And now we four are joined as one: The formation of the South Wales Constabulary, 1 June 1969

It will be 50 years in June since the formation of the South Wales Constabulary. This is the first of three articles that look back at the formation of the constabulary and its early days. It draws on records held at Glamorgan Archives including copies of the annual reports compiled by the Chief Constable.

On any scale 1969 was a challenging year to stage a major reorganisation and weld a new constabulary from the Glamorgan, Merthyr, Swansea and Cardiff police forces. As the Chief Inspector’s report for 1969-70 observed, 1969 was a testing year with the need to contribute to the policing of the investiture of Prince Charles and a number of royal visits to South Wales. In addition, the force faced a range of serious challenges including bearing …the heavy burden of work and investigations into Welsh extremism… alongside policing …anti-apartheid activities and Springbok rugby matches.

The move to larger police forces was a national initiative following the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Policing in 1960. The changes in South Wales were one piece of a jigsaw that aimed to reduce the number of forces across the country from 117 to 43. Preparations for the South Wales Constabulary had been handled by some 13 working groups set up to look at every aspect of the running of the new force. The working group records are held at Glamorgan Archives and from the outset the Chief Constables of the four forces admitted, in a joint letter, issued on 26 July 1967, that the merger would be not be popular in many quarters.

It is acknowledged that the process of amalgamation does not commend itself to all members of the regular forces and civilian staff affected. This we understand.

However, the new force, serving almost fifty percent of the population of Wales, would be more efficient:

…providing greater resources and more modern equipment, transport and communication.

Two years later, on 1 May 1969, a month before the launch of the Constabulary, the Chief Constable designate, Melbourne Thomas, wrote again to his staff admitting that:

…there will undoubtedly be many initial problems and difficulties, but with the co-operation and combined effort of all members we can overcome them… In the whole of Great Britain there are only six provincial forces with responsibility for a greater number of people and the merger is taking place in an atmosphere of economic restraint with restrictions on manpower, and at a time when the structure of the police service is subject to tremendous change in both the administrative and operational fields.

Chief Constable Melbourne Thomas

Chief Constable Melbourne Thomas

As a means of smoothing the transition he sought to reassure officers that they would not be required to move as part of reorganisation and that:

there will be a substantial number of promotions in the new force and I want to stress that these will be on merit with no regard being paid to which of the constituent forces the officers belonged.

The letter made no mention of the disagreement that had surrounded the conclusion of the arrangements for the new force and, at times, had threatened to derail the entire process. Naturally, with an organisation that would embrace almost 3,000 police officers and civilian staff across South Wales, there were questions surrounding job security, relocation and promotion prospects. In addition, as debates in Parliament during March 1969 illustrated, the battle lines also encompassed concerns surrounding the loss of forces such Merthyr with a distinct local identity and a titanic tug of war over the location of the new police headquarters. Although many, including Jim Callaghan, the Home Secretary, had argued the case for Cardiff with its new state of the art HQ in Cathays Park, the eventual choice was Bridgend, the base of the Glamorgan Constabulary and the biggest of the 4 forces.


Police Headquarters, Bridgend

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that the launch of the South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969 was, for most people, a low key affair. Coverage in the Western Mail was limited to a very short article tucked away in the inside pages. Chief Constable, Melbourne Thomas simply stated that:

I have taken the view that there is no funeral and that the good spirit existing in the four forces will be carried forward into the new force (Western Mail, 1 June 1969).

And so it proved. In the annual report, produced in January 1970, the Chief Constable argued that many of the challenges faced in 1969 had helped forge the new constabulary:

The early jointure of the members of the forces in duties for Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales and the Royal Progress precipitated the business of working together for the whole force. Demonstrations at football matches continued the acceleration of getting to know one another. Social exchanges added to the integration the amalgamation must gain if the desired benefits are to be secured.

While there were ongoing difficulties with the force operating under strength and with limited ability to move staff, Melbourne Thomas concluded:

…the new force was launched and is progressing daily towards the integration and efficiency desired from amalgamation. Twelve months from now it will be possible to look at the progress made from a much better perspective point.

The acid test probably lay in the mood of the members of the new South Wales Constabulary. 1968 and 1969 had seen some 350 retirements and resignations – well above the average. One of the first developments was the production of new Police Magazine for the constabulary. It not only provided news of staff changes and social events but also provided a forum for a range of views on the amalgamation.  An edition published in 1970 contained the following poem, penned by ‘152G’, which possibly summed up the ‘let’s just get on with it’ attitude across the force.


To some it brought promotion

A move they did not want?

For others, no commotion

But don’t give up and daunt


We’ve had it now for many a day

And things are settling down

For those who sighed are heard to say

“I was too quick to frown”


And now we four are joined as one

To form a brand new force

A good beginning has begun

We are the best, of course.


So let us make our motto

“Forever we are best”

Until the day we have got to

Amalgamate with the rest

[Taken from South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, p73 (DSWP/52/1)].

Melbourne Thomas’ conclusion at the end of 1969 that …the general sense of progress is now quite encouraging… was, therefore, not far from the mark. The South Wales Constabulary, despite challenges on numerous fronts, was up and running.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Records on the establishment of the South Wales Constabulary can be found at Glamorgan Archives, including the Chief Inspector’s report for 1969-70 (DSWP/16/2). The letters from the Chief Constables are at DSWP/29/7 (26 June 1967) and DSWP/29/7 (1 May 1969). Early copies of the South Wales Police Magazine are at DSWP/52/1. Copies of the Western Mail for this period, including the article on the formation of the South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969, can be accessed at the Cathays Heritage Library.

‘I’ll sing a song of heroes true’: A Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary by PS Caleb Morris



The Glamorgan Archives holds a large number of items that tell the story of the Glamorgan Constabulary from its creation in 1841. One of the more unusual items is a poem penned by Police Sergeant Caleb Morris (PS 175) in 1918 entitled, ‘A Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary’. At the time, Morris was 48 years old and past the maximum age for military service. Originally from Pembrokeshire, he had joined the Glamorgan Constabulary at the age of 24 in 1894. He was a well-known figure in the Abernant area and was promoted to Sergeant in 1915. He figured regularly in the pages of the local press, giving evidence in criminal cases heard in the local courts. Morris, however, was also known in the community for his talent in writing verse. There are several newspapers reports in this period of events where the audience was entertained by ‘topical verse’ and ‘verses of welcome’ delivered by Caleb Morris. This was a talent that he used in good effect when, in 1918, he produced his ‘Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary’.  His aim was to celebrate the men of the Constabulary who had joined the armed forces to fight in the Great War. Several hundred men from the Constabulary left their posts to join the forces and 92 lost their lives.

The poem is reproduced in full at the end of this article. It tells the story of specific events, including the desperate attempt to hold back the German advance in the early months of the war. By and large, however, it majors on the deeds of specific men. For example, Fred Smith, who was a Police Inspector at Bridgend at the outbreak of the war, and also known for his exploits on the rugby field playing for Cardiff and Bridgend. Fred had extensive military experience, having fought in the Boer War as a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Glamorgan Yeomanry, and was awarded the DCM. During the Great War, as Lieutenant Colonel Smith, he commanded the 16th (Cardiff City) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment and was awarded the DSO. After the war he returned to the police force with his appointment as Chief Superintendent at Gowerton.

The verse also tells the story of one of the legendary figures of the Glamorgan Constabulary, Company Sergeant Major, Dick Thomas. Dick Thomas had joined the force in 1904 and was promoted to Sergeant and stationed at Bridgend in 1913. He was widely admired as an exceptional rugby player for Bridgend, Mountain Ash and Wales. In particular, he had the distinction of playing in the first Welsh side to win the Grand Slam in 1908. He is remembered as one of the heroes of the assault by the Welsh Regiment on the heavily defended German positions at Mametz Wood on 7 July 1916.

One of the most poignant stories is that of James Angus, originally from Brecon. Angus had joined the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1893 and was stationed at Barry and Abercynon. Like Fred Smith, he had military experience. His father had fought with the South Wales Borderers in the Crimea and James Angus had served with the Grenadier Guards in the Boer War. In 1914 he joined the 16th Cardiff City Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he was Acting Commander of the 11th Battalion of the South Wales Borderers when he died, tragically, in a swimming accident in September 1917.

The verse also deals with events on the home front, commending the men, like Morris, who had to stay in Wales but, nevertheless, were doing ‘their bit’ to win the war. In addition, there is a lengthy tribute to the Chief Constable, Capt Lionel Lindsay, for his leadership during the war years. Lindsay had first joined the Constabulary as a Superintendent in Merthyr in 1889. He succeeded his father, Henry Gore Lindsay, as Chief Constable in 1891 and held the post until 1937.

The poem ends on a fairly sombre note, telling the story of the thousands of women who dreaded the arrival of the post each day in case it brought news of the death of a loved one. Delivery of such letters and telegrams would have been a familiar occurrence in local communities across Wales. No doubt Caleb Morris would have feared for the life of his only son, David, who was in the Merchant Navy. David was an officer on ships owned by W J Tatem and Co of Cardiff.  As far as we know, he survived the war but not without a number of scares. In May 1918 the Aberdare Leader carried details of his return from India on the SS Madras. The convoy had been attacked on both the outward and return journeys by German submarines and had lost six ships. It was reported that … one torpedo missed the bow of Sec Officer Morris’ ship by only a yard or two and struck the next ship which was alongside.… [Aberdare Leader, 18 May 1918].

Copies of Caleb Morris’ tribute were printed by the Western Mail and sold at 3d a copy. They were enormously popular and, in June 1918, it was reported that £67 11s had been raised, suggesting that over 5400 copies had been sold. The proceeds were passed to the Welsh Prisoners of War Fund. Caleb Morris served in the Glamorgan Constabulary for 26 years and retired in March 1920 aged 50.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer


A Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary

Respectfully dedicated to Captain Lionel Lindsay, MVO, Chief Constable

I’ll sing a song of heroes true,

Known to you as ‘Men in blue’.

The gallant members of the Force

Are never wanting in resource;

When Britain’s sword flashed in the light

For Belgium’s liberty and right,

The brave Glamorgans honour bound

Exchanged their beats for battle ground.

Four hundred men as true as steel

Knew how to march with toe and heel;

They knew their rifle and their drill,

A dauntless band with iron will.

These men that would not break or yield

Could now command upon the field.

A smarter lot of army men

Was never known to human ken.

They hailed from Porth and Mountain Ash,

That ‘Scrap of Paper’ made them rash.

They left Bridgend and Aberdare,

Took up their guns and did their share;

From Briton Ferry jovial Ben

Rejoined his unit there and then:

And now a captive with the Hun,

May God be with him when alone.

From Port Talbot, Pentre, Barry,

On their journey did not tarry.

Every Hamlet, Town and Village

Were responsive to the Message.

Men from all the Shire’s divisions

Joined the battle of the Nations.

A spirit moved within each breast

That hurried them to do their best.

With solemn vow and eager heart,

Determined all to play their part.

Never yet had they been thwarted

In a venture once ‘twas started.

Ere the middle of September

Many crossed the Straits of Dover;

Forward march through France and Flanders,

Till they met the Goosestep dancers,

‘Got in Himmel Donner Wetter’,

Blood was running there like water.

The BEF with wounded arm

Gave Kaiser William the alarm,

His dreams of Paris and Calais

Evaporated on that day.


The soldiers said, and still repeat,

That Angels fought in that retreat.

Like lightening flash or human thought

A modern miracle was wrought;

The British caused a German rout;

Attila’s millions turned about.

The Huns retreated to the Aisne,

A sorry plight for men so vain.

Many a policeman’s blood was shed,

And some were numbered with the dead.

Among the men who crossed the foam

To fight for Country, King and Home,

Was Colonel Smith of football fame,

To-day he plays the sterner game:

Fred was mentioned in despatches,

How he fought the cruel Bosches;

His clever tactics foiled the foe,

His merit won the DSO

May further honour be in store

‘Till Smith commands the Army Corps.


Another star looms on the view,

A credit to the Men in Blue;

Brave Colonel Angus made a stand

That brought distinction and command;

A Grenadier to the core,

He won his spurs against the Boer.

As true a man as wore a sword

Or stood before the German Horde,

But sad to me ‘tis to relate

How Angus met his mournful fate;

For when he was with honour crowned

A message came that he was drowned.

For acumen and gallantry

His name will long remembered be.


Another hero, strong and tall,

A master with the gloves and ball,

A football player lithe and bold,

An International of old.

He won his cap for strength and dash-

I mean Dick Thomas, Mountain Ash;

As Sergeant Major at the Front

Was in the van, as e’er his wont.

Poor Dick is numbered with the slain,

And buried on a foreign plain;

He met his death with smiling face,

‘Twas worthy of a gallant race.


And Corporal Jones of Cynon Town,

Who joined the Guards and won renown;

A man of truly valiant worth,

A giant he, in length and girth;

He won a medal for his pluck,

But lost a limb, what bitter luck.

Poor Jim will never march again

To music of a martial strain.


Could I but weave as Poets can,

I’d sing a song to very man.

All deserve their names to glitter

On a shield in gold and silver;

One and all without exception

Are worthy of the British Nation.

Many a gallant deed was done,

The twentieth part will ne’er be sung.

Behind the lines the crosses tell

How brave Glamorgans nobly fell.

Many are to-day for valour

Numbered on the Scroll of Honour;

For ‘Robert’s’ always in the van,

A soldier, constable and man.


Three hundred men were left at home,

They could not sail across the foam.

The DSO and DCM

Will ne’er be won by one of them.

They too deserve a word of praise

For arduous work in anxious days,

Willing service to the Country

Yet may win a star or bounty.

Their patience, tact and courtesy

Disclose inherent chivalry.


Our gallant Chief, and friend in need,

To all of us a friend indeed;

The martial mien his Giants bear,

A triumph to his special care.

Every man a Drill Instructor-

Aye, and ready for the Sector.

There’s not a Force throughout the Realm

With better Captain at the helm.

His ancient lineage, gentle birth,

Add lustre to intrinsic worth.

A Chieftain he whose loyalty

Was honoured by our Royalty.

The deeds he’s done since war began

Are worthy of the Lindsay Clan.

A valiant Chief of noble heart,

To King and Country plays his part;

And when his men return again

They will not seek his aid in vain.

His name will ever revered be

For honour and fidelity.


Another Gentleman we know,

Brave Colonel Williams, DSO.

A man respected in the Shire,

Descendent of a noble sire;

Grandson and a worthy scion

To ‘Alaw Goch’ of Ynyscynon.

He early won his King’s reward

As Captain of the Celtic Guard;

Before this War the Welshmen had

To wear Grenade of Gaelic pla’d,

His love of Wales and his Nation

Brought to pass the Welch Battalion.

(Ye Giant Welshman, service seek,

‘Cymru am Byth’, go! Don the leek;

When a Teuton you encounter

Make him eat the leek for dinner;

Treat him as the bold Glendower

Treated Pistil for his bluster.)

When War is o’er and Peace shall reign

May he come back to Wales again,

For Wales can ill afford to lose

The man that won that Cross at Loos.


I’d love to touch a finer chord,

If but the Muse with my accord,

For now I tread on holy ground

Where the bereaved are to be found.

Ye women brave, whose hearts have bled

For husbands, sons and lovers dead;

Yon brave Soldier-sons of Gwalia

Sleepeth in that Grand Valhalla.

My inmost soul with pain is strung,

I can’t express with human tongue,

The pain and sorrow that is wrought:

Though glory won, ‘tis dearly bought.

There’s not a herb, however good,

That ever has or ever could,

Or great physician’s healing art,

Can heal the wounds of broken heart;

There’s only One, the Lord above,

That knows the depth of woman’s love.

All through the watches of the night

They never sleep till morning light.

They watch the postman from afar,

The door is left upon the jar.

The mother peeps behind the blind

And prays that fate at last is kind.

The Postman passes with a will,

The Mother’s heart is standing still.

Sometimes the truth is grim and hard:

Her boy lay buried  in the sward.

O what is sorrow? Who can tell?

‘Tis only them that love too well.

The anguish, pain and poignant grief

Beyond the conception and belief.

God of Mercy, stretch forth Thy palm

And give Thy children healing balm.

Caleb Morris, PS 175. Abernant, Aberdare

‘A good shilling’s worth’: The building of the Police Station House at Bridgend in 1845

When the Glamorgan Constabulary was formed in 1841 there was a pressing need across the county for suitable station houses for the new force. In his first report to the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County, on 30th August 1841, the newly appointed Chief Constable, Captain Charles Frederick Napier, had emphasised that the existing facilities needed to be either completely replaced or upgraded. In towns such as Merthyr, prisoners were frequently held by constables at local public houses, given Napier’s assessment that cells, where available, were …totally unfit for the reception of such prisoners. Napier underlined the need for a station house with lock up cells in each of the main towns across the county. With regard to Bridgend, which was in the Ogmore District, he noted:

I propose making Bridgend the Station House for this District and the residence of the Superintendent…  Bridgend being the central point it is highly desirable that a good station house should be erected, I would suggest that the building should contain a residence for the Constable, with offices for the Superintendent, and four cells  [Record of the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan, held at the Pyle Inn on Monday 30 August 1841, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

Although it was agreed that a new Police Rate of £800 be raised specifically to fund the Constabulary, it was recognised that it would take time for suitable premises to be built in all areas. The situation in Bridgend was not addressed fully until 1845. The Glamorgan Archives holds the original plans for the new police station built at that time and much of the background correspondence dealing with the negotiation for its construction.

The news, in 1843, that plans were afoot to build, through private subscription, a new town hall in Bridgend on land owned by the Earl of Dunraven presented an opportunity for a police station, cells and court room to be incorporated within the design.

A Committee of Magistrates had been established to oversee the building of police stations for the Constabulary. When this committee was approached, in 1843, by the group charged with the construction of the Bridgend Town Hall, it was soon agreed that facilities for the police and local magistrates could be provided in the basement of the Town Hall. The details of the arrangement agreed at that time are set out in the Record of the General Quarter Sessions of the peace held in Neath on 27 June 1843, held at the Glamorgan Archives.

… the Inhabitants of Bridgend (having previously determined to erect a Town Hall in that Town by private subscription) offered the Magistrates to provide on the basement story of the proposed Hall the necessary accommodation for the Police upon being paid by the County as much as a Police Station House, including the price of the Land, would have cost in any other situation in the Town.

A Meeting of the Committee of Magistrates was immediately afterwards held and they agreed to pay the subscribers to the Town Hall the sum of Three hundred and fifty pounds for providing such accommodation according to such plan and upon having a Lease of the Station House for a Thousand years at a Pepper Corn rent, granted to the County, the whole arrangement being subject to the approbation of the Secretary of State.

It is intended to set apart in the basement story two rooms viz ‘the Magistrates Room’ and the ‘Waiting Room’ adjoining, for the use of the Magistrates of the District they having at present no room in which to hold their Petty Sessions.

The Upper Story is intended to be used as a Public Hall with Judge’s and Jury Rooms.

That, save such as may be included under the head of ‘County Meetings and duly convened’, it shall not be used for any meeting of a political party, polemical, or controversial character or complexion  [Record of the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace held at Neath on 27 June 1843, ref.: DMM/CO75/2].

The last provision, relating to political usage of the Hall, was kept in place for 40 years and only rescinded by agreement of the management committee in May 1885  [Bridgend Town Hall Minute Book, 1845-1941, ref.: DXS/1, p103].

The original plans for the basement, drawn up by the architect, D Vaughan, can be seen at Glamorgan Archives.


The plans carry a wax seal and they are signed to confirm that they had been approved by the Secretary of State at the Home Office, Sir James Graham, on 8 August 1843. Given that the town of Bridgend was policed by only one officer, the space allocated to the Glamorgan Constabulary was quite sparse and consisted of one bedroom, 12ftx12ft, a store room of similar proportions and a living room with a fuel store, 14ft by 17ft. In addition, three cells were provided, each 10ft by 6ft. Napier had commented that where cells were provided across the county they were often unheated and unsuitable for use in the winter. To address this, provision was made for the cells in Bridgend to be heated by flues from fires in adjoining rooms. Each cell also had a water closet. Much of the rest of the ground floor was allocated for use by the Magistrates of the Hundreds of Newcastle and Ogmore with provision of a Magistrates’ Room and a Court Room. Although it is not stated, the basement would have been lit at night by oil lamps given that the Town Hall was not fitted with gas lights until 1847 [Bridgend Town Hall, ref.: DXAG].

Copies of the declaration of Trust and lease for the station house, made in August and October 1844 respectively, are also held at Glamorgan Archives. They confirm that the construction of the building took just over a year.

The foundation stone of the building which was erected by public subscription, was laid on the thirteenth day of September 1843, by the Rt Honorable John Nicholl, MP. Her Majesty’s Judge Advocate General and the Hall, having been completed, was delivered up to the subscribers by Mr John Rayner of Swansea, the Architect, on the first day of May 1845  [Bridgend Town Hall Minute Book, 1845-1941, ref.: DXS/1].

By and large the facilities were in line with Napier’s recommendations, with provision of accommodation for the local constable, for which rent would have been deducted from his pay. However, only three, rather than four, cells were provided.  The New Town Hall was handed over to the Trustees in May 1845 with the first meeting held in the first week of June. A small amendment to the station layout was made in 1848 to provide stairs from the station house to the prisoners dock in the hall. The plans for this are also held at Glamorgan Archives with confirmation that they had been approved by Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary, on 2 September 1848 [Glamorgan Constabulary Records, Bridgend Town Hall, 2 Sep 1848, ref.: DCON236/1].

Views on the new facilities provided for the police and magistrates were aired at the meeting of the Magistrates a month later, in July 1845, and reported in the Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian. On the one hand, there were clearly a number of teething problems:

Bridgend Station House. It was stated that the rooms of this station smoked very badly – that the chimneys did not draw well…  After a short conversation upon the subject… it was ordered that steps should immediately be taken for the purpose of lessening, if not entirely removing the evil complained of by the inmates of the Bridgend Station House  [Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, 5 July 1845].

Yet it was evident that, overall, the Magistrates were more than content that they had struck a good deal at Bridgend. So much so that one of their number, Robert Knight, commented:

At all events he thought the county had received a good shilling’s worth for a shilling in having a station house which cost £500 for £300. (Hear).  [Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, 5 July 1845].

Whether the inhabitants of Bridgend were pleased with this assessment was not recorded.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

To merit promotion it is only necessary to be attentive, intelligent and sober: Instructions for the Glamorganshire Constabulary Force, 1841

In November 1841, as the newly formed Glamorgan Constabulary set out into the field for the first time, each man was provided with a copy of Instructions for the Glamorganshire Constabulary Force. Thirty three pages in length and printed so that it could be slipped easily into a jacket pocket, the booklet provided ‘instructions’ for each of the three ranks – Superintendents, Sergeants and Constables. A copy of the original booklet is held at the Glamorgan Archives. It provides interesting reading in terms of what it tells us about both the early days of policing and the changes brought about in society by industrialisation.


Much of the booklet is basic advice for Constables, with an emphasis on the prospect of promotion if they acquitted themselves well.

…to merit promotion it is only necessary to be attentive, intelligent and sober. Diligence is always in his power; the necessary intelligence is easily acquired; and to be sober requires only that firm resolution never to enter a public house, or accept liquor from any person whomsoever.

Drunkenness was clearly a major concern, and the four Superintendents were instructed to ensure that all publicans were aware that …harbouring Police Constables during the hours of duty… was an offence. From the outset, Capt. Charles Napier, the Chief Constable, made it clear that being found intoxicated while on duty would lead to immediate dismissal.

Nothing denigrates a Police Officer so much as drunkenness, nothing is so soon observed by the public, and nothing exalts the character of a Constable so much as the steady and uniform refusal of liquor when offered to him, even with those who at the moment may be offended at his determination.

Constables was also warned that they would be subject to numerous insults and provocations but must never show …resentment or anger… and recognise that such things are …incidental to … office.

When a Constable exhibits good temper he will never want either the approbation or the assistance of every respectable spectator. On the contrary, any want of temper is almost certain to expose him to disapprobation and insult, and must deprive him of that presence of mind which is so essential for his own protection and the reputation of the Service.

When looking at the list of offences that Constables were required to deal with, many would figure in a modern day police pocket book, including murder, housebreaking, robbery, assault and receiving stolen goods. However, several were very much of their time, reflecting society in the mid-19th century. For example, the list of Bye Laws listed activities that were subject to penalty:

No swine sty or privy to be emptied, or night soil, etc to be removed except between 12 at night and 5 in the morning….

No cattle to be slaughtered or dressed in any street….

Blacksmiths and persons using a forge and having a door or opening to the front of any street to have the same closed within half an hour after sunset, to prevent the light shining upon the street….

No person to shoe, bleed or farry any horse or cattle in any street except in case of accident.

Perhaps surprisingly, the list included:

No carriage to be washed or repaired in any street, except in case of accidents.

This was also the period of the Rebecca riots and Constables were warned that offences classed as felony included:

Maliciously throwing down any toll-bar or fence that belonging to any turnpike gate.

In addition, it was not uncommon in coastal areas for ships to be lured onto the rocks so that they could plundered. and Constables were instructed to be on the lookout for anyone:

Exhibiting any false light with intent to  bring any ship into danger, or maliciously doing anything tending to the destruction of any vessel in distress, or any goods belonging thereto, or impeding any person endeavouring to save his life from such ship or vessel.

The emphasis was on being smartly turned out at all times, with Constables dressed in blue swallow tail jackets and white breeches in the summer. Yet maintaining high standards must have been quite a challenge at times, given the instruction that:

If it rains the Constable on duty must keep clear the eyes of the sewers.

On a lighter note, the streets of major towns would have been very different in the 1840s and a flavour of how they might have looked is provided by the guidance given on ‘Day Duty’:

He is to remove all nuisances, prevent the foot-walk from being obstructed in any way whatever, and either drive away, or take away into custody, all beggars, ballad singers, oyster sellers and persons selling fruit or other articles in baskets.

The police force also had a key role in dealing with fires. Constables were charged with raising the alarm and also relaying the news to the fire station.

If he has to run and feels tired, he is to send forward a fresh Constable when about half way; but still he is to keep on his course as fast as possible, lest the message should miscarry.

There were also very specific instructions on what was to be saved:

If it is a counting house or warehouse the first things to be saved are the books and papers.

There is no doubt, however, that the major challenge faced by the new force lay in policing the rapidly expanding industrial towns in south Wales. Of the 34 sergeants and constables recruited by the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1841, 12 were deployed to the Merthyr Tydfil district leaving the rural areas, by Napier’s own admission, thinly policed. Drawn by the opportunities for work in the coal mines and iron foundries, towns such a Merthyr had seen their population increase at a phenomenal rate. The new Glamorgan Constabulary was presented with a daily challenge in maintaining law and order in busy bustling towns where the population worked hard, but alcohol was cheap and readily accessible. The advice on dealing with drunkenness was remarkably mild.

Although a Constable is always to act with firmness, he is never to interfere needlessly. When a drunken man is making his way home quietly, he is to let him pass on without speaking to him; if he is disorderly, he is to speak mildly and friendly to him, and persuade him to go home; if he needs assistance he is to help him; if he requires protection, he is to pass him without murmuring to the next Constable, who is to pass him in the same manner to the next, and so on till he is conveyed home.   

When he finds a person lying stupidly drunk he is to arouse him without any violence or uproar; if he can tell him where he lives, he is to be conveyed home; if not he is to be carried to the station.

While disorder was associated primarily with men, many women and young girls were employed in the new industries and Constables are warned that they would have to deal with drunken or quarrelsome women:

With disorderly women the Constable is to hold no communication of any sort, or under any pretence whatever. He must behave towards them with a determined sternness of manner, and never allow them to gather in crowds or on his beat, to create a noise, or to interrupt persons as they pass. By compelling them to keep moving quietly along much trouble will be avoided; and keeping them as much as possible off the streets altogether after twelve o clock at night, not only much disorder but many robberies will be prevented, for they not only rob gentlemen and drunken men themselves, but serve as an excuse for professional thieves lurking about, to plan and commit robberies. If all his stern vigilance cannot control them, he is, whenever they behave riotously or indecently, or quarrel with each other, to take them into custody, and book them for the offence of which they are guilty, and for no other.

It was already recognised that there were areas of such towns where the police had to use caution, and the booklet contained a specific section on dealing with ‘Affrays and Riots at Night’.

… when there is a serious affray or dangerous riot, he is to apprehend all persons so offending, particularly the ringleaders. As the Police are obnoxious to such parties, individual Constables must be cautious how they interfere. In most cases they had better spring their rattle, and collect assistance; then rush forward resolutely and keep together until the crowd have dispersed.

This was sound advice for Constables armed only with a truncheon and carrying a rattle to summon assistance.   The booklet concluded with advice for Constables on presenting evidence before the Magistrate.

When called on, he must state his charge clearly and candidly, in as few words as possible, introducing nothing that does not bear on the charge. He must not introduce any ‘says he’, and ‘says I’, but simply state the bare facts of the case, concealing nothing that makes for or against the prisoner. When the Magistrate asks a question, the answer is to be prompt and plain, without disguise or circumlocution. He is, whilst he is before the Court, to stand up in his place, with his hands quietly by his sides.

So, with their new uniforms and pocket book the men of the Glamorgan Constabulary set out in November 1841 for their new posts. The guidance in the pocket book was used to good effect, as illustrated in the solving of the Ynislaes burglary in December 1841, just one of the thousands of crimes to be solved by the force over next 175 years.

A copy of Instructions for the Glamorganshire Constabulary Force, (London, Clowes and Sons, 14 Charing Cross, 1841) can be found at Glamorgan Archives, ref.: DCON38.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

A Most Daring Burglary: The first major case for the Glamorgan Constabulary

Amongst the papers held at Glamorgan Archives there is a copy of a ‘memorial’ written by Superintendent Davies of the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1844. The final version was clearly to be passed to ‘The Lords of the Treasury’, setting out the details of a crime solved by the Glamorgan Constabulary and asking that a reward of £50 be paid to two police officers from the Merthyr District of the force. The oddity is that while the draft and the accompanying correspondence are dated 1844, the crime in question was committed in November 1841.

The first recruits to the Glamorgan Constabulary were sworn in on 23 October 1841. They then had a period of basic training at Bridgend before being deployed to the four districts, probably at the end of the third week of November. If that was the case, then the crime identified in the memorial, committed on the night of 23 November 1841, would have one of the first major cases tackled by the new force.

On the morning of 24 November 1841 Sergeant Evan Davies and Constable John Millward of the Glamorgan Constabulary were called to Ynislaes, a house near Aberpergwm, to investigate a reported burglary. Davies and Millward had been sworn in on 23 October. A newspaper report at the time referred to them as members of the Merthyr New Police. This is almost certainly a reference to the Superintendent and 12 constables and sergeants allocated by the Glamorgan Constabulary to the Merthyr district in November 1841.

It was a particularly daring raid for, although the owners of the house, Miss Elizabeth Ann Williams and Miss Maria Jane Williams, were away in London, the staff had been held up at gun point in the night and robbed. The burglary was widely reported in the newspapers including the following account published on 27 November:

On Wednesday morning last, between four and five o’clock, two men with their faces chalked , entered the house of the Misses Williams near Aberpergwm, and proceeding to the servants’ bedroom, one of them presented a double barrel gun at the terrified girls, and declared that if they made the least noise “Death should be their portion”. They then demanded to be shown where the money was kept and the poor girls were forced to accompany them through the different rooms of the house; but after a fruitless search, and money appearing to be their only object, they departed without committing any further outrage [Glamorgan, Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian, 27 November 1841].

Although the burglars had failed to find any cash they had, in fact, removed a range of goods. However, they had also been spotted by a number of people while making their getaway and Davies and Millward were able to track their progress.

…they traced the villains to Hirwain, where two men answering the description were seen about half past seven o’clock the same morning; they also ascertained that they were seen passing through Aberdare towards Mountain Ash about nine o’clock in the morning. Here they lost all clue to them, but we trust they will not long elude the hand of justice [Glamorgan, Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian, 27 November 1841].

In the following weeks Millward and Davies found further witnesses, including Mary Richards, who reported that she had heard two lodgers at her brother’s house asking about the owners of Ynislaes and whether there might be money on the premises. On 19th December two men were arrested by Sergeant Evan Davies in Merthyr; John Rogers, 43, a shoemaker and Thomas Rees, aged 28. They were still in possession of the gun and many of the items removed from Ynislaes, including a thermometer, a pincushion and an accordion found in Rogers’ house behind the mantel-piece. The items were identified by the one of the owners, Miss Maria Williams, while the maids confirmed that Rees and Rogers had been the burglars.

At the Glamorgan Assizes in March 1842, Rogers and Rees were found guilty and sentenced to 15 years transportation. The cook at Ynislaes, Caroline West, provided the court with a graphic account of the burglary.

One of the men after coming into the bedroom pointed a gun at me and said “No more noise or death will be your portion.” Thomas Rees did that. The gun was close to my head. Hannah Jones begged of him not to kill me. Soon after I went downstairs and I saw Thomas Rees unlock the door of the bedroom and go into it. I said “I will ring the bell for master” and the other one said “Come, come let us go”. That was before they went down stairs. I opened the window and screamed “Murder”. The housemaid was so much frightened that she wanted to jump through the window [The Welshman, 4 March 1842].

The Court took a very dim view of armed robbery. Rees and Rogers only escaped transportation for life, which the judge considered …a worse punishment than capital punishment for you will spend your life in slavery – in misery…, because their conduct …was not characterised by any violence towards the persons of those females [The Welshman, 4 March 1842].

This high profile case had attracted a significant reward of £50. Although the case was resolved with the conviction of Rogers and Rees in March 1842, it is difficult to explain why the request for the payment of the reward was delayed for two years. However, there is a record that John Nichol, as MP for Cardiff and Chairman of the Glamorgan Quarter Sessions, wrote to the Treasury, on 18 January 1844, asking for the payment to Millward and Davies of …a reward of £50 offered by the Government in December 1841 to any person who should give such information and evidence as should lead to the discovery and conviction of the persons who had committed a daring act of burglary… Although Nichol had appended a supporting letter from the Chief Constable of Glamorgan, Charles Napier, he was asked to present further evidence [Letter from John Nicholl to Rt Hon Jas Graham Bart, 18 January 1844 and reply 24 January 1844, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

The following month Napier forwarded a ‘Memorial’ produced by Superintendent Davies, head of the Merthyr district of the Glamorgan Constabulary, to support the claim. The above correspondence can be found in Glamorgan Archives, including a copy of the memorial that was probably a near final draft [ref.: DMM/CO/71].


That about the end of December 1841 John Millward in conjunction with Police Sergeant Evan Davies apprehended Jno Rogers and Tho Rees for the same burglary on which charge they were committed for trial at the then next assizes for Glamorganshire.

That the said Jno Rogers and Tho Rees were …convicted of the same offence chiefly upon the evidence of John Millard and Sergeant Evans Davies who had both found some of the stolen articles in the possession of each of the prisoners and were sentenced to 15 year transportation.

…pray that your lordships will be pleased to direct the immediate payment of the said reward of £50.

At this point, sadly, the trail goes cold. There is a further and final letter from Napier to John Nicholl, on 8 March 1844, confirming that the memorial had been sent on the 16 February but stating that …as no reply has yet been received, I beg to solicit your assistance in obtaining an answer to the application [Charles Napier to John Nichol, 8 March 1844, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

It is just possible that Millward and Evans received the £50 – a significant sum at that time. Whatever the outcome, there is no doubt that, within days of it deployment, with the solving of the Ynislaes burglary, the Glamorgan Constabulary was making its mark on both the local and national stage.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady the Queen and the office of the Constable for the County of Glamorgan: The Formation of the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1841

The Glamorgan Constabulary celebrates the 175th anniversary of its formation in 2016. Many of the papers related to the establishment of the force and its long history are held at Glamorgan Archives. The records provide a detailed insight into the formation and development of the force since 1841, and a window on life in south Wales in the latter half of the 19th century and the 20th century.

It is a moot point as to when the constabulary was first formed. Arguably it dates from the appointment of the first Chief Constable, Charles Frederick Napier, on 11 August 1841. More realistically the force was formed with the swearing in of the initial batch of recruits at Bridgend Town Hall on the 23 October 1841. The original documentation used at the swearing in ceremony is held at Glamorgan Archives. It was used to both administer the oath and to record the signatures of the recruits. The ceremony was overseen by the Chief Constable, Capt. Charles Napier, the four recently appointed Superintendents and local magistrates. The document would have been handed to each man who was then required to take the oath, inserting his name in the first line.


I … do swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady the Queen and the office of the Constable for the County of Glamorgan according to the best of my skill and knowledge. So keep me God [ref.: DCON/Box26b].

Each man then signed the record. Although Napier had secured funding for 34 Sergeants and Constables only 30 were present on that day and the force was brought up to strength through further recruits sworn in and recorded on the same document over the following weeks. All the recruits signed their name suggesting that, rather than simply using a mark, a common practice in this period, they had basic skills in reading and writing. The record has also been signed by Napier and the four superintendents, Lewis, Davies, Leveson- Gower and Peake, probably on 19 October, 4 days before the Bridgend ceremony.

It is thought that there are no surviving photographs of the ceremony. However, it is reasonable to assume that the 30 men would have been an impressive group given that recruitment drew, primarily, from ex-servicemen well versed in military drill.  Glamorgan Archives holds a number of photographs of members of the Glamorgan Constabulary in this period [ref.: DXDG4-6] and it is possible that one of the photographs, of Police Constable Thomas Thomas, may well be the same Thomas Thomas who took the oath and signed his name on 23 October [ref.: DXDG4].


The photograph shows Thomas wearing a blue, belted, swallow tail jacket with silver embossed buttons. The jacket also had a high collar, embroidered with constable’s number in silver. Thomas is pictured holding the standard issue stove pipe top hat reinforced with metal stays to provide protection. Although not shown in the photograph, he would have worn navy blue trousers and boots in winter and white trousers in the summer. This uniform was the standard issue for the Glamorgan Constabulary for the next decade until the swallow tail coat, which provided a useful concealed pocket in the tail for the constable’s truncheon, was replaced by a frock coat.

It is just possible that the exception on that day in October 1841 might have been the six men, led by Superintendent Thomas Morgan Lewis, formerly of the force put in place to police the Caerphilly Lower and Miskin Lower Hundreds. Lewis had served in the Coldstream Guards and had based the uniform provided for his men on military designs. It is possible, therefore, that he and his men were still using the original uniforms introduced by Lewis and described as:

…swallow tail coats … of bright pilot blue, while the turned back sleeve cuffs and the embroidered crown and number on each side of the deep colour were a vivid scarlet [E R Baker, The Beginnings of the Glamorgan County Police Force, The Glamorgan Historian, Vol.2, pp.40-52].

October 23rd was a landmark day for the Chief Constable, although it was almost a month before he was satisfied that his men were suitably trained and equipped to take up their duties across the county.

The details of Napier’s appointment and the plans for the deployment of the Glamorgan Constabulary are set out in the records of the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorganshire.

Captain Charles Frederick Napier, now of the Rifle Brigade, after a consideration of the Testimonials of the several Candidates having been unanimously selected by them, as the most eligible person  to be appointed Chief Constable of this County – be elected to that Office [General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan held at Pyle Inn on Wednesday the Eleventh day of August 1841, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

This may not have been an easy decision, for almost certainly Thomas Morgan Lewis had thrown his hat into the ring and several prominent former army officers had very publicly applied for the post. In one sense the decision to create a county force was a natural development of the powers provided in County Police Act 1839 to set up and fund such a force. However, the decision also needs to be set against the rapid increase in population in parts of south Wales, driven by the need for men in the new industries and, in particular, the rapidly expanding iron and coal industries. At the time, policing was the overall responsibility of the local magistrates and managed through decisions made by the county magistrates at the General Quarter Session of the Peace. The magistrates appreciated that a police force was needed to keep basic law and order in areas such as Merthyr, where the population was increasing at an unprecedented rate. They were also deeply concerned by the potential for unrest and challenge to the established order posed by new movements and, in particular, the Chartists, seeking basic rights for the working man.

There is no doubt that the Chartist movement was seen in this period as a very real threat in south Wales. For example, a record of a meeting of the magistrates at Merthyr Tydfil on October 12 1840 underlined the concern felt at the Chartist threat and urged that a Board of Magistrates be formed:

…for the purpose of communicating with the Lord Lieutenant and through him the Government upon the subject of the preservation of the peace of this place and for the adoption of such measures as circumstances may require for the suppression of Chartism.

There was particular concern that the Chartist cause was being promoted at secret meetings being held throughout the area and through pamphlets being distributed to local people:

Deputies, delegates from the North occasionally are attending these meetings and are believed to be at present in this neighbourhood and Duke’sTown. Meetings are held nightly. That unstamped periodicals are circulating to considerable extent and that it is desirable that the matter contained in them should be brought under the consideration of the Government as it is the opinion of the Board that the statements therein are highly mischievous and dangerous to the public peace [Meeting of the Magistrates at Merthyr Tydfil at the Castle Inn, Merthyr Tydfil, October 12th 1840, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

By the mid-1830s many areas, including Merthyr, Bridgend and Aberavon had begun to appoint their own police forces. This was a recognition that, faced with such pressures, the traditional patterns of policing based on the annual appointment of a man from each parish as an unpaid local constable were no longer sufficient to deal with the strains on society brought about by industrialisation and the movement of labour. To fund the new force the County Magistrates had agreed that …a Police Rate of £800 be raised within the several Districts of the County for the purpose of the Police. Nevertheless, despite the recognised need for a dedicated police force, this would have been quite a contentious issue given the general reluctance to impose new taxes. In particular, the rural areas saw this as a tax imposed on them to fund the policing of the new and rapidly expanding towns. As might be imagined, Napier saw the sum proposed as the absolute minimum given the need to establish and equip a new force. He was also keen to ensure that he had a free hand in the day to day running of the force. On this subject, it was agreed that:

…the value and usefulness of the Force, must necessarily depend on the cordial co-operation of the Magistrates, with, and their full confidence in the Chief Constable; their total abstinence from all interference in recommending the appointment or dismissal of Individuals as Constables – his selection of the places as which they shall be fixed – his internal arrangement, or any other matter which the Legislature has committed to his charge [General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan held at the Pyle Inn on Wednesday Eleventh day of August 1841, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

After conducting a tour of the county, Napier presented his first report to the General Quarter Sessions, on 30 August 1841:

I propose the force be divided into three Classes viz Sergeants or First Class at 22s; Second Class at 20s: Third Class at 18s; the numbers would be Sergeants, Eleven; Second Class, Eleven; Third Class, Twelve [General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan held at the Pyle Inn on Monday the Thirtieth day of August 1841, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

The creation of two classes of constable was a measure introduced by Napier specifically to stretch the budget and increase the number of men at his disposal. In addition, Napier proposed that the county be divided into four districts – Merthyr, Newbridge, Swansea and Ogmore. There is no doubt that he was very aware of where his force faced its greatest challenge and the Merthyr district was allocated 12 of his 34 men, leaving the other districts thinly policed. He also underlined the poor state and, in some cases, complete absence of suitable accommodation for his men. A central part of his proposals dealt, therefore, with the need for the construction of a station house and cells in each district.

The proposals for each of the districts provide a useful insight into the ad hoc state of the arrangements for policing that Napier inherited, and the challenge that the new Glamorgan Constabulary faced. For example, with regard to Merthyr, he informed the General Quarter Sessions:

I have inspected the Cells at present in use in Merthyr and found them totally unfit for the reception of Prisoners, indeed so much so, that Magistrates find it necessary to place prisoners at Public Houses, in charge of a Constable, at a considerable additional expense to the County [General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan held at the Pyle Inn on Monday, Thirtieth day of August 1841, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

There was a similar situation in the Newbridge area:

In erecting a station house I would advise that apartments be provided for the Constable there stationed, with three Cells for Prisoners. At present there is no lock up house at this place. I consider Cells necessary for the security of Prisoners, as there is considerable risk in the present method of confining them at the private dwelling of the Constable.

I would recommend the erection of suitable lock up houses at Llantrisant and Caerphilly – the present Cells at these places are of the worst possible descriptions.

His proposals for Swansea illustrated just how far he was required to stretch his resources. Only a Superintendent, sergeant and 5 officers could be made available for this district, with priority being given to the most lawless areas and building partnerships with other police forces in the area:

I think Pontardawe the most central part for the Residence of the Superintendent. The force allotted to this District, I consider small. I have placed the Constables where crime is most to be apprehended; and to the neglect of the Western Agricultural portion of the District, to which I should have assigned another Constable had the number permitted.

On visiting Ystradgunlais my attention was drawn to the Twrch Valley where are located a considerable population reported to be of lawless character.

I should suggest that an arrangement should be entered into with the Magistrates of the County of Brecon, in order that the whole of the Vale of Twrch, may be under the charge of the constable stationed in that quarter – the County boundary affording facilities for the escape of delinquents.

The only lock up houses in the district are at Aberavon and Cwmavon which have been erected by private subscription and I have no doubt would be given up for the purposes of the Force….

I would recommend that a suitable Station house be erected at Pontardawe.

I find that there is a Police Force established along the line of the Swansea Canal who are paid by the Committee of Traders. I think it highly desirable that this force should co-operate with the men under my charge, and by doing so, a mutual advantage would be derived [General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan held at the Pyle Inn on Monday, Thirtieth day of August 1841, ref.: DMM/CO/71].

The fact that his proposals on numbers of men and the construction of new station houses were accepted without amendment underlined the extent to which the magistrates saw the new force as essential in a period of rapid industrialisation. After the swearing in ceremony was complete the new force was housed at the Bridgend Workhouse and provided with a period of basic training. It was, therefore, not until the latter half of November 1841 that the new Glamorgan Constabulary took up its district responsibilities, no doubt operating from existing or temporary premises while the new buildings were put in place. However, all in all, it was a remarkable achievement to create and deploy the new force in a matter of months, and the Glamorgan Constabulary was soon attracting national attention for its success in solving several high profile cases.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

The Police in South Wales During the First World War

When the First World War broke out, officers of the Glamorgan Constabulary and the borough police forces of south Wales were recruited to the armed forces in numbers.  As a result, there were many vacancies to be filled, and some of those who were still at home signed up to join the police.  This is reflected in newspaper reports at the time, recorded within the newscuttings books collected and compiled by the Cardiff Borough Police Force:

‘Many citizens have enrolled themselves as special constables at Cardiff and have signified their intention of rendering service gratis’; ‘355 special constables recruited’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/46)

‘The number of special constables in Cardiff is around 1100 and 1200. There are 228 vacancies due to many who have joined the colours’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/52)

With many men having joined the military, it was an opportunity for women to serve the Police on patrols, in addition the work they already undertook in supervising, searching and escorting women and children that were in custody.  The minutes of the Glamorgan County Council Standing Joint [Police] Committee note:


‘By permission of the Chairman I have made small temporary advances of 10s. per week to the wives of the reservists recalled to the Colours, for their immediate requirements.  Seven of these are stationed in County Police cottages, which must be kept at the disposal of the Police’. Glamorgan County Council, Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

Many of the female officers were wives of those who were serving in the military.  However, although they were seen outside the police station more often than before, the patrols of women officers usually concentrated on preventing women from ‘wandering astray’, both morally and literally, while other duties were undertaken by male officers.

Those men who did sign up to join the Police needed to be aware that they might still be called up for military service at some point in the future:

‘…the only men belonging to the special police who can regard themselves as exempt from military services are those of 35 and over’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/52)

It was estimated that some 60-70% of men who enrolled as special constables in south Wales on the outbreak of war fell within the scope of the above order.

Inevitably, many of those constables serving with the armed forces would pay the ultimate price for their service to the nation:

‘The Head Constable reported that Constable Camfield was killed in action between 14-16 Sep at Soupir, France’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/49)

‘The Head Constable reported that the following members of the Force had been killed in action, namely, Constable Bert Clements, 34c, Constable Frank Willis, 43c, and Constable Frank Ford, 17b’; ‘The Head Constable reported the deaths of Constable Thomas Lemuel Jones and Constable Walter John Twining. PC Jones was a Reservist of the Grenadier Guards, and PC Twining on 6 Sep rejoined his old Regiment the 10th Hussars’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/50)

‘The Head Constable reported the death of Lance-Corporal HJ Fisher, of the Welsh Guards, killed in action in France on 16 Sep’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/53)

‘The Head Constable reported the death of Probationer Constable Milton Horace Wood, a Reservist of the RAMC, who married after leaving the Force, and left a widow and child behind him’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/55)

‘Welsh Guardsman George Lock ex Cardiff Police killed in action’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/51)

Many were wounded and returned to civilian life unfit for Police duty:

‘25 of our men have been discharged from the Army for various reasons.  Of these, five have not rejoined the Force, four have rejoined the Force and then left on account of their health or to obtain more remunerative employment, and 16 are still serving in the Force’.  Glamorgan County Council, Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

As the war went on, more Police officers either signed up or were called up by the military, and despite the earlier mentioned recruitment of civilians, the number of constables would drop to a low enough level for the police to be concerned:

‘The Military Authorities having now further depleted the Police Force beyond the 250 which the Committee deemed indispensable for their general duties (which are very heavily increased), the attention of the Chief Constable was called to the resolution of the March 1917 meeting of the Committee as to the Police not undertaking voluntary work for the Military Authorities, which they expect will be carried out’.  Glamorgan County Council, Standing Joint Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/2/2)

Throughout the War, the Police were expected to continue to carry out their duties of enforcing the law in the areas for which they were responsible. Some new laws were brought into force specifically due to the War, mostly as a result of the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914; one example being the dimming of lights at night:

‘…the Head Constable communicated with those Lighting Authorities, Companies or persons within the City whom he may think necessary, requested them to take steps gradually to diminish their lights from the hours of 10pm to 12 midnight, after which latter hour all prominent lights must be extinguished or subdued in such a manner as not to be visible from above’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/49)

Other examples included restrictions on the sale of liquor, imprisonment without trial, censorship of printed and spoken word and the movement of aliens; in the latter case they could be Belgian refugees or former German and Austrian residents.  The British publics suspicion of German residents lead to riots, which the Police had to deal with:

‘On the 15th May 1915, anti-German riots took place at Neath, and some looting occurred.  The Neath Police were overpowered, and Supt. Ben. Evans, of the “D” or Neath Division of the County Police, sent three Inspectors, three Sergeants, four acting sergeants, and 12 Constables to their assistance.  With the Assistance of this Force the riot was quelled’.  Glamorgan County Council Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

Another problem the Police had to deal with was the antagonism between pacifists and those who supported the War. On one occasion this led to extraordinary scenes at a hall in Cardiff:

‘Scenes were witnessed in Cardiff when protesters against the peace policy of the National Council for Civil Liberties stormed the Cory Hall and forced the delegates to abandon their meeting. A meeting had been held previously to take steps to prevent the holding of the conference. A procession was arranged and when they arrived at the Hall, where they were unopposed by the police but met resistance, but were able to gain entrance and soon the delegates lead by Mr Ramsay Macdonald MP beat a retreat. There were no arrests’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings, (DCONC/5/52)

After the war had ended, Police officers who had served in the military began to return to their previous work, taking over from the volunteers who had been working in their place:

‘The strength of the Force is 627, being 101 below authorised strength of 728. There are also 74 members with the Private companies, including five Weights and Measures Inspectors.  I herewith append a schedule showing the number of men who have returned to the Force from Active Service, and their state of health:  No. of men returned unfit for further Military Service 57. No. of men returned to the Force upon demobilisation 198. No. of men passed as ‘Fit for Police duty’ and now serving in the Force 169. No. of men placed ‘Upon probation to come up before the doctor for re-examination’ 35. No. of men placed ‘Upon Light duty’ and to come up for re-examination 14. No. of men who have returned, unlikely to completely regain their health, who have now made a start in another profession 34. No. of men who have died since returning to the Force 3’.  Glamorgan County Council Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

With so many of the Police offers killed or wounded in action, it is unsurprising that the Constabulary was below full strength during the immediate post-war period.

Andrew Booth, Relief Records Assistant