Wartime Memories Sought for Specials' Centenary
Bedfordshire Police is seeking wartime memories from friends and family of volunteers to mark this year's 100th birthday of the force's Special Constabulary.
The centenary is being celebrated across the force and the Bedfordshire Police Museum has chosen to focus on a group of colleagues who volunteered during the Second World War in the hope of building a treasure trove of memories and artefacts from this time.
During the War the force was considerably strengthened by the recruitment of Reserves. There were different categories including full time paid War Reserve Police Constables, full time paid members of the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps, and the Special Constabulary who were unpaid volunteers. Sadly force records from this time are sparse so attempts are being made to bolster them through the public appeal.
Keith Jackson, a former police Inspector with Bedfordshire Police who now volunteers himself, running the force museum, is driving the appeal to raise awareness about this important part of the organisation's history.
"The centenary is a very proud moment for the force and all its volunteers" he said. "By the end of the war the authorised establishment of the Bedfordshire County Special Constabulary was over 1100 men and to put that figure into some sort of perspective, the authorised establishment of the Regular Constabulary was only 162! Sadly the force records concerning the Special Constabulary are quite sparse so one of the ways of marking our 100th birthday is to gather as much information as possible about the war time service of these volunteers."
"Bedford and Luton were separate forces at that time with their own Special Constabularies, and between 1939 and 1945 every village and town also had their own Specials. They were local men who gave up their free time to fight crime and protect their communities. Whilst the minimum requirement was to work a four hour shift at least fifty times in a year, some of these men gave considerably more often completing between 120 and 150 duties a year in the larger industrial areas."
"To mark the centenary we want to pay tribute to all those who volunteered then and now so I would be grateful to receive any information from former Special Constables who are still alive, or from their descendants. Anecdotes, recollections or documents from the time will be invaluable. Equally, any donation of artefacts to add to the Force Museum collection would also be gratefully received. Please do help us bring this time in our history back to life."
To get in touch with your memories email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Keith at Bedfordshire Police HQ, Woburn Road, Kempston, Bedfordshire MK43 9AX.
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