Seems really odd, don’t u think, that another country can actually learn from us, how to deal with football hooliganism. I mean, it’s not very long ago that we had truly the worst reputation in Europe for football disorders. Now, the serious situation in Italy, including the murder of a Police Officer during football riots, necessitates them to seek our advice on how to deal.
All of this took me back to my experiences with duty at football matches – clearly before we got our act together!
I hated duty at Stamford Bridge. (Chelsea). We would parade at the ground and be briefed. We’d then be given a little wooden stool, just like a milking-maid’s stool, and take up our allotted position around the touchline. The ‘game’ for the local (and not-so-local) erks, was to ‘skim’ one of the old penny-pieces at us. Although nobody ever actually got me, I can still assure you that this was definitely not funny.
Duty at Stamford Bridge was on overtime usually, and this was described as “Voluntary Duty”. You had to put your name in a book if you wanted to volunteer.
At first, I volunteered. For 2 reasons;
1. I like watching football, and to do so from the touchline and get paid for it seemed too good to be true.
2. I noticed that invariably the first names in the book were the “9 – 5″ers. These were the PCs who did all those cushy little jobs. You know, Process Section (typing out Cautions, Summonses, etc.), Enquiries, (obtaining Witness Statements for other Forces, etc), Plan Drawers, Light-Duties (Yes. True!), Superintendents’ Clerks, etc., etc.
Now, I reasoned that if that lot did it, then by gosh it must be a doddle. What a fool I was! It didn’t take long to realise that the deployment at the ground was done by a Sergeant – who was also a 9 – 5 er. Yea, you’re right. They had all the cushy jobs, usually around the Players Tunnel, and we had the rest.
At Loftus Road, (Q.P.R.), one Superintendent had the idea of placing us along a line, halfway back into the crowd, at about 20 yard intervals. This would deter hooliganism. Hmmm. Obviously no Risk Assessment done.
After the match, I remember one of my mates parading for dismissal. His back was absolutely covered in phlegm! The same Superintendent could spot anyone wearing a scarf at about 120 yards! Good, really, considering that he wore a WHITE SILK scarf with his uniform!
One day, I was on duty at Loftus Road, standing on the touchline alongside my mate Bill Crisp. Bill was a dour Scotsman. Just before kick-off, the players were having a warm-up near us, and a ball rolled towards Bill. Rodney Marsh came after the ball, and Bill took just one stride, – no, it must have been two, – then kicked the ball towards Rod. Unfortunately, the ground was muddy? Yes. Yes. Yes. Bill’s feet went up in the air until his body was horizontal, at which point he dropped onto his back like a ton of bricks. Well! The crowd erupted. Greatest applause of the day. Bill got to his feet, back covered in mud, face absolutely scarlet, whereupon Rod Marsh came over, rolled the ball back to Bill and shouted, “‘Ave anuvver go, mate”. I did me best to console Bill but I’m afraid that there was nowhere to hide.
Voluntary Duty was not really for me, though I have had many memorable moments at Premiership games. Perhaps we’ll look at them again.
Decided that the answer to my increasing pains is to get more exercise. “More exercise” is, of course, relative and, wellllll, relative to nothing is, of course, a little! So, instead of going to my ‘local’ – which is 3 minutes saunter at my old Police gait – I walked last night, to the next pub. 15 minutes away. Well, a little at a time! And so it was that I met ol’ pals again.
First I bumped into Geoff. I like Geoff. He was born & bred in the village, as was I. When we were kids – in the ’40s & early ’50s, his claim to fame was that he always turned up in the local park – Underhill Park – fully turned out in an Arsenal kit. (Do u remember those old brown football boots with the solid toecaps?) Show-off. Lost touch when we left school but one night, I think in 1963, when I was a P.C. at Shepherds Bush, Geoff turned up as the night-duty C.I.D. Officer. Ended up on Scotland Yard Serious Crimes Squad. Retired now and walks around the village like Clint Eastwood. You know, full-length, beltless mac, and a big hat, like a fedora. Seems he has as many aches and pains as I do, so no good looking to him for advice!
In the pub, I sat with Texas. Another ol’ village man. Tex is Emeritus Professor of German History (or something like that!) at Cambridge. Tex has just lost his wife which kind of sobers up the conversation. She was from Austria. Puts my aches & pains into perspective! Tex was Mumbles Rangers FC goalkeeper when we were kids. I always reckoned that he was their worst ever keeper!! Their best ‘keeper was Muzzo – Murray Crook. Generally reckoned to be the best Welsh keeper never to play for Wales. Seems that Muzzo has just – this week – passed away. Has been living in France apparently. Another ol’ pal gone.
The other one in the pub was Don. Me ol’ mate. In the morning, he had done a right technical job for me. He screwed-in a shelf in a cupboard which had fallen, so I owed him a pint. Don’t laugh, it wasn’t an easy job! Don comes from a long, well-established local family, and I’ve known them all my life. He’s worked abroad a lot, and all over the place. Now one of “us”. i.e. Retired and returned to the village. You don’t need me to tell you that his back’s ‘gone’! You can’t be perfect to join us.
Think I’ll stick to my own local next time. Get too depressed at the other!
People Who Have Influenced My Life.
Don’t know about you, but I once read a book about ’5 People You Will Meet In Heaven’. (or something very similar). I shall not say anything about the book because I hope that you will one day have the opportunity to read it, and I don’t want to divulge anything. Buuttttt!
It has made me wonder just what 5 people have had most affect on my life, thus far. I’m not too sure whether one is supposed to include immediate family, as if so, then my 5 would probably be consumed right there! So, supposing that under normal circumstances family are excepted, mine would probably include;
1. Canon W.J.Hickin. B.A.
‘Walter John’, as he was affectionately called, was parish priest of St. Peter’s Church (C.of E.), Newton, Mumbles, Swansea. He lived in the vicarage at 26 St. Peter’s Road – opposite the church. I met him when I decided to join the church choir in 1943, at the age of 5! I would see him at choir practice on Friday evenings, then on Sundays, Communion at 0800, Morning Service at 1100, Sunday School at 1400 and Evensong at 1830. There would, of course, be other times, like during Easter, etc. when we had extra services – not to mention weddings, etc. I suppose you could say that we saw a lot of each other! I well remember sometimes being the only choirboy at a service! I ended up as Head Boy, and left the church when I went to London to join the Police Cadets in 1954. As if this was not enough, 26 St. Peter’s Road was on my newspaper delivery round!
Walter John was very strict. I remember him saying that, ..”saying that you are a Christian does not make you one”. I must confess that, greatly though I admired and liked him, I am definitely not looking forward to reviewing my life with him when next we meet! Don’t think he’ll be very keen on it! I must devote a future blog to Walter John – he is worth it, and there are so many tales that I can recall.
2. R.S.M. E. Geary. R.M.P.
Funny thing about Ernie (I love calling him that. Wouldn’t have dared to, to his face!), I think that I admired him almost as much as he disliked me! He was i/c our Military Police Unit in Hong Kong for the second half of my tour of duty there. I was quite ‘well in’, as I was doing some special anti-vice enquiries for our Officer Commanding, Major Davies, as well as assisting our Special Investigation Branch (Sgt. Bob Gooding) with other criminal enquiries. As so often happens when we are young, I fell foul of ‘the system’ in the army, and u-know-who jumped on me from a great height! He was OK to me, but his actions certainly ensured that I would not be signing-on for any extended tour in the army. Pity really, as I secretly looked upon him as a bit of a role-model. (Years later, he told some of my Police colleagues that I had been one of his best men!!!) Being polite, I expect.
3. Sir George Abbiss.
Can’t really say anything about Sir George as I had never heard of him until that day in 1959. I had just come out of the army and was looking forward tremendously to joining the Hong Kong Police. (as it was then). Came the interview at Crown Agents in Millbank, London, and it was a boiling hot day – so was most of 1959. Cut a long story short – as I have recalled this in another blog – Sir George, the interviewer, was very hot and very irritable, because ‘his room’ did not have a fan. I was his first interview of the day and briefly went;”you were a Metropolitan Police Cadet. Why aren’t you joining the Met? Don’t you think you owe them something for training you?” Didn’t need ‘my sort’ in Hong Kong. His irritability forced me to change the entire course of my life so he is well worth a mention.
4. Stephen Phillips.
Stephen was M.D. of a Security Company with countrywide branches, owned by a family Cleaning Company. He was a family friend of the owning family, and was brought-in to provide business acumen in a company that had been founded and built, by former police officers. (working for the family). I was Regional Director for branches in Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Basingstoke, Fareham, Birmingham and Northampton. Cut a long story short again, Stephen decided that I would not be a part of his company so – redundancy. At age of 52, with little qualifications, but a large mortgage and a 4 year-old son! Yuk! Yes, Stephen had a massive say in my life.
5. Derek Bryer.
Derek – known as DTB – was Managing Director of Welsh Brewers Cardiff Brewery, part of Bass Brewers. He and my predecessor, the late E.J.T. (John) Aplin, (God bless you, John.) was responsible for saving my life. At least, as far as I am concerned. Between them, they were responsible for giving me a really good, well-paid job, when all seemed doomed. Resurrected.
I gladly did my ‘time’ with Bass until I retired, at that age, in 2003. So, I had 13 years of tidy living, thanks to DTB. It’s no coincidence that DTB was also the best boss imaginable. But by golly, don’t fall foul of him if you can avoid it!
Well. There you go. It seems that, mostly, the people were connected with ‘work’.
So how about you? Answers not on a postcard please.
Taking the Piss!
Did you know that one of the persons arrested in connection with the Glasgow Airport bomb outrage, Kafeel Ahmed, had told his family that he was engaged in a ‘Global Warming’ project?
Strewth. Is he taking the piss, or what?
That’s Ol’ Bill.
I was born & bred in a very small village, long ago, when everybody knew everybody and, more importantly, everybody actually spoke to everybody!
We kids went ‘out to play’ first thing, immediately after our ‘paper-rounds’, and only went home for meals during the day. Weren’t any cars about, and no paedophiles or other queer folk. We would play in Dick Woollacott’s farm, raid his fields for swede, scrump apples from gardens (we had a list of ‘most desirable’ apples!), pinch brussel sprouts or peas, play ‘guns’ usually in St. Peter’s Church grounds, go down the ‘cliffs’ or to the beach – Caswell Bay mainly, as it was sorta our meeting-place, build dens, or, perhaps, a straightforward game of footers or cricket, down Underhill Park, and so on.
Now and then the air-raid siren would disturb our play and we would hightail it home in case the German Bombers got us! Anyway, my brother Bill, who is 2 years my junior, was one of the ‘gang’, and unlike me, was a bit of a toughie. Because of that, he was also a sort of respected member of the gang in an adjoining area – the Newton gang.
Now Bill, apart from National Service in Cyprus, never left the area. He really did do his growing-up in this area; met his wife – a local girl; played for local soccer teams; frequented the local hostelry – the Newton Inn & the Rock & Fountain; sings in the world-renowned Morriston Orpheus Choir; and is an Artist of note.
My father, also Bill, was a ‘local’, being born & bred in the village, and was also a bit of a tearaway. He was a good heavyweight boxer and rugby-player, and totally addicted to Evan Evans & Bevan’s brewery products! Well, he was saved by World War 2, as he went into the army and took-out his violent streak on the hun. He was a member of the Long Range Desert Group and despite his weak spots, ended up a Sergeant Major. He then returned to the village where he spent his daytimes working for a local firm of Insulation Engineers, and his evenings in – yea, you’re ahead of the story, – the Newton Inn.
Well, I left the area at the age of 16, to join the Metropolitan Police Cadets, and never really returned until 1988, at the age of 50. So I hadn’t seen most of the locals for 34 years, and that was a long time bearing in mind that most of my mates were only 16 when last we met! Now, what tickled me was peoples’ memories. I was talking to one of my old mates who continually referred to me as Bill, so I let him do so. ‘Twas OK until he asked, “How is your brother who joined the Police Force?” Yea OK. But, with a well-known father – Bill – and a well-known bro – Bill – I didn’t stand a chance. I really, honestly, don’t mind going through life as Bill, but I must say that it totally pisses-off both Barbara and Nick.
Anyway,’twas the last straw when I was talking, just the other day, to some lads in the Newton. One was a good pal from yesteryear. As I went to the bar to get a drink, one of the group said something to my mate, and I distinctly heard him say, “That’s Bill”. Now even I can’t take that from my own mate, so I remonstrated with him. He looked suitably embarrassed, and muttered, “I was telling him that you were ‘Old Bill’ in London”!!!!! Oh dear, Oh dear. Do you ever get the feeling that you’re a loser!
Passing of a Good Friend.
I make no apologies.
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, as his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To blame and I’m A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not join the majority and do nothing.
So many of my ol’ mates in the Force were real characters that it is hard to decide which were the most memorable. I’m not suggesting that Hammersmith was top-heavy with characters – but, it was. The LPP (London Police Pensioner) magazine recently mentioned two, both of whom I knew very well.
1. Sam. Sam was P.S.74F Taylor, now sadly no longer with us. He really was a Dixon of Dock Green, and actually looked just like him. Sam was, for many years, the duty Sergeant at FD. Most of us, at some time, went to see him to try and get our duties changed. With his pencil always behind his ear and his eraser to hand, he would give a knowing smile and then, dependent upon his pleasure, he would either grant our request, or not! He wielded so much power that we christened him God. Matters came to a nice climax one Xmas, when some of the lads sent him a Birthday Card!! Tis rumoured that he had it on the wall of his office for years thereafter.
2. The Penguin. aka SPS Noel Earle. Noel was well over 20 stone, biggish moustache – grey – and a right grumpy old sod. But I liked him. When he was at FD as SPS, he was well known for his mood swings! One minute he would be raving at you, the next moment he would be like your favourite aunt. One day when he was Station Officer (I don’t think he liked that duty), I had the misfortune to walk through the station office en route to the Comms room. The secret was to get through without attracting his attention. As usual, I failed miserably and when I was about halfway through, he turned and saw me. With an enormous roar (cos he guessed that I had been trying to avoid him), he picked up GO’s and threw them at me. (GO = General Orders, and was an extremely large, very thick book). Anybody will know that this is no mean feat, for they are a goodly weight. I didn’t stop to find out what condition the GO’s were in, and there was just a puff of smoke as I disappeared into Comms. He followed me into the Comms room, put his arm around my shoulders and, with a huge grin said, “Taff, you like trying to annoy me, don’t you?”
He was well over 20 stone and used to come to work on a tiny moped – riding kinda side saddle. We always said that he was a massive endorsement for the moped makers. He would approach Hammersmith Broadway from Beadon Road and what happened there would be anybody’s guess. There would invariably be heavy traffic on the one-way system, not to mention a pedestrian crossing, and we all knew that he couldn’t stop, as, if he did, then he would not be able to get mounted again. I’m not aware that he ever collided with anybody but I can’t vouch for roadside property!
A measure of his popularity was the attendance at his ‘farewell’ function at Ravenscourt House. Many rather unusual people were there, for an SPS, including almost his entire relief, and many Senior Officers – including Sir Hugh Anneslie. Perhaps I’ll say a bit about Hugh some other time!
Not a Titter!
I put a joke on the brilliant G-Man blog, as an aside, and it did not raise even a titter – as Frankie Howard would say. Before condemning it to the bin, I’m putting it here for your hopeful titillation. Let me know what you think.
Answers on a postcard.
A Russian woman married a Canadian man and they lived happily ever after in Toronto. However, the poor lady was not very proficient in English, but did manage to communicate with her husband. The real problem arose whenever she had to shop for groceries.
One day, she went to the butcher and wanted to buy chicken legs. She didn’t know how to put forward her request, and in desperation, clucked like a chicken and lifted up her skirt to show her thighs. Her butcher got the message, and gave her the chicken legs.
Next day she needed to get chicken breasts, again she didn’t know how to say it, and so she clucked like a chicken and unbuttoned her blouse to show the butcher her breasts! The butcher understood again, and gave her some chicken breasts.
On the 3rd day, the poor lady needed to buy sausages. Unable to find a way to communicate this, she brought her husband to the store…
What were you thinking? Hellooooooo, her husband speaks English! Now get back to your blogs.
Born, Bred, And Played Here.
Yea! You got it. The photo published depicting the Scene of Crime was, of course, St. Peter’s Church Hall, Newton. Now falling apart, ’twas the mainstay of our childhood activities – those that were organised, that is. Know what I mean? Cubs, Girls’ Fellowship, Women’s Institute (my Mum’s lil ol’ favourite), etc. The inside was all wooden floorboards which were wonderful. During the war, the yanks were based in the church field, next door, and used to have entertainment in the hall. I was fascinated to see the yanks at the back of the hall, sitting on their helmets, which were placed on the wooden benches, so that they could see the stage. Which is, as you know, the stage which we set fire to. We being, brother Bill, Wiss Hixson & self. We went under the stage, through an external trapdoor which is no longer there, but is being pointed out to us by an obliging Dickiebo; (please click on pictures to enlarge).
You can see the wooden steps leading up onto the stage area.
We just set fire to some old, dry, grass to keep warm, but were driven out by the smoke. The rest, as they say, is history.
This is the hall taken from the church grounds. The trapdoor area is the extreme left of the picture. The church grounds were, obviously, well-suited to the needs of us kids. The area was absolutely ideal for ‘cowboys & injuns’. Don’t you think?
I was in the church choir from 1942 (aged 4) during the war years, until I left home in 1954/5. Head Boy for a long time, and absolutely cherish the memories. Was also a ‘Server’, sometimes called an ‘Altar-boy’. I’ll never forget the initiation ceremony for choirboys. Lucky we were only small when we joined, because the bigger boys would dangle us by our feet, until our heads were submerged into a large rainwater barrel, at the foot of the steps leading down to the boiler-room. Here:-
Entrance to the choirboys room and Vicar’s vestry:-
The unused entrance beneath the church bell, which formed an ideal meeting-place for us and the ‘girls’!!!!
And finally, the church entrance.
I should say that then, of course, there were no cars, so no signs or ruddy ashphalt roads. It was all grass. Heaven. Made, for playing!
Well, as you can guess, St. Peter’s and dear old ‘Walter John’ – Canon W.J.Hickin, played a very major part in my early life, and I think of them probably far too often. I went there to take these pictures with Barbara yesterday, and there was a choir preparing for a wedding. I felt like a right outsider – which, I suppose, I now am. Pity.
Linda asked where Dickiebo’s Header comes from. Ancient readers will, I hope, forgive me if I explain a little.
The Mug is, of course, yours ever so truly, and I am on our favourite walk with B, along the cliff path between Langland and Caswell Bays. Langland is in the pic and the tide is out. The castle-like building on the right is the Miners’ Convalescent Home – now turned into flats! When I was a kid, it was always nice to see the convalescing miners walking around our village, identifiable by their yellow & black lapel badge. The chalets on the beach are Council-owned, and let out to tenants per season. These were only available to the posh people! On the beach, immediately below the chalets, were wooden framed tents. These sites were leased out to locals and some slightly-better-off friends had one, which we would all share. Democracy at work, for you! Unfortunately, persistent high tides coupled with stormy weather, put paid to the tents years ago and they were discontinued.
The part of the beach which can be seen, is the part where we used to take Tom Brace’s ponies, giving rides to ‘trippers’ for 6p a time. In those days, the beach was absolutely crowded. Who’d ever heard of Spain then? The car-park had a major section reserved for ‘charabancs’ (coaches to you and I!) and their colours I shall never forget. These coaches were all colours, coming mainly from ‘the valleys’ as we would say. The ‘trippers’ would use them as their base during their day on the beach. They would invariably hire out deckchairs for the adults, placing them in a huge circle, with the youngsters on the sand within the circle. They would have great fun. Really!
We were spoilt for choice of beaches, and my personal favourite was Caswell – where we would gather on the ‘flat rocks’ by the ‘big boys pool’ and spend the day talking about ‘man’ things and all!! in between ‘dips’. Langland and Caswell were pretty much equidistant from our homes in Nottage Road;
They are separated by the Langland Bay Golf Course and old readers will know that our family were friends of the Venn family, who lived on the course. Frank was the Head Greenkeeper, and Mrs Venn ran the Clubhouse. During the war, Dickiebo was tied to a lawnmower, to pull it for cutting the greens. My reward was twofold; a ride on the tractor – great, great, great. I shall never, ever forget the wonderful smell of the old, oily thing. And, afterwards, in the bungalow, a cup of tea (yuk!) and a 3p bag of Smith’s Crisps. Faaaantastic!
Eagle-eyed readers may also spot Dickiebo’s newspaper round! The shop was at the bottom of Nottage Road, in Southward Lane, and my rounds took me to St. Peter’s Road, Summerland Lane (which was the nearest bomb that the Germans got to Nottage Road – ha, ha, ha!) Caswell Avenue, Hillgrove, Marytwill Lane, and Brynfield Road.
I’ll bet you’re glad that Linda asked now, aincha?
Anguilla Police Unit 1969.
I expect most of you remember this, don’t you? In 1969, some local erks in Anguilla, led by Ron Webster, decided that they no longer wanted to be Governed by the Brits and the legal Government in force, covering the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. So, rather unwisely, they threw the High Commissioner off the island, at gunpoint. Well, you just can’t do that, ol’ boy. Just isn’t cricket. So, the might of the British Empire was dispatched. Well, some Paras and London Bobbies!
We’re coming – golf clubs & all! (That’s my Dickiebo!)
En route, we stopped off at Antigua, in this building;
And prepared for the coming conflict;
When we arrived, we took matters seriously, and ‘orft we jolly well went’ to put down this ‘insurrection’!
No doubt about it, we took this serious. Honest! (Note Dickiebo’s moustache!!)
This lovely lady, and her hubby Ron, kindly permitted us to take over their house as our base. They lived in the rear, ground-floor, and we had the front rooms – for living and working. (No upstairs!)
These were taken from the house;
About 100 yards away was
Yea. Still using me golf clubs! Well, obviously we had to have some recreation:-
And, being as some sneak took, and dared me to print, the above disgusting golfer, I too can be a sneak:- (Look closely – he is our Inspector facing us, and Nigel from Twickers from the rear)!
Xmas 1969, and we decided to forego our Xmas Dinner, to give the island kids a party;
I worked with a great bunch of lads, and we all got on famously with the local people. God bless ‘em.
And even big, bad, Ron Webster, was not so bad after all. Gave me a wave, anyway.
And so, home. Courtesy of the Royal Air Force.
British Police remained in Anguilla for a few years, recruiting and training a Police Force, and the island has been totally transformed into a holiday haven. (Not, of course, suggesting that this was down to us! Far from it.). But, everything has to start somewhere. Don’t it?
A French resistance heroine who saved more than 100 lives and survived a Nazi death squad has died at the age of 105.
Andree PEEL said that she still felt the “pain” of the Second World War, when she celebrated her 104th birthday.
Andree, who lived in Long Ashton, near Bristol, survived a Nazi death squad and delayed having a family because of her work harbouring Allied airmen.
“I was born with courage. I did not allow cruel people to find in me a person they could torture,” she said, as she marked her birthday with chocolates and flowers with friends.
“I saved 102 pilots before being arrested, interrogated and tortured. I suffer still from that. I still have the pain.”
She was being lined up to be shot by firing squad at Buchenwald when the US Army arrived to liberate the prisoners.
Agent Rose was running her own beauty salon in the Brittany port of Brest, France, when the Germans invaded.
At first she was involved in distributing secret newspapers but was later appointed head of an under-section in the Resistance.
British prime minister Winston Churchill was compelled to write her a personal letter of congratulation for her work – although it had to be destroyed immediately after it was read.
Mrs Peel, who was interned in two Nazi concentration camps in her lifetime, told the Western Daily Press newspaper that she still felt young. “I still feel like a woman of 50. I think that time has forgotten me,” she said.
Her experiences with the Resistance inspired her autobiography Miracles Do Happen.
She went on: “You don’t know what freedom is if you have never lost it. Everybody was ready to contribute to the fight and to risk their lives.”
After the war, she met her future husband, Englishman John Peel, and they settled in Long Ashton several years later. She had no time for romance during the conflict and was in her mid 40′s by the end of the war and “too old” to bear children, she said.
Mrs Peel received France’s highest award for bravery, the Legion d’Honneur, from her brother, four-star General Maurice Virot.
Among her other decorations are the War Cross with palm, the War Cross with purple star, the American Medal of Freedom, the Medal of the Resistance and the Liberation Cross.
Arthur Stanley “Stan” Gurney VC
Arthur Stanley “Stan” Gurney VC (15 December 1908 – 22 July 1942) was anAustralian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
“On 22 July 1942 at Tel-el-Eisa, Egypt, during the First Battle of El Alamein, intense machine-gun fire held up the company to which Private Gurney belonged and inflicted heavy casualties on it, including killing or wounding all the officers. Private Gurney, realizing the seriousness of the situation, charged the nearest machine-gun post, silencing the guns and bayoneting three of the crew. He bayoneted two more at a second post before a grenade knocked him down. Picking himself up, he charged a third post and disappeared from view. Later, his comrades, whose advance he had made possible, found his body.”
The desert grave of WX9858 Private (Pte) Arthur Stanley Gurney
Gurney’s grave at El Alamein
The Stan Gurney ward at the former Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood, and the Stan Gurney V.C. Memorial Bike Race, held annually in Western Australia, are named in his honour.
Gurney’s medal group, including his Victoria Cross, came into the National Collection in 1994, and is on permanent display at the Australian War Memorial.
Victoria Cross (VC)
God Bless You, Stan. And….thank you!
Acknowledgements to Wikipedia.
Women – Keep Your Virtue!
Our women – God bless ‘em!
When I was a keen & green, young London cop, I quickly discovered that there are two distinct types of cabbie. Some are good ‘uns, and others are the pits. There just don’t seem to be any in-betweens. I’m sure that there must be, but they just didn’t seem to surface very often. The duff ones include the one whose cab I got into when I first arrived in London as a 16 year old.
I got off the train at Paddington, got into the cab, and pulled a piece of paper from my pocket. Reading from it, I said to the cabbie, “I’d like to go to the Conservative Club in Green Lanes, Haringey, please.” My uncle was the Steward there. Off we went and after what seemed an age, the cabbie asked me whether I knew the way. “No.” After more time had passed, he said that he couldn’t find Green Lanes, and didn’t have a map. Not to worry though, as he spotted a radio-cab, who would phone in and ask for directions. So, he chased after the radio-cab. Couldn’t catch it, of course. Cut a long story short, we eventually arrived at the destination and, guess what? He took me for nearly every penny that I had been given to start my new life in the Capital. Gross, nasty deception. Thievery. I can tell non-Londoners that Green Lanes is a main thoroughfare in Haringey and every, yes every, cabbie would know it well. Unfortunately, I came across many such cabbies during my time in the Force.
But, I try not to think about them. I prefer to think of the others.
I was a rookie-cop, just out of the Training School, and was spending 3 weeks on night duty in Soho. Late one night, I got called to a clip-joint, where a man was supposed to be acting aggressively with a knife. I was young, keen, and raring to go. I had my truncheon and my whistle, should I need them, so off I jolly well went. Straight into the lion’s den. There was this chap, bloody hell, about 6’6″ or more, large build, and waving around a gurkha’s kukri! Ahem! Now, now, my man. Desist forthwith. He wasn’t much interested in what I said. I waited for an opportune moment, and grabbed the ‘lopper off of goats’ heads’, and put it out of harm’s way. I duly arrested said knife-wielder for ‘Possessing an Offensive Weapon.’ He turned out to be a Canadian lawyer. Anyway, he struggled like buggery, and I attempted to drag him along Greek Street, him towering over me, and me using only one hand, as I had the kukri in the other! A bad time. You gotta remember, there were no radios, and few people had telephones, so help was just a dream! Then came the cabbie. Gawd bless ‘im! He pulled up, and out of the cab jumped a colleague, Constable 604C Furnell – Jim. Jim had been on duty at Piccadilly Circus, and was picked up by the cabbie, who had seen my struggles.
Now. When I’m asked about London cabbies, I say that there are good & bad. The good ‘uns are just that – Cheers, Gents. And the others? Just hope that they can sleep at nights.
Dickiebo Note:- The Canadian was released without being Charged. Why? Ask any copper. I’ll bet that police readers are screaming out what’s wrong with this!
When Newton was still a tiny village, that is, roundabout 1948-ish, it had many great characters. One of these was Alf Owen. Alf had a riding-school on Pickets Mead, and his only interests in life were his horses, and a pint of Best Bitter. (Evan Evans & Bevan, Vale of Glamorgan Brewery)! Having horses, and being a boozer, he was naturally a friend of 10 year-old Dickiebo and his Dad – who hated horses! (Worked that one out?)
Alf was a grizzly old man, with a truly weather-beaten face, always clad in the mandatory thick, grey flannels, turned-up twice at the bottoms, (no bloody jeans in those days!), thick woollen pullover, and ‘hacking-jacket’, with matching flat-cap. Hobnail boots with thick leather laces, which always caught my eye. Why? Well, because of the way that he walked. He walked very slowly, because, as he told us daily, he was ‘all strapped up’ around the stomach, with bandages, after some long-since-forgotten stomach operation. As he brought his feet forward when walking, his toes would point up at the sky, and his foot would then come down, about 6 inches in front of it’s former position. Slow going! His stables were at the bottom of his garden, so he didn’t have far to walk, to get to work. There were two corrugated steel lean-to’s which were called ‘stables’, and sandwiched between them, was Alf’s pride and joy – his ‘Tack Room’. A monstrous abuse of the English language if ever there was one. All it was, really, was a couple more corrugated sheets linking the two ‘stables’, but in there, was where Alf held Court.
Pride of place was his rocking-chair. An old – some would say, very old – wooden chair, with hay thereon, to soften his seat. Having walked the entire length of the garden to get there, he would walk up to the chair, about-face, and lift both feet, thereby ensuring a square landing on the chair. A huge sigh and – ready for the day. Issuing his orders to us lot of gophers, telling us which horses to prepare for whom, and at what time. I remember one day, he told me to go to his field on the s-bend in Murton Lanes, and fetch in Dolly. I returned about an hour later – the field is only about 3 minutes away! – without Dolly, and Alf never let me forget it. The bloody horse just ran away from me every time I got close! All round the walls of the ‘tack room’ were rosettes which Alf claimed to have won at gymkhanas. Not sure he did but……..if he says so! Anyway, on a rainy day we would congregate in the tack room and listen to Alf’s tales of yesteryear. Great!
He would enjoy a pint, or two hmmmm, lunchtimes, not in the Newton Inn, but in the Rock & Fountain, opposite. This was because my old man was frequently ‘barred’ from the Newton by the landlord, Iori Evans. So there would be the old man, Alf, Jack Evans – my favourite dustbin man, – Cyril Thrush, the window-cleaner, Dick Woollacott, the farmer, and John Daniels, the Dentist. When there was a fox Hunt, they would all gather outside the Rock before the start, to imbibe. I shall always remember what I call, “Alf’s Farewell!” He was well past riding, of course. He had a small grey pony, Betsy, which was on the hunt, and had gathered outside the Rock, with a young girl astride it. Then Alf’s beer took over. He lifted the girl off Betsy, and somehow swung his leg over the poor litle nag – strapped stomach or not! His feet nearly reached the ground, so he wrapped his legs under Betsy’s belly and went cantering off, up the hill, wildy shouting, “Tally-Ho. Tally-Ho!”
I loved these characters and learnt much from them – which is probably why I am no bloody professor! What’s your excuse?
You’re probably thinking – who the heck is Frank Dove. Aincha? Well, let me tell you about Frank – we used to be friends!
We were young rookie cops at West End Central Police Station, in the West End of London. Frank and I were at CD2, which patrolled Soho and Mayfair – as you know. Frank was about 20, very blonde hair, an extremely nice – correct – sort of chappie. And he was getting very disillusioned with ‘the job’! Seems that Soho and the West End were not as full of policing activity as he had expected. He’d even started taking judo lessons, ready for the fray.
We paraded for Night-Duty at 10pm, and the Sergeant gave us our ‘postings’. i.e. which areas we were allocated. We were posted, this night, to adjacent beats in Soho. As we were leaving the station, Frank came up to me and said, “Thank goodness I’m near you. You seem to have all the fun. Nowt much ever happens to me.” And he really meant it!
Some time in the early hours of the morning, I got called to this clip-joint, where a man complained that he had paid £10 to go ‘with’ this hostess, but she had then disappeared. The other ‘girls’ were acting-up, trying to frighten off the complainant, and the female concerned had by now returned to the clip-joint, and was being demure. Butter would not have melted in her mouth. Perhaps, because I knew her, I decided to arrest her for theft of the £10. I needed the complainant to accompany us to the station, as he was the complainant, and witness. He agreed, and I took the girl out, followed by the man.
That was, more or less, the last that I ever saw of him! As we got outside, the girls attacked the poor sod, with their shoes as weapons. I’m trying desperately to hang onto my ‘prisoner’ whilst protecting the bloke, and not succeeding very well at all. But, all was not quite lost. Who walks around the corner? Yea, yea. You gottit. Frank Dove.
Frank waded in, chuffed to little nanny-goats at seeing some action. As fast as he restrained the girls, others would take their place in attacking the poor complainant. Seeing the danger, Frank tried desperately to protect the chap, getting, in the process, several clonks from well-aimed shoes. I think Frank’s mackintosh and helmet did stout work for him, but it was a fulltime job nicking a couple of the girls, meaning that Frank couldn’t hang onto chummy. Eventually, this chap’s bottle went, and so did he!
So it was, that Frank and I turned up at the station, with several girls, and no ‘theft’, as we had no complainant. Needless to say, the girls, having achieved their aim, were mostcharming. The Duty Inspector never did understand why we had nicked such lovelies! And Frank? The ungrateful sod told me to stay away from him in future!
Just be careful who you choose as a friend!
Mumbles at War!
Born, as I was, in 1938, I do have very vivid memories of ‘the war‘!
- The drone of the bombers as they arrived overhead to disgorge their deadly cargo, is a noise that I shall remember until my dying day;
- the sight of the searchlights criss-crossing the sky trying to pick out the planes;
- the sound of the air-raid warning siren;
- the sight of our fighters chasing the enemy from the area;
- the arrival of the American troops in our village;
- the unbelievable ‘spirit’ of neighbours, which even impressed a tiny lad!
Well, our local historians, husband and wife, John and Carole Powell, have produced many old photographs and details of that time, and I thought that you may like to see a couple of these pics from our village.
This is our local park, Underhill Park, which is just down the road from our house. Posing there, are our glorious wartime firefighters;
Our ‘Home Guard’ – the lads who were gonna stop the hun in his tracks if he got this far, make a goodly picture, posing outside Dickiebo’s Oystermouth Castle;
After the war, we all had street parties. There was, of course, VE Day (Victory in Europe) and VJ Day. (Japan). Nottage Road had our party in the Newton Churchmen’s Club, and we had a parade through the village, with our band!!! Stuart Price led the parade on account of the fact that he was the only one who could play an instrument - a banjo, being as you ask! He also had an advantage in that his Mum, Mrs Biddy Price, hadmade most of our uniforms. I had several ‘sittings’ with her before she produced my Toy Drum Major‘s smart, very colourful uniform. (Basically, scarlet velvet-like material, with yellow braid everywhere, and a black titfer!) I also had to sing;
“See them marching, on parade, on parade,
With their swords and shields arrayed, shields arrayed.
Never one of them afraid, them afraid,
Marching along into Toytown,
On to victory.
(Change tempo!!) As they marched away, at the break of day,
To the sound of the drums, and bugles, gay.
All brand new, in paint and glue,
Was the………..Toy Drum Major!”
How’s that? After 64 years. Just shows the impression all of this had on a child.
One of the street parties in Mumbles;
It was during the war that Dickiebo’s heart was broken. I was in the second year of Primary School, here;
One day – I was only 5 – the HeadMistress, Miss Rees, came into our class, and told us that from today, we must call Miss Harris, Mrs Davies. That, when it was explained to us, broke our hearts. We had all, long since ‘fallen’ for her. Now……it was over. Well, believe it or not, here is she!;
I’m delighted to say that Edna is still around, and is a good friend of my sister. And…..NO! I still haven’t told her how she broke those lovely litle boys’ hearts!
Rudellat was born in January 1897, the youngest of ten children, most of whom died in infancy. She was the daughter of a horse dealer for the French army, and when her domineering mother would allow it, Yvonne accompanied him on buying trips. After his death, Yvonne found herself unable to live with her mother anymore, and moved to London to get a job. While working at a chain store in Regent Street, she met a waiter from the Piccadilly Hotel, and the two were married in 1920. Alex Rudellat was nine years older than his eighteen year old bride, and had once been an undercover agent. In 1922, Yvonne gave birth to a baby girl and named her Constance Jacqueline. When the child was seven, Yvonne and Alex separated, but were friends, and shared time with their daughter.
Ten days after the declaration of war in 1939, Yvonne’s seventeen-year-old daughter joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and later married a sergeant. Yvonne tried several times to join her daughter in the ATS, but was turned down because of her age. In 1942, at the age of forty-five, Yvonne was finally accepted and selected to train for the SOE, though no woman had ever been chosen as a leader, though many had proven themselves.
Rudelatt joined the SOE in 1942 and following her training, she left England for Gibraltar on 17 July 1942 under the codename Jacqueline and, after months of training, became the first woman SOE to be sent abroad. In terrible weather, she landed by small boat on the Riveria coast of France and travelled to Tours, close to the border of the Occupied Zone and Vichy France to act as a courier to the Prosper circuit. She and her partner,Pierre Culioli, controlled the group together, and carried out many successful operations against German-operated train lines and factories. Between August 1942 and June 1943, Rudelatt worked with the circuit as a courier and also specialised in sabotage and parachute drops. She was part of the team who sabotaged Chaigny power station and personally blew up two locomotives at Le Mans in March 1943.
With suspicions mounting, the two were openly pursued by German forces. On 21 June 1943 she was arrested by the Gestapo whilst waiting for a parachute drop and was wounded during an attempt to escape; Pierre and Yvonne were trying to escape arrest in a car when a bullet hit her in the back of her head, knocking her unconscious. Pierre saw the amount of blood coming from the wound, and since Yvonne was unresponsive, he decided to kill himself rather than be taken and tortured. He slammed the vehicle into a ditch and then the side of a cottage, but the two woke up in a hospital at Blois hours later. Yvonne was told that her injury wasn’t life threatening, and that the bullet hadn’t pierced her brain, but that it would be unsafe to remove it. She was taken toRavensbruck, on the same transport as another female resistance heroine,Odette Sansom.
During World War II, over 8,000 Frenchwomen were sent to prison camps in Germany, and only 800 returned to France. In February 1945, 2,500 elderly and ill women were sent from Ravensbruck to what they thought would be a ‘convalescent camp,’ but which was actually Belsen. Yvonne, who had not given the German authorities her real name, possibly suffering from amnesia, was recorded as “Jacqueline Gautier”. She died there after contracting typhus on or around 23 April 1945, shortly after the camp was liberated. As she had successfully maintained her alias of Madame Gautier, and she was extremely ill when the Allied troops arrived, she was not identified as a British SOE agent and was buried in a mass grave.
Honours & Decorations
Today, she is commemorated by an obelisk at Romorantin in the Loire Valley, and by a plaque at the Valençay SOE Memorial, where her name is included in the Valençay Memorial Roll of Honour, along with 91 men and 12 other women who died for their country.
Back in August 1966, I was driver of ‘Foxtrot Two’ police Area Car, working the Early Turn shift – 0700 – 1500 hours. Our patrol area was, basically, Hammersmith and West Kensington, and we bordered Fulham (Foxtrot One), Shepherd’s Bush (Foxtrot Three), Notting Hill (Bravo Four), Kensington (Bravo 3) and Chiswick (Tango ?Three). I obviously knew every street in Hammersmith and West Ken, virtually all streets in Shepherd’s Bush – as I was posted there until 1964, – and most streets of any note, in Notting Hill and Kensington. So we were very well placed to answer to any calls in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
It was a quiet morning, and I remember that it was sunny. This makes life very tedious when there were no ‘shouts’ (Emergency Calls), and we would sometimes park-up by the river near Chiswick during the ‘rush-hour’. And that is where we were at about 10.30am when a call came out;
“Foxtrot 3, Foxtrot 3. Scrubs Lane. N.W.10, outside a scrap-dealer’s yard, Foxtrot One-One require urgent assistance. Origin Information Room [time]“. Now, Foxtrot One-One was our Q-Car. A Q-Car is a similarly high-powered car to the Area Cars, but is unmarked, and carries a plain-clothes crew of Detective Sergeant, an R/T Operator (invariably a ‘Temporary Detective Constable’) and an Advanced police Driver from the uniformed ranks. The Q-Car covered the whole Division.
No answer from Foxtrot 3. Obviously having their meal break.
Call repeated. Still no answer. By now, we are halfway there. Lights full on, blue lights on, warning bells going full blast. Rush-hour traffic was no problem for such a call. My R/T Operator picks up the mike;
“M.P. from Foxtrot Two. We can deal. Foxtrot Two over.”
“Foxtrot Two, I’ll show you dealing.”
Through the back roads onto the Great West Road, through the snarled-up traffic at Hammersmith Broadway, along Shepherd’s Bush Road, around Shepherd’s Bush Green – outside the BBC Theatre, up Wood Lane past the BBC TV Centre, up Scrubs Lane and………….slow down and lights off, as we look for any sign of the Q-Car. We spot it on the right-hand side of the road, sure enough outside a scrap-dealer’s yard. As I attempt to cut across the traffic flow onto that side of the road, the driver of the Q-Car, my old mate Geoff Fox, comes out of the yard. He waves his hands at us and shouted, “It’s OK now, Taff. Cheers, mate.”
And that was the last I ever saw of Geoff, or his oppos, Det. Sgt. Chris Head, and TDC Dave Wombwell. On August 12th, they were all brutally gunned down in Braybrooke Street. Nobody survived!
Of the 3 criminals who brutally, and cowardly, executed these three unarmed men, two have now died in prison. The other one – the ringleader, Harry Roberts, is now, at the age of 71, and having served 42 years in prison, due for parole. Needless to say, much is being said both for and against any idea of releasing him, and Dickiebo has had his two penn’orth by writing to the Daily Mail. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, they didn’t publish my letter, so I’m going to try and reproduce it here.
“I knew all three officers rather well and, indeed, most of the officers at Shepherd’s Bush Police Station. I can tell you that if you were to ask all officers at Shepherd’s Bush to nominate who they thought were the nicest people at the station, the vast majority would have said those three. If the Parole Board now sees fit to release this worthless piece of scum, then let them. It can make no difference to Chris, Geoff, or Dave.”
Detective Sergeant Chris Head was a Fulham boy, who B’s family knew very well – being Fulhamites! Chris was an extremely quiet, introspective guy, who would never raise his voice or ‘pull’ rank. Because he was so quiet, I never really got to know him very well. Quiet, and diligent. He came to Shepherd’s Bush after I left the station.
- What is your favorite word? Darlin’
- What is your least favorite word? Enjoy!
- What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Seeing a disabled child.
- What turns you off? Loud people!
- What is your favorite curse word? Shit!
- What sound or noise do you love? Hymn singing.
- What sound or noise do you hate? Any explosion.
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Barrister.
- What profession would you not like to do? Social worker.
- If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Hello, ol’ pal!