Grandad Beck told my father the story of how May overheard a conversation while she was working at the telephone exchange in Blandford Forum. May promptly telephoned her father to tell him that the war was over. The call is likely to have been between an Officer in London and the RAF station at Blandford. Grandad Beck went on to tell my father that he gave her a good telling off. May was in a position of trust and must not repeat anything she should overhear.
May must have been so excited, on Saturday 9th November the British newspapers reported on the armistice that was being discussed between the German government and the allies. Everyone was waiting, hoping that the war would end, that Germany would sign the agreement. The armistice was signed in a railway carriage, in France, just after 5am on Monday 11th November 1918. The British public were told at 10.20am via an official communique issued by the Press Bureau.
Prime minister David Lloyd George announced:
“The armistice was signed at five o’clock this morning, and hostilities are to cease on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day.”
Quite how the population of Blandford would have heard the new I don’t know. It is unlikely that May received the information many hours before the general public. Poor May, Grandad Beck’s ‘telling offs’ were legionary.
Praise from Blandford Camp Officers
On Grandad Beck’s retirement the Bridport News wrote about his career, I have already written about part of this article in the post from 1935. The article tells us something of his time in Blandford Forum. So well did Supt. Beck discharge his duties that in July, 1918 Captain D. Granville, M.V.O., then chief constable, publicly paid tribute to the admirable work he performed. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any reference to this in the Newspapers.
Before Blandford Camp became a RAF base in 1918 it was used by the Royal Navy Division, two of the Brigadier’s wrote to the Chief Constable and parts of these letters were quoted in the Bridport News. Brigadier O Parson’s wrote “I desire to bring to your notice the excellent work which has been performed in the area by Supt. Beck. He, and the civil police under him, have co-operated with the military with the greatest tact and judgement.” Brig-General E. C. Chown, who left Blandford in 1917 wrote ” I consider it entirely owning to his tact that the relations between the civil police and those of the R.N.D. have always been so good.”
While all this praise of Grandad Beck is gratifying to read, I think it shows how difficult it must have been to command the civil police with the military as neighbours. As I continue to research the Newspapers from this time I may come across other instances where the military and civilian law and order clashed.
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Ref: Quotes in italics
Bridport News 19th July 1935