Honours and Awards

by Viv Head

– Part One

Since the Second World War, officers and staff of the British Transport Police and earlier constituent forces have been awarded an impressive number of honours.
These include:

1     Knighthood
2     Royal Victorian Orders
1     Commander of the British Empire
10   Officers of the British Empire
25   Members of the British Empire
1     King’s Police & Fire Service Medal for Gallantry
3     Queen’s Gallantry Medals
27   King’s/Queen’s Police Medals for distinguished service
13   British Empire Medals and
20   King’s/Queen’s Commendations for Bravery

And you can add scores of Royal Humane Society Medals and Testimonials, Meritorious First Aid awards and officers who have been made Members of the Order of St John. This is a remarkable list and one the force can be proud of. The complete list of names of the recipients and dates is shown on the Honours page of this website with much of the current and continuing research work undertaken by Richard Stacpoole-Ryding.

King’s Police & Medal for Fire Service Medal for Gallantry

William Huddart in army uniform

William Huddart in army uniform
in 1918

The award of the King’s Police & Medal for Fire Service Medal for Gallantry relates to an interesting case. Detective Sergeant William Parker Huddart had served as a sergeant in the Royal North Lancashire Regiment in the First World War and was no stranger to firearms. Nearly thirty years later, in the early hours of Wednesday the 4th of April 1945 he was on night duty at Leicester when he was called to the Police Office at London Road Station. A man who had been arrested for trying car doors by a temporary constable had produced a Luger pistol. He had threatened the officer who promptly fled from the office and telephoned the Leicester Borough Police for assistance. When Ds Huddart arrived at the office he found the temporary constable in a state of excitement and half a dozen uniformed Leicester Borough officers gathered in the corridor outside.

Having been briefed on the situation, Ds Huddart, who was unarmed, let himself into the office to confront the suspect. He engaged him in conversation while he took stock and saw that the man’s ID card was on the floor as were several cartridges from the Luger automatic pistol that the man continued to point at the officer throughout the standoff. He talked calmly to the armed man for nearly an hour while he slowly gained his confidence including putting the kettle on to make him a cup of tea. Then, on a pretext, he picked up the ID card, and stepped towards the suspect as though to give it to him. The suspect said: ‘Don’t come any closer. I’ve got seven rounds and I am keeping one for myself.’ With typical police humour, the Sergeant replied: ‘If you make a mess in here my inspector will be very annoyed’.

As soon as he was close enough, the sergeant leapt forward to knock the gun out of the way. As he did so the man fired, close enough for Sergeant Huddart to feel the blast in his left eye. The bullet passed through the officer’s overcoat and jacket close to the left shoulder but without harming him. It went on to pass through a heavy uniform overcoat hanging up, causing nine holes in it, went through a wooden partition, cut a broom handle in half and gouged a hole in the plaster before falling to the floor. Sergeant Huddart succeeded in disarming and arresting the man and suddenly the room was full of policemen.

Initially charged with attempted murder, the accused later pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life. Following an impassioned plea for leniency from his counsel, the prisoner was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

Huddart-2

Wm Huddart’s KP&FSM

Sergeant Huddart was commended by the judge and in October of that year the London Gazette announced he had been awarded the KP&FSM. It was presented at Buckingham Palace on the 26th February 1946. William Huddart was justifiably proud of this award, aware that at the time it was regarded as ‘the police VC’ and that he was the only member of the railway police to receive this particular medal.

The original award was the King’s Police Medal for Gallantry and Distinguished Service as just one medal. George V’s reign saw the introduction of two separate medals; the King’s Police Medal for Gallantry and the King’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. The gallantry medal was distinct with two red stripes on the ribbon and a different reverse. In 1940 George VI changed the name to King’s Police & Fire Services Medal – again just one medal for Gallantry & Distinguished Service. This continued when Elizabeth II came to the throne. In 1954 the Fire Service was granted its own medal and the QP&FSM became the Queens Police Medal for Gallantry & Distinguished Service. Technically, the award for gallantry still exists as it has never been withdrawn. However the Queens Gallantry Medal was introduced in 1974 and effectively took over the criteria for the QPM for Gallantry.

Photos & extracts from Huddart’s diary courtesy of Mike Huddart.

This article originally appeared in the BTPHG Year Book 2013.

(See Part Two)