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Geoffrey Lawrence

Medal worn by a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'Honneur.

 

We are pleased to report that BTPHG member Geoffrey Lawrence, a retired BT Police Officer, has been appointed a Chevalier of the ‘Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur’ (Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honour) by the French Government.

The presentation was undertaken by the Rear Admiral Patrick Chevallereu and the French Air Attaché Colonel Patrice Morand at the Yorkshire Air Museum on Sunday 21st February 2016.

The honour is of the highest distinction awarded by France in recognition of both military and civil merit.

In Geoffrey’s case the service he rendered leading to the liberation of France in June 1944, constitutes the purpose of the award. As a private and infantryman with the 7th Battalion of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Normandy from June 1944 until severely wounded by machine-gun fire during a silent attack on German frontline positions near St Syvain on August 10, 1944. After he recovered from his wounds he was transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps.

French President Francois Hollande announced during the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy landings that France would give its highest honour to all surviving veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War.

Mr Lawrence held the rank of Chief Superintendent, Divisional Commander, North East, on retirement 1981.

Geoffrey Lawrence’s Service History is as follows:

1943 – 45 Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders (wounded in action Normandy)
1944 – 46 RASC Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus
1951 – 81 British Transport Police – serving at Huddersfield, Norwich, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leeds.

In retirement Geoffrey was the first Co-ordinator of the Leeds Victim Support Scheme.

He has written and published his autobiography titled –  “An Incident Occurred”.

Contre Amiral Patrick Chevallereau presenting the Legion d'Honneur, Frances's highest award to Geoffrey Lawrence from Bradford at the Yorkshirein Air Museum. Picture: Richard Doughty Photography

Rear Admiral Patrick Chevallereau presenting the Legion d’Honneur to Geoffrey Lawrence.

yorkshire-wartime-veterans-2016-11

The twelve Normandy Veterans who were presented with the Legion d’Honneur

Source: The Yorkshire Air Museum
Pictures: Richard Doughty Photography

Webmaster’s Note:
This blogpost updates and replaces an earlier post which proved to be inaccurate in several respects.
Thanks to Colin Sinclair for additional research.

An Inspector Recalls: Memoirs of a Railway Detective

An Inspector Recalls

Another new BTP related book has recently been published.

It is a personal memoir written former BTP officer Graham Satchwell.

 

This is how he describes it:

“Several books describe the organisation and structure of the BTP. But how many have told the inside story?

My book gives a fresh perspective on policing the railways in Britain from the 1960’s to the 1990’s and describes the internal workings of the Force against a backdrop of significant crime.

The style is light and self-deprecating, and so far as the topics allow, amusing.

The publishers describe the book as ‘laughing out loud funny’ and say it provides, ‘dollops of humour, painful truth and a true description of the macho policing culture of the time.’

In any event it starts with a description of my cheating to pass the police entrance examination, aged 18, and ends with my being refused permission to leave the force upon reaching retirement age!

I describe my involvement in dealing with serious and not so serious matters (e.g. train robberies, corporate manslaughter, child abduction, terrorism, bomb threats, police corruption, the odd politician and even The Queen, drunks, vagrants and petty thieves). It also covers my periods in uniform, at Tadworth, my time at university and whilst on the staff of the Police Staff College.

Most of all it is a book about people – mostly you! For whilst it is a personal account, it is also the story of every officer who served during that period.

As you will know, this is the first book by a senior British Transport Police detective about personal experiences investigating railway crime.”

 

It is available in hardcover from all good booksellers and certain internet sites, including Amazon, from which a Kindle version is also available.

To accompany the book Graham has a website – GrahamSatchwell.com and he recently gave this interview to a local TV channel:

New History Writers Appointed

Ed Thompson and John Owen

Ed Thompson and John Owen

In was recently announced in the BTPHG Year Book 2016, that the nominations committee have this year appointed two new BTP History Writers – John Owen and Ed Thompson – for their tenacity and dedication in thoroughly documenting the Force during their long-running Census Project, travelling the length and breadth of the land in order to do so.

Congratulations to them both.

Annual General Meeting 2016

Our 2016 Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 21st March at The Railway (formerly The Bright House), Public House, Hill Street, Birmingham, commencing at 12.30 hours.

This venue is approximately five minutes’ walk from Birmingham New Street Station (map).

A buffet will be provided free of charge. All members are welcome but you do need to let Bill Rogerson know at least two weeks beforehand so that food can be ordered appropriately.

Members should receive a copy of the Year Book in the post before the AGM and copies of all relevant papers will be available on the day.

This is the one opportunity in the year when group members have the chance to meet up and chat historically, topically or just plain sociably.

Hope to see you there.

NB: As with last year, the AGM will not be the day before the NARBTPO AGM.

Rail closure protests of the 1960’s and 70’s’

A new BTPHG Project has commenced! Following the purchase of a photograph on E-Bay showing BTP making an arrest of a protester at Summerseat railway station in Lancashire in 1967, Rob Davison wondered if there were more of these protests during the Beeching era. Now the proverbial ‘can of worms’ has been opened and information has been gathered from a variety of sources into long-forgotten but at the time, vociferous and sometimes violent public protests about rail closures.

Rob would be interested in hearing from anyone who can assist him. He can be contacted at rob.davison@btphg.org.uk

For more on other BTPHG Projects go to the Projects page.

Tracking the Hooligans: The History of Football Violence on the UK Rail Network

Tracking the Hooligans

Tracking the Hooligans

Another new BTP related book has recently been published.

It is written former BTP officers by Mike Layton and Alan Pacey.

From the cover:

“On an average Saturday, some thirty trains carried police escorts of between two and eight officers. Officers sometimes reached the destination with their uniforms soiled with spittle, and other filth, burnt with cigarette ends, or slashed.’

Charting the history of violent acts committed by football hooligans on the British rail network and London Underground, numerous retired police officers offer a frightening, and often humorous, insight into how they battled ‘the English disease’. Recalling incidents of random, mindless violence, as well as organised acts carried out by some of the country’s top hooligan firms, the authors document the times where nothing but a truncheon and the power of speech stood between order and chaos.

Exploring a period of fifty years, retired officers Michael Layton and Alan Pacey pay particular attention to the turbulent and dangerous times faced by the police in the 1970s and 1980s, when hooliganism in the United Kingdom was at its peak, as well as exploring more recent instances of disorder. Tracking the Hooligans is an essential account of the uglier side of the beautiful game, and a fitting tribute to those who gave their time, and sometimes their lives, keeping the public safe.”

It is available in paperback from all good booksellers and certain internet sites, including Amazon, from which a Kindle version is also available..

The Railroad Police

The Wild Bunch Posse

The Wild Bunch Posse

BTPHG member Graham Satchwell has highlighted a website dedicated to railway policing in the United States.

The Railroad Police was developed by Special Agents Matt West and Paul Miller of the Union Pacific Railroad Police to promote the history of Railroad Policing as well as explaining the duties of the modern-day Railroad Police Officer.

The site details the history of railroad policing, together with many historic photographs, memorabilia and items such as badges and patches.

The website has been added to our links page.

Peterborough and the Great War

The city was a transport hub during the war so the men came from all over the country.

The city was a transport hub during the war so the men came from all over the country.

Perhaps not directly Police related, but certainly of historical significance to the railway, a new online resource has been launched.

It is called Peterborough and the Great War.
Hundreds of messages written by servicemen as they made their way to fight in World War One have been published for the first time.  Members of the army, navy and Royal Flying Corps often stopped at a now derelict station in Cambridgeshire. Many wrote in visitor books kept in the tea room at Peterborough East railway station between 1916 and 1917. A team of volunteers transcribed the 570 entries which have been published online.
Richard Hunt, archives manager for Vivacity, which recruited the volunteers, said the messages provided a “unique insight” into the authors’ thoughts and feelings.  “Some are simple words of thanks, others talk of love and hope. We have found out some of the facts of some of their lives but are appealing for their descendants to come forward to add colour to the stories of these heroes,” he said.
Army Cadet Miller Jamieson from North Shields stopped at the station in December 1916. He was presumed killed in action in Flanders five months later.
He wrote: “When the war-drum throbs no longer, may I – going North – be here again.”
Stretcher-bearer Alfred Davis from Peterborough features in the project, after joining the army aged 18. Researchers found he accidentally killed his friend Corporal Arthur Rawson while the men were sleeping. It is believed a button on his coat caught the trigger of his rifle. He was discharged from the army after losing a leg while rescuing a wounded officer at Ypres in May 1915 and went on to work as a railway signalman before he died in 1965.
The tea room was run by the Peterborough Women’s United Total Abstinence Council, and was started to discourage servicemen from drinking alcohol.
Other stations also had volunteer-run tea stalls but it is unlikely they had visitors’ books, the Imperial War Museum said.
The three-year project was funded by a £99,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Herbert John LAUGHLIN

Our World War One Roll of Honour team have been continuing their good work on this important project.

This time they have found one of our forebears who had been misidentified. Lance Corporal Herbert John LAUGHLIN of the Grenadier Guards was a PC in the Great Western Railway Police prior to his war service. He died, aged 34, on 26th July 1917 and is buried at the Canada Farm Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, in Belgium.

He had been misnamed as J LOUGHLIN.

This mistake, on CWGC graves registration report, dated 1921, was shown on his gravestone and had been repeated on the Railway Staff RoH held by the National Railway Museum, and on the BTPHG RoH.

Project team member Ed Thompson, visited the GWR museum in Swindon and together with the museum curator carried out extensive research. They found an entry on the GWR Magazine dated 21/10/1914 which states H Laughlin, Policeman Traffic Department, Paddington, was wounded on active service. There is no further mention of him, however on the Railway Staff ROH held by the NRM there is an entry for H J LOUGHLIN indicating he had been Killed in Action and was a GWR Policeman. The curator carried out extensive searches but could find no reference to support this however the GWR ROH stored in the museum also shows the same entry. He is named as J LOUGHLIN on the CWGC. The curator was convinced that PC Laughlin recovered from his wounds and sent back into action and was subsequently killed on 26/07/1917 and advised Ed to concentrate his research on this fact.

Ed continued his research, including finding an entry in the Army “Soldiers Effects” Register. He also established that H J Laughlin was married to Alice Maria Reade on the 13/01/1912 in Stoke Newington, London, his occupation shown as a policeman.

Ed liaised with the Commonwealth Graves Commission and they have now accepted the misspelling error. The official records have now been amended, their website updated, and the gravestone will be amended in due course.

Tadworth Plaque Unveiling

HGP00586 Tadworth Plaque.ev

 

Another BTPHG Project has come to fruition with the unveiling of the commemorative plaque at Tadworth, the former site of the BTP Training Centre.

In a new StoryBank article, Project Manager Rob Davison describes the ceremony and the background to the Tadworth Plaque.