Police history and Passchendaele

As the police were not a reserved occupation during the First World War - a reserved occupation being one where the men were needed at home for the war effort, such as train and tram drivers, coal miners and shipyard workers - they were recruited into the army in very large numbers throughout the war. Indeed, in desperation following conscription in 1916, the police forces were 'combed out' to ensure the maximum numbers were released to fight. As the age range at which men could be called up gradually increased, more and more policemen were 'called to the Colours'.
Many deaths of policemen were recorded in their journals, including at Passchendaele, to the sadness of their colleagues who had remained at home; those who remained behind were either deemed to be unfit or too old to be called up.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a good piece

  3. The first swathe of police resignations took place on 4th and 5th August 1914 when the 10% of Britain's police officers who were Army and Navy Reservists were recalled to their old regiments. I've found that there were very few resignations from non-military reservists until June 1915 when the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act permitted officers to apply in writing to their chief constables for leave with greater reassurances of job security. Good luck indeed with your research, you are clearly enjoying this fascinating area of history :-)

  4. That's interesting, Mark, as recruitment from the Metropolitan Police was continuous, at least until June 1915: see National Archive at Kew on-line file MEPO 4/344/189. This shows resignations with many marked as "Killed in the European War". Admittedly there was a surge of deaths of leavers in August and September 1914, but a small number are seen almost every month to June 1915, when the file stops. This is likely due to regional variations in recruitment, which were well known - another research project I think!!


The police and spies in the First World War

Looking forward to being part of a panel to discuss the anti-German riots during the First World War at The National Archives at Kew on Frid...