“A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One” was a popular song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan, since 1880. I am sure Grandad Beck, heard this and chuckled, he loved his job and working in Dorset but others were not so happy.
Grandad Beck was promoted to Sergeant in 1908, while the family were living at Upwey. As a police constable he would have been working long hours, 7 days a week, the family must have only seen him for short periods each day. While his promotion would not have effected the hours he worked, it would have meant a modest increase in pay. Police Officers had 5 days annual holiday, for Lionel and May it must have been strange to see their father out of uniform. The newspapers reports of the Joint Standing Committee meetings (1909-1914), shows how this was all to change. The police Weekly Rest Day Act of 1910 was to give all policemen 1 day off per week, this was voluntary for the police forces until becoming mandatory on 26th July 1914, just before war was declared.
The request for policemen to assist the military in 1910 came as Dorset, along with other force, were having problems retaining and recruiting men. Young men, including Great Uncle Ernest, were joining the Metropolitan Police as they paid more. First a report about mounted police, which gives me an excuse to show you this photograph of Grandad Beck again. This was taken in the 1920s when he was a Superintendent at Beaminster.
On night of Sunday 28th November 1914 there was a mutiny at Upwey, near Weymouth. Private Wallace Williams of the 3rd Dorset Regiment was killed and Private Lane injured. The papers report that Grandad Beck attended the Coroner’s court but gives us no information about his involvement. The civil courts part in this was to ascertain how the death happened and if it was a criminal offence. The war had started 4 months before. I am sure that the investigating the incident had to be handled with care, as it involved both the military and civilian police. It is likely that Grandad Beck, as Dorset’s only detective was involved in the investigation and liaising with the Dorset Regiment. This may have helped to secure his promotion the following year, to Superintendent of Blandford Forum, a town with a military base nearby.
I know it is not really relevant but I couldn’t resist another picture of Lionel in uniform take in 1917.
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.
On 23rd November 1929 Grandad Beck married his second wife Annie Wayman at Corfe Mullen Parish Church. Though her name was Annie, she was known as Jo and by the grandchildren and great grand children as Aunty Jo, therefore I will call her Jo or Aunty Jo in this post. I met Aunty Jo several times, she was a lovely lady and all the family were fond of her.