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I promised to send another police sword. This is the pattern for Thames River Police from 1798 and for the London Metropolitan Police from 1829. Unlike the Counties pattern, it is longer, not so curved and has bars on the guard. This is dated 1867 - when the Met. ordered new weapons for the Irish problem. (That should get some people going !!) Two following pictures.

Mervyn

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Another Andy May (in South Africa) original. This shows a Met

. P.C. in 1870 - carrying this pattern of sword. Each Station had it's own armoury of swords and pistols. These could be issued when required, or, when asked for by the constable - the station sgt. or, duty officer was responsible. It is not generally known that as late as the 1930's a constable could request a firearm if patrolling a very dangerous beat.

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You have just made my Sunday (now I can skip church :rolleyes: ).

I really like the fact that you were able to include Andy May's artwork showing the officer and sword.

Thanks again.

Regards

Brian

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Tom King   

Interesting post. Does the Met Commissioner and AC's still have issue swords? I notice that the duty band has horizontalas opposed to vertical stripes. I had a similar duty band and though it was a special Constabulary band and sold it as such, when did they change ?

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I'm a little out of date on Met. current full dress - the last Trooping of the Colour I paraded for was in 1974 - it was the only thing I ever volunteered for - and that was only because my Div. 'H' - stood in front of the Guards Memorial - so, we had the best view !!! The Deputy - or, sometimes , Asst. Commissioner, who was in charge of the parade, would ride on horseback, along the Mall 15 minutes before the Troops - he would be accompanied by his his sgt. orderly, from Mounted Branch. The Sgt. was in No.1 dress uniform and the 'boss' in cocked hat, full dress uniform , with Austrian frogging - and, if raining, a beautiful horse cloak with velvet collar - this was stretched out to sit across the back of the horse. From my re-collection , I think he wore a dress sword. One must remember that the Commissioner is the most senior police officer in the UK and has an equivalent army rank of full general . He wears as rank - crown,star and crossed tipstaffs in a wreath. The Dep.Comm. wears crown, two stars (side by side) and tipstaffs. His equivalent is a Lt. Gen.. The asst. comms wear a star, over the tipstaffs - equiv. of major generals.

I would think with today's changing of values, that he probably rides a bike now and in shirt sleeve order !!!

Inspectors' and supts. carried swords until about the 1870's - they are now very rare - I will post one soon.

Mervyn

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Sorry, I forgot to answer your question on duty armbands. They were present from when the Met. first marched out in 1829 and their purpose was very simple. Police Orders of the day, laid down that the 'new' police were on duty 24 hours a day and would wear uniform at all times. To distinguish between when they were 'on' or, 'off' duty they carried the arm band and put it on when 'on' duty. The stripes were horizontal. I am not sure of the exact date they changed to vertical stripes, but it was sometime in the 1880's (I stand to be corrected on this , if anyone has diff. info.). I was first issued with a felt type armband and in ,I think, 1970, we changed to nylon ones. They were taken away in 1972 and we all felt annoyed, as it was part of the uniform. Only City of London retained theirs - which are red and white vertical stripes. Will post my old ones. Did Specials ever wear them - not sure ?

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Hi Mervyn,

I'm not sure if this armband for the Specials is what you were asking about but if it is then yes the Specials wore armbands at one time at least. I believe I have seen cloth armbands with the wording "Special Constable" printed on thhen but have none in my collection.

Regards

Brian

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Brian - this is a 1st. WW duty armband and was worn around the upper left arm. (exceptional cond. !) However, the horizontally striped band (without the name plaque) would have been very similar to the early Victorian ones. The duty arm bands were worn on the left sleeve of the tunic or, greatcoat - and the sleeves on both had sewn loops to stop the band from falling off.

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I hope you don't mind me re-opening this thread but it follows on from the discussion of dress swords above, there is an excellent 2012 photograph of the City of London Police Commissioner on horseback with a ceremonial sword adorned with a gold sword knot with a darker thread (blue?) interwoven, rather like those used by Royal Navy officers. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/Mounted_Police.JPG

Obviously the City force is an exception, I'm assuming other forces with white rather than yellow metal buttons insignia etc. would have a silver sword knot if any for the most senior officers? Photographs seem to show this for the Met, brilliant photo of Colonel Sir Edward Bradford with "Metropolitan Police Commissioners' ceremonial sword, cavalry pattern with mameluke hilt." http://lafayette.org.uk/bra2660.html#N_1_

I've seen some excellent photos of Superintendents in the Met wearing (presumably black) leather Army style knots with their ceremonial swords, circa 1890s,early 1900s. There are certainly extant photographs of Inspectors wearing ceremonial swords into the 1910s but they do not appear to wear sword knots.

I'd be interested to know know more about ceremonial Police swords, knots and scabbards if anyone has any further information or can direct me to a source!

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dsh282   

Simon,

I'm sure you found the answers to your questions two years on (!) but for the benefit of anyone who is interested...

Swords

It is important to distinguish between the ‘operational’ swords issued to the Met in its early years for riot control and the largely ceremonial swords carried by Inspectors and above from the latter part of the 19th century. Before the introduction of the latter it is likely that the operational swords would have been used for ceremonial purposes… however it should be noted that this is probably restricted to formal photographs and the like because what we now consider as ‘cermonial’ (such as Guardsmen on duty at Buckingham Palace or policemen in tunics on Trooping the Colour) would not have been  ‘ceremonial’ but an actual, operational duty in the latter part of the 19th century.

In the photo on the following link the Superintendent (erroneously described as an Inspector) is mounted, wearing ceremonial dress. The sword he is carrying is the 1822 Light Cavalry / Royal Artillery Officers' pattern sword. In all photographs I have seen of senior ranks with swords in a similar era it is always of this pattern. The earlier styles of sword depicted by the OP at the top of this thread are more of an 'operational' sword for actual riot control rather than ceremonial use. I can only surmise the reason for the 1822 pattern sword being chosen is the close resemblance it bears to the MP issue sword with barred hand guard. It could also be because its selection by the Met was before the introduction of any of the current army issue swords (1897 infantry, 1908/12 cavalry swords, etc)

Superintendent in full dress with sword: http://www.pmcc-club.co.uk/museum/displayimage.php?album=201&pos=137

The mameluke carried by the Commissioner in the link you posted is the same as that carried by Generals and Field Marshals in the army. That said, I have seen recent photographs of Sir Bernard HH carrying what appears to be the 1822 pattern on his horse. Bearing in mind this man made up his own rules and wore a PCs tunic instead of the ACPO-pattern one because he “doesn't like belted tunics”, it wouldn't surprise me that he is just carrying any sword he could obtain to “look the part”. Though the City of London Commissioner is also now carrying the 1822 pattern sword so maybe it is to prevent the unnecessary expenditure of a mameluke.

It would appear the following was the case with the MPS:

  1. Constables and Sergeants do not carry swords, being as they do not hold equivalent “officer rank”. Obviously this rule does not apply to 'operational' swords.
  2. Inspectors and Superintendents traditionally carried ceremonial swords (hence the sword slings worn in full dress until the 1970s to indicate such rank), which would be of the 1822 pattern. This rule would be similar to all Commissioned Officers in the army who carry their regimental pattern swords below General rank.
  3. The Police Commissioning ranks above Superintendent carried Mamelukes in recognition of their equivalence to General Officers in the army.

(In this description I have left out Chief Inspector/Superintendent because they did not originally exist and even to this day legislation giving powers to certain ranks only refers to PC/Sgt/Insp/Supt/Chief Officer rank)

To further complicate matters, I recently visited the Met museum at West Brompton and on asking about swords was shown the earlier style ‘operational’ swords and an 1897 pattern infantry officers’ sword. The 1897 sword featured military markings so I strongly suspect that IF this was carried by a Met Officer that it was carried over from previous military service or was an heirloom. There are no MPS markings on it. It is therefore possible that if you see photographs of Inspectors / Superintendents with other types of swords that they either have military background or are just carrying anything they could get their hands on!

 

Sword belts / knots

The sword knots in the photo of the Supt are black leather. The belt worn by a Superintendent would have been underneath the jacket, almost identical to a current officers of The Rifles regiment.

Inspectors wore a patent leather version of the leather belt worn by PCs and Sgts (with snake clasp) over the tunic with the slings clipped together. Knots would also be black leather. The same website of the link I have posted shows an Inspectors dress uniform with sword belt, although incorrectly clipped over the shoulder like a sam browne. The carrying of swords by Insps/Supts was discontinued in the 19th century but the wearing of sword slings to denote officer-rank continued into the 1970s.

Inspector wearing full dress: http://www.scottishpolicemedals.co.uk/s/cc_images/cache_2441005270.jpg?t=1389482984

Constables and Sergeants have never been issued with 'ceremonial' sword belts, only a black leather belt with snake clasp. When swords were carried they had a sword frog similar to those worn by infantry soldiers in the army as depicted in the May drawing above.

Chief Officer ranks traditionally (individual flair notwithstanding) wore silver and blue sword knots. This would be worn on an underbelt (like Supts), and a blue/silver waist sash. On events like QBP this is still worn over the full dress tunic and with riding breeches with silver oak leaf stripe, and cocked hat. Horse cloak in inclement weather.

The sash is often still worn without sword by the Commissioner-ranks for dismounted ceremonial events. On such occasions the trousers have a silver oak-leaf stripe down the side. The open-necked tunic, peaked cap and white gloves are worn.

Last Met Commissioner in full dress - mounted: https://ssl.c.photoshelter.com/img-get2/I0000s8ujtn21vcI/fit=1000x750/People-010.jpg

Met Commissioner in full dress - dismounted: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/event/royals-attend-met-police-memorial-service-53155260?esource=SEO_GIS_CDN_Redirect#prince-charles-prince-of-wales-sir-ian-blair-and-camilla-duchess-of-picture-id53165501 (this is Sir Ian Blair - Bernie HH never wore the correct tunic and Sir Paul Stephenson was never around long enough to attend a formal parade!!)

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