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Remembered Today:

Scheme for Police Officers to be recruited to Guards/MGC


Willywombat
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All,

I am presently researching those police officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary who served in WW1. Thankfully, this is fairly easy to do as a war memorial in the HQ building lists all who served, with rank and unit, plus there are lists of names in Police Authority minutes etc.

Whilst looking at the service record of an officer who was released to join the army in 1918, I came across the memo below. It seems to indicate that there was an arrangement with the Home Office that police officers may be posted to the the Guards or MGC so long as they 'conform to the prescribed qualifications' (presumably meaning that they were fit enough).

Of the eleven officers who enlisted in 1918, eight went into the Coldstream Guards, two into the Guards MGC and one into the MGC, so the scheme seems to have been successful. (The officer mentioned in the memo also appears to have asked to join the RGA, probably because a great many of his colleagues who had previously enlisted went to 129 HB - manned largely by police officers - but he ended up in the MGC anyway!).

Has anyone come across this before?

Any idea as to the reason?

Any idea where the War Office Circular referred to in the memo might be found?

Any thoughts much appreciated!

Thanks,

Bob.

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Pre-war a lot of police men seem to have been ex-Guards - presumably the discipline (and often the height and build of the man) was well regarded. During the war the Guards tried to keep up their standards so presumably the pre-war policeman tended to fit this criteria better than most.

Craig

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Early on in the war I think some policemen were used as trainers. Also some were used in Intelligence.

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That's true, Craig.

Of the 22 who were recalled to the Colours at the beginning of the war, 13 were ex-Guardsmen.

It's a pity we don't still do that, looking at some of the short, fat excuses they recruit into the job nowadays!

And Johnboy - yes, four were sent to be drill instructors (presumably for the New Army), two of whom elected to stay on and serve overseas. I haven't come across any from Gloucestershire in Intelligence yet (but we are carrot crunchers in this part of the country, after all!).

Bob

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I haven't come across any from Gloucestershire in Intelligence yet (but we are carrot crunchers in this part of the country, after all!).

That's why most came from Scotland yard!

Have you come across any with 10th RF?

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No - none.

There were 87 who joined in May 1915

of these, the vast majority went to the RGA (129 HB mainly)

A lot joined the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

A few went to the ASC (MT) and the AOC.

There was then an intake in 1917 who, again, were mainly RGA.

Very few were infantry apart from recalls and those who joined the Guards in 1918 (most of whom joined too late to go overseas).

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Hi,

I'm not aware of the quoted 1918 War Office Circular but I did some research a couple of years ago about a similar multiple recruitment of serving Police officers into the RGA in 1915.

RGA SPECIAL ENLISTMENT OF 5 POLICE CONSTABLES, DENBIGHSHIRE CONSTABULARY - DECEMBER 1915 - USE OF ARMY FORM B203

I researched a friend’s grandfather – Gunner (latterly L/Bombardier) 68218 Thomas Roberts of Bala, North Wales. He enlisted at Wrexham 8th December 1915 from his then current employment as a Police Constable with Denbighshire Constabulary.

His papers on Ancestry contain a copy of Army Form B203 – Application for Special Enlistment. The left hand side (front) of the form contains details from his medical carried out at Wrexham 1st December 1915. The right hand side is an approval “routing” pro forma completed by a Major Passingham, OIC 23rd Recruiting Area R.A. 2nd December 1915 seeking War Office permission for enlistment - which was approved 4th December 1915.

The following day Major Passingham communicated to The Chief Constable Denbighshire Constabulary that permission for special enlistment had been granted. The papers contain the reply from The Chief Constable, dated 6th December 1915, to the effect that a total of 5 Denbighshire Constabulary Police Constables had been notified that they had been accepted for RGA enlistment at the same time as Thomas Roberts.

Regards

Steve Y

PS - The Coldstream Guards connection is quite strong in Gloucestershire so likely influenced that choice of Guards Regiment.

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Steve,

That's really interesting and thank you.

I'm just about to start digging into any service records that survive and I'll keep an eye out for Form B203.

From what I've learned so far, there certainly seems to have been a Baldrickesque 'cunning plan' afoot as regards the recruitment of police officers.

Let me just ask - did the multiple enlistments from Denbighshire into the RGA go to one particular unit? I'm not that far into the research, but 129 HB (which, as I go through the MICs and medal rolls, more and more of them seem to have joined) is definitely the unit of choice. It was touted in the press as the 'Police Heavy Battery' or similar, being formed in Bristol, I believe. Did similar show up in your research?

This is proving to be a very interesting exercise, so thanks all for your input so far.

Bob.

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Thanks for that, Steve.

This is getting very interesting. Time to find out what the official line was in these War Office Circulars etc.

When you think about it, especially once conscription had come in, you would start to get any Tom, Dick and Harry joining up, be they mummy's boys, village idiots, tinfoil hat-wearers etc. etc. As Craig said above, it does seem a good way of guaranteeing at least a minimum quality standard in whom you're sending to certain units!

Bob.

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  • 1 month later...

Researching the btp war memorial of the 132 a good 20% are made up of all guards regiments

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I'm surprised how low that figure is

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As they were employed by the railway many joined local forces further 20 in the RA then about 5% in the military police

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just came across this thread.

Whilst looking at the service record of an officer who was released to join the army in 1918, I came across the memo below. It seems to indicate that there was an arrangement with the Home Office that police officers may be posted to the the Guards or MGC so long as they 'conform to the prescribed qualifications' (presumably meaning that they were fit enough).

Of the eleven officers who enlisted in 1918, eight went into the Coldstream Guards, two into the Guards MGC and one into the MGC, so the scheme seems to have been successful. (The officer mentioned in the memo also appears to have asked to join the RGA, probably because a great many of his colleagues who had previously enlisted went to 129 HB - manned largely by police officers - but he ended up in the MGC anyway!).

Has anyone come across this before?

Any idea as to the reason?

Any idea where the War Office Circular referred to in the memo might be found?

I can't help with details of the WO circular, but I do know that a relatively large number of policemen were released in April 1918 with the purpose of having them join the Guards or Guards MGC, their places being taken by Special Constabulary and/or discharged ex-servicemen deemed fit enough to serve in their places. I also understood that the origin of the link between the Police and the Guards was simply that they had similar height requirements (or, in the case of the Guards, many men of larger stature gravitated towards them). At least in this respect, the requirements of both the Police and the Guards was the same - they wanted men of imposing stature. It should be remembered that the height of the average working-class man was only about 5' 7", so a tall ex-guardsman, made even taller by his police helmet, would be better able to project his authority over a milling throng.

I have a photo, dated April 1918, of a squad of about 20 recruits - all from the City of London Police Force - who had just joined the Grenadier Guards at Caterham as part of this scheme. I imagine that it must have been a sizeable percentage of the overall City of London force. Does anyone know whether there are any lists of men who joined under the scheme? Unfortunately my photo isn't named.....!

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Further to my last post (above), I've just found my photo of the squad of City of London Police recruits into the Grenadier Guards - there are actually 31 of them, which seems a remarkable number considering the size of the City of London force at that time.

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RIC to Irish Guards was very common.

Great page here with lots of details: http://irishgenealogyqueries.yuku.com/topic/1042/The-Irish-Guards#.VKso0ThybDc

I have done some research into this chap - John Brock: https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/511234 Lovely picture of his presentation wristwatch.

This site here lists 385 RIC men who served in the Irish Guards: http://irishmedals.org/r-i-c-and-d-m-p-.html

Simon

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Thanks all - very useful.

It is interesting that there seems to have been a plan for which Guards regiment each force sent its men to for the April 1918 intake - so far we have Gloucestershire officers going to the Coldstreams, RIC officers going to the Irish Guards and City of London to the Grenadiers.

In Gloucestershire's case, none of the April 1918 recruits have medals so it appears that they didn't go overseas (perhaps engaged on other duties at home) although as only eight were sent, it is a very small sample. I wonder if any of the others from the April 1918 intake went overseas?

Bob.

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It is interesting that there seems to have been a plan for which Guards regiment each force sent its men to for the April 1918 intake - so far we have Gloucestershire officers going to the Coldstreams, RIC officers going to the Irish Guards and City of London to the Grenadiers.

Just noticed that my photo is dated June 1918 rather than April. That could imply that they were the April intake during their period of training, or that there were a subsequent group of recruits. I wonder whether the group from any given Police force were kept together (almost like a Pals battalion) and allotted to any Guards unit that required recruits.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's a similar story in Scotland, particularly Glasgow City Police, many of whom joined the Scots Guards, and probably for the reasons already mentioned. Many appear to have been former Guardsmen recalled to the Colours. The smaller provincial forces tend to have a higher percentage who joined the local Regiments.

Putting all your "eggs in one basket" could have devastating results though.

On 25th January 1915 (100 years ago today) 28 City of Glasgow Police Officers serving with 1st Bn Scots Guards were killed, along with 3 from Lanarkshire, 2 from Ayrshire, one from Paisley Burgh and one from City of Liverpool Police. That is at least 35 former Policemen lost in one day from one Guards Battalion. The 1st Bn Coldstream Guards were involved in the same action. I wonder if anyone has any information about their Police casualties that day?

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