Promotion and back on foot patrol

“I came to be interviewed for promotion after 8 years. Thanks to the radio car I had dealt with everything, and been sent to everything. I went on the promotion board and was the first post war recruit to be promoted to sergeant, so I was flying.

Joe in his sergeants' uniform. Courtesy of Joe Davies.

Whenever you were promoted you went straight to your feet again, I had been used to having a vehicle for the last six years, a motorbike or a car. You could see something and get straight on to it.

I worked in the town centre as a patrol sergeant for a good four years. It was called ‘C’ Division, covering Blakenhall, the town centre, Penn Road, Merry Hill, and Monmore Green.

If you hadn’t got a push bike you had to walk. You had to go out to Penn and see places right round. I tried an old bike, I’ve still got it, that’s how advanced things were in those days. We hadn’t got radios.”

Return to the Traffic Department

“Then I moved back into traffic as a sergeant, I was alright again then. We didn’t have radios on the motorbikes until 1953 or 1954. They were very slow in coming on the bikes. They had to alter the law when they put radios in police cars. We would be going to a job with a boot full of batteries, a hell of a weight. The car was tail heavy. If you left the car parked at an incident, by the time you came back the batteries would be flat, and you would need a push to get started.

They amended the law so that you could leave the engine running on a police car, fire engine, or an ambulance. Up to then it was an offence to park a vehicle and leave it unattended with the engine running. We then had two sets of keys, one that was always in the ignition, and another for the doors. After that we always left the engine running from the start of a patrol.

Discipline was rigid on the cars. They had to be immaculate, and we used to clean them before we went out, we had pride in our machines. Sergeant George Llewellyn used to say “don’t forget the tyres are part of the car!” If you got a puncture in the night and put the spare on, you would leave a defect form in the office when you went off duty, to inform them of the puncture. George would call us over the air to ask if we had inspected the vehicle thoroughly, and to ask if the spare tyre is inflated.

The lads sometimes went to fish and chip shops for something to eat. George would sniff inside the cars for the smell of fish and chips, and would discipline you if he could smell them. When we were on parade he used to say “I will not have my vehicles smelling of fish and chips, I will not have fish and chips in my patrol cars.”

Discipline was terrific on the motor patrol, if you slightly kicked over the traces you knew you were out, back on your flat feet again.”

Wilf de la Cour (left), a pre-war bobby from the Channel Islands, with Margaret, Joe, and their Austin 8. Taken off Westminster Bridge, London. Courtesy of Joe Davies.

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