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As we approach Remembrance Day it is time again to reflect on those RDC officers who were killed during the conflicts, either overseas or on duty.
A reminder that we have the Roll of Honour pages detailing those officers.
The 2023 Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion is well underway. There are volunteer collectors out on the streets and stations. You can also donate online.
Very sadly, we learnt today that HG member Henry Wreathall died on Wednesday, aged 101 years (just ten days short of his 102nd birthday).
Sergeant Henry Wreathall retired from the BTP in 1982, having served in the Humber Ports division and had been in charge of the Force Dog Section at Hedon for five years until its closure in 1965.
Almost ten years ago Henry was kind enough to share some photographs and clippings with the History Group (see below).
BTPHG Chair Tony Thompson remembers:
“Very sorry to hear the sad news of the passing of former Sergeant Henry Wreathall of Hull Docks who almost reached his 102nd birthday. I had the privilege of joining former colleagues to celebrate his 100th birthday in Hull. He was a fantastic police officer and supervisor, commanding the respect of all who served with him. I remember him showing me how to deal with my first fatality in 1971.”
Update October 2023
Tony Thompson has donated five additional photos and one video taken at Henry’s 100th Birthday celebration. These have been added to the Henry Wreathall turns 100! page.
Very sadly, it was reported this week that Police Sergeant Graham Saville of Nottinghamshire Police died after being hit by a train as he attempted to save a distressed man on the tracks.
The incident happened in Balderton just before 7pm on Thursday 24 August.
Sergeant Saville was taken to Queen’s Medical Centre where, despite the best efforts of medical staff, the 46-year-old died on Tuesday 29 August with his family at his bedside.
Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “Today is a day of mourning for the entire police family.
“Graham was a hugely respected and popular colleague and his death in the line of duty has come as an enormous shock to us all.
“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to his family and we will do everything we can to support them through this unimaginably devastating time. It is impossible to put into words how devastating this news is for everyone who loved and respected Graham.
“On Thursday, he went to work to protect the people of Nottinghamshire from harm, and it is testament to his bravery and dedication as a police officer that he was fatally injured while attempting to save another man’s life.
“His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
The BTP History Group would like to add our condolences.
The ‘Non Railway Police Officers killed on duty on the railway’ table, which sits at the bottom of the Roll of Honour (Line of Duty) page, has been updated. Sadly this now totals 105.
Source: Nottinghamshire Police
Perhaps a slightly unusual topic for the BTP History Group to feature on our blog? But on hearing the news that CC Lucy D’Orsi will be conducting the review into security at the British Museum it seemed that this unique combination of BTP and history was worth stretching the remit for.
British Museum Press Release:
Announcement regarding missing, stolen and damaged items
Photo Credit: British Museum / Creative Commons License
The Secret History of Female Sleuths
A history of the UK’s real-life female detectives – from the mid-Victorian era to the present day.
In September last year author Caitlin Davies approached the History Group while researching Elizabeth Joyes, one of the female detectives who was to appear in her forthcoming book. Our Research Group were able to assist Caitlin in a small way, but this opened up a new aspect to policing that we had previously been unaware of.
Elizabeth is an interesting character. In 1855, she was employed by the City of London Police as a Searcher, whose job was to search female prisoners as they were brought into custody. However, she also worked undercover on the railways, catching thieves at first class waiting rooms in London at the Eastern Counties Railway terminus at Shoreditch.
It seems she was directly employed by the railway, only involving the police when an arrest was necessary. This was about sixty years before the first official railway policewomen.
I’m now pleased to report that Caitlin’s book is about to be published by the History Press (12th October 2023).
It is available to pre-order here: Private Inquiries
More details are to be found on author’s website: Caitlin Davies
Three members of the BTP family have been honoured in the King’s first Birthday Honours list (2023).
It was announced yesterday evening (16/06/2023) that ACC Sean O’Callaghan O.B.E., PC Catherine DALEY M.B.E. and Inspector Ezekiel Awoyomi B.E.M. have received recognition in the Birthday Honours List 2023.
Congratulations to them all.
The Awards table has been updated.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan has been recognised with an O.B.E. – something he said was an “honour” after leaving school at the age of 15 and starting his career as a Special Constable 32 years ago.
Sean was recognised for his services to policing, with his citation stating he’s an “inspirational police leader who consistently delivers beyond what is expected.”
Sean joined BTP in 2018, having started out as a Special Constable with Essex Police in 1991 and serving 25 years – including as Divisional Commander for West Essex and lead for Learning and Development for Essex and Kent.
At BTP, he leads the specialist capabilities portfolio, which has seen him lead BTP’s operations for Covid-19, G7, Commonwealth Games, Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Operation London Bridge and the King’s Coronation. He has also taken on the role of Corporate Witness for BTP in the Manchester Arena Inquiry and has led changes made within the force following the attack.
He said: “The day the letter arrived I was on leave working in my drama group workshop, building a throne of all things for our next production.
“My wife sent me a WhatsApp with a photo of the official looking envelope. When I got home that evening, our anticipation was held as I wanted to first hear about my wife’s earlier successful job interview before opening my letter.
“I read the letter and had tears in my eyes. I had left school in Ireland aged 15, my first job in the UK was sweeping up sawdust from a furniture factory floor.
“I could never have imagined the amazing policing career I have experienced so far and I am humbled that my duty to public service was receiving such an acknowledgement.
“Without doubt my proudest experience has been to lead BTP’s women and men through our contribution to Operation London Bridge and I am honoured to receive this award with such direct recognition.
“My own commitment to policing would not have been possible without the support and understanding of my wife and family to whom I am so grateful. Equally this award recognises services as a police leader, however, my gratitude remains with all the officers and staff, across the three forces I have worked in, who come to work every day to try and keep communities safe.”
Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said: “It is a privilege to work alongside Sean and see the commitment, expertise and dedication he brings to BTP every single day.
“Congratulations to him on this thoroughly well-deserved honour.”
Recently retired PC Catherine Daley has been awarded an M.B.E. in the King’s Birthday Honours.
Cath – who served with BTP for 30 years and retired in November – was recognised for her services to policing.
Over three decades, she led the way for women in policing at BTP and colleagues described her as “loyal, dedicated, self-motivated” and “the person you want around in a crisis”.
Her service included contributing to the safe running of operations such as Euro 96, NATO in 2014 and the Flying Scotsman.
On the night of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, Cath helped a young girl to safety before returning to the scene to help countless others. She later helped officers through the process of the ensuing inquiry and was an Area Committee Chair of the BTP Federation.
In her citation, it states: “Cath is an inspiration to many and her achievements throughout her career will lead the way for the next generation of officers.”
Cath said: “I am still pinching myself since I received the letter from the Cabinet Office several weeks ago.
“It’s a great privilege to be awarded the honour of MBE in His Majesty the King’s first birthday honours list. This means so much to me and my family.
“Thank you to whoever nominated me, it feels very special my service has been recognised.”
She added: “A big thank you to all my colleagues with the British Transport Police who I worked with over the last 30 years. Without their professionalism and dedication to duty I would not be receiving this award.”
Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said: “I wish Cath a very happy and well-deserved retirement. It’s clear that during her three decades with BTP she demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism.
“The work she carried out whilst at BTP continues to lead the way for others and so I thank her for her service – and congratulate her on this honour.”
Inspector Ezekiel Awoyomi initially thought his letter informing him that he had been awarded a British Empire Medal was a prank.
The recently retired officer said: “I first thought it was some prank or even a scam when I received the letter from the Cabinet Office – I had to make further enquiries to confirm it!
“I was doing my job and being myself, helping those I could and was not expecting any rewards for it.”
Eze worked for BTP for many years as the force’s lead for custody, ensuring detainees were well managed and cared for, and that the highest professional standards were carried out by all officers using the facility.
His citation for the BEM reads: “He is distinctly selfless, cheerful, considerate, compassionate, with a generosity of spirit, high standards yet clear understanding of the pressures and challenges faced by his officers. Eze is a fantastic ambassador not just for policing, but in all that he represents.”
Eze received a Chief Constable’s commendation for his work at the scene of the Aldgate bombing on 7/7. Outside of policing, he is a pivotal member of his church community and drives around Kent each week with sandwiches, warm clothing and blankets, offering help to people in need of support.
He also works with communities and children in Nigeria, as well as the Saffron charity, which safeguards African children and adults.
Eze said: “It is a very nice feeling to have these recognised and to be nominated for this award.
“I hope it will motivate others to continue working hard and doing their best, even when no one is looking.
“I am grateful for the nomination and still in a state of disbelief! What a great way to end my BTP career.”
Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said: “Description of Ezekiel from everyone who worked with him show him to be an incredibly warm, compassionate and professional colleague.
“From all of us at BTP, congratulations to Eze and thank you for so many years of dedicated service.”
A Personal Story
Longtime History Group member and former Committee member Ian Oliver has joined the ranks of scribes and written his own account of his career and that of policing Southampton Docks.
From Amazon description:
“This book tells the story of my career in the British Transport Police (BTP).
I joined the force in January 1968 at Southampton Docks at the age of 19 and having always been a keen vehicle driver I became Watch driver in 1975 which involved attending serious incidents within the boundaries of the Docks and occasionally the Railways.
We will take you on a journey from the early days of my career leading onto my time with the railways and finally as a School Liaison Officer.
I retired from the BTP in 1999 after an exciting and very fulfilling career.”
Ian is currently the President of the Southampton Docks Retired Officers Group, and was a founder committee member and very active researcher for the BTP History Group.
The book is available from Amazon in hardcover, paperback and kindle editions.
As we approach the Coronation of the King and Queen Consort it is worth noting that the railway police have been involved in the policing of coronations since that of Edward VII. Each one has seen the movement of large numbers of people by public transport in circumstances where celebrations have been looked after by police officers mindful of the importance of safety and security.
The Coronation of HM The Queen in 1953 presented serious challenges to the BTC and LT Police which required the deployment of officers from around the country. For example operational feeding at a time when shortages were common and some rationing still in force required careful planning.
For the general public national events normally involve a day off work. It is the lot of the emergency services to work while others party. However, overtime and the granting of time off in lieu has been a feature of conditions of service for many years, thanks to the efforts of the Federation. I recently came across in this memorandum in the BTPHG collection. From the Chief of the North Eastern Railway Police to his Inspectors on this subject. He was writing about the Coronation of George V in 1911. By the standards of the time the leave or pay arrangement was generous.
The Chief in question was the famous Captain (later Brigadier General) HORWOOD. Known for the reforms he introduced into the railway police, he later went on to be the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (1920-1928). He was nicknamed the ‘chocolate soldier’ in the Met after an attempt to assassinate him using arsenic laden Walnut Whips.
The Coronation 2023 will see a large police operation. I have no doubt that HORWOOD would be proud of both the Metropolitan and British Transport Police contribution to the event.
Our best wishes are with police officers, from all forces and especially those of the British Transport Police, who will work to safeguard the events of this weekend.
The British Transport Police History Group (BTPHG) sends its loyal and sincere greetings to Their Majesties on the occasion of their Coronation.
Just two examples from our Police Dogs photo gallery. One hundred and thirteen years apart, but still doing the job of assisting and protecting their handlers and the public.
History doesn’t have to be old. We’re creating new history every day. Of historical significance is the first all-electric vehicle to go on patrol for the BTP. Based at Guildford this Tesla Model 3 response vehicle hit the road last December. The first of many to come.
…..and as we come to the end of April, don’t forget to have a look at the Website Updates page to see if there’s any recent additions you may have missed.
BTP, Twitter, BNA.
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
The BTPHG is very pleased to note that HM The King has approved the award of Commander of the Royal Victorian Order to the Chief Constable, British Transport Police, in the Demise Honours list published today. The Chief Constable, Lucy D’Orsi CVO QPM was National Coordinating Gold Commander for the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen last year. The whole nation witnessed policing at its very best in the aftermath of the death of the Queen. Operation London Bridge was an event that was many years in the making and involved every Force in the UK.
Chair of the BTPHG, Philip Trendall said: “On behalf of all our members we send our hearty congratulations to her on the announcement of the award.”
Lucy D’Orsi is only the second Chief Officer of the British Transport Police to be made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, the last being W B Richards in 1956.
Added to the Honours, Decorations & Medals table.