Amazed to see police officer with a gun in March - they didn’t even carry guns during the war

11:47 25 January 2013

RECENTLY I was surprised in a March shop when a police car stopped outside and the passenger officer entered to purchase something. A hand gun hung from his hip.

This is the first time I had seen an English officer armed with a pistol. It took me back to the 1940s when a March police officer, unarmed, arrested four German airmen who had crash-landed their Hienkel bomber in a field near Manea, and walked into March during the night.

They were seen at daybreak, leaning quite relaxed on March bridge, waiting to be picked up. As I remember, they seemed happy as sand-boys and waved to railwaymen going to work. The airmen were out of the war and safe.

The foreman at the Cambridgeshire Times printing works ridiculed me when being told, but another printer confirmed what I had said.

A hurried phone call to the old police station in High Street resulted in the duty sergeant walking to the bridge where he formed the airmen into a line and marched them to the station.

There he made them mugs of coffee and gave them biscuits until the arrival of military police, and they were taken away for interrogation. Talk about Dad’s Army!

Another police officer in March in the habit of doing his beat in Broad Street, would loiter deliberately near the Fountain, to catch child and adult cyclists cycling the wrong way in Robingoodfellows Lane.

He stopped them, made them dismount, and gave them a right ticking off, taking their name and address and warning them that next time they would find themselves in court. I was one. The man with the helmet enjoyed overall authority.

In those days, even in war, March police never carried guns, not even truncheons. How things have changed.

TREVOR BEVIS

St Peter’s Road

March

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