HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL WE FEATURE THE BRITISH SECRET AGENT – VIOLETTE SZABO, ALONG WITH OTHER SOE HERO’S AND HEROINES, SAS (SPECIAL AIR SERVICE) AND OTHER UK SPECIAL FORCES.
NOT FORGETTING OF COURSE OUR WW2 NAZI HOLOCAUST EXHIBITION FOR WHICH WE FEATURE AND INCLUDE MANY OF THE ABOVE WHO HAD BEEN CAPTURED, TORTURED AND SUBSEQUENTLY EXECUTED BY THE NAZI’S DURING THIS HORRIFIC PERIOD.
WE ALSO HAVE A NUMBER OF PERSONALLY SIGNED EXHIBIT ITEMS KINDLY DONATED TO THE MUSEUM AND ON DISPLAY FROM VIOLETTE SZABO’S DAUGHTER – TANIA WHO HAS CARRIED ON THE LEGACY OF HER MOTHER SINCE HER DEATH IN 1945 .
ABOVE & BELOW …. Original oil paintings by our in-house Gloucestershire artist Paul Bridgman here on display at The Crime Through Time Collection, Littledean Jail .
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
VIOLETTE’S DAUGHTER TANIA
ORIGINAL FILM POSTER FROM THE EPIC FILM BASED ON VIOLETTE SZABO
TANIA SZABO PROUDLY SHOWING HER MOTHER’S MEDALS SHE RECEIVED POSTHUMOUSLY TO ANDY JONES OF THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
BELOW ARE A FEW PICTURES TAKEN AT A RECENT GET-TOGETHER AND CATCH-UP WITH TANIA , DAUGHTER OF WW2 S.O.E. ( SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE ) HEROINE – VIOLETTE SZABO … PARTICULARLY SPECIAL WHEREBY SHE KINDLY BROUGHT ALONG AS A SURPRISE , HER MOTHERS GEORGE MEDAL , CROIX DE GUERRE AND THE MEDAILLE DE LA RESISTANCE FOR WHICH TANIA HAD RECEIVED POSTHUMOUSLY AS A YOUNG CHILD. A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO HAVE SEEN AND HELD SUCH A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT PIECE OF HISTORY .
BELOW: ANDY JONES OF LITTLEDEAN JAIL WITH ACTRESS VIRGINIA McKENNA STAR OF THE FILM ” CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE” AT A RECENT GARDEN PARTY FUNDRAISING EVENT AT THE LITTLE STONE SHED ‘VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM ‘ IN WORMELOW, HEREFORDSHIRE.
BELOW: ANDY JONES OF LITTLEDEAN JAIL WITH VIOLETTE SZABO’S DAUGHTER TANIA AT A RECENT GARDEN PARTY FUNDRAISING EVENT AT THE LITTLE STONE SHED ‘VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM ‘ IN WORMELOW, HEREFORDSHIRE.
Below is a signed image of Tania Szabo wearing the medals she received posthumously for and behalf of her mother Violette now on display at the Crime Through Time Collection
VIOLETTE WITH DAUGHTER TANIA
TANIA SZABO WEARING HER MOTHERS MEDALS
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
TANIA SZABO WEARING HER MOTHERS MEDALS
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILL
ACTRESS VIRGINIA McKENNA WITH TANIA SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILL
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE FILM POSTER
TANIA SZABO VISITS LITTLEDEAN JAIL
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE FILM POSTER
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILL
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE FILM POSTER
1ST DAY COVER SIGNED BY WW2 SOE HEROINE NANCY WAKE
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILLS
ANDY JONES WITH TANIA SZABO AT A RECENT VIOLETTE SZABO MEMORIAL EVENT AT THE VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM , WORMELOW IN 2014
ANDY JONES WITH VIRGINIA McKENNA AT A RECENT VIOLETTE SZABO MEMORIAL EVENT AT THE VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM , WORMELOW IN 2014
TANIA SZABO AT THE UNVEILING OF THE PLAQUE COMMEMORATING HER MOTHER AND OTHER SOE MEMBERS IN 2013
TANIA SZABO’S BOOK ON HER MOTHER
1ST DAY COVER SIGNED BY WW2 SOE HEROINE ODETTE HALLOWES ALONG WITH TANIA SZABO
HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , LITTLEDEAN JAIL, FOREST OF DEAN, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK ….. WE FEATURE MANY OF THE UK’S SPECIAL FORCES INCLUDING PERSONAL TESTAMENTS TO MANY OF OUR HEROINES INCLUDING SOE VIOLETTE SZABO WHO WAS CAPTURED , TORTURED AND MURDERED BY THE NAZI’S AT RAVENSBRUCK CONCENTRATION CAMP IN 1945 (AGED 23)
Violette Szabo was born Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell in Paris, on 26 June 1921, the second child of a French mother and an English taxi-driver father, who had met during World War I. The family moved to London, and she attended school in Brixton until the age of 14. At the start of World War II, she was working at the perfume counter of Le Bon Marché, a department store in Brixton.
Violette met Étienne Szabo, a French officer of Hungarian descent, at the Bastille Day parade in London in 1940. They married on 21 August 1940 after a whirlwind 42-day romance. Violette was 19, Étienne was 31. Shortly after the birth of their only child, Tania, Étienne died from chest wounds at the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. He had never seen his daughter. It was Étienne’s death that made Violette, having already joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941, decide to offer her services to the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).
Below shows Violette with her husband Etienne
After an assessment for fluency in French and a series of interviews, she was inducted into SOE. She received intensive training in night and daylight navigation; escape and evasion, both Allied and German weapons, unarmed combat, demolitions, explosives, communications and cryptography. In his book “Das Reich” Max Hastings comments that Szabo was adored by the men and women of SOE both for her courage and endless infectious cockney laughter. An ankle injury during parachute training delayed her deployment until 5 April 1944, when she parachuted into German-occupied France, near Cherbourg.
Under the code name “Louise”, which also happened to be her nickname, she and SOE colleague Philippe Liewer reorganised a Resistance network that had been broken up by the Germans. She led the new group in sabotaging road and railway bridges. Her wireless reports to SOE headquarters on the local factories producing war materials for the Germans were important in establishing Allied bombing targets. She returned to England by Lysander on 30 April 1944, landing at RAF Tempsford, after an intense but successful first mission.
She flew to the outskirts of Limoges, France on 7 June 1944 (immediately following D-Day) from RAF Tempsford. Immediately on arrival, she coordinated the activities of the local Maquis (led by Jacques Dufour) in sabotaging communication lines during German attempts to stem the Normandy landings.
She was a passenger in a car that raised the suspicions of German troops at an unexpected roadblock that had been set up to find SturmbannführerHelmut Kämpfe of the Das Reich Division, who had been captured by the local resistance.
A brief gun battle ensued. Her Maquis minders escaped unscathed in the confusion. However, Szabo was captured when she ran out of ammunition, around midday on 10 June 1944, near Salon-la-Tour. Her captors were most likely from the 1st Battalion of 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Deutschland (Das Reich Division). In R.J. Minney’s biography she is described as putting up fierce resistance with her Sten gun, although German documents of the incident record no German injuries or casualties. A recent biography of Vera Atkins, the intelligence officer for the French section of SOE, notes that that there was a great deal of confusion about what happened to Szabo—the story was revised four times—and states that the Sten gun incident “was probably a fabrication.”
Violette Szabo was executed, aged 23, by SS firing squad on or about 5 February 1945. Her body was cremated in the camp’s crematorium.
Three other women members of the SOE were also executed at Ravensbrück: Denise Bloch, Cecily Lefort, and Lilian Rolfe. Of the SOE’s 55 female agents, thirteen were killed in action or died in Nazi concentration camps
BELOW ARE SOME BRIEF IMAGES OF AN ORIGINAL WW2 “F.A.N.Y” (FIRST AID NURSING YEOMANRY ) – WTS (WOMENS TRANSPORT SERVICES ) UNIFORM COMPLETE WITH ITS ORIGINAL WW2 ISSUE GAS MASK … AS WOULD HAVE ALSO BEEN WORN BY VIOLETTE SZABO DURING HER DUTIES PRIOR TO HAVING BEEN SECONDED TO THE SOE (SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE ) AS A BRITISH SECRET AGENT .
A VERY SCARCE AND HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER HISTORIC ITEM IN ITS OWN RIGHT DISPLAYED HERE TOO IN AND AMONGST OTHER WW2 F.A.N.Y , ATS, WTS ETC ETC WOMEN IN WARTIME MOVEMENTS
BELOW AND ABOVE
World War 2 FANY ( First Aid Nursing Yeomany) uniform on mannequin displayed along with an original WW2 anti aircraft binocular gunsight on tripod now on display to the public here at the Crime Through Time Collection at Littledean jail, Gloucestershire
below… Film poster advertising “CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE” based on the heroine -Violette Szabo… starring Virginia McKenna and Paul Scofield
ORIGINAL 1958 CINEMA RELEASE POSTER
George Cross posthumously awarded to Violette Szabo’s daughter Tania
Tania Szabó is Violette’s daughter, although, as she says, she is of an age to be her mother’s grandmother by now. On her ninth birthday, in June 1951, she sailed forAustralia with her grandparents, Charles and Reine Bushell, on the £10 ticket. After college in Armidale, NSW and a stint as a psychiatric nurse in Sydney, she returned to England in the New Year of 1963. It was so very cold.
After working as a secretary, croupier, office administrator in various companies, completing a course in computing in the late 60s (cards with holes and no electronics) and spending a year in Beverley Hills studying Spanish while continuing her studies in the humanities, she returned to England and finally moved to Jersey in April 1976 where she opened her Language Studio with the help of Paul Emile Francis Holley, a friend of Violette’s. He also trained her in the recognition of German armaments and uniforms as he was a British Intelligence Officer during WWII.
Tania is an author as well as a professional multilingual translator and private tutor. The author, Avv. Mario Zacchi of Florence and author of Il Mastino Napoletano – the Italian Mastiff, the Standard and History of this amazing dog commissioned Tania to translate it. It is now lodged with the British Library. Zacchi’s writing in his native Italian immediately draws you into the mystery, fierce loyalty and funny antics of this Cerebus of dogs and it was a sheer delight for Tania to translate into English bringing his love and erudition of this remarkable breed to an anglophone readership.
On 29 April 2009, Paul Holley, the Intelligence officer, who had trained Violette in German armaments and uniforms, and was Tania’s friend and mentor, died one month into his 90th year. She continues to miss his friendship and invaluable support. She has closed her Language Studio and now retired could no longer afford to live in Jersey and now lives in a lovely 17th century cottage just outside Builth Wells in Wales. She is still sorting out all the books and archives before completing her paperback version of Young Brave and Beautiful and getting back down to writing Etienne’s amazing life’s story.
Violette’s only daughter Tania Szabo pictured at her home in Jersey i 2007
TRUE CRIME, MURDERABILIA, MAIMERABILIA AND DISMALABILIA ….IT’S ALL HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , LITTLEDEAN JAIL
HERE’S A BRIEF INSIGHT INTO THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF INFAMOUS 1966 COP KILLER HARRY ROBERTS . THE EXHIBITION INCLUDES PERSONAL HANDWRITTEN AND SIGNED CORRESPONDENCE FROM HIM , PERSONAL BELONGINGS AND PRISON WORN CLOTHING ….ALL OF WHICH CAN NOW BE SEEN ON PUBLIC DISPLAY AT THE JAIL IN AND AMONGST ALL THE TABLOID STORIES FROM OVER THE YEARS
ABOVE: Original painting of Harry Roberts by local Gloucestershire artist Paul Bridgman
SUNDAY PEOPLE STORY 24 APRIL 2016 ……NOT TOO SURE WHO TOOK THIS PHOTOGRAPH OR WHERE IT WAS TAKEN OF HARRY ROBERTS SIGNING PHOTOGRAPHS, OR WHO SOLD THE STORY TO THE PRESS ?? (CERTAINLY NOT US) . FOR THE RECORD , WHILST HARRY HAS PRIVATELY VISITED THE JAIL. THIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS DEFINITELY NOT TAKEN HERE , NEITHER DID HE ASK OR RECEIVE ANY PAYMENTS FOR THE PERSONAL ITEMS HE DONATED FOR PUBLIC DISPLAY ALL OF WHICH ARE FEATURED IN AND AMONGST THE TABLOID STORIES ABOUT HIM AND THE CRIMES HE COMMITTED .
ONE OF THE MANY AND CONTINUALLY UPDATED COLLAGE DISPLAYS FEATURING HARRY ROBERTS WHICH INCLUDES SENSATIONALISED TABLOID FEATURES …. ON DISPLAY HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE A CRIME MUSEUM AND IN NO SHAPE OR FORM DO WE GLORIFY OR GLAMOURISE ALL THOSE THAT WE FEATURE HERE ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL.
FOR THE RECORD, NEITHER DO ANY OF THE ALLEGED OR CONVICTED PERSONS WHO HAVE PERSONALLY CONTRIBUTED DISPLAY ITEMS HERE ( NO MONIES OR PAYMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE BY US TO ANY OF THOSE WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED MEMORABILIA FOR DISPLAY )
ALL CRIMES, SLEAZE, SCANDALS AND TRAGEDIES THAT WE FEATURE HERE ARE IN THE MAIN UNPLEASANT SUBJECT MATTERS TO COVER …. AND AS SUCH ARE NOT PRESENTED IN A PLEASANT WAY EITHER …
ABOVE : HANDWRITTEN AND SIGNED BY COP KILLER HARRY ROBERTS
AUTHENTIC HAND SIGNED BY HARRY ROBERTS
VICTIMS FROM LEFT PS CHRISTOPHER HEAD , DC DAVID WOMBWELL AND PC GEOFFREY FOX
Harry Maurice Roberts (born 21 July 1936) is an English career criminal who in 1966 instigated the Shepherd’s Bush murders , in which three police officers were shot dead. The killings happened after the plain-clothes officers approached the van in which Roberts and two other men were sitting in Braybrook Street, near Wormwood Scrubs prison in London. Roberts opened fire on the officers when he feared they would discover the firearms his gang were planning to use in an armed robbery. He shot dead two of the officers, while one of his accomplices fatally shot the third.
After Roberts had spent nearly 48 years in jail, in 2014 the Parole Board for England and Wales approved his release, at the age of 78. Having exceeded by far his minimum term of 30 years imprisonment, Roberts was one of the United Kingdom’s longest-serving prisoners, remaining in custody from 1966 until his 2014 release
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL DOES NOT IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM CONDONE THE HEINOUS MURDERS COMMITTED BY HARRY ROBERTS OR HIS ACCOMPLICES …..
WE ARE SIMPLY A CRIME MUSEUM AND AS SUCH TOUCH UPON AND FEATURE A VAST ARRAY OF HISTORIC AND PRESENT DAY TRUE CRIMES AND EVENTS THAT HAVE SHOOK THE WORLD IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER ….. HENCE PROVIDING A SAD , DISTURBING AND INSIGHT INTO THESE EVIL CRIMES .
ALL IN ALL FORMING A HOPEFULLY HISTORICAL ARCHIVE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES TOO .
SO PLEASE , PLEASE , PLEASE … IF EASILY OFFENDED , DISTURBED OR OF A SENSITIVE NATURE, DO AVOID VISITING LITTLEDEAN JAIL .
BELOW IS A GALLERY OF VARIOUS PERSONALLY SIGNED PIECES AND PRISON WORN CLOTHING FROM HARRY ROBERTS ….
Roberts’ name has been used for many years to antagonise the police, with chants like “Harry Roberts is our friend, is our friend, is our friend. Harry Roberts is our friend, he kills coppers. Let him out to kill some more, kill some more, kill some more, let him out to kill some more, Harry Roberts” as well as “He shot three down in Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush. He shot three down in Shepherd’s Bush, our mate Harry” (to the tune of “London Bridge Is Falling Down“) which originated with groups of young people outside Shepherd’s Bush police station after Roberts had been arrested
There have been artistic representations of Roberts. The character of Billy Porter in the 2001 novel He Kills Coppers by Jake Arnott, and the 2008 TV adaptation, is based on Harry Roberts.
BELOW: SCENE OF THE TRIPLE COP KILLING
BELOW: HARRY ROBERTS INSPIRED TV SERIES AND BOOK … “HE KILLS COPPERS”
HARRY ROBERTS , POLICE KILLER RELEASED FROM PRISON ARTICLE IN DAILY MAIL ON 11 NOVEMBER 2014, ALSO SOME VIDEO ARCHIVE FOOTAGE … SEE HERE
HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL AND THROUGH OUR BUSINESS FACEBOOK WE TRY AND PROVIDE A BALANCED AND HOPEFULLY HISTORICALLY EDUCATIONAL INTERACTIVE INSIGHT INTO WHAT MANY DEEM TO BE TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS .
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , IT’S OWNER , OR ANY OF IT’S STAFF HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL HAVE NO AFFILIATION, CONNECTION OR INVOLVEMENT WITH ANY EXTREMIST , POLITICALLY MOTIVATED OR ANY OTHER MOVEMENTS WHATSOEVER …… WE SIMPLY EXHIBIT AND TOUCH UPON A GREAT MANY POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS THAT NO OTHER VISITOR ATTRACTIONS DARE COVER IN THE WAY WE CHOOSE TO DO HERE. …. “IT’S ALL HISTORY FOR GOODNESS SAKE”….EVEN IF ON OCCASIONS, SENSITIVE , THOUGHT PROVOKING SUBJECT MATTERS THAT INCITE STRONG DEBATE .
WIDELY REGARDED TO BE BLACK RACIST MOVIES MANY OF THESE NOW BANNED KU KLUX KLAN MOVIE POSTERS WERE DEEMED TO BE A GLORIFICATION TOOL AND USED FOR RECRUITMENT OF NEW MEMBERS INTO THIS WHITE EXTREMIST HOODED ROBE MOVEMENT
HERE BELOW IS A BRIEF PICTORIAL INSIGHT INTO SOME OF THE KKK MEMORBILIA ITEMS HERE ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL
Movies about the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
Ever since the release of legendary director D.W. Griffith’s controversial epic The Birth of the Nation (1915), based on Thomas F. Dixon Jr.’s (play and) novel titled The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan and featuring silent star Lillian Gish and future Oscar winner Donald Crisp (among others), classic Hollywood seems to have avoided taking on the KKK to expose its wicked acts or its members’ ignorant beliefs in any substantive way. Though there are several dramas which incorporate it – or at least Klan-like organizations – peripherally, classic films that feature any real detail about its beginnings, longevity, charters, or even insight into its leaders and/or their motivations etc. are surprisingly absent. Maybe the studios felt that real evil and its practitioners were being adequately portrayed in their gangster and war pictures, or perhaps there were fears that a movie about the Klan wouldn’t make good at the box office (particularly in the South)?
The Warner Bros.’s Storm Warning (1951) wasn’t very specific about the KKK’s prejudices, though much of the film’s dialogue (from prosecutor Ronald Reagan and the miscast Ginger Rogers character) does deliver the requisite indictment of the organization and its members: too scared to act without the courage of numbers or show their faces (hence the hoods). But the twist is that the Grand Dragon’s real motivation for leading the clandestine group is financial – there’s real money for him in the dues and the paraphernalia he sells to its members – such that he comes off as a corrupt union boss, or worse a capitalist;-) In the end, the leader’s true self centered (versus “all for one”) nature is revealed and the enraged and disillusioned group wises up and runs for cover from the law. Warner’s Black Legion (1937), starring Humphrey Bogart and featuring a plot plausible enough to earn Robert Lord his second Best Writing-Original Story AA nom, did a better job of exploring the roots of hatred and xenophobia that can seduce one to join such an organization. Since I wrote about MGM’s Stars in My Crown (1950) in my earlier Films about Faith essay, I’ll not include any more text about it here other than to mention that actor Ed Begley (Sr.) seemed to have excelled in portraying angry racist characters. The WB’s (and producer-director Mervyn LeRoy’s) overlong drama The FBI Story (1959), a veritable paean to the organization’s squeaky clean agents and the stout leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, warrants barely a mention except that one of its storylines includes the infiltration of the KKK by the film’s principal character, played by James Stewart.
Which brings me to The Mating Call (1928), produced by Howard Hughes and including titles written by future Oscar winner Herman J. Mankiewicz. The Klan-like organization in this one is named “The Order” and its purpose is to enforce a morality code within its community: black hooded individuals tie a wife beater to a cross and whip him for abusing his spouse. But the primary sin herein is adultery. Upon returning home a hero after serving his country during World War I, Leslie Hatton (Thomas Meighan) finds that his wartime marriage to Rose (Evelyn Brent, playing a sexually aggressive man-eater) was annulled by her parents. But even though he’s (somehow) not interested in having an affair with his former bride, Hatton’s accused of fooling around with Rose by her current husband Lon, a hypocrite that’s having extramarital relations of his own (with a judge’s daughter, no less). Lon uses The Order to threaten the war hero to leave his wife alone. Hatton’s solution to avoid future visits and further scrutiny from these local self-appointed moral authorities includes his going to Ellis Island and marrying a French girl (Renee Adoree, The Big Parade (1925)) whose parents want to immigrate to the United States. However, a subsequent scandal affecting the aforementioned characters (and others) leads The Order to become involved in Hatton’s life again.
Some other dramas that feature the KKK or like-minded groups are: Legion of Terror (1936), The Burning Cross (1947), Another Part of the Forest (1948), The Klansman (1974), Places in the Heart (1984), which earned writer (director) Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)) his third Oscar, and Mississippi Burning (1988); plus, it’s hard to forget the hilarious scene in Mel Brooks’ western spoof Blazing Saddles (1974) in which Cleavon Little (accompanied by Gene Wilder) dons a white rob and hood
ABOVE … A BRIEF INSIGHT INTO THE FIRST SERVING GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICEMAN TO BE KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN 1861. SERGEANT SAMUEL BEARD WAS , AT THE TIME STATIONED HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL FOR SOME 16 YEARS . THE GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE FORCE WAS FORMED IN 1839, MAKING IT THE SECOND OLDEST COUNTY POLICE FORCE IN THE UK .
INCIDENTALLY , THE FIRST RECORDED DEATH OF A SERVING PARISH CONSTABLE (FORERUNNERS TO THE POLICE FORCE ) IN THE FOREST OF DEAN WAS HENRY THOMPSON IN THE PARISH OF RUARDEAN , 14 MAY 1817 , AGED 31 .
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE HISTORY OF THE GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE FORCE PLEASE CLICK ON THE TWO LINKSHERE OR HERE
BELOW …. A BRIEF LOOK AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , LITTLEDEAN JAIL, FEATURING VARIOUS POLICE MANNEQUINS AND OTHER POLICE MEMORABILIA DISPLAYS .
HERE’S JUST A BRIEF PICTORIAL INSIGHT INTO SOME OF THE BRITISH POLICE MEMORABILIA AND EPHEMERA ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL WHICH COVERS THE HISTORY OF THE POLICE THROUGH THE AGES .
THIS COLLECTION IS BELIEVED TO BE ONE OF THE LARGEST PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF POLICE MEMORABILIA IN THE UK . WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF VINTAGE HAND PAINTED TRUNCHEONS , RESTRAINTS , HELMETS, BADGES, UNIFORMS AND MUCH MORE .
SEE BELOW FOR PICTORIAL SLIDESHOW OF A FEW EXHIBITS ON DISPLAY
SEE BELOW VIDEO FOR EDUCATIONAL INSIGHT INTO THE HISTORY OF THE BRITISH POLICE
A SUPERB PIECE OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE CRIME SCENE MEMORABILIA ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
JUST ONE OF A GREAT MANY BRITISH POLICE MEMORABILIA ITEMS THROUGH THE AGES ON DISPLAY IN ONE OF THE UK’S LARGEST PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF LAW AND ORDER MATERIAL .
BELOW IS AN IMAGE OF WHAT IS BELIEVED TO BE ONE OF THE VERY FEW SURVIVING VINTAGE GLOUCESTERSHIRE CONSTABULARY’S FINGERPRINT KITS (CIRCA 1940’S) . COMPLETE WITH IT’S ORIGINAL BOX, INKS, ROLLER, POWDERS AND BRUSHES ETC .ALSO VARIOUS APPROPRIATE DOCUMENTATION FOR FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE PURPOSES . FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PICTURES RELATING TO THIS ITEM CLICK HERE
Picture By: Jules Annan Picture Shows:GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE FINGERPRINT KIT CIRCA 1940’S Date 25TH September 2011 Ref: *World Rights Only* *Unbylined uses will incur an additional discretionary fee!*
A short history of British Police focusing on truncheon and armour – Arms in Action
ORIGINAL PAINTING BY GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARTIST PAUL BRIDGMAN DEPICTING WPC YVONNE FLETCHER, WHO WAS FATALLY SHOT OUTSIDE THE LIBYAN EMBASSY , ST JAMES SQUARE, LONDON IN 1984 . THIS PAINTING IS ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL.
PC DAVID RATHBAND WHO WAS SHOT AND BLINDED BY RAOUL MOAT PERSONAL SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BRITISH POLICE
The word “Police” means, generally, the arrangements made in all civilised countries to ensure that the inhabitants keep the peace and obey the law. The word also denotes the force of peace officers (or police) employed for this purpose.
In 1829 Sir Richard Mayne wrote:
“The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.”
In attaining these objects, much depends on the approval and co-operation of the public, and these have always been determined by the degree of esteem and respect in which the police are held. One of the key principles of modern policing in Britain is that the police seek to work with the community and as part of the community.
Origins of policing
The origin of the British police lies in early tribal history and is based on customs for securing order through the medium of appointed representatives. In effect, the people were the police. The Saxons brought this system to England and improved and developed the organisation. This entailed the division of the people into groups of ten, called “tythings”, with a tything-man as representative of each; and into larger groups, each of ten tythings, under a “hundred-man” who was responsible to the Shire-reeve, or Sheriff, of the County.
The tything-man system, after contact with Norman feudalism, changed considerably but was not wholly destroyed. In time the tything-man became the parish constable and the Shire-reeve the Justice of the Peace, to whom the parish constable was responsible. This system, which became widely established in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, comprised, generally, one unarmed able-bodied citizen in each parish, who was appointed or elected annually to serve for a year unpaid, as parish constable. He worked in co-operation with the local Justices in securing observance of laws and maintaining order. In addition, in the towns, responsibility for the maintenance of order was conferred on the guilds and, later, on other specified groups of citizens, and these supplied bodies of paid men, known as “The Watch”, for guarding the gates and patrolling the streets at night.
In the eighteenth century came the beginnings of immense social and economic changes and the consequent movement of the population to the towns. The parish constable and “Watch” systems failed completely and the impotence of the law-enforcement machinery was a serious menace. Conditions became intolerable and led to the formation of the “New Police”.
The Metropolitan Police
In 1829, when Sir Robert Peel was Home Secretary, the first Metropolitan Police Act was passed and the Metropolitan Police Force was established. This new force superseded the local Watch in the London area but the City of London was not covered. Even within the Metropolitan Police District there still remained certain police establishments, organised during the eighteenth century, outside the control of the Metropolitan Police Office, viz:-
The Bow Street Patrols, mounted and foot, the latter commonly called the “Bow Street runners”.
Police Office constables attached to the offices of, and under the control of, the Magistrates.
The Marine or River Police.
By 1839 all these establishments had been absorbed by the Metropolitan Police Force. The City of London Police, which was set up in 1839, remains an independent force to this day.
HISTORY OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE
Time Line 1829 – 1849
Until 1829, law enforcement had been lacking in organisation. As London expanded during the 18th and 19th centuries the whole question of maintaining law and order had become a matter of public concern. In 1812, 1818 and 1822, Parliamentary committees were appointed to investigate the subject of crime and policing. But it was not until 1828 when Sir Robert Peel set up his committee that the findings paved the way for his police Bill, which led to the setting up of an organised police service in London.
The formation of the Metropolitan Police Force on 29 September 1829 by Sir Robert Peel.
Sir Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne are appointed as Justices of the Peace in charge of the Force.1830PC Joseph Grantham becomes first officer to be killed on duty, at Somers Town, Euston. The Metropolitan Police ranks were increased considerably to 3,300 men.1831Further riots. A crowd attacks Apsley House, home of the Duke of Wellington, and break all the windows. The police eventually restore order.1832Richard Mayne, the Commissioner, tries to clarify the roles of the Magistrates and the Commissioners as the Bow Street Runners continue their existance.1833Coldbath Fields Riot (Grays Inn Road). A major crowd disturbance was dealt with by the Metropolitan Police with controversial use of force.
PC Robert Culley was killed at this event, and the jury returned a verdict of Justifiable Homicide.
1834The Select Committee designated with the task of inquiring into the state of the Police of the Metropolis reported ‘that the Metropolitan Police Force, as respects its influence in repressing crime and the security it has given to persons and property, is one of the most valuable modern institutions’
1835In October a fire breaks out at the Millbank Penitentiary and 400 Metropolitan Police officers and a detachment of the Guards are called to restore order. This prompted the press to call for the police to be put in command at all large fires.
1836The Metropolitan Police absorb the Bow Street Horse Patrol into its control.
1837Select Committee appointed to look into the affairs of the police offices. They also propose that the City of London be placed under the control of the Metropolitan Police.
1838Select Committee finally reports and recommends incorporating of Marine Police and Bow Street Runners into the Metropolitan Police and the disbandment of the Bow Street Office and other Offices. These were all agreed and put into effect.
1839The two Justices of the Peace, Rowan and Mayne are termed Commissioners by the Metropolitan Police Act 1839. Enlargement of the Metropolitan Police District by the same Act
.1840Gould Interrogation case in which Police Sergeant Otway attempts induced self-incrimination in the accused, which is immediately discountenanced by the Courts and Commissioner Richard Mayne.
1841Formation of Dockyard divisions of the Metropolitan police
.1842Formation of the Detective Department
.1843The Woolwich Arsenal became part of the area to be patrolled by the Metropolitan Police
.1844Richard Mayne, Commissioner, called to give evidence to the Select Committee on Dogs. He stated that in the Metropolis there were a rising number of lost or stolen dogs. In the preceding year over 600 dogs were lost and 60 stolen. He declared the law to be in a very unsatisfactory state as people paid money for restoration of dogs. ‘People pay monies to parties whom they have reason to believe have either stolen or enticed them away in order to get the reward…’ Mayne believed it to be organised crime.
1845The Commissioners, in returns to the Home Office, states that the aim of the Force was to have one Policeman to 450 head of population.
1846Plain clothes officers were frequently used at this time, but a June order made clear that two officers per division would be employed on detective duties, but that police in plain clothes must make themselves known if interfered with in their duty.
1847Statistics for the year were; 14,091 robberies; 62,181 people taken in charge, 24,689 of these were summarily dealt with; 5,920 stood trial and 4,551 were convicted and sentenced; 31,572 people were discharged by the magistrates.
The Metropolitan Police were still, despite their good record on crime prevention, facing discipline problems amongst their officers on the 18 divisions, with 238 men being dismissed in the year.
1848Large scale enrolement of Special constables to assist the Metropolitan Police in controlling the Chartist Demonstrations
.1849Authorised strength 5,493. In reality 5,288 were available for duty. The population at this time in London was 2,473,758.
Time Line 1850 – 1869
Retirement of Sir Charles Rowan as joint Commissioner. Captain William Hay is appointed in his place.
The Great Exhibition with its special crowd problems forces the police to temporarily form a new police division. The total manpower of the force at this time was 5,551, covering 688 square miles.
Sir Charles Rowan, first joint Commissioner, dies. In his obituary note of 24 May The Times wrote: “No individual of any rank or station could be more highly esteemed or loved when living, or more regretted in death.”
Lord Dudley Stuart, MP for Marylebone and a persistent critic of the police, suggests in Parliament that the police are not worth the money they cost. He recommends that they be reduced in numbers, and a higher class of officers be recruited to control the constables.
Out of 5,700 in the Metropolitan Force, 2.5% were Scottish, 6.5% Irish. The Commissioner was not happy about employing these officers in areas of high Scottish or Irish ethnic concentrations.
Death of Captain William Hay. Sir Richard Mayne becomes sole Commissioner.
Detective Force increased to 10 men, with an extra Inspector and Sergeant.
The Commissioner Richard Mayne is paid a salary of £1,883, and his two Assistant Commissioners are paid salaries of £800 each.
First acquisition of Police van for conveying prisoners. These were horse drawn, and known as‘Black Marias’.
Police orders of 6 January state “It is a great gratification to the Commissioner that the number of police guilty of the offence of drunkenness during the late Christmas holidays has been much lower than last year… In A, F and R Division only one man was reported in each, and in H Division not one man was reported in the present or last year..”
Police begin the occasional use of hand ambulances for injured, sick or drunk people. Accommodation or ‘ambulance sheds’ are later provided for these in police station yards.
Police orders on the 25 January made allowance for one third of Metropolitan Police officers in Dockyards “to be relieved each Sunday, to give them an opportunity of attending Divine Service…”
The Metropolitan Police act as firemen at the British Museum. The Superintendent in charge said of them “From their manner of doing the work, I should be inclined to place considerable confidence in these men in an emergency.”
1862Further expansion in the Metropolitan Police with the formations of the X and W Divisions in the west, and Y Division in the north
1863Drunkenness is still a problem in the force, and in this year 215 officers were dismissed for this reason
.1864Execution of 5 pirates of the ship ‘Flowery Land’ at Newgate. The Metropolitan Police supply nearly 800 officers to keep the peace.
1865Further extensions of the Metropolitan Police District in terms of the area patrolled in north east London.
1866 3,200 police under the command of Commissioner Richard Mayne were used to control a serious riot in Hyde Park. 28 police were permanently disabled, and Mayne was hit by a stone which cut his head open. He was forced to call in the Military to restore order
.1867The Metropolitan Police are severely criticised after Commissioner Richard Mayne ignores a warning about the Clerkenwell bombing by the Fenians. Mayne offers his resignation, but it is refused.1868Death of Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne. Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Labalmondiere acts as Commissioner.
The standard height for Metropolitan Police officers is raised to 5ft 8ins, except for Thames Division, where it is 5ft 7ins.
As a result of frequent larcenies of linen, the Commissioner Edmund Henderson said, on the 21 April, “Constables are to call at the houses of all persons on their beats having wet linen in their gardens, and caution them of the risk they run in having them stolen…”
Police strike for the first time. Various men are disciplined or dismissed, although these latter are later allowed back in to the Force.
The Metropolitan Police acquire 9 new stations : North Woolwich, Rodney Road (Lock’s Fields), Chislehurst, Finchley, Isleworth, Putney, South Norwood, Harrow and Enfield Town.
A survey of recruiting over a 2 year period showed that of those who had joined the force; 31% came from land jobs, 12% from military services, and 5% from other police jobs. The remainder came mostly from manual jobs. The majority of recruits and serving officers came from outside of London.
New police offices at Great Scotland Yard are taken possession of on 4 October 1875 by the Detective and Public Carriage Departments.
8 January the following order was released : “Relief from duty during severe weather – dufing the present severe weather as much indulgence as possible is to be given to the men on night duty, due regard being had to public safety..”
Charles Vincent was appointed Director of Criminal Investigations, the reformed Detective Branch which became known as C.I.D.
Initial rules for dealing with Murder cases, released on 7 June, stated “the body must not be moved, nor anything about it or in the room or place interfered with, and the public must be excluded..”
Formation of the Convict Supervision Office for the assistance and control of convicts discharged upon license.
Possibly London’s most famous police station, Bow Street, was rebuilt in this year.
The growth of London and the area needing policing is illustrated in Tottenham, (Y Division) when 8 miles of new streets are formed in a year with nearly 4,000 houses on them.
The Metropolitan Police at Devonport Dockyard illustrate the diversity of the role of the force as the Police Fire Brigade has its busiest year since formation with 6 major fires
.1883Special Irish Branch formed
.1884A bomb explodes at Scotland Yard planted by the Fenians. The Special Irish Branch are hit.
1885The strength of the force at this time was 13,319, but statistics show that only 1,383 officers were available for beat duty in the day. The population of London at this time was 5,255,069.Public outrage at the explosions at the Tower of London and Houses of Parliament. Two men are sentenced to penal servitude for life as a result.
1891The Public Carriage and Lost Property Offices move from Great Scotland Yard to the new offices at New Scotland Yard on the 21 March.
1892Dismissals and rank and pay reductions were common at this point, and the case of Pc379A Best whose resignation on 21 July illustrates how the Metropolitan Police attempted to keep its men in order. He was “in possession of a tea-can, the property of another constable, obliterating the owners number, substituting his own name and number, telling a deliberate falsehood in connection therewith; and considered unfit for the police force
”1893PC George Cooke, a serving officer, is convicted for murder and hanged.
1894The Alphonse Bertillon system of identification comes into operation.1895To join the Metropolitan Police the following qualifications were necessary:
to be over 21 and under 27 years of age
to stand clear 5ft 9ins without shoes or stockings
to be able to read well, write legibly and have a fair knowledge of spelling
to be generally intelligent
to be free from any bodily complaint
The bodily complaints for which candidates were rejected included; flat foot, stiffness of joints, narrow chest and deformities of the face.
1896Public Carriage Office and Lost Property Offices amalgamate under the designation ‘Public Carriage Branch’.
1897Metropolitan Police Officers granted a boot allowance instead of being supplied with boots. Police boots at this time were loathed, only Sir Edward Bradford, the Commissioner, believing them suitable.
1898After a series of assaults and the murder of PC Baldwin in the vicinity of the Kingsland Road, there are calls for the Metropolitan Police to be armed with revolvers.
1899High rate of suicides amongst officers. This is blamed by certain commentators on harsh discipline and insensitive handling of the men.
As the century draws to a close it is worth noting that the Metropolitan Police on formation in 1829 had a force of about 3,000 men, and by 1899 16,000. The population of London had grown from 1,500,000 to 7 million.
1900Construction of a new floating police station at Waterloo Pier.Lord Belper Committee inquire into the best system of identification of possible criminals
.1901The Fingerprint Bureau commences operation after the findings of the Belper Report. Anthropometric measurements under the Bertillon system are still used, but begin to decline in importance.
1902The coronation of King Edward VII makes major demands on the police, resulting in 512 police pensioners being recalled for duty. Extra pay, leave and a medal were granted to all serving officers.
1903Sir Edward Bradford retires as Commissioner to be replaced by Edward Henry.
19046 new stations buildt at East Ham, Hackney, John Street, Muswell Hill, North Woolwich and Tower Bridge. 1 is near completion and 2 other started. Major works take place on 23 other stations.
1905An article in Police Review mentions that Pc William Hallett of Y Division, who had retired after 26 years as a mounted officer, had ridden 144,000 miles or more than 5 times around the world in the course of his duty.
1906The Metropolitan Police at this stage in their history are on duty for 13 days a fortnight and have an additional leave of 10 days.
1907Clash between the Metropolitan Police and 800 Suffragettes outside the House of Commons on 13 February. Mounted and Foot officers are used to disperse them, and allegations of brutality are made.
1908Police Review reports “the authorities at Scotland Yard have been seriously discussing the use of dogs as the constable companion and help, and Sir Edward Henry (Commissioner), who regards the innovation sympathetically, considers the only crucial objection to be the sentimental prejudices of the public.”
1909The Tottenham Outrage occurs, in the course of which PC William Tyler and a 10 year old boy are shot dead by anarchists.
Time Line 1910 – 1929
Radio Telegraphy used for the first time, resulting in the capture of Doctor Crippen.
The miners strike in South Wales results in many Metropolitan Police officers assisting to maintain law and order.
1911The Siege of Sidney Street results in armed Metropolitan Police officers taking to the streets with the military to deal with armed anarchist criminals.
1912Assassination attempt on the life of the Commissioner, Sir Edward Henry.
Establishment of the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary on a permanent basis.
1913The Commissioner calls for legislation to be introduced to restrict the trade in pistols following the assassination attempt on his own life.
1914With the outbreak of war, 24,000 Special Constables are sworn in, and by the end of the year there are 31,000. Annual leave is suspended for the first year of the war.
Lord Trenchard retires as Commissioner, and Sir Philip Game is appointed in his place.
1936The Battle of Cable Street involves the Metropolitan Police in street battles with opposing political factions.
1937The 999 system is introduced.
1938Civil Defence starts with the formation of two Reserves in the event of war. The first are retired officers, the second Special Constables.
1939I.R.A. activity results in 59 explosions in the Metropolitan Police District. 55 people are convicted for these offences.
194098 Metropolitan Police officers killed during air raids.
Click here to read about the MPS officer murdered in Hyde Park during the war
1941Air raid bombings continue, and Holloway police station is destroyed. Somers Town, Sydenham and Brixton stations are too badly damaged to be used.
1942Police officers allowed to volunteer for the Armed Forces.
1943In an attempt to curb housebreaking, the Commissioner Sir Philip Game asks people not to keep furs, saying “they are no doubt warmer, and look nicer than a tweed coat, but a live dog is better than a dead lion.
”1944Looting reaches an all time record.
1945Sir Philip Game retires and is replaced as Commissioner by Harold Scott
.1946The Metropolitan and City Police Company Fraud Department is formed.
1947Metropolitan Police face a deficiency of 4,730 men as a result of the war.
1948Indictable crime rate falls to 126,000 crimes, but this is still 40% higher than before the war.
1949Lord Oakseys committee reports on police pay, recommending small increases and London weighting.
Time Line 1950 – 1969
The Metropolitan Police Roll of Honour is unveiled at Westminster Abbey by the Queen, displaying the names of officers killed in the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 wars.
Commissioner Harold Scott introduces training of cadets aged 16 – 18 to become police officers.
The Dixon Report advocates many changes in the Metropolitan Police, including greater civilianisation.
Serious understaffing problems, with the force consisting of only 16,000 and needing an estimated 4,000 men, mainly Police Constables.
Formation of the Central Traffic Squad, consisting of 100 men.
Flying Squad makes over 1,000 arrests, a record since its formation.
New Information Room opens at New Scotland Yard.
Sir John Nott-Bower retires as Commissioner. He is replaced by Joseph Simpson.
Indictable offences reach over 160,000, the highest recorded to date.
Traffic Wardens introduced.
Criminal Intelligence Section and Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation branches established.
1961The Receivers Office moved from Scotland House to new premises at Tintagel House.
The Minicab arrives on the London scene, and the Metropolitan Police obtain 24 convictions for illegal plying for hire.
1962The rate of indictable crimes for this year reaches an all time high – 214,120.
The series ‘Police 5′, designed to prevent crime, begins on BBC.
1963The Commissioner, Joseph Simpson, stresses the need for the Beat system to reduce motorised patrols and deter incidents of crime.
The first computer to be used by the Met (an ICT 1301) was set up in the office of the Receiver for use on pay and crime statistics.
1964The worst year so far this century for crime, with over a quarter of a million indictable crimes.
Regional Crime Squads formed.
Police face major criticism and complaints as a result of the Challenor Case, in which a policeman was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and made infamous for planting evidence
.1965Special Patrol Group formed consisting of 100 officers. It arrested 396 people in its first 9 months of operation.
1966The Commissioner’s Office and the Receiver’s Office are combined.
3 Metropolitan Police officers murdered at Shepherds Bush.
1967The headquarters is moved from the Norman Shaw Building to a new building in Broadway, just off Victoria Street. The name of New Scotland Yard is retained.
Norwell Roberts joins the Met as the first black police officer. He retired after 30 years service with the rank of Detective Sergeant and received the QPM in 1996.1968Sir Joseph Simpson dies in service, and is replaced as Commissioner b
1981Brixton Riots involve the Metropolitan Police in the largest civil disturbance this century.
1982Sir David McNee retires as Commissioner to be replaced by Sir Kenneth Newman.
1983With the aid of the MPS Policy Committee Sir Kenneth Newman devises a new statement of the Principles of Policing, and in doing so changes the emphasis from the primary objectives of policing established by Richard Mayne and Sir Charles Rowan in 1829.
1984PC Jon Gordon lost both legs and part of a hand in the IRA bomb attack on Harrods in 1983. On 10 December 1984 he resumed duty by walking unaided up the steps to his new office.
Whilst policing a demonstration in St James’s Square, WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot in the back and mortally wounded by shots fired from the Libyan People’s Bureau. WPC Fletcher’s murder led to the creation of the Police Memorial Trust, an organisation dedicated to placing memorials at the locations of fallen officers
1985Tottenham Riots (also known as ‘Broadwater Farm’ riot) result in the murder of PC Keith Blakelock.
1986Identification Parade screens introduced at Clapham police station.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act comes into force in January.
Mounted Branch celebrates its 150th anniversary.
1987Sir Kenneth Newman retires, and is replaced as Commissioner by Peter Imbert.
1988The Commissioner stresses the need for close community liaison between the Police and Consultative Groups to foster the police / public partnership.
1989‘Plus Programme’ launched to improve the corporate image and quality of the service of the Metropolitan Police. It significantly altered attitudes within the MPS, and included the Statement of Common Purpose and Values.
1997Installation of N.A.F.I.S. the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
1998The Metropolitan Police launch the Policing Diversity Strategy in response to the majority of issues raised into the Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence. The aim is to provide better protection to ethnic communities from racial and violent crime and demonstrate fairness in every aspect of policing.
1999The handling of the Greek Embassy siege demonstrates the professionalism of the Metropolitan Police Service.
ABOVE: OIL PAINTING BY LITTLEDEAN JAIL’S IN-HOUSE ARTIST PAUL BRIDGMAN HERE ON DISPLAY WITHIN OUR DARK TOURIST ART GALLERY .
PLEASE BE WARNED … THIS EXHIBITION ALONG WITH THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION, HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN OR THOSE EASILY DISTURBED OR OF A SENSITIVE NATURE ….
With some of the scenes from the new Star Wars film ” The Force Awakens” having been filmed at Puzzlewood here in Coleford ( not too far from Littledean Jail) , we have ourselves now added an intriguing and volatile mix of myth and reality with our own insight into THE FEDAYEEN SADDAM ( Saddam Hussein’s “Men of Sacrifice”) . This was an Iraqi paramilitary militia and personal bodyguard division formed by Saddam’s equally brutal dictator son Uday, who were accountable only to Saddam and Uday .
THE FEDAYEEN SADDAM ENFORCERS wore a helmet that was designed by Uday to mirror the helmet worn by Star Wars villain Darth Vader. Also the all black uniform , though without the “Darth Vader” cape .
Both Saddam and his son Uday were keen fans of Star Wars films . Even Saddams infamous “Hands of Victory ” monuments at the gateways to Baghdad, to celebrate the defeat of Iran in the Iran – Iraq War… were based on the “Empire Strikes Back ” film poster image (see below) depicting Darth Vader holding crossed Lightsabers .
Here on display at The Crime Through Time Collection , Littledean Jail , and new for 2016 … we have pieced together ” The Dark Side of the Fedayeen”exhibition, This to compliment Saddam and Uday’s fascination and interest with Star Wars phenomena . This being alongside various other Star Wars signed memorabilia , action figures and also on a more serious note, the brutal acts of the Fedayeen and the Iraqi regime .
NOT FORGETTING OF COURSE THAT AFTER THE FALL OF SADDAM’S REGIME IN 2003 , THE FEDAYEEN AND SOME 100 OR SO OF SADDAM’S CHIEF COMMANDERS BECAME THE FOUNDERS AND LEADERS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS), FOR WHICH IS STILL VERY MUCH CONTROLLED BY SADDAM HUSSEIN’S FORMER CHIEFS SOME 13 YEARS OR SO LATER .
THE VIEW OF MANY IS THAT WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT SADDAM HUSSAIN’S IRAQI REGIME TO RULE IT’S OWN COUNTRY AS THEY FELT FIT TO DO SO . .
TO A GREAT MANY ….A SEEMINGLY COSTLY AND POINTLESS WAR AGAINST A CULTURE AND RELIGION THAT MOST OF THE WESTERN WORLD DO NOT UNDERSTAND AND YET HAVE SEEMED FIT TO INTERFERE IN.
THIS HAVING RESULTED IN A TRAGIC LOSS OF A GREAT MANY LIVES ON ALL SIDES. MANY ARGUE THAT WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE GOT INVOLVED IN THIS EQUALLY SEEMINGLY NEVER ENDING WAR?
Above from left: ORIGINAL STAR WARS FILM POSTER ADVERITISING “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” PICTURED HERE ALONGSIDE SADDAM HUSSEIN’S INFAMOUS “HANDS OF VICTORY ” MONUMENTS AT THE GATEWAYS TO BAGHDAD , IRAQ
Fedayeen Saddam (فدائيي صدام) was a paramilitary organization loyal to the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein. The name was chosen to mean “Saddam’s Men of Sacrifice”. At its height, the group had 30,000-40,000 members.
BELOW: THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS DARTH VADER HELMET ALONG SIDE AN ORIGINAL FEDAYEEN SADDAM ( SADDAM’S MEN OF SACRIFICE ) HELMET . THEY CERTAINLY MIRROR EACH OTHER AS WAS UDAY HUSSEIN’S WISH
BELOW ARE VARIOUS INFORMATIVE AND INTERACTIVE ILLUSTRATIONS AS FEATURED HERE ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL , UK
ABOVE IS A SLIDESHOW OF SOME OF THE FEDAYEEN SADDAM ( SADDAM’S “MEN OF SACRIFCE”) UNIFORM AND OTHER ASSOCIATED EXHIBIT ITEMS ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL .
The Fedayeen Saddam was not part of Iraq‘s regular armed forces but rather operated as a paramilitary unit of irregular forces. As a result of this, the Fedayeen reported directly to the Presidential Palace, rather than through the military chain of command. Whilst paramilitary the Fedayeen were not an elite military force, often receiving just basic training and operating without heavy weapons. In this they were somewhat similar to the Basij of Iran or Shabbiha militia of Syria.
Much like other paramilitaries, the Fedayeen was volunteer based and the units were never given an official salary. As a result, most of the members resorted to extortion and theft of property from the general population, even though the members had access to sanction-evading trade and high quality services (i.e. new cars, hospitals reserved for officials, expensive electronics) and a general standard of living considerably higher than that of the average Iraqi of the time.However, they were ordered not to threaten or harm any government officials. This group wasn’t religious or anything so it had a mix of sunni and Shia minority.
ORIGINAL FEDAYEEN SADDAM UNIFORM ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL
ORIGINAL FEDAYEEN SADDAM UNIFORM ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL
The Fedayeen were among the most loyal organizations to the government of Saddam Hussein and were a politically reliable force against domestic opponents. The Fedayeen played a role in the 2003 war, resisting the American invasion.
BELOW: An original oil painting depicting notorious ISIS Executioner “Jihadi John” unmasked .
BELOW: An original oil painting depicting notorious ISIS Executioner “The Bulldozer ” unmasked .
The secret to ISIS’s success: Over 100 former Saddam Hussein-era officers run jihadi group’s military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Syria
Intelligence source said 100 to 160 former Iraqi army officers with ISIS
The 2003 US led invasion of Iraq led Saddam Hussein to allow foreign fighters to join the resistance against the invaders
ISIS’s deputy leader Abu Muslim al-Turkmani was an Iraqi army major
Once part of one of the most brutal dictator’s army in the Middle East, over 100 former members of Saddam Hussein’s military and intelligence officers are now part of ISIS.
Now they make up the complex network of ISIS’s leadership, helping to build the military strategies which have led the brutal jihadi group to their military gains in Syria and Iraq.
The officers gave ISIS the organization and discipline it needed to weld together jihadi fighters drawn from across the globe, integrating terror tactics like suicide bombings with military operations.
Self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the formation of an Islamic Caliphate in June 2014
While attending the Iraqi army’s artillery school nearly 20 years ago, Ali Omran remembers one major well. An Islamic hard-liner, he once chided Omran for wearing an Iraqi flag pin into the bathroom because it included the words ‘God is great.’
‘It is forbidden by religion to bring the name of the Almighty into a defiled place like this,’ Omran recalled being told by Maj. Taha Taher al-Ani.
Omran didn’t see al-Ani again until years later, in 2003. The Americans had invaded Iraq and were storming toward Baghdad. Saddam Hussein’s fall was imminent.
At a sprawling military base north of the capital, al-Ani was directing the loading of weapons, ammunition and ordnance into trucks to spirit away. He took those weapons with him when he joined Tawhid wa’l-Jihad, a forerunner of al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq.
Now al-Ani is a commander in the Islamic State group, said Omran, who rose to become a major general in the Iraqi army and now commands its 5th Division fighting IS.
He kept track of his former comrade through Iraq’s tribal networks and intelligence gathered by the government’s main counter terrorism service, of which he is a member.
One of the most prominent former Iraqi Army generals within ISIS was Abu Muslim al-Turkmani (left) who led the terrorists’ operations in Iraq until he was killed in an American airstrike last November. Abu Ayman al-Iraqi (right), a former colonel in Iraqi Air Force intelligence now plays a leading role in ISIS’ military council
Tyrant: Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein built his regime and cult of personality through his use of fear
Deadly: Foreign fighters have flocked from around the world, attracted by the brutal group’s propaganda
They have been put in charge of intelligence-gathering, spying on the Iraqi forces as well as maintaining and upgrading weapons and trying to develop a chemical weapons program.
Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer who has served in Iraq, said Saddam-era military and intelligence officers were a ‘necessary ingredient’ in the Islamic State group’s stunning battlefield successes last year, accounting for its transformation from a ‘terrorist organization to a proto-state.’
‘Their military successes last year were not terrorist, they were military successes,’ said Skinner, now director of special projects for The Soufan Group, a private strategic intelligence services firm.
The group’s second-in-command, al-Baghdadi’s deputy, is a former Saddam-era army major, Saud Mohsen Hassan, known by the pseudonyms Abu Mutazz and Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, according to the intelligence chief.
Hassan also goes by Fadel al-Hayali, a fake name he used before the fall of Saddam, the intelligence chief, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.
Targeted: Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi (left) – who had been the head of Baghdadi’s four man military council – was killed by a coalition warplane last year. Another militant reportedly killed in an airstrike was Abu Hajar Al-Sufi (right) who had been one of Baghdadi’s most trusted advisers on the Shura Council
US soldiers and Iraqi civilians pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein at the start of the 2003 Iraq War
ISIS’s strength of ideology in vowing to maintain an Islamic state governed by Shari’ah law, has attracted considerable support from Islamists
During the 2000s, Hassan was imprisoned in the notorious U.S.-run Bucca prison camp, the main detention center for members of the Sunni insurgency, where al-Baghdadi also was held.
The prison was a significant incubator for the Islamic State group, bringing militants like al-Baghdadi into contact with former Saddam officers, including members of special forces, the elite Republican Guard and the paramilitary force called Fedayeen.
In Bucca’s Ward 6, al-Baghdadi gave sermons and Hassan emerged as an effective organizer, leading strikes by the prisoners to gain concessions from their American jailers, the intelligence chief said.
Former Bucca prisoners are now throughout the IS leadership. Among them is Abu Alaa al-Afari, a veteran Iraqi militant who was once with al-Qaida and now serves as the head of IS’s ‘Beit al-Mal,’ or treasury, according to a chart of what is believed to be the group’s hierarchy provided to the AP by the intelligence chief.
Al-Baghdadi has drawn these trusted comrades even closer after he was wounded in an airstrike earlier this year, the intelligence chief said.
He has appointed a number of them to the group’s Military Council, believed to have seven to nine members – at least four of whom are former Saddam officers. He brought other former Bucca inmates into his inner circle and personal security.
Saddam-era veterans also serve as ‘governors’ for seven of the 12 ‘provinces’ set up by the Islamic State group in the territory it holds in Iraq, the intelligence chief said.
Iraqi officials acknowledge that identifying IS leadership is an uncertain task. Besides al-Baghdadi himself, the group almost never makes public even the pseudonyms of those in its hierarchy.
When leaders are killed, it’s often not known who takes their place – and several have been reported killed multiple times, only to turn up alive. Figures are believed to take on new pseudonyms, leaving it unclear if a new one has emerged or not.
Brutal: ISIS continue to carry out horrific public executions and floggings in Syria and Iraq
Gunned down: Iraqi army recruits were executed in the Speicher massacre last summer
No mercy: The militants have targeted religious minorities, particularly the Yazidis and rebellious tribes
‘IS’s military performance has far exceeded what we expected. The running of battles by the veterans of the Saddam military came as a shock,’ a brigadier general in military intelligence told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic.
‘Security-wise, we are often left unable to know who replaces who in the leadership. We are unable to infiltrate the group. It is terrifying.’
Estimates of the number of Saddam-era veterans in IS ranks vary from 100 to 160 in mostly mid- and senior-level positions, according to the officials.
Typically, they hail from Sunni-dominated areas, with intelligence officers mostly from western Anbar province, the majority of army officers from the northern city of Mosul and members of security services exclusively from Saddam’s clan around his hometown of Tikrit, said Big. Gen. Abdul-Wahhab al-Saadi, a veteran of battles against IS north and west of Baghdad.
For example, a former brigadier general from Saddam-era special forces, Assem Mohammed Nasser, also known as Nagahy Barakat, led a bold assault in 2014 on Haditha in Anbar province, killing around 25 policemen and briefly taking over the local government building.
Many of the Saddam-era officers have close tribal links to or are the sons of tribal leaders in their regions, giving IS a vital support network as well as helping recruitment.
These tribal ties are thought to account, at least in part, for the stunning meltdown of Iraqi security forces when IS captured the Anbar capital of Ramadi in May.
Several of the officers interviewed by the AP said they believe IS commanders persuaded fellow tribesmen in the security forces to abandon their positions without a fight.
Skinner, the former CIA officer, noted the sophistication of the Saddam-era intelligence officers he met in Iraq and the intelligence capabilities of IS in Ramadi, Mosul and in the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.
‘They do classic intelligence infiltration. They have stay-behind cells, they actually literally have sleeper cells,’ Skinner said.
The process of giving former Iraqi commanders senior roles was started by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (left) who was a former Iraqi Army officer nother former member of Saddam Hussein’s army turned ISIS commander, Abu Musa al-Alwani (right), has also been killed
Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province in 2014
Bleek future: With their black flags and military gear, the new ISIS recruits graduate in Deir ezzor
‘And they do classic assassinations, which depends on intelligence,’ he said, citing a wave of assassinations in 2013 that targeted Iraqi police, army, hostile tribal leaders and members of a government-backed Sunni militia known as Sahwa.
In the run-up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Saddam publicly invited foreign mujahedeen to come to Iraq to resist the invaders.
Thousands came and Iraqi officials showed them off to the media as they were trained by Iraqi instructors. Many stayed, eventually joining the insurgency against American troops and their Iraqi allies.
After the collapse of the Saddam regime, hundreds of Iraqi army officers, infuriated by the U.S. decision to disband the Iraqi army, found their calling in the Sunni insurgency. In its early stages, many insurgent groups were relatively secular.
But Islamic militants grew in prominence, particularly with the creation and increasing strength of al-Qaida in Iraq. Some Sunnis were radicalized by bitterness against the Shiite majority, which rose to power after Saddam’s fall and which the Sunnis accuse of discriminating against them.
Al-Qaida in Iraq was initially led by a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and had a strong foreign presence in its leadership. But after al-Zarqawi’s death in a 2006 U.S. airstrike, his Iraqi successor, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, began to bring in more Iraqis, particularly former Saddam officers. That process was accelerated when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over after his predecessor was killed in a 2010 airstrike.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s first two deputies, who each played a major role in setting up what would become its sweep over Syria and Iraq, were both Saddam-era officers, according to those interviewed by the AP.
They were Sameer al-Khalifawy, an air force colonel killed in fighting in Syria in 2014, and Abdullah el-Bilawy, a former intelligence officer who was killed in Mosul by the Iraqi military in May 2014, a month before the city fell to the Islamic State group. He was replaced by the current deputy, Hassan.
‘It’s clear that some of these (Saddam-era officers) must have been inside the core of the jihadist movement in the Sunni triangle from the beginning,’ said Michael W.S. Ryan, a former senior executive at the State Department and Pentagon, referring to the Sunni-dominated area that was the most hostile to American forces in Iraq.
‘Their knowledge is now in the DNA of ISIS,’ he said, using an alternate acronym for the extremist group.
‘This melding of the Iraqi experience and what we might call the Afghan Arab experience became the unique ISIS brand,’ said Ryan, now a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
‘That brand ultimately became more successful in Iraq than al-Qaida in Iraq … and, at least for now, stronger in Syria than al-Qaida.’
ABOVE AND BELOW : COMMEMORATIVE BRONZE FIGURINE DEPICTING COLONEL H JONES , 2 PARA ON DISPLAY IN AND AMONGST THE UK SPECIAL FORCES EXHIBITION AREA AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , LITTLEDEAN JAIL
On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote UK colony in the South Atlantic. The move led to a brief, but bitter war.
Argentina’s military junta hoped to restore its support at a time of economic crisis, by reclaiming sovereignty of the islands. It said it had inherited them from Spain in the 1800s and they were close to South America.
The UK, which had ruled the islands for 150 years, quickly chose to fight. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said the 1,800 Falklanders were “of British tradition and stock”. A task force was sent to reclaim the islands, 8,000 miles away.
In the fighting that followed, 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen lost their lives, as did three Falkland Islanders.
medals awarded to H Jones posthumously .
Rare bronze statue on plinth ( 18 inch tall ) of Colonel H Jones , now on display at Littledean Jail .
Plaque on side of Rare bronze statue on plinth ( 18 inch tall ) of Colonel H Jones , now on display at Littledean Jail .
Rare bronze statue on plinth ( 18 inch tall ) of Colonel H Jones , now on display at Littledean Jail .
Colonel H Jones memorial situated oa the Falkland Islands
Colonel H Jones memorial plaque
Colonel H Jones gravestone
Memorial , listing some of those soldiers who were killed in action during the 1982 Falklands War
Was Colonel ‘H’ a mad fool?
Last updated at 00:39 12 May 2007
Much has been written about the hero’s death that won Colonel ‘H’ Jones a Falklands VC.
Here, for the first time, is the brutally honest and vivid account of one of the Paras who fought with him.
It raises some deeply unsettling questions
My breath sounded like a storm in my ears. Surely they could hear it? They were only a dozen metres away – no distance at all.
You know you’re really scared when you think your own breathing is going to betray you.
Sliding my weapon into the crook of my arms, I inched forward on my elbows, pushing slowly, very slowly, with my feet.
The slightest sound could lead to catastrophe for our patrol. Every movement I made was carefully measured and weighed.
I was soaked to the skin, and my knees and thighs were bruised by the rocky ground I’d crawled over.
My hands were numb with cold, and the muscles on my neck and shoulders were clenched like a vice. But I had to concentrate.
There was an Argy trench directly in front of me. No enemy visible. One heavy machine gun in place. Couldn’t miss that. I was staring straight down its barrel.
Another trench 20 yards to the left. Two enemy talking – and pink toilet paper everywhere.
The dirty devils had not dug latrines, they’d just walked out of their trenches and fouled the ground in front of their own positions.
This was encouraging. It told us they’d been worn down by the wind and weather and couldn’t be bothered to dig pits in the freezing cold.
If they were similarly sloppy about sentry duty, that was good news for our lads.
Surprisingly, no one seemed to be manning the gun pointing straight up my nose. What was going on in that trench? Better take a closer look.
As I inched forward, I could hear the Argies still chatting away in a low murmur. What were they talking about? Girlfriends? Mothers? The price of penguin meat?
All that mattered was that there was no edge of alarm in their voices; no hint they’d heard anything. I didn’t need Spanish to know they hadn’t rumbled us.
One more push and I was nearly close enough to touch the ice-cold barrel of that machine-gun.
Cloaked by the mist, I lifted myself onto one knee, rifle at the ready, and peered down into the gloom of the trench.
There they were. Three of them. Sleeping like babes, tucked up nicely in their sleeping bags, counting Falklands sheep in their sleep.
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I could have killed all three before they could say their Hail Marys. This was a unit that was exhausted and couldn’t give a damn. More good news for our lads.
It was time to pull back. But as I crawled away in reverse, slowly and deliberately, I had a hunch that we hadn’t discovered all the Argy positions and decided we should look further over to the east.
There was no way that we’d let our mates run into a lead storm that they hadn’t been warned about.
They were depending on us to recce these outlying positions before we launched our attack on Goose Green.
As we began eyeballing the ground we hadn’t covered, we were ready for anything. Or so we thought.
It was Pete Myers, the youngest member of our patrol, who spotted them first, swirling around like spirits in the mist.
“What’s that over there?” he growled.
“Get down,” I ordered. We hit the ground and tried to make out what the hell we were looking at.
One thing was for sure, they weren’t spirits. These things were neighing and whinnying.
“They’re f****** wild horses,” said Steve Jones, our Welsh lead scout. At that moment, they came thundering straight for us. It was scary as hell.
“F*** it. Let’s drop the b*******,” I spat.
“No, don’t!” said Jonesy. “Just lie still and flat! They’ll run over you! Horses hate stepping on living things!”
What did he know that I didn’t? Had he been a hussar before he joined the Paras? I didn’t think so.
There was no time to argue. The herd was upon us. I looked up at them for a moment before pressing my nose to the ground and squeezing my eyes shut.
Heads and manes tossing, they charged over us, pounding the ground in every direction, filling our senses.
I opened one eye and looked up as a mustang leapt over me. I could see the blur of its legs for a split second before one of its hooves slapped into the peat inches from my head.
Then gun shots! One, two, three! The Argies must have stampeded the horses to flush us out and pinpoint our position.
We were done for – laid out in the middle of nowhere with only horse-dung to hide behind.
As the horses vanished into the darkness, I snatched up my rifle and took aim. But it was OK. The shooting had stopped.
The Argies had only been firing to scare the horses off, turning them away from their trenches.
A few relieved shouts and nervous laughter from the enemy. The sight of wild animals coming out of the dark had rattled them, too.
“Everyone all right?” A quick head check confirmed that no one had been hoof-minced.
“How did you know they wouldn’t stamp the f*** out of us?” I asked Steve. “Some ancient bit of Welsh folklore?”
“Nah,” he answered, “Grand National. You know when those jockeys come off at Beechers Brook?
“They just roll into a ball and stay still as f***, then the horses do anything they can not to put a hoof on ’em.”
“Really?” I said. “Interesting.” My heart was pounding, I’d just produced enough adrenaline to fuel a rocket, and my second in command was telling me the reason we’d lived through it was the Grand National.
Still, the Argies didn’t suspect it was us who had spooked the horses or they would have mown the grass with machine guns. God, they were sloppy.
Careless soldiering costs lives, I reflected as we made our way back to base.
Those poor devils were going to discover the truth of that within the next three hours when our lads got stuck into them. The trouble was, so would we.
FLASHBACK. December 1981. Kenya. An hour after dawn.
As I gazed out over the African plain stretching far away into the heat haze, I blinked the salty sweat out of my eyes and tried to concentrate on the view through the sight of my rifle as I searched for the enemy.
Movement was not an option. One absent-minded swat at the cluster of flies drinking on my sweat and the game was up.
We’d laid three long snakes of green parachute cord across the bush and they slithered invisibly through the landscape.
Suddenly one came to life with a rapid tattoo of tugs – a signal from one of the other lads that the enemy was advancing into our trap.
We watched them every step of the way. They were inching forward, knowing we were out there. And every second took them deeper into our ambush.
It was only an exercise. The yellow blank-firing attachments on the muzzles of our rifles showed that. The enemy were just other lads from 2 Para.
But the stakes were high. To the victor went the spoils and that meant the right to taunt the losers over free beer for weeks to come. A prize not to be scoffed at.
Then I spotted him, moving up through the scrub to the foot of the ridge we were lying on, right up with the enemy’s lead section.
It was our boss, 2 Para’s commanding officer, Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones.
What the hell was H doing there? He should have been back with his tactical headquarters unit conducting operations, not up with the front platoons.
Mark Sleap saw him too. Sleapy by name but not sleepy by nature, Mark was sharp as a tack and one of our top guys. As H handed out instructions to his men, Sleapy opened up.
The ambush erupted as rifles and machine guns raked the enemy. It was fast, brutal and effective. The colonel was dead. Direct hit.
He wasn’t happy. No one likes to be killed and H humped and grumped about it. “It wouldn’t have happened,” he told Mark later.
“We’d have got you lot with our artillery when we softened up your area before moving in.”
“Maybe, sir,” said Sleapy diplomatically. “But I did get you, sir.”
It was a prophetic moment, a glimpse into a future some six months ahead. Next time, though, 2 Para wouldn’t be sweltering in Kenya; we’d be freezing our backsides off in the Falklands.
ONCE again, H would be leading from the front, where he shouldn’t be, but this time it wouldn’t be an exercise. It would be live rounds and H really would be dead.
The posthumous Victoria Cross he earned at Goose Green is probably the most controversial VC of all time.
The accounts of the events surrounding his death have mostly been written by former officers and military historians.
They’re fine as far as they go, but they can’t tell it like a front-line para – or Toms as we call ourselves – and they haven’t told the whole story. But I can. I was there.
The first thing to say is that H was a cracking bloke, the best boss I ever had in the army.
He was what we called a “crap-hat” – a soldier from a non-Para regiment, and thus a stranger to the coveted red beret – but he made an immediate impact the moment he joined us.
The hard-core Toms loved the way he called battalion meetings in the drill hall and then announced:
“Right, now that you’re all here we’re going on a ten-mile run.”
All the fat HQ wallahs, drivers and officers, who normally skived off battalion runs, were trapped and H ran the life out of them.
Like any good commander, H wanted action and if there was any glory about, he wanted it for his men and not the “Booties”, the Royal Marines who led the task force sent to the Falklands after the Argentinian invasion in April 1982.
H’s distrust of the “Booties” was apparent from the moment we tried to come ashore on the night of May 21, scrambling off the converted car ferry which had brought us south and cramming into landing craft driven by the marines.
As the boats swayed and dipped in the swell, sea-sickness was only part of the problem. There was something else in the air.
Raw fear. Any minute now a fusillade from the shore might cut us into pieces.
We thought we would head straight for the beach but, instead, we went round and round in endless circles like day-trippers on a municipal boating lake.
Just in case the enemy might have any problem spotting us, the whole performance took place in the light of a near-full moon.
Boat engines throbbed, chains rattled and clanked, and friendly Booties flashed lights and called out to one another across the water.
I was not impressed – and neither was H. We heard him bellowing as he verbally castrated a few gobby marines.
When we finally got ashore, we holed up for two days on the freezing slopes of Sussex Mountain before London gave us the go-ahead for a raid on the airfield at Goose Green to the south.
H was on top form. He had plans to formulate and there isn’t an officer on the planet that doesn’t love planning.
Critics now say his plan was too complex, with lots of overlapping waves of attack. It certainly started to come unstuck pretty quickly.
On the night of May 23, we pressed through dense mist and rain towards Camilla Creek House -a sheep farm which was our initial base for the attack.
But after seven stumbling, mind-numbing, muscle-tearing miles in full kit, we were almost there when we were told to turn back.
Bad weather had grounded the Sea King helicopters that were supposed to be moving our artillery forward and Brigadier Julian Thompson, the Bootie in charge of the task force, had called the mission off.
H kicked off like a firecracker. “I’ve waited 20 years for this,” he snarled. “Now some f****** marine’s cancelled it.”
There was nothing for it but to slog back to Sussex Mountain. With the gallows humour typical of the paras, me and the lads from the Patrols Platoon started belting out a song: John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance.
Suddenly a head popped out of the command HQ tent flap. It was H. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at us with an expression that said:
“Oh, it’s those f****** nutters from Patrols.”
H loved the Patrols Platoon – fit, aggressive soldiers whose speciality was getting up close to the enemy, acting as the eyes and ears of the regiment.
He just looked at us like a patient father with some naughty kids and never said a word.
Four days later, the battle was on for real -but there was more grief for H. On the morning of May 27, we were awaiting orders at Camilla Creek House when suddenly a melee of officers and sergeants appeared among the men. They were in a right flap.
“Move out! Move out! Away from these buildings on the double!” one of them yelled. “Grab your kit and f****** get out of here!”
It turned out the BBC had announced that we were about to attack Goose Green and, according to some of the men, had even revealed our position at Camilla Creek House.
Ironically, it turned out later that the Argy high command thought the bulletins were a double bluff, designed to wrong-foot them.
But the BBC announcement was a real jolt for H and left him wondering how much the enemy knew about his intentions.
It wasn’t his day. The chaos caused by the BBC meant that several officers failed to make a vital briefing meeting.
On top of that, the Special Forces recces that he’d been relying on to assess the readiness of the enemy were turning out to be a fairytale, while a Harrier jet had just been lost in a raid that left the enemy unscathed and on full alert.
All of which was enough to put any colonel into a spin on the eve of a battle.
Nothing travels faster in a battalion than news of the boss’s mood and the word was out. H was not a happy man.
CLICK, click. Click, click, click. It sounded like sinister insects calling out to each other in the darkness and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.
For this wasn’t insects. It was our lads fixing their bayonets and preparing to advance down the narrow isthmus of land leading to Goose Green.
I was thrilled and I’m not ashamed to say it. I was a soldier and the thought of the fight to come gave me a warrior’s rush.
One or two hands reached out and briefly clasped mine as they slipped by me into the darkness. Somewhere in the gloom a young para puked up with the tension.
He got that off his chest and went on to fight like a demon.
Things kicked off around 3am when one of the lads from B Company spotted a silhouette in the middle of a field. “It must be a scarecrow,” whispered a young officer.
A scarecrow? He was on the Falklands, the place was crawling with Argies and he thought he was seeing a scarecrow.
“Hands up!” shouted one of the lads. With that, the scarecrow came to life. “Por favor?” he said and reached under his poncho for his weapon.
Two rifles and two machine guns opened up on him without a moment’s hesitation. Bullets tore through him and tracer rounds ignited his clothing, lighting him up like a Halloween pumpkin.
Soon B Company had taken out nearly 20 Argy trenches, tearing through them with machine-guns, grenades and bayonets.
It was a good start to their advance but elsewhere H’s plans were evaporating as fast as a bottle of port in the officers’ mess.
We were supposed to be receiving support from HMS Arrow, softening up the enemy positions with bombardments of huge shells at the rate of 30 a minute. This would have shortened the engagement by hours.
In the event, Arrow had fired just one shell before her gun jammed. Meanwhile, the Harrier jets we had been promised were fog-bound on their carriers.