The Dorking and District Local Emergency Committee

An investigation of the Draft Report on Preparations in the Event of a Hostile Landing, spring 1916, prepared by the Dorking and District Local Emergency Committee, acting under the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) 1914 (Surrey History Centre ref. 2634/1

As part of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) implemented four days after Britain entered the war on the side of the Triple Entente, on the 8th of August 1914, extensive anti-invasion measures were introduced across Surrey, situated precariously where it was between the south coast and the capital. Standard procedure was that ‘Emergency Committees’ would be established to aid the operation of invasion countermeasures without hindrance to the military or the civilian population. Accordingly, the ‘Petty Sessional Division of Dorking’ was speedily amalgamated, along with the ‘Petty Sessional Division of Epsom encompassing the parishes of Headley, Ashtead, Leatherhead, Fetcham and Great and Little Bookham’, as well as the parish of Walton on the Hill in the ‘Petty Sessional Division of Reigate’, into the ‘Dorking and District Area’ with a ‘Local Emergency Committee’ to oversee the anti-invasion procedures.

Working as part of the greater ‘Second Army Central Force’ based initially at Aldershot and then Tunbridge Wells after November 1916, and commanded by General Officer Commanding Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford, a report compiled in late 1915 outlines the boundaries of the ‘area’ with interesting precision: it is described as having been loosely pentagonal in shape, stretching fifteen miles north-to-south from Ashtead to Ockley and at its widest point 8 miles between Walton-on-the-Hill and Effingham, and at its narrowest being 5 miles between Ockley and Newdigate.

The jurisdictional boundaries of the Emergency Committee for the Dorking and District Area

Title: The jurisdictional boundaries of the Emergency Committee for the Dorking and District Area
Description: by-nc

Four months after the declaration of war, in December 1914, Henry Herbert Gordon Clark of Mickleham was appointed Chairman of the ‘Dorking Petty Sessional Bench’ following the departure of his predecessor ‘owing to illness’. His first action as Chairman was the forming of committees and the appointment of ‘Organising Members’ for each parish, with each Organising Member tasked with appointing ‘Special Constables’ in his own parish to enforce the anti-invasion measures. However, the committee’s efforts were dogged by problems concerning the appointment of Special Constables, precipitated by the absence of local men, who had enlisted in the armed forces, the result being that too much work was left solely in the hands of the Organising Members who often felt exhausted by their workload which consequently led to dereliction of duty and resignation.

As per the raison d’etre of the Defence of the Realm Act, the principal concern of the Emergency Committee was the ‘clearance’ (i.e. the evacuation) of livestock and the local populace in the event of a German incursion from the south coast. Under the supervision of the Emergency Committee, the report was confident that a ‘clearance of the Area’ in the event of an invasion would be feasible and efficient.

As outlined in the report, the Emergency Committee’s modus operandi was: to facilitate the easy manoeuvrability of ‘His Majesty’s [armed] forces’ without hindrance to the local population; the provision of ‘voluntary labour’ for ‘emergency works’ like infrastructural repairs; the removal of ‘stock’ (like food, livestock, ammunition and buildings) that could be used by an invader; the safe conveyance of the civilian population, especially the vulnerable and infirm, to places of refuge; the removal of signposts to confuse an advancing enemy; the requisitioning of vehicles, animals and personnel for the military; to utilise ‘scorched-earth’ tactics, viz. the destruction of infrastructure, telephone lines or any resources potentially of use to an advancing enemy.

List of Organising Members for parishes within the Dorking and District Area

Title: List of Organising Members for parishes within the Dorking and District Area
Description: With amendments written presumably in the hand of H.H. Gordon Clark by-nc

Instructions were received by the Dorking and District Emergency Committee which stipulated that, in the event of an enemy invasion, a nationwide ‘clearance’ would be undertaken, starting in the southeast, which would proceed further north and northwest. The committee estimated that, in the immediate aftermath of a hostile landing and the declaration of a state of emergency, the committee could commence moving vulnerable people with or without having received a clearance order. The Special Constables would then commandeer civilian motor vehicles for evacuating vulnerable people such as the young, aged or infirm to either Royal Holloway College in Egham or the Chertsey Union Workhouse on Murray Road in Ottershaw, Chertsey, both of which had been earmarked by the committee to be repurposed for housing the evacuated young, aged or infirm people from the district.

The report goes into great detail regarding the strategic importance of Mole Valley, noting that the area between Dorking and Leatherhead, which the River Mole courses through, is vital in that the main road and railway line connecting Leatherhead and Horsham (the present-day A24) both run parallel to the River Mole. Moreover in this area is the strategically important Burford Bridge: being the largest and only road bridge that spans the River Mole, it would be administered solely for military purposes and likely destroyed in accordance with the ‘scorched-earth’ policy. In the event of an invasion, this section between Dorking and Leatherhead would be the main route by which stock from West Kent and north-east Sussex would be channelled, in a north-westerly direction.

In overseeing the mobilisation of vast numbers of stock and civilians, numerous roads throughout the district would be administered by the military, namely the roads connecting Betchworth and Banstead (the A217 and B2032), as well as the A24 connecting Epsom with East Horsley. The assigned route would be to Guildford via Leatherhead, crossing at Thorncroft Bridge in south Leatherhead and proceeding along the A246 connecting Leatherhead with Guildford.

The report claims that the ultimate objective of the Emergency Committee was the mobilisation of cattle from vulnerable areas likely to be affected by an enemy incursion temporarily to large parks to the northwest, such as Windsor Great Park, Burwood Park (now a housing development in Cobham) and other areas. Livestock being moved from west Kent in a northwest direction would have been kept off the main roads as much as possible and travelled west via byroads from Walton on the Hill to Headley to Mickleham, crossing the A24 into Norbury Park and continuing in the direction of Bookham Common and Cobham. However, the report voices logistical concerns that the suggested locations would quickly exceed their capacity in accommodating such large quantities of stock, therefore necessitating the requisition of other locations in the North Downs, described as having an abundance of ‘considerable stretches of Common’ and ‘forage’ to manage the large influx of cattle.

The report claimed that the committee had received instructions, as per the ‘scorched-earth’ policy, to disable all motor vehicles left behind following the declaration of a state of emergency and the mobilisation of the District’s population by removing the wheels, magneto and carburettor. Moreover, civilians in possession of petrol stocks of more than 30 gallons would have to surrender them to the authorities, who would then duly remove or destroy them. Five surveyors were drafted in by the committee to oversee the destruction of all signposts, for instance a Mr. W. Rapley in Dorking and Mr Sidney R. Drake in Leatherhead. Regarding the provision of vehicles and bicycles for use in the event of invasion, owners of two or more bicycles or motorbikes and the owners of bicycle shops would be required to surrender at least one to the authorities, which would then be requisitioned for official use and/or destroyed.

Special Constables were tasked with directing the movement of livestock and military convoys in transit. They were to be supplemented by Boy Scouts belonging to local troops along with the local Church Lads Brigades and the members of the 10th (Mid Surrey) Battalion S.V.T.C. [Surrey Volunteer Training Corps], whose commandant was the chairman of the Dorking and District Local Emergency Committee, H.H. Gordon Clark. The available quantities of stock, forage, vehicles and manpower were indexed and given to ‘Superintendent Coleman, at the Dorking Police Court’, the District official charged with overseeing the countermeasures upon receiving authorisation from the military after an invasion.

All illustrations are from Surrey History Centre ref. 2634/1 and are copyright of Surrey Heritage.

Peaslake W.I., 1918-1922

Contributed by Wendy Cruxton

“The Women’s Institute (WI) was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War” (National Federation of Women’s Institutes website). The Peaslake Women’s Institute (WI) was founded in March 1918, one of Surrey’s first WIs.


On 7 March 1918 at 3pm, at the Hut, Peaslake WI took its first breath. It is recorded that “Mrs Ayres read a telegram and letter from the President Mrs Smeaton giving her good wishes to the Institute and her regrets at being unable to attend the meeting.

Voting papers were distributed and Mrs Ayres, Miss Collard, Mrs Elms and Mrs Pullen were elected to serve us committee. Miss Paine proposed Mrs Ayres as a Vice President of the Institute which was seconded by Mrs Pullen and carried by all present by show of hands.

Tea was served and 50 members enrolled”.

In the first Committee meeting one week later (14 March 1918): “It was decided that members of the Institute may bring a friend to the meetings and have tea at a charge of 2d. Regular meetings of the Institute to be held on the first Thursday and committee meetings on the second Thursday of each month. […]”

First full meeting (4 April 1918): “Mrs Ayres read a telegram from the Chairman Mrs Smeaton of good wishes to the Institute then gave a short talk on the use of the Suggestion Box and some ways in which members might help each other and on the possibility of cooperation in canning fruit and vegetables. Mrs Abram offered to make enquiries about the apparatus and cans. Mrs Gregory promised to enquire about pig clubs and how they were managed. Some useful leaflets on the seasons for planting vegetables were distributed[…].”

These two meetings establish the format for meetings in the years to come: business, demonstration/lecture, tea, entertainment (usually by members), and the national anthem to close. In December, a competition was included, with two prizes: 1st prize was 2/-d, 2nd prize was 1/-d […].  Subjects ranged from the practical (a child’s garment from an adult’s), to amusing and fun ones (a hat made in five minutes from a sheet of newspaper and 10 pins). The judges for the competitions we usually invited from […] neighbouring WIs, the speaker at the meeting or someone who suited. For example, one year a member, Mrs Webb from Fulvens Farm, was asked if she would allow Mr Rennie to judge the potatoes which had been grown from the 1lb. of potatoes purchased earlier in the year for the competition.

The Suggestion Box requests helped plan the programme, which, in the early days, was half yearly, and continue to do so for many years. Funds were obviously very limited but, from time to time, outside speakers were engaged. Together with a wealth of knowledgeable and talented members upon which to draw, the subjects of the lectures/demonstrations were numerous and varied with much emphasis on being self-sufficient and making do.

In these formative years, the names Miss Moberley, Mrs Webb and Miss (Sylvia?) Drew are much in evidence, possibly the equivalent of today’s WI Advisers. If a lecture/demonstration for a specific subject was acquired Surrey WI was contacted, by letter, for a recommendation (as there was no yearbook at this time) and these three ladies came themselves on numerous occasions.  It also of note that Peaslake WI members were not immune to the influenza outbreak of 1918, with some members reported absent from meetings due to illness.

The Government (WI) Organiser came in May and “gave a little lecture on the work of Women’s Institutes in other villages and reason for joining the Federation and announced that Peaslake WI was formally affiliated.”

Throughout the year, demonstrations/lectures covered “Herbs and Herb Collecting for the Market”, “Fruit Preserving and Bottling”, “Fruit Drying and Canning”, and the work done by St Dunstan’s [Hospital for the Blind, set up to rehabilitate blinded soldiers] with photographs showing the blinded men working on netting frames invented by Miss G H Weatherby, the speaker.

“At Mrs Smeaton’s request, Mrs Ayres gave a short talk on Independence Day on 4 July, and what it means to 2 Americans and then all stood and sang the Star-Spangled Banner. This was followed by the most interesting address by Mr Heffer, on the war and how the civilian population could help win it by economy, particularly of food and the prevention of all waste.”

By September, the Peaslake WI was well established with increasing references to contact with neighbouring WIs, especially with Ewhurst and Shere; there seemed to be a particularly close bond with Ewhurst. Requests from County and National [WI Federations] for items exhibitions held that year to be declined as time was too short to prepare anything, but, when possible, that was in attendance. […]

The need for more housing was as relevant in 1918 as it is today, as recorded in October: “Mrs Ayres spoken rural housing and the necessity for more and better cottages to be built after the war”. Papers were handed round the suggestions that could be forwarded to the Housing Committee of the District Council, which the Housing Committee requested be returned by 18 November.
Note: interestingly, Miss Ayres is listed on the committee as ex-officio Agriculture Committee.

In December, WI Headquarters sent a directive to all WIs that their meetings must not be used for political or electioneering purposes. Fast forward to September 1920, Miss Austen of Reigate, on behalf of the National Political Union, asked that an emergency meeting of Peaslake WI should be held to protest against the miners’ strike, that delegate should be sent to a meeting of protest in London, and that a resolution of protest was enclosed should be signed by members of Peaslake WI and sent to the Secretary of the National Political Union at once. After due consideration, the committee felt it might savour party politics, but agreed that every effort should be made to stop the strike. Instead, the Resolution from the Union was altered, signed by the members present, and return together with an explanation direct to the chairman of the meeting. Surrey WI was informed of their action. In reply, the County Secretary wrote to apologise to Miss Austin’s letter and stated that the letter the letter should not have been sent.



On our first anniversary of the March records and committee minutes clearly show that the ladies of Peaslake had fully embraced the opportunity to come together the friendship; to learn; share knowledge; to support each other and the community; and to enjoy themselves and be involved in all things WI at local, Federation and National level.

Note: it also became clear as the years passed that Peaslake WI did not hesitate to speak out and show support, or disapproval, when deemed necessary.

In July, the committee was read an extract from the Toronto Daily News on Women’s Institutes in Canada and England. In addition, there was a letter from Mrs Watt OBE asking for samples of work to be sent to Canada by 1 August. [Mrs Margaret (Madge) Watt was the energetic Canadian Women’s Institute member who brought the WI to Britain.]

Mrs Smeaton read the editorial on Peace from the August Home and Country and then gave an account of her experience and impressions of the [19 July Peace Day] procession in London, and at the Royal Garden party at Buckingham Palace. A vote of thanks was proposed for the interesting and vivid story, which the whole room seconded by hearty clapping.

In the September meeting, members heard on account of the work of our women police. [The first women police were employed earlier in 1918, to assist in the maintenance of law and order with many male officers away with the Armed Forces]. Three years later at the June committee meeting, Mrs Smeaton reported on the May National Federation of Women’s Institutes Annual Meeting in London. It was decided to ask Miss Sutherland (Federation Secretary) to draw up a letter and have it signed by all the WI presidents and secretaries in Surrey, to be sent to Mr Edgar Horne MP, to urge the government “to give facilities for the passing into law of the Bishop of London’s Bill, the Guardianship Bill and to retain the women police”. The following month the Peaslake WI secretary was asked to send a letter to Mr Horne urging him to oppose the bill for the abolition of women police. Three years later, in October 1925, the subjects surfaced again, when Chief Inspector Champney spoke at Peaslake’s meeting: “she gave strong appeal in support of women police and suggested a resolution, which was proposed at this meeting and carried by a large majority”. Referred to again at the November meeting, members agreed by a large majority that it should be sent to our MP, the Home Office and the Surrey Clerk of Peace. It was also agreed to join the Women’s Auxiliary Service as an Associate. The December meeting unanimously agreed a resolution was to be sent to Surrey to come before the Annual Meeting in February. Peaslake WI sent 2/6d. a year to the Women’s Auxiliary Service as a token of sympathy for the work done by them.



In the February meeting, a letter was read from the Village Clubs Association and the Federation of women’s Institutes in conjunction with the Soldiers Clubs Association. The answer sent by the Secretary was to the effect that Peaslake had a Men’s Club, a parish hall and a new Hut, so that the village was well provided for.


The Annual Report: “The Institute has had lectures on the ‘Devastated Areas of France and Flanders’*, ‘Citizenship’, ‘Character Learning of Children’ and ‘Lantern Lecture on Burma’. Lectures and demonstrations on home nursing, tinkering and soldering, chair caning, skin curing and glove making, and millinery. The Institute also made 54 comments for the Save the Children Fund. An entertainment was arranged to raise funds to start a library for the Institute**.


*“Mrs Calvert Spensley spoke mostly about the Belgians. It was most pathetic to hear of the hardships and cruelty they had endured the hands of the Germans.”

**A library for the WI had been requested in the suggestion box. Following the successful fundraising entertainment on 15 December at an extra committee meeting on the 17th a letter was read from Mr Holt saying that if the Peaslake WI would agree to include Peaslake ex-servicemen as members of the new library, under the same conditions as Institute members, a grant of 5 pounds for the purchase of books could be obtained from the United Service Fund. It was agreed unanimously to cooperate with the ex-servicemen.



The Annual Report for 1921 detailed a year full of activity and variety. There were demonstrations; travel talks on Russia and Serbia*; and the Rector spoke on the reasons a necessity for the League of Nations, among others. The biggest and most successful undertaking of the WI was the starting of the WI library in conjunction with the ex-servicemen; the volume is now numbered over 400.

*The speaker gave an account of her experiences of the impossible life in Moscow and the Bolsheviks. At a later date a donation was sent to the Russian Famine Fund. Miss Drew spoke of her journey to Serbia the previous year, after which all felt they wished to know the Serbians personally. She asked the small gifts for the Serbian orphans of war. Nearly £1 was collected.



In March, the Library Committee had asked the Peaslake WI committee if it was possible for a deputation to meet the committee of the War and Spottiswoode Memorial to ascertain whether and when they would stop building, and whether they would incorporate into their building accommodation for the WI meeting room, library, etc. the Committee agreed and added to request to the Memorial committee that if it thought there was any definite prospect the members would work hard to get funds. It was announced at the August meeting that the trustees declared that women were certainly meant to participate in the benefit of the new Village Institute. Miss Payne, who was a member of the War and Spottiswoode Memorial, proposed to try and get three members of the WI Library Committee co-opted. The Peaslake WI Minute Book holds a vast amount of information on the ongoing dealings between the WI and the Memorial committee, and the hard work the members put in to raise funds

Special Constables in Surrey

Written by Marion Edwards

At the outbreak of war, the four police forces which operated within Surrey (the Metropolitan Police, the Surrey Constabulary and the Guildford and Reigate Borough forces) found their responsibilities greatly increased with the introduction of such wartime measures as the control of aliens, blackouts, air raid warning arrangements and enforcement of restrictive licensing laws. At the same time, the number of police fell dramatically as officers enlisted and recruitment became more difficult – in December 1914, the strength of the Surrey County Constabulary was 351; by November 1918 it was down to 236.

Introduction of Special Constables

Special Constables were appointed to assist the police as a voluntary, part-time organisation, paid only their expenses, and drawn from all walks of life – individuals who probably already had a full-time job, or who perhaps had retired. As a body, Special Constables compensated for the loss of those regular police who had joined the war effort and added an extra layer of protection during wartime. They had a key role to play in local counter-invasion plans, but they also provided much needed reinforcement in ensuring that wartime regulations and restrictions imposed on the civilian population, from rationing to the blackout, were observed.  The Surrey Mirror of 12 May 1916 carried a report of the Budget Committee of Surrey County Council at which it was stated that the Surrey Constabulary was 73 men under strength and could afford to lose no more and that ‘if it wasn’t for the Special Constables doing such a magnificent job [we] would not have been able to spare so many officers for enlistment’.

Certificate awarded to George Parsons as a Special Constable by Surrey Chief Constable M L Sant (SHC CC98/23/9)

In Surrey, by the end of August 1914, over 150 Special Constables had already been sworn in, and numbers continued to rise. In the Surrey Times of 15 May 1915 it was reported that 2071 Specials had been enrolled, all over military age and including members of the peerage in their ranks. This number was revised downwards, however – on 17 January 1919 it was reported in the Surrey Herald that a total of 1612 Special Constables had enrolled during the course of the war. On 26 February 1916, the Surrey Times and County Express carried an appeal from the Guildford Borough Emergency Committee for women to join the ranks of the Special Constables, in order to ‘deal with the population in times of national emergency’.

Herbert Brockman of Eaton Cottage, Thames Ditton, in his Special Constable uniform, as drawn by his daughter Nancy (SHC ref 9497/1)

Life as a ‘Special’ in Surrey

Sources in the Surrey Archives and in local newspapers illustrate the varied official duties of local Special Constables, their unofficial activities such as fund raising for local charities and institutions, and the many difficulties they encountered.

Special Constables were principally appointed to assist the police in carrying out orders given under the Defence of the Realm Act (‘DORA’). These duties covered emergencies arising from air raids and invasion, as well as more prosaic activities such as enforcing blackout conditions, overseeing rationing and general law enforcement.  Lists of named Special Constables, with their addresses, appear in various SHC collections, along with detailed correspondence dealing with their enrollment and management.  The recruitment of the Special Constabulary in Walton on Thames, Hersham and Oatlands is well documented in SHC ref 9117/box 2: this force of volunteers, 140 strong with ages ranging from 23 to 62, was led by Arthur E Pettit of Burley Lodge, Oatlands Drive, who strove, not particularly successfully, to foster military discipline in its ranks: when exhorting participation in regular drill he wrote ‘It is scarcely necessary to call the attention of the force as a whole to the importance of qualifying as a composite body as rabble against rabble has about an equal chance, whereas a compact body has evident advantages against a disorganised mob’. Relations with Chief Constable Sant of the Surrey Constabulary could be strained, especially over the question as to what equipment should be supplied to the specials and Sant is referred to as ‘that arch rotter’ in one letter.

Training, while considered tedious by some ‘Specials’, could also be quite hazardous – in November 1916, Special Constables and Voluntary Aid Detachment companies had a narrow escape near Kingston in a thunderstorm, when they were almost hit by tree falling across tram cables while marching to do their drill.  They cleared this and pulled down another unstable tree in driving rain.

The difficulties the ‘Specials’ encountered could be serious or amusing, exciting or deadly boring – one anonymous ‘Special’ was reported in the Surrey Comet of 14 April 1915 as considering that ‘even the arrival of a Zeppelin would be welcomed as a pleasant change’ if it meant he could escape from his uncongenial patrol partner. His wish was perhaps granted in 1916, when the destruction of not one but two Zeppelins was reported in local newspapers as witnessed by Surrey residents and ‘Specials’. Invasion dangers could sometimes be misinterpreted, however – after the reported escape of prisoners of war in 1916, Special Constable R D Hutchings stopped a speeding car at Horsell Bridge, only to find that the irate driver was Francis P Neville, chauffeur to Mr L Waddington of Easdale, Horsell Common. Assistance to the British armed forces was another duty carried out by the ‘Specials’ – in 1915, an army lieutenant landed his Sopwith biplane in a field near Stoke Lock, on the River Wey at Guildford, and was guarded overnight by Special Constables.  The authority of the volunteers did not always go unchallenged: correspondence in SHC ref 9117/box 2 laments that when asked to make himself scarce, a gardener responded ‘I won’t move on for you or any other bugger of a special policeman’.

The end of the ‘Baby Killer’ (Wikimedia Commons)

Percy Webb

Perhaps the most fascinating account of life as a Special Constable in Surrey is that of Percy Webb, who enrolled in the Walton on Thames area in 1914. Percy’s brief typescript ‘The Diversions of a Special Constable’ (in SHC ref 9117/Box 2) talks of the ‘discomforts’ of cold night duties, especially wet ones, his efforts to evade attendance at parades ‘owing to the pressure of other work’ and the absence of any ‘stirring personal adventures’ – although he does recount his part in organising the warning against ‘the first Zeppelin night raid’ on Guildford in October 1915.  The Zeppelin passed over Walton and it was thought that it was being signalled to by a flare from the garden of a house ‘then in the occupation of foreigners’ (who turned out to be blameless Belgians).  While attempting to enforce the blackout, Percy admired the stoical reaction of a ‘cheerful hawker’: ‘Are you frightened Mr Webb?  I’m not: what I says is, if they ‘its me they ‘its me, and if they doesn’t, they doesn’t’.  The night destruction of three Zeppelins is described vividly by Webb (although he admits to having missed witnessing the first, having gone off duty): the third, the ‘Cuffley [Hertfordshire] Zeppelin’, he saw ‘glowing like a great elongated sun … till it collapsed and streamed downwards to the earth’.  A ‘small riot’ following the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915, when a naturalised German watchmaker was attacked in Hersham, is reported at length by Webb, who aided the Sergeant of Police at the scene in attempting to persuade the rioters to disperse.  Windows were broken, a policeman knocked unconscious and tempers ran high and in Percy’s opinion, ‘the women were the worst and most bitter’, although he sympathised with one, who said ‘Why should I go away, they’ve killed my husband’.  The ‘supernatural’ also provided some night time ‘thrills’ to Webb, who on one occasion heard a ‘ghostly footstep’ preceding him along the road – only to find that the sound was an echo of his own ‘wet and heavy coat’ against his leg.  Early morning patrols had their compensations: ‘I was sorry when the 3 to 6 patrol was given up. In peaceful times one rarely sees the night grow grey and darkness give place to form and colour, till the rim of the sun appears above the horizon, and living nature awakes.  One morning we saw the herons leave Burwood Park in the dawn, and following down to the river, found one of them fishing off Rosewell’s boathouse; a sight that I have certainly never seen there before’.  Percy closes his account with the words of a woman who, meeting him on a dark night, said to her startled companion ‘Taint a soldier, it’s a gentleman’. He wondered ‘Now was that a compliment or not? I would rather have worn the more honourable uniform’, thus nicely summing up the dichotomy of a Special Constable’s position.

Sources for Special Constables at Surrey History Centre

Correspondence, papers and printed orders relating to the enrolment and management of Special Constables in various areas of Surrey can be read at CC98/23/2 and 9117/Box 2

Lists of named Specials, both MS and typescript, with their addresses, appear in 898/4/1-65, 7543/2/1, 8261/13/4 and 9117/Box 2

Reigate Borough Police in the Great War

Written by Marion Edwards

Reigate Borough had its own police force until 1943 and the Head Constable had to submit Annual Reports to the Borough Watch Committee. The reports (held as SHC ref CC98/22/1) are mostly statistical, with brief paragraphs under descriptive headings outlining duties and activities throughout the year. Those made during World War I are no exception, but they do contain some insight into the effect of the war on the local constabulary.  The Reigate Constabulary was a small force. In 1914, it had 40 officers in total, comprising 1 Head Constable, 2 Inspectors, 7 Sergeants and 30 Constables.

The reports for 1914 and 1915 contain an extra paragraph entitled ‘War’:

1914 – ‘War was declared in August last, which has imposed much onerous and anxious work on the Police. A great number of Home Office and War Office Orders and Communications has been issued, necessitating constant and diligent attention by the Police for efficiently carrying out the same.’

1915 – ‘The War has made the work of the Clerical and Detective Departments of the Force very heavy. Considerable investigations and reports occupying much time and attention have had to be made to the Home Office, the War Office, the Competent Military Authorities and other Police Forces.’

For 1916 and 1917, the reports are slightly more detailed than 1914-1915, giving a month by month breakdown of events. Even so, mention of the war here is very brief and rather abstract:

1916 (incorporated into the report for 1917) – ‘April… War Bonus of 3s per week granted to each member … Half pay granted to members of Fire Brigade called as “Stand-By” when hostile aircraft are reported’; ‘May … The question of calling the Fire Brigade to “Stand-By” in case of Air raids left to the discretion of the Head Constable’; ‘September … The Head Constable to inform Station Officer of every order received of the approach of hostile aircraft’; ‘December … The allowance agreed to be made by the Council to members in HM Forces to be continued as required … ’

1917 – ‘February … War bonus adjourned … Reeves fund to be invested in War Savings Certificates’; ‘March … No further depletion [of manpower] for military service … War Bonus Committee to consider further War Bonus to the Police … War Bonus increased by 1/- [shilling] per week for each dependent child, the bonus not to exceed 5/- [shillings] per week’; ‘April … Two guineas granted to PC Bryan for extra clerical services during the war’; ‘June … Head Constable to require discontinuance of noisy instruments [perhaps the army band?] … Police and Weights and Measures Department to enforce Food Orders as to prices and weights’; ‘July … Food control correspondence … Dilution of flour referred to Sanitary Committee’; ‘September … Head Constable presented memorial for war bonus … 6s per week and 1s for each dependent child granted to all ranks’; ‘October … Supt Mason paid for air raid calls and granted £3 for past … Letter of sympathy for PC Leonard in the loss of his son on active service … Home Office and air raids, and early closing’; ‘December … War Bonus resolution 4 of Sept 10th rescinded, and 5s per week to each member (except the Head Constable) 2s 6d to his wife and 1s 6d for every child not over school age or earning substituted’.

The report for 1918 returns to the format of 1914-1915 with statistics and brief sections, and includes a paragraph entitled ‘Army Service’:

1918 – ‘Constables who have joined the army, whether as reservists or as volunteers or under the Military Service Acts, cease to be members of the police service, and on rejoining the police force should be formally re-attested and should be allowed to reckon their military service for the purposes of police pension, promotion and advances in the scale of pay’

Under ‘Miscellaneous Matters’ are recorded ‘War was declared against Germany and Austria on the 4th August, 1914’ and ‘The Armistice was signed on the 11th November, and hostilities ceased at 11am’.

By 1918, although the strength of the force was officially still 40, the Reigate Constabulary had been reduced to 20, 14 of which had enlisted; one of those enlisted had rejoined the force and there were 6 vacancies. Apparently none of those who enlisted were killed on active duty.

Mislaid Remount Service Horses

Researched by Jenny Mukerji

Horse Census HO45/10840/333647/20  (National Archives, Kew)

This is a large folder which included papers on cattle, poultry and other livestock information as well as horses. However, most intriguing is the correspondence between the Deputy Assistant Director of Remounts at Command Headquarters and local constabularies regarding Army Service Corps (ASC) Remount horses that had been boarded out to local farmers and had gone missing! The earliest date of this section was 9 February 1918.

Apparently some of the military had been boarding out their horses with local farmers and had not been properly recording the details. When the soldiers moved on, they had not been taking all of the horses with them. The horses then ‘disappeared’.  The Remount Service officials were asking the local police to look into it. There is a letter from the Surrey Constabulary at Guildford asking for clarification as to what to do.  However, the police maintained that they had more important things to do and that it should be a matter for the Remount Service to track down these horses. Local chief constables stated that their men would report any suspicions they had about a horse to the Remounts for them to further investigate.

Bearing in mind that all Remounts were tattooed, anyone with one of these horses illegally, couldn’t really get away with it! I do feel that this scenario would make a good comedy drama television programme!

Most of these horses had, however, been located by the end of the war.

Here is a transcription of a War Office Memo relating to the subject which is also part of HO45/10840/333647/20:

(Typed) War Office 9/2/18 (stamped received by the Home Office)

Misc. Crim.

Tracing Army Horses boarded out with farmers etc and lost sight of by the local military.

Forward Copy of instructions they propose to issue to Remount Officers as to the co-operation of the police.


Originally (./18 the W.O. Suggested to Remount Officers that they should ask the police to go the round of stables and farms etc and find out if any horses there were army horses which had been boarded out, lost sight of by the units

concerned and left in civilian hands without proper record having been kept. It seemed to be impracticable for the police to do whilst Colonel Sanders now agrees that the police should only be expected to report to the Remount Officer for inquiry any case in which they suspect that an army horse may be in wrong hands, and be concurs in the terms of the draft circular within.

? Issue circular as in draft (someone’s initials)

(Handwritten)  (initials)   27/2/18

(more initials) 28/2/18

Circular issued to (more initials) 1/3/18

copies to  Comm. Of Police

Capt (?)

(more unreadable writing)

In the margin: Memo within as to possibility of proceeding against persons retaining army horses Lt Bond (WO) called (initials)

Guardians of Morals: Women in the Police

Two separate (and to some extent rival) organisations of women police were established during World War I, in response to the social and moral challenges thrown up by the war.  In 1914, the suffragette Miss Margaret Damer Dawson and the journalist Nina Boyle established the Women Police Volunteers, later the Women Police Service (and later still the Women’s Auxiliary Service), which operated from headquarters in Eccleston Square, London, and received some support from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Edward Henry.  Henry’s successor, Sir Nevil Macready was less enthusiastic but gave his support to the women police patrols which had been set up by the National Union of Women Workers, with the encouragement of Scotland Yard, with a brief to work among the women and girls who were coming to London in increasing numbers and congregating around the army camps, parks, recruiting stations and railway terminals; later in the war the patrols operated within the munitions factories, concerned to guard the moral welfare of young, single women, away from home and family and with money in their pockets.  The first fully recognised Women Police were recruited after the war from the patrols, headed by Sophia Stanley, rather than the WPS.

Both organisations soon spread beyond the Metropolitan Police area to other parts of the country, including Surrey (part of which lay within the Metropolitan Police’s jurisdiction in any case).

In Reigate and Redhill women patrols were operative early in 1915.  An article in the Surrey Mirror of 23 March 1915 defended their work, denying that they were a police force or were intended to stop soldiers meeting women.  The patrols, who wore striped armlets and carried a card signed by the Head Constable and with a number registered at Scotland Yard, did not seek to ‘rescue the fallen, but to prevent the ignorant from falling’, accomplished by patrolling the areas where girls were ‘loitering about the places where soldiers are to be met’.  Their work was overseen by a committee, the secretary of which was Jessie Heesom of Welton House, Redhill.

Miss Rhoda Brodie, leader of the Croydon Women Patrols (from Croydon in the Great War)

In Croydon voluntary women patrols were also started in 1915 by the National Union of Women Workers.  A specially organised committee of ladies supervised the work of the patrols in Croydon, which were led by Miss Rhoda Brodie.  The patrols were aimed at ‘raising the tone of the behaviour of young people in the streets and open spaces’ and apparently ‘the preventive welfare work of the women patrols carried out tactfully and by trained women did much to achieve this object’.  Around 40 women participated who patrolled in pairs for two hours during the evening.  They wore a blue coat and skirt, black hat with a NUWW badge and an armlet bearing their Metropolitan Police number, and were armed with a whistle and lantern.  They were entirely voluntary and unpaid, with the exception of those asked to work an extra hour during the period January 1917 to September 1918, who were paid at ‘the police rate’ and four women who were appointed to full time work who were paid by the Metropolitan Police and continued until the Metropolitan Women Police were formally created in early 1919.  The voluntary patrols continued in Croydon until 30 September 1919.

Similar patrols were also established in Weybridge in 1915.  As in Reigate and Redhill, they did not meet with universal approval.  A letter printed in the Surrey Herald of 18 June 1915 from ‘A Weybridge Girl’s Brother in Khaki’ believed the patrols, set up ‘for the purpose of preventing anyone in uniform from enjoying the society of girls’, constituted ‘a studied insult to both parties …. though I think it totally unnecessary to attempt to defend the good name of the Weybridge lasses, I am sure they have no superior in character or behaviour in all parts where my regiment has been quartered’.  A reply from ‘One Who Knows’ (25 June) denied that the patrols were designed to prevent the sexes from mixing and said that on the contrary a Club had been set up, which provided a safe environment for dances and socials.  Towards the end of the war, at a meeting reported in the Herald of 12 July 1918, Sir Francis Champneys praised the work of the Weybridge patrols in countering the dangers posed by ‘the flapper, the girl between 14 and 18’, which ‘at that moment was one of the greatest problems for the country’.  Champneys lamented the spread of venereal disease and advocated self control, parental discipline and knowledge of the catechism. Mrs Macfarlane, Metropolitan Organiser of Women Patrols, agreed with Sir Francis’ diagnosis of the problem and asserted that ‘It was to protect the growing girls that the movement was started. They were preventive agents, ready to help girls and warn them and to be their friends, thus preventing them from hurting themselves and others’.

In Guildford, women patrols were established in July 1916, with eight operating by December 1916.  They had been coached by Winifred  Kersey, of the London Women’s Patrol Committee, and the Surrey Advertiser of 4 December 1916 carried a justification of their presence in the town: ‘our object is entirely to befriend young girls …. What we want is to create a moral atmosphere in the streets by our silent presence’.  Each patrol wore an armlet and carried a card signed by Surrey Chief Constable Sant.  In July 1918 the Borough Council considered and rejected a suggestion of the local branch of the National Union of Women Workers that two women police officers should be appointed to the Borough’s police force ‘in view of the special and grave danger to which the young girls of the town are exposed at the present time, and as a means of securing an improvement in the conduct of members of the public, particularly in the neighbourhood of the river (Surrey Advertiser, 31 July 1918).  The Council considered that ‘it is not easy to regard women as the instruments of that force upon which the law relies in the last resort’ and argued that the volunteer women patrols, seemingly abandoned by this point, should be revived.

Women Patrol members talking to British soldiers at a railway station (copyright IWM Q108504)

The Surrey Comet of 3 March 1917 carried a report of the annual meeting of the Women’s Local Government Association for Wimbledon at which Miss Richardson Evans, secretary of the Women Police and Women Patrols Sub Committees, spoke on their work in Wimbledon.  The town had originally employed two salaried policewomen to patrol the streets, commons, pubs and cinemas, and it had been hoped that they would be given ‘official status’ by the Met, through which they would have the power of arrest.  However in October 1916, it was decided that this local experiment with a paid women police force should be discontinued, because of ‘the lack of official status and the consequent limitation of the scope of their work debarring them from undertaking some of those police duties for which women are most needed’.  In February 1916, the policewomen had suggested that they should be supported by a body of voluntary women patrols and seven patrols were set up in March, the number rising to eleven by 1917. The patrols wore armlets and worked in pairs  from 8pm to 10pm.  The report hailed the work of the patrols whose mere presence had ‘a sobering effect on noisy groups and serves as a protection to girls who are accosted in the street’.  The number of young children left outside pubs by their mothers has fallen, drunken soldiers and women had been assisted and cinemas visited, to ensure nothing untoward was happening when the lights went down.  Consideration had been given to the establishment of a club for the ‘provision of wholesome occupation and recreation’ but the idea had been rejected.

Such a club was set up in Guildford, at the suggestion of the Women’s Patrol Committee.  The Kitchener Club opened in September 1916 at Bishop’s Croft, Mount Pleasant, as a venue where soldiers could meet girl friends. Uniformed men paid 1d per visit and could bring up to two girls at 2d each; a limited number of girls were admitted as members, on the recommendation of a clergyman, headteacher or employer, for 2d a week. The club, which closed in January 1919, held reading, French and dancing classes ‘and a good moral tone was maintained throughout’.  It was estimated that 2663 soldiers used it regularly, there were 1096 girl members and many hospital patients also visited.  A similar club was set up in Godalming, again on the recommendation of the local Women’s Patrol Committee and with the enthusiastic endorsement of General R G E Leckie, the commanding officer of the Canadian soldiers in Witley Camp.  It opened in February 1917, occupying the Borough Hall on weekday evenings and the Court Room between 2.30 and 9pm at weekends (Surrey Advertiser, 22 January and 5 February 1917).  By March 1918 the Godalming Patrols had ceased to operate though the Surrey Advertiser of 6 March urged the continuing need: ‘The giddy, giggling, irresponsible flappers one sees ogling soldiers and inviting their attentions are not only a danger to themselves and the men but they are a danger to their sex generally, for they cheapen woman hood in the eyes of the men in khaki’.

An inspector and sergeant of the Women Police Service (copyright IWM Q30381)

The Surrey County Constabulary also experimented with paid women police officers, recruited from the WPS.  In December 1918, Chief Constable Sant reported that he had appointed women police ‘for the purpose of dealing with the females at the camps in the vicinity of Frimley, in consequence of the employment of a number of women at the camps’.  The Commandant of Women Police at Eccleston Square had sent four potentially suitable candidates, and two were taken on, although they had to suffer a demotion to work in Surrey, their ranks being lowered from Sub-Inspector and Sergeant to Sergeant and Constable.  Sant argued that women constables should be appointed across the county, as they would be particularly valuable in watching suicidal female prisoners and in attending female prisoners while the latter were in court and subsequently escorting them to prison.  Such work generally had to be undertaken by the wives of serving policemen, who often had to be accompanied by their husbands ‘for safety’.  However, in March 1919, the Chief Constable reported that as demobilisation of troops was proceeding, the two policewomen at Frimley were no longer required and had been laid off.  One policewoman continued to work in the Godalming Division, where she was fully occupied in attending on female prisoners; probably many were prostitutes in the vicinity of Witley Camp.  In December 1918 Sant reported that 31 women had been prosecuted under Section 40D of the Defence of the Realm Act for continuing their trade while carrying sexually transmitted diseases.  27 of the 31 had been convicted and had each received 4 months imprisonment. The Chief Constable commented ‘it is computed that these 27 women had connections with at least 10 different men a week, so that at the end of 4 months, no less than 4320 men would have been contaminated by them’.


Reports of Chief Constable to Standing Joint Committee contained in SHC ref CC98/1/5

H Keatley Moore and W C Berwick Sayers ‘Croydon and the Great War’ (1920)

W H Oakley, ‘Guildford in the Great War’ (1934)

‘A Policeman’s Lot … ’: the Surrey Police in Wartime. Part 4: 1918

Written by Marion Edwards

During World War I, the Chief Constable of Surrey, Captain M L Sant, sent a series of extremely detailed reports (usually quarterly) to the Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the Surrey Constabulary. These reports (see SHC ref CC98/1/4-5) outlined the extra duties and demands placed on the overburdened and under-strength force by the war and the blizzard of orders and requests for information from central government.

Report of March 1918 The Chief Constable began his first report of the New Year by declaring that from now on he would not give details of DORA orders and amendments, as ‘they have been arriving practically every day’ and he had since 10 December received 83. However, other instructions were still flooding in, covering subjects including: the relaxation of liquor regulations over the Christmas period; the prohibition of the import of ‘certain seditious publications’ (of which there were 18 in all known so far; others were added later); Italians returning to Italy under the Convention concluded between the British and Italian Governments; a new system for the issue of air raid warnings by day; regulations for the use of gas for driving vehicles; alterations to arrangements regarding the escape and recapture of prisoners of war; proposals for ‘better co-operation’ between County and Borough Police Forces in connection with matters arising from Emergency Legislation; the uses to which private and hire cars might be put; and the protection and disposal of ‘enemy aircraft brought to earth’.

Captain M L Sant, Chief Constable of Surrey Constabulary (SHC ref 9017/4/3)

Two related confidential matters caused the Chief Constable some difficulties this quarter. The first, arising from conferences between himself and the Competent Military Authorities of the Aldershot and Eastern Commands involving ‘certain steps’ to be taken by the Military and Police in co-operation in the event of an emergency being declared, was ‘of so secret a character’ that he could not actually report it. Subsequently, he received a confidential letter from the Home Office (the contents of which he was unable to give in detail) regarding applications by the Police for military aid in case of disturbance, although he found that it ‘practically forbids the Police to ask for such aid except in cases of absolute necessity’; in connection with this, he described in detail a riot by railwaymen and employees of Dennis Bros and Drummonds in Guildford on 2 February, who refused to allow butchers to distribute meat, and discussed at length what could or should be done in the event of a greater disturbance with a reduced Police force and without military aid, especially in light of 480 Russian soldiers (possible ‘Bolsheviks’) at Minden Barracks, Deepcut.

Other demands on the Chief Constable’s time were i) the provision of data for the Minister of National Service to complete the Minister’s records regarding male alien enemies exempted from internment; ii) monthly notification of the arrival, departure or death of all male alien enemies; and iii), more irritatingly, a request for action from the Local Food Control Committee regarding food hoarding, in response to which he pointed out with some asperity that it was their own responsibility to obtain a search warrant and make a search (although he did promise to allow an officer to accompany them).

Report of May 1918 Subjects of instruction and information this quarter included: the declaration of County Clare, Ireland, as a Special Military Area; an order making it a summary offence for any woman suffering from venereal disease to solicit or have sex with any member of HM Forces (for which the Chief Constable gloomily predicted that the Police will ‘have to do all the work’); the maintenance of discipline of troops of Allied Forces in the UK (at present just US Forces, whose own Courts Martial should deal with matters arising); the procedure to be followed should a discharged soldier wish to be taken on in the Police Force; the prohibition of the opening of any new retail trade or business without a licence; the control of passenger traffic between Great Britain and Ireland by a permit system (for which application should be made to the police); and no student to be admitted to any ‘school of Wireless Telegraphy’ until his credentials had been checked (by the police, naturally).

Again, letters from the Home Office caused problems. The first outlined the duties of the police in case of invasion, but it appeared to the Chief Constable that ‘Should such an emergency arise, it would appear to me that each Constable will have to be in several places at one and the same time!! I can only hope that such a contingency may not take place!!’; in response to the second, stating that the Police were to take over the 5 Military Aircraft Observation Posts, the Chief Constable managed to persuade the HO to concede that Sergeants (who could not just stay at home waiting for a call) were not to neglect their Police work for observation duty, and that ‘if they were out [on duty] at the time the call came, no one was to be blamed for neglect to comply with the order’.

Further irritations included: the ‘incredible’ number of enquiries which had to be made regarding the ‘misconduct’ and ‘improprieties’ of wives of serving soldiers (which the Chief Constable considered a ‘disgraceful’ use of police time); a letter from the ‘Dorking and District Flag Day and War Charities’ asking for his ‘observations thereon’ (‘No doubt my reply will be laid before the Committee’); and the compilation of yet another census of livestock, this time including poultry.

Report of September 1918 Sant began this report by reminding the Chairman of the Standing Joint Committee that ‘all the duties of a permanent nature imposed on the Police … are still being carried out’ and that all the subjects of instruction and information outlined this quarter were either new or amendments to old ones. They included: permission for the use of lights in dining rooms and sittings rooms of hotels, inns and boarding houses up to midnight; the possible protection from military service of members of the Special Constabulary (the Chief Constable was to forward to the Home Office the names, ages and grades of any in his force); alterations to licences for the sale of horses at auctions and fairs; a new Road Transport Order and the registration of Goods Carrying Vehicles (forms to be issued at Police Stations); provisions for billeting women ‘who are enrolled for employment by the Army Council’; the seizing and destroying of ‘Hostile Leaflets’ (a list of 147 was supplied); the use of hay and straw for horse transport; the requirement of American citizens in the UK to either to serve with the US Army or return to the US (the taking of a census of Americans of military age by the Police was requested), the same to apply to Greek citizens (who might serve in the British Army); assistance to the Board of Trade in dealing with desertions of alien seamen and Danes (the Chief Constable did not consider that the Police had any power to ‘demand from the Seamen or Danes, their passports, etc’); Czechoslovaks to be treated as ‘alien friends and allies’; the movement of alien prisoners of war (who on the whole the Chief Constable found well-behaved and good workers) employed in agricultural and other work; the discontinuance of the Separation Allowance in cases of immoral army wives; and the responsibility of the Police to ensure that every alien, without exception, had an Identity Book.

The Home Office persisted in its demand that the police should be ready to man ‘at any moment night or day’ the Military Aircraft Observation Posts (now 6 in number), to ‘free for other duties … men of the Royal Defence Corps, hitherto employed to man the observation posts’; however, this time the Chief Constable made no comment other than to cite parts of the letter, although later in the report he considered that as the manning of the observation posts was obviously a military duty, it should be performed by the Volunteer Defence Corps.

He dealt sympathetically with two requests. The first, from the Assistant Provost Marshal at Aldershot, asked that the police assist in dealing with ‘hawkers etc’ who, ejected from military camps, could defy him by travelling on roads passing through the camps, over which he had no jurisdiction; this was acceded to by the Chief Constable, who also wrote (presumably to HQ) recommending that camp byelaws be extended to those roads. The second, from the Ministry of National Service, asking that the Chief Constable allow the police to assist in the gathering of the harvest as it was of ‘national importance’ was also dealt with promptly, and Sant received ‘gratifying reports of the way in which the Police came to the aid of the farmers’.

The Assistant Provost Marshal at Aldershot also made the welcome suggestion that the Military Authorities might aid the Chief Constable in the conveyance to Holloway (via Godalming and the Guildford Petty Sessions) of prostitutes apprehended by the Police in the neighbourhood of the camp at Witley by providing a vehicle for the purpose, for which the Chief Constable might apply officially; however, the eventual reply received from the Surplus Property Disposal Board merely invited the Chief Constable to ‘make an offer for any vehicle which might suit my purpose!!!!! [sic]’.

Sant noted the receipt of an ‘extremely interesting’ addendum to the pamphlet concerning German Aeroplane Bombs, but noted (possibly with some glee) that ‘the contents are secret, and must not be communicated’. Also received were ‘certain sealed orders’ from the Home Office, with instructions ‘not to open the envelope unless I received a telegram to do so’.

The case of the alien enemy Andre von Drumreicher, who had served in the German cavalry and subsequently in the Egyptian Civil Service, and who had now come to England from Egypt, was described in detail; with some amazement, Sant noted that he was ‘for some inexplicable reason’ released by the Home Office from internment and is now residing at Farnham.

Report of November 1918 The Chief Constable used this short report to discuss his meeting in October with a deputation of members of the Surrey Constabulary over rates of pay; the ‘deplorable, and disgraceful’ Metropolitan Police strike was also mentioned.

Camberley Special Constables on Armistice Day (SHC ref 9152/2/2/4/1b)

Addendum Report [November/ December 1918] The Chief Constable first reported a decrease in the number of duties the police had been called upon to perform in connection with the war. Continuing with the case of one Louisa Frost, the maid of Lady Stanley (who lived at Furze Hill, Pirbright) and the wife of an interned German, whom he had been asked to remove from ‘the vicinity of the camps at Pirbright’ to the Metropolitan Area, Sant moved on to list more subjects demanding his attention, including: the inclusion of all Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the class of Turkish Subjects; identification marks on military vehicles; the enforcement of regulations preventing the shooting of carrier pigeons (as it was legal for a farmer to shoot any pigeon alighting on his land and several had done so); the withdrawal of posters issued in October regarding cattle feed stuffs and the supply of new ones; the regularisation of arrangements regarding the exemption of police eligible for military service from enlistment; the supply of information to the Ministry of Food regarding the addresses, members and purpose of registered clubs; the compilation of a ‘complete census’ of all horses, mules and asses in the county; regulations regarding the slaughter of horses for food (‘It is important that no horseflesh which is unfit for food may be sold for human consumption’); police procedure in the case of deserters and absentees from the Royal Navy; arrangements for Belgian refugees to remain in their present places and not to go to London or ports for repatriation (‘I anticipate that the duty of carrying out these arrangements will fall on the Police’); and – with obvious relief – authorising the ringing of church bells and the use of fireworks and bonfires upon the ‘welcome information that an armistice has been signed by Germany’, and cancelling all DORA regulations. At the very end of this last wartime report, the Chief Constable quoted from a letter received from the Ministry of National Service: ‘I should like to take this opportunity of thanking you for the untiring and willing help which you have given to the Department in the past and I need hardly say how helpful this assistance has been’.

In October, the Chief Constable was asked to give evidence before a Committee dealing with DORA regulations on prostitutes, but he felt that the best evidence they could obtain would be that of one Superintendent Jennings of the Godalming Division and the Assistant Provost Marshal of Witley Camp, both of whom have seen the ‘indescribably filthy condition’ (he enumerated here several nasty symptoms) of some of the 31 women so far prosecuted. The problems of ‘females in camps’ lead to the appointment of ‘Women Constables’, and the Chief Constable included a separate, special report dated 5 December 1918 on ‘Women Police’, which described their formation, eligibility and duties in detail.

‘A Policeman’s Lot … ’: the Surrey Police in Wartime. Part 3: 1917

Written by Marion Edwards

During World War I, the Chief Constable of Surrey, Captain M L Sant, sent a series of extremely detailed reports (usually quarterly) to the Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the Surrey Constabulary. These reports (see SHC ref CC98/1/4-5) outlined the extra duties and demands placed on the overburdened and under-strength force by the war and the blizzard of orders and requests for information from central government.

Report of March 1917 Requests and instructions from the Home Office and other bodies, including the Military, continued to arrive and subjects included: ensuring that where a gunsmith’s licence had expired the ‘ex-licencee’ had in fact discontinued his activities; the procedure to be adopted when manufacturers had neglected to suppress glare from furnaces at night; the regulation of the sale of ‘intoxicating liquor’ at Christmas; non-observance by Aliens of the Aliens Restriction Order; the issue of ‘Inland Passes’ to persons employed in munitions work (to be the same as those supplied to Allied journalists without the stamp ‘Allied Press’; amendments to regulations on cocaine and opium licences for manufacturers; the forwarding to MI5 of any enquiry from persons in ‘Neutral Countries’ seeking information with regard to named individuals living in the UK (on no account were the Police to reply); the compilation of a return of all available firewood within a 10-mile radius of Guildford and of persons owning such wood (this took three weeks to complete and ‘gave the Police a very considerable amount of trouble’ as the area covered four police divisions); the compilation of a return of all motor cars and lorries in the county; the compilation of a register of all billeting accommodation in the Weybridge district; the compilation of a return of firearms of 45 calibre ‘in stock in my area’ (none answering that description were actually found); restrictions in the use of wheat for seed purposes or making flour; the mobilisation of all officers and men on leave in case of emergency; the forwarding to the War Office of particulars with regard to Aliens who had served in the armed or police forces, and those permitted to reside in Prohibited Areas – to ‘assist MI5’, the Chief Constable was requested to obtain ‘in as many cases as possible’ a specimen of each alien’s signature both in Roman characters and ‘in his own language’ (presumably Cyrillic); and assistance to next-of-kin summoned by telegram to visit serving relatives either in the UK or abroad, not ‘in a position to pay their fares’.

Captain M L Sant, Chief Constable of Surrey Constabulary (SHC ref 9017/4/3)

An order received in December 1916 from the Provost Marshal in France to obtain 200 men from the Provincial Police Forces to complete a force of Mounted Military Police was another thorn in the Sant’s side. However, despite having between 70 and 80 of his constables enlist and having been informed that his force should not be reduced below a certain minimum, the Chief Constable still managed to release two more men for the Army. He requested advice on whether this was now a reduction too far, and was informed that ‘the question whether I could spare any men had still to be decided by myself’. A further blow was the fact that the two men thus released were not accepted, ‘presumably, because they had not the necessary qualifications’ (perhaps the ability to ride). In February 1917 two more constables received enlistment papers, causing Sant once more to query the selection criteria (determined by age); however, one of the two constables had given false information as to his age when applying to enter the force, and was discharged and sent to join the Army ‘at once’.

The many requests for compilation of various data was another headache for the CC, those for firewood, vehicles and billets ‘practically monopolized the services of the Police for the time being’; nonetheless they were followed closely by another for firearms. More work was occasioned by daily enquiries after persons attempting to evade military service.

Despite all these trials and tribulations, the CC received a ‘gratifying letter’ from General Sir Archibald Hunter, Commander Aldershot Area, which reported the decrease in crime in that area and stating ‘This is attributed … in some measure to the … co-operation which our Military Police have received from the Civil Police of the district [who] have been more than ready to assist whenever occasion arose’.

Report of May 1917 Further information and instructions from the Home Office were received on subjects including: regulations dealing with the manufacture of malt for beer, the manufacture of bread and the use of sugar; the use of lights while ploughing at night by motor tractor; the extinction of street lights; the cleansing of all drinking vessels in licensed premises; information to be sent to MI5 regarding aliens of Chinese, Japanese, Siamese, Persian or Egyptian nationality; the drawing down of blinds in railway carriages at night; Easter closing time in public houses; restrictions on the feeding of game; a Paper Restriction Order; the compilation of censuses of horses and mules, cattle, sheep and pigs, and agricultural implements (the demand that these be complete and accurate, and ‘obtained in as short a time as possible’ caused further work for the Police, especially as 8000 forms were dealt with in about 10 days); the closure of ‘clubs or other premises’ if they were ‘habitually frequented by alien enemies’; the reduction of the bread ration for troops in billets; and the avoidance of wasted food during summer months.

Further withdrawal of exemption certificates from constables by the Godalming Local Tribunal annoyed the Chief Constable, who reported in detail his response. Later he was to go to the Home Office for a discussion on the subject (reported at length). However, the return to the police forces of those men classified under medical categories and not needed by the Army may have alleviated his concerns somewhat, although a later request for the release of men in the police capable of skilled work on the land must have seemed yet another burden on numbers. Sant did not think it feasible to grant leave of absence for this purpose (although he thought it possible that constables could give assistance in kitchen gardens, allotments or farms in their vicinity in their spare time), and there were further concerns that any such man who was injured while working on the land might lose his police pension. At the end of his report Sant stated that he had received a ‘secret letter’ from the Ministry of Munitions, the contents of which he was not permitted to divulge, although he was able to state that it contained a request for the assistance of the police to guard munitions factories and ‘requiring the employment of such a large number of men that even had my force been at its full strength, it would not have been possible to accede to the request to which I have alluded’.

On a lighter note, Sant reported the receipt of an ‘extremely interesting secret Circular on the subject of Air Raids’ and also detailed at length the assistance he and his constables were able to give to the Officer Commanding the Remount Depot at Redhill in his task of purchasing 80 horses a week.

The severing of telephone wires near Blackheath on 20-21 April by persons unknown caused some excitement, although no suspicious persons were found in the area; conclusions were that ‘some malicious or mischievous person’ had committed the act, rather than a spy, and reasons for this conclusion quoted at length.

Report of September 1917 This quarter, requests and information from the Home Office included: new regulations prohibiting the use of ‘Motor spirit’ [petrol] in hire cars except in certain circumstances; the prohibition of the publication of any new newspaper without a licence; the prohibition of ‘wasteful and unnecessary lighting’ including ‘sky signs’, illuminated advertisements, theatre lights and shop display lights; the declaration of lead in combination with Oleic Acid ‘or other higher fatty acids’ (sold as ‘Diachylon’) as a poison under the Pharmacy Act (in consequence of the practice of using it to procure abortion); economy in food for feeding to dogs (the regulations for this are quoted at length with the estimate that food consumed by dogs would feed ‘half-a-million persons’); pensions for disabled soldiers; damage to allotments by trespassers; the encouragement of ‘the destruction of House Sparrows and Rats while discouraging the indiscriminate slaughter of other birds, which are beneficial in devouring insects and other pests’ including the formation of ‘Sparrow and Rat Clubs’; the treatment of Jews or Arabs as aliens and not alien enemies; the issue of railway warrants by the police to relatives of soldiers in hospital; the police to be informed of gun or bombing practice and circulate the information to allay public alarm; measures to be taken during a threatened railway strike (which did not occur); the prevention of treatment of venereal disease other than by qualified medical practitioners; and the display of posters prohibiting the shooting of carrier pigeons.

Special Constables at Guildford (SHC ref PH72/Box 7/85)

Sant detailed at length the case of Hugo Greef, a registered alien enemy who bought Durfold Farm, Dunsfold (which was close to the signalling station at ‘One Tree Hill’ and to the prohibited area of Sussex), and whose son brought 22 homing pigeons from Leicester with a permit from the Leicester Police, which appears to have caused some interest and excitement in the county.

Probably to the Chief Constable’s relief, a letter from the Home Office in early July stated that ‘in view of the pressure of work devolving on the Police the Home Secretary has been in communication with the Army Council with a view to steps being taken to reduce, where possible, the work which the Police are asked to undertake on behalf of the Military Authorities’.

Report of December 1917 Aside from the usual influx of amendments to DORA, information and instructions from the Home Office continued to flood in and subjects included: assistance to airships wishing to land; the payment by the police of rewards of £5 for information leading to the capture of escaped prisoners of war (to be refunded by MI5); the prohibition of the sale of dried fruits outside the UK, restrictions to the prices of flour and bread; the prohibition of the sale by occupiers of agricultural holdings of horses used for cultivation without a licence; the reporting of cases of the fraudulent display of notices by persons claiming to have been disabled by the war in order to enlist the sympathy of the public (the police were to report every such case to the Home Office); all French citizens to be repatriated to serve in the French Army or remain and serve in the British Army; restrictions on petrol; the enforcement of Food Orders; control measures for the sale and purchase of livestock; and the printing, publishing or distribution of leaflets relating to the present war or ‘the making of peace’ to be a summary offence, unless the full names and addresses of the author and printer are included. Sant noted at the end of his report that, in this quarter alone, he had received ‘no less than 42’ DORA orders and amendments.

Demands that Special Constables might take over the duty of guarding General Store Depot 35 at Horley caused more irritation to Sant, and details of his communications with the Ministry of Munitions on the matter were given at length. Another cause of concern was a ‘somewhat peremptory’ request by Eastern Command (Hounslow) to have ‘certain confidential returns’ – that were to be drawn up by police in connection with the action to be taken by them in the event of emergency – within two days ‘without fail’, even though ‘It was impossible … to explain to my Superintendents … exactly what particulars they were asked to supply, in fact, I was myself in some doubt’. Sant subsequently issued an order (reported in form outlining the action to be taken by Special Constables in the event of a threatened air raid, which he gives in full.

Complaints concerning the behaviour of a number of Russians living in huts at Deepcut, Frimley, resulted in a letter to the General Officer Commanding at Aldershot (this and its reply) are also given in full. Sant could not ‘understand how this large number of Russians was allowed to land in this country, eating up the food urgently required by the inhabitants’ and considered the whole situation ‘most unsatisfactory’.

The number of investigations by the Police into cases of infidelity by soldiers’ wives came as ‘quite a revelation’ to the Chief Constable, averaging as they did ‘two or three a week’. He also noted the many British women married to alien enemies, and outlined the procedure to be followed by Police.

Sant noted (with great satisfaction) that Hugo Greef was ordered to return to ‘the place from whence he came, viz, Carshalton [and] the County is now relieved of his unwelcome presence’; Greef’s son, who was ‘British-born’, was enlisted.


‘A Policeman’s Lot … ’: the Surrey Police in Wartime. Part 2, 1916

Written by Marion Edwards

During World War I, the Chief Constable of Surrey, Captain M L Sant, sent a series of extremely detailed reports (usually quarterly) to the Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the Surrey Constabulary. These reports (see SHC ref CC98/1/4-5) outlined the extra duties and demands placed on the overburdened and under-strength force by the war and the blizzard of orders and requests for information from central government.

Report of March 1916 Subjects of instructions received in this quarter included: lights on vehicles; the necessity of passports; those who act as receiving addresses for correspondence to keep registers of the names and addresses of those persons who ask for letters; the nomination of a police officer to provide ‘assistance’ in the evolution of a scheme for ‘Motor Transport Convoys’ (although a projected conference was never arranged); the posting of notices withdrawing restrictions on the sale of hay; the provision by all hotel, inn, boarding house and lodging house keepers of a weekly return of all aliens residing with them; enquiries to be made regarding the sale of apparatus for signalling; the employment of ‘friendly aliens’ in munitions factories; the discouragement of ‘suspicious’ pigeon shooting contests; a request by Hounslow Sub-District ASC for returns of all ‘Motor Mechanical Transport in the Dorking Police Division’ (the Chief Constable had already supplied this information to HQ 2nd Army and foresaw similar requests form other sub-Districts causing considerable ‘reduplication’); how to deal with Reservists who fail to arrive after enlistment and publication of their names in the Police Gazette as absentees; advertising changes in the Aliens Restriction Order by means of newspapers and posters (‘This order will entail a very considerable amount of increased work on the Police’); alterations (hitherto working ‘most efficiently’) to police arrangements for warning factories of Zeppelin raids; and the issue by police of ‘Identity Books’ to aliens.

A letter from the Home Office outlining the suggestion from Lord Derby that members of the Police forces should be attested and passed into the Army Reserve, on the understanding that they would not be called up for actual military service without the consent of their Chief Officer, caused Sant some concern, especially in light of previous complaints on the matter (see the last report of 1915) and as in several local divisions the ‘point of depletion’ had already passed. However, a letter outlining his reservations received no reply and later he noted that no mention of exemption for Police Constables was made in the new Military Service Act.

The Military Service Act comes into force

Further causes for irritation to the Chief Constable came in the form of i) a demand from the Post Office for 4s 11½d for a telegraph sent to the Home Office regarding the air raid of 13 October (although the sum was ‘trifling’, ‘it appears to me that the Police rate should not be called upon to pay for what is obviously an expenditure in a matter affecting the Defence of the Realm’); ii) the fact that the Police are ‘continually being called upon to act as Bill Posters’ for the ‘formidable number’ of such items issued to them; iii) the ‘greatest confusion’ caused by conflicting Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) orders; and iv) Constables receiving enlistment forms despite their obviously necessary duties.

Report of May 1916 The Chief Constable began this report by outlining his concerns over the question of Special Constables who also served in the Volunteer Training Corps having now to attest, and the resulting clash of duties owed to two different authorities; he had so far received no reply to his letter asking for assistance from the Home Office and making suggestions.

However, the Home Office continued to send instructions, this quarter relating to: changes in procedures for warning factories of hostile aircraft; reporting the presence of hostile aircraft to military authorities (constables were to be issued with cards for making such reports to ‘the nearest Military Authority’, despite some doubt as to who in the county these actually were); the removal of number plates bearing ‘OHMS’ from vehicles and the issue of a ‘stencil number plate’ and card; amendments to the Aliens Restriction Order regarding their employment in munitions factories; the ‘delicate and difficult’ duties of the Police regarding the inspection of registration cards; the re-arrangement of areas for air raid warning; expelling ‘undesirable persons’ from ‘certain localities’; alterations to the Competent Military Authorities in Eastern Command; the ‘Belgian decree’ requiring all male Belgians aged 20 to report for service and the ascertainment of how many of these were in Surrey; the prohibition of meetings where ‘there is reason to apprehend that the holding of the meeting in a public place will give rise to grave disorder; and watchmen employed for the protection of munitions works to be appointed as Special Constables.

In response to a ‘remarkable order’ from the officer commanding the Chilworth Guard stating that local police, rather than the military, should guard munitions stored at Chilworth station, Sant sent a rather irritable letter to the General Officer Commanding the Central Force, informing him that he only had three regular constables to the 120 soldiers in the area; the GOC, who had not realised the situation, admitted that the approach had been ‘tactless’ and rescinded the order at once. Other such irritations for the Chief Constable were: i) a demand from the Sub Aliens Registration Officer at Weybridge that the police furnish him a weekly return of the change of address of all persons registered – thus proving himself ‘quite ignorant of the magnitude of the work this would entail’ and earning himself a terse response that Registration Officers were responsible; and ii) the Home Office’s order that Police should assist the Army Council in tracing men enlisted under the Military Service Act who have failed to respond: Sant considered that the Home Office statement that ‘the duties (explained here in detail) which will devolve upon the Police … are likely to be onerous’ an understatement.

Report of September 1916 Instructions from the Home Office continued in full spate and subjects included: prevention of the spread of ‘groundless rumours’ regarding enemy aircraft, ‘unfounded alarming reports having lately become of great frequency’; searching for ‘Hostile leaflets’; unauthorised use of the Red Cross flag on buildings which have no right to it; the compilation of a list of all aliens at liberty within the Chief Constable’s jurisdiction; the commandeering of wool; permission for the sale of ‘light [low alcohol] beer’ (Sant considered that this would make it more difficult to prevent the sale of ‘strong [high alcohol] beer); the lightening of restrictions on the release of carrier pigeons; no person to enter ‘certain Military Areas’ (to include the ‘North of Scotland’) without a permit (permit books to be issued by Police); the movement of aliens travelling to places offering them employment (the Police to issue certificates showing that such offers are genuine); travel passes for ‘Certain Officers and Officials of Allied Countries’; the prohibition of the sale of hay, oat or wheat straw without a licence; the exemption of kilns from the restriction of lights order; strict regulations and restrictions relating to the sale of cocaine; and the furnishing of returns of all Serbians and Russians between the ages of 18 and 41 within the jurisdiction of the Surrey Constabulary.

The Chief Constable also reported the receipt of ‘an extremely interesting secret Intelligence Circular on the whole subject of air raids’ and another ‘extremely interesting Intelligence Circular on the subject of Bombs, etc’; however, more of concern to Sant was the continued receipt of notices calling for the enlistment of married men, all of which he returned with the statement that ‘in the interests of the State no more members of my Police Force were to be enlisted’, as was understood by the Recruiting Authorities.

Members of Surrey Constabulary serving in the Military Police Corps (SHC ref 9152/1/5/4)

Report of December 1916 Continuing its relentless bombardment, the Home Office sent information and instructions regarding: the requirement for production of certificates of exemption from military service when demanded (the Police to co-operate with military authorities); the declaration of Dover as a designated Military Area; assistance by the Police to Excise Officers with regard to the Entertainment Tax; the reduction in the provision of meat and bread under Billeting Regulations; restrictions to shop opening hours in winter; lamps to be shown at the front and the rear of any group of cattle led along a highway after sunset or before sunrise; and Home Office disapproval of a proposal to billet soldiers on police officers.

Sant took a dim view of ‘considerable agitation in the Press and elsewhere’ regarding the number of unmarried police constables retained in the force, who were considered by ‘persons ignorant of the duties performed by the Police’ to be eligible for enlistment. A constable having had his certificate of exemption withdrawn ‘as a test case’ by the Local Tribunal meeting in Cobham infuriated the Chief Constable, as did other examples of such ‘injustice’, which he described in some detail, along with his own efforts to avoid such ‘unpleasant … agitation’ and the wholesale depletion of his force.

A further cause of irritation to the Chief Constable was an Army Council census of all agricultural holdings of 5 acres or more to ascertain the availability of men for enlistment. The Police were asked to assist in the distribution and collection of census forms, of which there were 2247 in total, and the harassed Sant desired the Committee to realise just ‘how hard the Police had to work in order that that this duty might be carried out with the necessary despatch’ as the forms, received on 16 November, all had to be returned by or soon after 20 November.

‘A Policeman’s Lot … ’: the Surrey Police in Wartime. Part 1, 1914-1915

Written by Marion Edwards

During World War I, the Chief Constable of Surrey, Captain M L Sant, sent a series of extremely detailed reports (usually quarterly) to the Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the Surrey Constabulary. These reports (see SHC ref CC98/1/4-5) outlined the extra duties and demands placed on the overburdened and under-strength force by the war and the blizzard of orders and requests for information from central government.

Report of September 1914 In July, the Home Office sent instructions for the Surrey Police to ‘co-operate with the Military Authorities in any matter in which they might require … assistance’. Thereafter, a flood of missives arrived by post, telegram and telephone, along with personal visits from representatives of the armed forces, with further instructions regarding: action against ‘individuals suspected of spying’ (later resulting in ‘Spy Mania’ by the general public); guarding railway bridges and ‘vulnerable points on railway lines’ (although no notification had been received regarding the movement of troop trains, ‘a large number’ of which were already en route, and it was found to be ‘impossible’ to safeguard all vulnerable points with the small number of regular Police to hand, even augmented with civilian volunteers; application to transfer this duty to Military Authorities failed dismally until the very end of August); pasting up mobilization posters; ‘keep[ing] an eye’ on private wireless stations; collecting horses for Army Purchasing Officers; ‘aliens’ travelling by night by motor car ‘for the purpose of committing outrages’; seizing the motor cars belonging to those aliens and warning garages not to hire cars to same; enforcing the Alien Restriction Order (although no copy of the Order itself or the ‘necessary books’ had yet arrived); display of the Royal Proclamation; the protection of telephones and telegraph poles; local billeting of army personnel (on 8 September the Chief Constable states proudly ‘Found billets for 9,000 troops at 24 hours notice’); civil disturbances; the enforcement of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA); accommodating prisoners of war; regulations against the keeping of carrier or ‘homing’ pigeons (which were to be ‘liberated’ to return to their places of origin) without a permit (Sant declared this ruling ‘absurd’); the number of ‘Alien Reservists’ registered (county wide numbers of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians are included); and the arrest of German Reservists.

To add to the official burden there were civilian requests for Police ‘attention’ regarding protection of Post Offices and ‘waterworks’ (which latter were deemed to be the responsibility of the owners), and reports of bad discipline among newly enlisted army recruits; inhabitants of the County made matters worse by sending in ‘all sorts of unnecessary and trivial correspondence’ and demanding to see the Chief Constable personally, without waiting for the issue of instructions or ‘making enquiry of the nearest Police Officer’.

It was no wonder that early in August the harassed Chief Constable ‘drew out the full scheme for enrolment of Special Constables’, anticipating official Home Office instructions by a week.

At the end of his 12-page report, the CC described all this as ‘only a portion of the work falling on the Police during the present crisis. Innumerable other duties have had to be carried out but are not of sufficient importance to enumerate’.

Captain M L Sant, Chief Constable of Surrey (SHC ref 9017/4/3)

Report of March 1915 Continuing his report on the war, the Chief Constable first recorded that all Belgian refugees in ‘the Constabulary Area’ had been registered (total 2106 ‘exclusive of persons under 16’), and then continued with details of further communications from the Home Office with instructions including: ‘not to countenance’ the formation of ‘town guards’ and ‘civil guards’ in favour of the Volunteer Training Corps (which Special Constables may join) as recognised by the War Office; the prevention of ‘ill-disposed persons’, suspicious loiterers and trespassers from obtaining information regarding local defence works; local billeting of soldiers (Sant here noted that demands for this had been ‘almost incessant’ and reported the confusion caused by three separate and independent demands from the Central Force, the Eastern Command and the Aldershot Command and suggested ‘some central billeting authority’); the extension of the area within which the reporting of aircraft should be made; Police co-operation in the military protection of local railways (although the Home Office had omitted the South Eastern Railway from their list as it was ‘not regarded as important’, even though part of it formed a direct line from Aldershot and Dover and regularly carried troop trains); the extinguishing of lights during hours of darkness (conflicting orders caused Sant to remark ‘The Committee will realise the difficulty experienced by the Police in attempting to keep up with orders arriving in such rapid succession’); action by Police in the event of bombs dropped in the county; and the exemption of Special Constables from jury duty.

Somewhat waspishly, the Sant reported his own communications with i) the General Officers Commanding, the 2nd Army, the Eastern Command and the Aldershot Command, pointing out that the ‘Intoxicating Liquor (Temporary Restriction) Act’ of 1914 appeared not to be administered satisfactorily with regard to the sale of liquor to soldiers; ii) the War Office regarding ‘rapid and inconsiderate driving of motor cars and motor cycles by Military Officers ’ (from which several ‘serious accidents’ have resulted); and iii) the General of the local forces complaining of an ‘unexpected’, inconvenient and unlit night ‘cordon of pickets’ placed around the town of Guildford (into part of which Sant nearly rode his bicycle).

However, at the very end of this report he noted the receipt of ‘several most gratifying letters from Military Officers testifying to the valuable assistance which they have received from the Police’, which must have alleviated his irritation to some degree.

Report of May 1915 This report begins by outlining the effects of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) and the Defence of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations Act with regard to offences committed against them by both civilian and military persons, before continuing with details of further communications from both the Home Office and the Army with instructions including: the placing of all public houses and clubs in the Aldershot area out of bound for troops until 2pm (‘The term “soldier” does not include “officer”’); the reduction of lighting in Guildford and the Borough of Godalming (to be enforced by the Police); arrangements for warning factories and other works of the approach of hostile aircraft so that they can extinguish lights or have them extinguished by cutting off power (Sant asked the Committee to imagine themselves in his position, ‘suddenly awakened at say, 2am and informed that an airship has been seen … making for Surrey, they appreciate his difficulty in carrying out … instruction[s], especially in view of the fact that an airship can travel at 50 miles an hour’); signals chosen for warning the civil population of ‘threatened bombardment’ (two instructions of which appear to conflict each other); a bonus of 3 shillings a week for all members of the force; the restriction of Aliens; the co-operation of Civil and Military Authorities in ‘Sanitary matters’; the movement of ‘Anti-Aircraft motor cars’; signs to be displayed by Civil Hospitals in the event of bombing; co-operation of the Police in measures taken against ‘wastage’ caused by soldiers absent without leave; and licences for the sale or manufacture of arms and ammunition (owners of which are to keep sales books, the inspection of which should be arranged by the Police).

Sant also wrote for clarification as to whether persons holding permits to keep carrier pigeons should keep them or ‘liberate’ them, and received the ‘ambiguous’ reply that a permit gives the owner the right to either keep or liberate provided the permit is with the owner at the time.

At the end of this 9-page report, the Sant reiterated the impact of the burden of extra duties imposed by the war and carried out in addition to ‘ordinary’ duties (‘the idea that crime has ceased since the war broke out is a fallacy’), especially as he had lost 31 men to recruitment: ‘I must, however, endeavour to “carry on” to the best of my ability with my numbers dwindling from day to day’.

Report of September 1915 This report, a massive 19 pages long, includes at the end an extra 2 pages listing by name Army Reservists recalled and members of the Police Force who have enlisted. Further communications were received from various authorities with instructions regarding: the enlistment of Belgian subjects aged between 18 and 25 (with trouble caused by many forms being completed in Flemish, ‘a language of which I am ignorant’); enforcement of the Aliens Restriction (Belgian Refugee) Order; the prohibition of the ‘liberation’ of pigeons from lofts for any reason and the transport of pigeons without a permit; the supplying (at short notice) of numbers of Germans, Austrians, Hungarians and Turks of military age and the number of females (‘distinguishing British-born wives, or widows’) living in the Chief Constable’s district; lights of various colours on military vehicles (which are permitted to exceed the speed limit); deportation or repatriation of ‘alien enemies’ other than males of military age (the only exceptions being wives of British birth and persons who obtain official exemptions); amendments to DORA regarding the extinguishing and carrying of lights, and ‘illicit signalling’; the submission of detailed reports after aerial bombing; suspected enemy firing of factories (later proved to be ‘normal’); death from illness of Special Constables and payments to their widows; the closing of licensed houses in the vicinity of the Aldershot Training Area (not applicable to officers residing in hotels); the repatriation of destitute aliens; the prevention of the sale of the 1915 crop of hay by farmers before its inspection and requisition; the offence of holding communication with a spy; the use of unauthorised uniforms or badges and the unauthorised use of official documents or ‘marks’; areas within the county where photography or sketching is to be allowed or disallowed; the export of pigeons to ‘neutral Countries’; preventing the supply of ‘intoxicants’ to convalescent soldiers; and the establishment of a ‘civil Police Station’ at Witley Camp (to help counteract the ‘amazing amount of pilfering’ in the camp by civilian workmen; the CC ‘could not see [his] way to grant this request’ due to his shortage of manpower unless Special Constables were used).

Complaints from the Post Office regarding who should pay for the official franking of envelopes, apparent military difficulties as to who exactly were ‘Competent Military Authorities’ to whom problems should be referred and yet more amendments to regulations for the sale of alcohol to military personnel were all further unwelcome distractions.

Due to the large number of constables enlisting, the Chief Constable found it necessary to suspend the ‘Weekly Rest Day’ from 4 June, although annual leave was to be granted as usual and arrangements made for a monthly rest day.

Report of November 1915 The flood of instructions from the Home Office continued, and included: the prevention of ‘persons of enemy antecedents, or undesirable character, from obtaining instruction at schools which have been licensed for the teaching of wireless telegraphy’; the enrolment of non-commissioned officers at Witley Camp as Special Constables (no doubt with regard to the ‘pilfering’ referred to earlier); the granting of licences for building new or altering existing factories to manufacture explosives; illicit signalling with kites (‘the burden of proof that any kite is not intended for signalling purposes, lies with the user’); the registration and internment of Bulgarians (with whom Great Britain was now at war); further (conflicting) instructions under the new Control of Lights Order regarding the showing of lights (windows and roof areas of factories could be left ‘undarkened if necessary for the safe and expeditious progress of the work’ whereas lights in private houses must be ‘rendered invisible at all times’; invited to make suggestions, the Chief Constable responded with several, although the response was not as helpful as he desired and his suggestions were ultimately ignored); arrangements for warning Police of the approach of hostile aircraft (considered ‘Sketchy’ by Sant); establishing a ‘bonfire system’ (requested by the Royal Flying Corps) to guide aeroplanes at night; and the supply of khaki armlets for those attested for the Reserves and those discharged as medically unfit.

The Chief Constable also found it necessary to complain on several occasions, especially of the overwork the war brought to his force. A Zeppelin raid over London on 13 October (with one off-course Zeppelin dropping bombs on Guildford) ‘greatly increased’ the work of the Police in Surrey and the necessity of obtaining information and supplying returns of anything from stocks of hay to available motor transport, which ‘necessitate a considerable amount of work’, also took up valuable time. Constables were being placed in ‘Class 40’ and indiscriminately receiving Lord Derby’s recruiting letter asking what more they could do for their country, despite ‘working overtime without one word of grumble or complaint’ (even his clerical staff, both married men over 40, had received the letter).