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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

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When I first joined the Metropolitan Police in 1967 we passed through a large warehouse and

were issued our uniforms and equipment. With the weight of greatcoats and tunics , we could

barely walk back to our quarters.

I was issued with this truncheon and whistle - the whistle,I have covered in a separate post -

however, the truncheon is very interesting with it's history. From it's pattern and the small knurled

top I can see that it dates back to around the 1880's. It is made of a South American wood -

Lignum Vitae (wood of life) and does not float in water as the wood is dense and heavy. The

other two woods used to make truncheons at that time, were Teak and Ebony. Again very heavy

and would sink in water.

The Met. were very economical and would continue to use equipment in good condition for many years.

I used this truncheon for some 7 years - however, I later was a Home Beat Officer and when in

plain clothes used a shorter pattern. Many Police could complete service without ever having to use

their truncheon - others, dependent on their duties used it more often. The most common use was

to force entry where a person hadn't been seen for a while - also, to gain entry to vehicles.

I had occasion to use force on a number of occasions when the persons being arrested used force

to resist. I also, had to swing at a car that attempted to run a colleague down. I managed to smash

the driver's side window and he was arrested. The truncheon was left with embedded glass - however,

I didn't want to change it, so sandpapered it down and re-polished. You can see the slight marks from

the glass.

Wooden truncheons have been gone for a number of years - replaced with the metal expanding commando style from WW2. They probably hit harder, but I still think the 17inch (42.5cm)

truncheon was a fearsome weapon if used properly.

Being an unarmed Force - except for special occasions, I think it amazing that this wooden truncheon

helped to uphold law and order - under all circumstances - for over 150 years.


The whistle in those days was accompanied by a special key to open the Blue Police boxes that

were dotted around London. Before radios Police on Beats had to use the phone in the box to phone-

in at set times to receive information and mainly to report they were OK. The public could use

the phone set behind a window, but inside , was a desk and stool. Refreshments could be taken there

and prisoner's confined.

My funniest story was when I was on my way to the Station at about 1.30p.m. - ready to Parade at

1.45p.m. for the Late Turn - as it was called. I came towards a roundabout and running towards the

circle from the road on my right , was a stark naked man - just jogging along. I drove round the circle and parked on the other side. Luckily he turned right and came towards me. I grabbed him and he put

up a struggle - luckily there was a Police Box on the corner, so I dragged him over to use the phone.

I had no tunic on - only a jacket, so had no keys or equipment. A car screamed to a halt and a young constable - also on his way to work, but a different station - leapt out - opened the main door to the box and pushed myself and prisoner inside. I thought he would stay to help but he wished me good

luck and drove off - leaving me with a naked , slippery prisoner - who admitted he was an escapee from a mental home. All worked out - I called for the van and eventually he was returned to the home unharmed.


Interesting days - always something going-on.....


I am showing this truncheon as it was issued in 1926 to my Father who joined as a Special

Constable during the Great Strike of that year. Everything , including transport, was paralysed

and citizens were asked to join as SC's to help guard buildings and transport. He was 16 at the time

and I think he guarded the conductor on a public tram.

He was left with the truncheon , which is of teak. When I found it in a cupboard the leather strap

had rotted - so, I had it replaced with a blue dog lead - to avoid future confusion.


The two truncheons together - My Father's at top

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Very interesting.

When I stated collecting I was given a truncheon. I don't know when it's from so will post a picture here soon.

If you ever decide to part with you Police Box key, I would be very interested.

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I think the various items will be kept together - they form a small social history for the Met. of 47 years ago.

Surprisingly, a lot of this equipment and the paperwork, will not have survived. New techniques and computers

have taken over. Who would have thought today, that I did a two week course on how to operate a telegraph

link with Scotland Yard. Like something ' out of the ark !'.

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A very interesting post with what I consider exceptional personal artifacts.

I have a certificate to a Special Constable from the General Strike of 1926 and will be posting an article ont he strike later this year.

I hope you will be agreeable to add a photo of your father's truncheon to the articale at that time.



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