The Great War Part 176, December 29th 1917

362 The Great Way Lieut.-Colonel R eay Inspector-General of Divisions and Colonel Savage Divisional Drill Inspector. One interesting and important duty overtaken from the military people about this time b y London Specials Constabulary was the manning of“ observation-posts an idea borrowed perhaps from the field of war itself. These posts were established at points of high altitude about the city and suburbs from which a good view was to be had of the surrounding country. They were found to be of great use for observing the approach and movements of enemy aircraft and forgiving warnings and guidance during aerial attack. They were in a favourable position moreover for noting outbreaks of fire due to air bombs in their immediate districts and also for keeping an open eye for over-bright lights and for anythin gin the nature of signals to the enemy. It was only in fact b y means of constant observation from vantage points such as these that effectual steps could betaken to lessen the possibility of signals from roofs and other points not open to observation from normal levels. Though many alien enemies had been interned there is little room for doubt that enemy aircraft did receive signals from the London area in the earlier days of the war /'The constant watch maintained b y special police and the vigorous measures taken to suppress anything that might have been of use as a signal undoubtedly did much to lessen the risks which London ran from the enemy attacks to which it was so often subject These stations had special instruments for- taking the exact bearing of any point of earth or sky, and each was equipped with a special telephone for communicating the results of observations to headquarters. The small innermost circle of London previously referred to as outside the jurisdiction of the London Metropolitan Police had a Special Constabulary force of 2355 men, and was known as the City of London Police Reserve. The force was divided into four divisions and the duties were much the same as those of the Metropolitan police— namely patrol City of London duty the guarding of vulnerable points Police Reserve and special duty during air raids and on the occasion of public ceremonies. In August 1917 the Special Constabulary Force was commanded b y Colonel J. W . Beningfield who had as Chief Staff Officer Mr. H. L. Hendricks and as Staff Officer Mr. A.H. V ea tty .The commanders of the four divisions respectively were Mr. W .G. Lovell of the A Division Mr. A. Hugh Nicholl of the B Division Mr. W .B. Stant of the C Division and Mr. N. Malcolmson of the D Division. Mr. A. Hugh Nicholl was the Mayor of Lewisham. As the duties of this force were very much the same as those of the Metropolitan police and their organisation on very similar lines there is little need togo very fully here into their work. It maybe mentioned however that they had the guarding of probably the richest corner of the whole world— the banking and business headquarters of London— and that their duties were made the more onerous b they frequency with which the enemy chose their district for his aerial depredations. Passing now from the London area to the “provinces,” the City of Manchester maybe chosen as an example of a city that realised to the full the value in wartime of a body of citizens voluntarily undertaking public service to promote the peace and well-being of their city. The big cotton city was one of the best “policed cities of the kingdom with avery low proportion of crime and a high level of public morality. In face of this fact the “city fathers ”could afford to smile at the little taunts often hurled against their “particular ”and “puritanical "police b they thoughtless. The measure of thoroughness expended upon the normal policing of Manchester was extended unstintingly to the establishment of special police plain citizens sharing with officialdom the work of organising and perfecting this new arm of the law. In less than a month the number of citizens who answered the became not only police inefficient all the little problems of law tact common-sense and ready resource which fall to a man doing police patrol duty but also trained men. The writer was invited to choose any division he might like to see at work and choosing at random a station of theY Division, North London he saw men nearly all of mature age and formerly of sedentary habits (50 percent were clerks), drilling with the smartness and “snap ”of trained youth. A few statistics concerning this division will serve as an illustration of the state of things in atypical London division :Area of division 46 square miles nominal strength 2000 men actual strength 1965. Retirements from the force during its existence from August 1914 to July 1917 were as follows :Owing to enlistments Army and Navy 1273 owing to ill-health physical unfitness, and business reasons 1470 transferred to other divisions, 90 for reasons of discipline 15 died (2 men drowned while on duty) 14. Total 2862. Average age of members at attestation (which inmost cases was three years earlier), 42 members holding certificates for inefficiency drill, 38 percent. for first-aid and ambulance work 11 percent. highest individual number of turns on duty 1736 pro­portion of existing force with three years' service 35 per DEC ORATED FOR LONG SERVICE .Pinning the Special Constables Long Service Medal on the tunic of an inspector of the V Division at Lavender Hill Police Station London. cent. with two years service 56 percent. donations made and collected b y members of the division for charitable objects 7709. Mr. Alfred Collin the commander devoted both time and money to improving the force. With slight variation here and there fee statistics of the whole Special Constabulary forces of London showed a similar high degree of efficiency and of enthusiasm on the part of members. "'The personnel varied of course in character in the different divisions and in place of clerks and businessmen in one suburb might be found in the next a majority of artisans and shopkeepers. In the East End there were quite a number of dockers and members of the Street Traders and Hawkers Union doing conscientious work in their spare hours— and even in business hours during emergencies— as special constables. Three years of war brought about changes in personnel, and the chief officers in August 1917 were Major Wilkinson, second in command under Sir Edward Ward Mr. Guy R idley (the chiefs former private secretary) Staff Officer Mr. W.M. Allen Director of Supplies Mr. Ernest Jacobsen, Chairman of the Discipline Board Mr. A.C. Harden, Director of Transport Mr. R.F. Balfour Finance Officer
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