PC Springett’s Journal
This daybook, the second Constable’s Journal to be stabilised for digitisation, covers sixteen months during the later part of WW1, from June 1917 to October 1918.
Like PC Elderton, PC Arthur George Springett was based at Bishop’s Stortford Police Station in ‘B’ Division and worked a mixture of day and night shifts. His journal entries shed light on everyday life around the town during wartime.
By 1917 there was concern about air raids. PC Springett often went out “on patrol re air raid”. He had to deliver “Notices re Air Raid Warnings” and carry out “Observation duty on ChurchTower by Night”.
On 29th September 1917, he cycled out to High Wych and patrolled the fields “re supposed Aeroplane descent” but there is no note of him finding anything.
On 3rd October 1917, he was on patrol in the vicinity of Dane Street and Station Road “re Shell embedded in Road” but did not note the source of the shell.
He regularly attended the release of carrier and homing pigeons (for military use?) from the pigeon lofts. He also carried out observation at Windhill Military Stables and patrolled in the vicinity of a German POW camp at Oak Hall.
Apart from wartime duties, PC Springett still had the usual criminal enquiries to make, often involving missing fruit or fowl.
He attended to Mr F. Stacey’s complaint of a lad stealing plums and patrolled several times in plain clothes “re Gooseberries missing from Garden”.
In one incident of missing chickens he found “every appearance of having been taken by foxes etc, no evidence of Robbery” and made no further enquiries, but following a complaint of chickens killed by a dog at Dan O’Coy’s farm he observed the vicinity for the next six nights. These efforts led to no arrests.
On 5th July 1917, he received James A. Mollinson, aged eleven, from detention at the Union, conveyed him to Petty Sessions (as a witness?) and gave evidence against William Bayford, confectioner, for selling cigarettes to a child under sixteen. Bayford was fined five shillings.
On 20th May 1918, he served summonses on nine fifteen-year-old lads for wilful damage to grassfields. They were all dismissed with a caution.
Many offences were alcohol-related. Mrs Kate Martin, licensee of the White Horse, was reported for serving intoxicating liquor to Frederick Milton, aged ten, in an unsealed vessel.
William Tattingham, painter, of South Street, was reported for using obscene language and was fined five shillings. Less than two months later, he was arrested (with the aid of PC 282 Eame) for being drunk and disorderly and fined ten shillings.
PC Springett regularly manned the bridges when the Royal Train passed through Bishop’s Stortford and he had regular special duty at the poultry market. Sometimes the journal records one-off duties where no background details are given.
On 3rd July 1917, for example, he conveyed three boys to the Children’s Home, Much Hadham, by motor car and handed them over to the Matron at 2 p.m.
On 22nd February 1918, he was given the task of delivering notices “re Prime Minister’s Message” to agricultural labourers. He doesn’t record the content of the message.
And, lastly, what must have been a welcome and pleasant duty – on 29th July 1917, he attended the police station for the fitting of a new uniform: two pairs of trousers, cloth jacket, cap and summer helmet.