far as I now know the four single Constables have no one dependent on them, and, therefore, I do not recommend any allowance in their case, but I ask the committee to allow me to use my discretion in the matter.

I would also ask your authority to allow the wives of the four Army Reservists to remain in the houses now rented by the County so long as I consider it desirable, on payment of amounts equal to half the deductions for house rent.

Adopted.

(a) Increase of Force, and calling up of Police Reserves.

I beg to report that on the declaration of war, owing to the very heavy duties and responsibilities imposed on the Police, I considered it necessary to increase the Force and to call up a portion of the First Police Reservists. Three recruits joined the Force on the 12th August, 1914, and I called up for duty on the 5th August and subsequent dates the following First Police Reservists:
1 Inspector
11 Sergeants
10 Constables, Class A
11 Constables, Class B
Total 33

(b) In addition to these I have appointed 10 First Police Reservists. These include 8 chauffeurs to drive motor cars which owners have very considerately lent to the Police, and the cars and chauffeurs are accommodated in the Police Stations. It will be necessary to appoint others as available…

(c) It has been necessary to put up temporary sheds in several of the Police Stations for motor cars now in use and for the storage of petrol and benzol, and the possible accommodation of further motor cars which might in an emergency be required for the movement of the Police…

I would also ask authority for the payment for the purchase of petrol and benzol which I have considered advisable to purchase and store. Also for the payments for the upkeep of the motor cars lent for the use of the Police, to include all running expenses, upkeep of tyres, and repairs, as necessary.

At present this arrangement has only been made for seven Divisions, but I hope to have the same arrangement for the other remaining Divisions as soon as possible, should motor cars from owners be available.

As a further precautionary measure, I am arranging as far as possible for twelve motor cars to be available for each Police Division in case of emergency, and these will remain in the owners’ hands, and be only used if required.

Authorised.

(c) I would further ask your authority for the provision of such clothing and accoutrements as may be necessary for the use of the First Police Reservists, and an allowance for those acting as chauffeurs not exceeding £3 per annum each. Several of the First Police Reservists have been fitted up with the clothing previously stored for this purpose, but others require clothing and accoutrements which I have ordered.

Authorised.

(d) There are 17 First Police Reservists still available to be called up if required, and I would ask your authority to call them up should circumstances render it necessary.
Authorised.

The Chief Constable was requested to express the thanks of the Committee to the lenders of cars for their patriotic action….

[The County Surveyor’s report revealed that the temporary buildings for the cars were at Abingdon, Faringdon, Maidenhead, Newbury, Wallingford, Wantage, Windsor (Clewer) and Wokingham police stations, and the headquarters at Reading. Fire extinguishers were also supplied.]

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)