The Great War Part 176, December 29th 1917

Britain Specials Constabulary 361 A third of this number was always on duty and available for service. Thus at a moments notice at a call for police into any of the London divisions a hundred or more motor-omnibuses if need be could offset without any delay to bring police from other divisions. On Saturday morning July 7th 1917 when a fleet of some thirty German aeroplanes raided London special police in their hundreds were thus collected from the divisions and despatched to East London where the damage was greatest. The streets were blocked with traffic and sightseers but away was made for the special police omnibuses and they got through in far less tim ethan would have been possible b y other means. Many of the Special Constabulary on that occasion did twelve hours’ duty at a stretch without complaint. It was dangerous duty too. One London special constable a lawyers clerk was killed b bombay while on air-raid duty. Many others had very narrow escapes. Another special feature of the headquarters organisa­ tion at Scotland House was a flying motor section which paraded every night and stood ready to do any special transport work that might be necessary between the headquarters and any of the divisions. There was also a central detachment of constables attached to head­quarters among whose duties was the honourable one of providing a special guard of constables for Buckingham Palace. Regularly every night this force containing not a few eminent citizens of London marched to the Palace grounds and took their respective stations about the building and the gardens. They patrolled there through the night. T o the close of 1917 only one arrest was recorded within the Royal grounds, and the man arrested proved to bethe inspector of another division who had gone into the grounds in mufti to see whether the special constables were alert or not. Amid some merriment— when he was examined at the central office as a suspect— he expressed himself quite satisfied that the Kings Palace guard of special constables were “watching their job keenly well.”and Many of the big buildings public institutions and even private undertakings of the London district had special constables of their own to guard them. It was felt in many of these cases that some degree of special knowledge was desirable on the part of any special constable having the duty of guarding these buildings if his services in an emergency were to be of real value. It can be readily believed for instance that any layman called upon to do police duty among the retorts of gasworks or the switches of an electricity generating station would be unlikely to prove of much use he could not be expected to know what action to take for the best in an emergency such assay the explosion of an enemy bomb. A number of these undertakings therefore were allowed to enrol special constables of their own. They were recruited from the men employed in these places and in some cases were even provided with uniforms and equip­ment a t their employers expense. Their duties and obligations moreover were confined to the particular undertaking to which they were attached. But they were special constables duly attested and liable to the same penalties for dereliction of duty as those to which ordinary constables were liable. The General Post Office had its own staff of Special Con­stabulary the Savings Bank at West Kensington had a force of 300 a gasworks in theN Division had 200 men. The Government Office of Works and theM arylebone Electric Company had similar bodies the last- named being uniformed at their employers expense. In some cases the firms made private arrangements for teaching the constables drill ambulance work and the rest. In other cases they contributed towards the cost of the men attending drill instruction in the divisions to which they were attached and to the commander of which each of these private forces was responsible. The drills which these and all special constables of the London divisions attended were avery great and important part of their work. They were attended voluntarily and were not counted as hours of police duty. They were in fact an extra duty undertaken willingly b y constables to make themselves more efficient just as was the ambulance work. Yet with such goodwill and enthusiasm did the members of the force undertake this drill that they SHRAPNEL HELMETS FOR AIR RAID S.In October 1917 the authorities supplied the special constables with steel helmets to protect them from the hail of steel fragments scattered b they anti-aircraft guns. LONG -SE R V ICEMEN OFT HES DIVISION O F THE METROPOLITAN SPECIAL CONSTABULARY March past of the DivisionS at Colders Green after the presentation of the medal for long service to members of the Division who had qualified for the honour b y continuous service since the inauguration of the force. 3 SB B
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