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15 October 2014
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Police Service in Wartime

by fredhughes

Contributed by 
fredhughes
People in story: 
Fred Hughes
Location of story: 
Oxford
Background to story: 
Oxfordshire Constabulary
Article ID: 
A2520631
Contributed on: 
14 April 2004

By fred hughes

Police Duties

After I left my job with the Post Office I joined at the police force. At the age of 15 that may seem to be a rather difficult thing to do! However, this was wartime and regular policeman had been called to the forces. Lads of my age were recruited to carry out some of their work. Instead of being police cadets as they would be called today we were called police auxiliary messenger service. We wore a uniform similar to British army uniforms which had been dyed black. There were six of us at the police headquarters of the Oxford shire Constabulary. We, together with two adult policemen would take eight hour shifts manning the control room. We covered the full 24 hours by starting at either six am 2pm or 10pm. During the evening and night hours there would be only to of us manning the police station. More often than not the two would be teen-agers. These were days before modern communications. Our only means of communication was by telephone. We manned telephone switchboard and it took down reports from other police forces and Scotland Yard and to pass these on to divisional stations. We then typed them out on an ancient typewriter.
There were signs of progress. On a shelf was a wireless transmitter ( at least I think it was). I did on one occasion turn it on but I could neither receive or send.
Night duty it was a particularly bleak time and when times were peaceful we could borrow a mattress from the police cell and snatch some sleep. At other times there would be air-raid warnings to pass on or reports of burglaries passed on by a Scotland Yard. It all seems totally unbelievable that two young lads can be left on their own to decide what action should be taken in any eventuality. In fact there was an adult duty officer asleep in a room upstairs. This duty officer would have been on duty during the day and would often be strict instructions not to wake him! In one particular case he will be accompanied by a pretty lady which would be even more reason to avoid waking him! So it was that when I received a message from the Royal Air Force that a Wellington bomber with the injured crew on board and up badly damaged returning from Germany, the crew of which were expected to parachute in the Oxfordshire area. I called out all of the force to look for these men. Thus it was in 1943 our only means of communication was by telephone.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Police Service in Wartime

Posted on: 03 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Fred

A very interesting contribution.

Regards,

Peter

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