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You don't know real work, said the drunk to the copper

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 09, 2013

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I AM a Bugle reader and am 86 years old. I served for 33 years in the Derbyshire Constabulary and I thought other readers would be interested in the following three photographs of me proudly wearing three different police uniforms.

On the left is me in 1977. As I was 6ft 2in tall and weighed 16½ stones I was selected to patrol in the 1857 police uniform in a local Derby park.

In the middle I am in the close neck tunic which was worn until the summer of 1950 when collar and tie was worn in the day time.

But the close neck tunic was worn on night shifts for the next ten years until the tunic had worn out.

On the right is me in 1980, two years before my retirement.

I was brought up in Friar Park on the fringes of West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Walsall.

Leaving school in 1941, at the age of 14, I presented myself at the West Bromwich juvenile labour exchange where I discovered, because of the war, I had no choice of jobs.

Employers were not allowed to engage workers direct but to supply their requirements to the labour exchange who then issued a green card to those considered most suitable for the job.

Two lads with me were given green cards, one for an egg packing station and the other to a local builder.

I was given a green card to go to a brass foundry. When the clerk saw that I was about to question his decision, he pointed to a large notice displayed near the door saying: "Read that on your way out."

The notice read: "Failure to comply with the instructions of the Ministry of Labour renders you liable to a £100 fine, six months' imprisonment or both".

Life in the foundry was purgatory, working 12-hour shifts, inhaling sulphur fumes and, because of the war, ill ventilated conditions.

When I was old enough, although being in a reserved occupation, I volunteered for the RAF. On completion of my 3½ year engagement, I was posted back from Germany to the RAF camp at Lichfield to join other members who had returned from Japan, Gibraltar etc. waiting to go to West Kirby for demobilization.

We held discussions on what we were going to do when we got out.

I was certain that I would not be going back into a foundry.

I was reading a Derbyshire newspaper and because there had not been any recruitment during the war years there was a large advert requiring recruits for the Derbyshire Constabulary.

I applied and received a letter to attend Lichfield Station to complete my entrance examination.

Two anecdotes: I served in several coal mining areas and two lads, the worse for drink, were shouting at the top of their voices late at night.

One was wearing civilian clothing and the other was a fresh faced 18-year-old in army uniform, not much bigger than the Desert Rat shoulder badge he wore.

The civilian started poking me in the chest with his finger saying "My brother's fighting for cowards like you."

The second incident involved three drunken miners coming up to me.

They said: "The trouble with you is you've no idea what real work's like."

Sam Williams,

20 Elms Avenue,

Littleover,

Derby,

DE23 6FG.

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