Two tales from the newspapers involving the residences of Blandford and the RAF. Even in a time of war it is inevitable that the number of soldiers, at the Royal Naval Division based at nearby Blandford Camp, would cause problems for the residents of Blandford. The first case takes place just before Christmas in 1915, 3 years later at the time of the second case, it was noted that the local and national crime rate had significantly decreased. Grandad Beck was present at both court cases and had the help of the military in the investigations. This is just the type of co-operation that Supt. Beck was commended for, as I wrote about here.
As I had previously written about annual reports on premises licenced to sell intoxicating liquor in Bridport Divisions. I thought I would look at Grandad Beck’s annual report to the Blandford County Licensing Sessions in February 1917. This gives a interesting look at life during World War One.
First I will briefly write about two other cases before the Courts in Blandford Forum. A tale of 5 lads and their quest for chocolate, and one relating to the severe winter weather. Across the country, people suffered from a winter of storms, heavy snow, gales and high tides which bought lots of flooding during the winter of 1916/17.
Worst floods for 35 years
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.
On 23rd April 1917 Grandad Beck’s son Lionel joined the Royal North Devon Hussars 2/1 Battalion. His service was to last 101 days, just over 3 months. From his discharge papers and the three letters Lionel wrote to his sister May, we find out about this time. Less than a year after he returned home, Lionel died, his death certificate contained a surprise.
Lionel the soldier
We learn that Private Lionel Howard Beck was 5ft 6in with blue eyes and fair hair. Before his call up, Lionel, worked as a shop assistant, most likely in Blandford where he lived at home with his parents and sister. At this time Grandad Beck was Superintendent at Blandford and the family lived in the police station.
The move to Beaminster in November 1919, meant some changes for Grandad Beck, as Police Superintendent, I wrote about some of these here. Blandford had more military personal unlike Beaminster, Bridport and Lyme Regis which were more rural. Blandford Camp was a depot for the Royal Naval Division until 1918 when it became an intake camp for the newly reformed Royal Air Force. During 1919 there were several motor related court cases at the Blandford Petty sessions, I have written about two which involved RAF drivers. To give a flavour of life in 1919, the year after the end of World War One, I have included a summary of some of the other cases before Blandford Magistrates. First is a sad case of the death of a young girl that was killed in a motor accident.
Grandad Beck’s mother died on May 26th 1919, Grandad Beck, Rebecca and 18 year old May would have joined Eli (Grandad Beck’s father) and the rest of the family at Garland Road, Longfleet, Poole, Dorset for the funeral. My Great, Great Grandmother, Frances Jane Beck was buried in the St Mary’s churchyard, Longfleet. Later to be joined by her husband, Eli and Grandad Beck.
On November 21st 1919 Grandad Beck took over his duties as Police Superintendent of the Bridport Division from Superintendent Saint who retired the day before. Prior to this Grandad Beck had been in charge of the Blandford Division, this was a promotion as the Bridport Division was larger than Blandford’s. The Bridport Division consisted of 2 Borough town, Bridport and Lyme Regis and the Market Town of Beaminster. The Division police station was built at Beaminster around 1862. The choice of location was most likely because, as a borough, Bridport had their own police force. Grandad Beck’s new division consisted of 3 Sergeants (one each at Bridport, Lyme Regis and Beaminster) and 22 constables, 11 of these based in the rural villages. Blandford was smaller with 1 Sergeant and 10 constables, 5 in nearby villages. It is unlikely that either of these divisions had their full number of constables, see last weeks post.