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Metropolitan police officers who returned from retirement to Coronation duties were all given 'O' Division when they collected their uniforms - I believe they took part in practice ceremonies and once the real thing had passed would have handed their uniforms in. Constables and sergeants wore O Div on their collars and in their helmets whilst inspectors had their helmet with O in the centre.

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No CO officers are an elite band!! Specials use the usual Divisional letters but with 4 numbers starting with a 5. I thought CO was Commissioners Office? Its now Central Operations.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been puzzled by this post since Peter first started it.

I originally thought it related to the 1911 Coronation but the question I kept asking myself - if the man had previous service then why isn't the chap wearing a 1902 Coronation Medal Ribbon? I know that men, mainly pensioners, who returned in 1911 for that event were technically posted to the mythical O Division. Almost certainly all would have been serving in 1902 and probably before that. However in practice most pensioners went back to their old divisions which was also recorded in the Police Orders and they would have worn the Divisional letter of that Division (and not an O).

Yesterday I was looking through my copy of The Official Encyclopedia of Scotland Yard by Fido and Skinner and in there it states:

O DIVISION Because of the possibility of confusion with the numeral zero, there is no territorial O Division, for which reason the fictitious Division of television's police series The Bill carries the letter.

But on at least two occasions, 6 May 1935 and 12 May 1937, there was an actual O Division of sworn-in constables with correct uniforms and their Divisional numbers on their collars. The shortage of officers to police the Silver Jubilee procession of George V and the coronation procession of King George VI meant that recruits at Peel House were administered the Oath of Allegiance and given specially made uniforms. For the Silver Jubilee procession, the new O Division constables were sworn in at Scotland Yard a couple of days earlier. For the coronation processions, their successors took their oath at 4.30 am in the boot-room at Peel House. Both groups paraded to the Mall, where they stood behind the Guards lining the route until 4.00 pm. The Silver Jubilee's O Division were within a day of passing out and being posted to Divisions. They spent the evening removing the Os from their uniforms. The Coronation Day O Division were allowed to wear the uniforms home, and retained them long enough for a photograph of their short-lived Division to be taken.

So I would hazard a guess that the man (who doesn't look that old) was perhaps a 1937 recruit who managed to get his photo taken before the O Div was disbanded. They may have also selected a number of the older candidates to be acting sergeant for the day, hence the Corporal's stripes.

Edited by Odin Mk 3
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