What Did You Do In The War Grand Dad?

Photograph of Canadian Air Force volunteer during World War I



We received the following details from Gale from England.  He is a retired London Metropolitan policeman. Windy receives our RCMP Veteran Communique and decided to submit the following.




When I was a London Metropolitan Police Constable and even later as a “civvy” there were always colleagues who seemed to be always on “official/legal” leave.

When I was parading ready for going out on patrol the duties list always managed to include one or other Police Constable who was “time off for Double A” .  This excuse was accepted for anyone who was playing sport for the Division or the Metropolitan, no matter how minor the participation or how unimportant the match.

They were always allowed “time off” for the Metropolitan Police Athletic Association business, which was the umbrella under which all sport was covered.  So short on the ground or not, there would inevitably be one officer missing from our ranks and it was almost a rarity when there was not someone “excused boots” to use an old Naval saying.  This situation seemed to be carried on into the support side of the Metropolitan, where certain civilians were also “excused” for a number of “legitimate” reasons.

In my last but one job in the Metropolitan Police, we had an old-timer, who like myself had served time in the forces before coming into the Metropolitan Police.  But unlike myself, he had got continuous service with the Met’s civil staff so he was looking at a 40 year award when mine was only the last 20 odd that counted.  But Roy Davis had come to us from the Forensic Lab where he had been responsible for ensuring that all the items sent to the Lab were later returned to the respective police officers as evidence.

So he knew the workings of the Lab very well and could advise my boss on the best way to get around a problem connected with the Lab or sort queries out relating to the massive amount of property forwarded to us from the Lab for safe-keeping. But he somehow never did overtime and never ran out excuses for why he had not been at work for his “days off” which were many.   His favourite phrase when somebody queried a Lab item was – “Now I’m glad you asked me that, but I was off that day!”  Never his responsibility or could have been his error!

So when he retired our Branch (C.O. 34) asked me to do one of my Cyril Fletcher style odd odes to send him on his way.  Something which would be recognised by the members of our small department and associated with Roy for evermore in their minds and which Roy would approve of too.  So try this for size.

Poster of British Commonwealth Volunteers for World War II


Our Roy sat there in his old rocking chair,

Banana in hand, and with his silver grey hair,

Looking king-like in his relaxed way,

Retired at last and at home from today.


His family and grandchildren all gathered round,

Enthralled by his stories and tales I’ll be bound.

Asking Grandad, just what it was like,

In the days when he did a Ton-up on his bike.


What was it like in the days of old,

When the tramcar was king and policemen were bold?

Did you ride a horse or go out on your bike?

Come on, please Grandad, tell us what it was like!


When you went to school did they use PC’s then?

No, we had to learn to write with a pen!

Did you have a tele or Coronation Street?

No, only the radio, ITMA, and Bill Halley’s beat.


Times were hard in those days or so I am told,

I can’t remember too well because I’m getting old!

We could go for miles on a tram for just a penny,

Can’t do it today, because there just aren’t any!


Where d’you go for your holidays, Grandad,

And was it by jet or by train?

We went to Jaywick, inEssex, son,

And as I remember, it never did rain!


How old are you Grandad, were you in the war?

With muck and with bullets, and bombs galore?

In the thick of it, son, I’ll have you believe,

But for most of the war, I was on Annual Leave.


Were you stationed in Germany after the war?

I might have been son, but I’m not too sure.

Couldn’t you tell, was it such a mess?

No, not really son, I was away I guess.


Did you do National Service or did you do more?

Regular Soldier, I was lad, three years in the Corps.

You see National Servicemen got 2 weeks, I believe.

But us Regular Sappers got much more leave!


Did you work for the Police, Pop?

I bet that was tough!

I don‘t know son;

I was not there enough!


Were you once at the Lab. Pop, do tell us a bit.

Yes, I was with Silly Philly, he was a right twit.

The things he got up to are hard to believe,

But I didn‘t care, I just went on leave.


Tell us about Mandela (police stores) who else was there too,

And if you remember please mention a few.

Diana was our Guvnor and she was a toff.

She would consult me, when I wasn’t off.


Then there was Keith who drove Bruce to and fro,

And Alan, “What’s ‘app’ning” but he had to go.

Mark and John were the Bulky (large group of prisoners) of that there’s no doubt,

Then Des and Graham would pull the stuff out.


Peter Whitehouse, a legend of edible fame,

No matter how old, Old Peter was game.

What he put away was not down an aisle,

But on his plate in a blooming great pile!


Blue bags I did empty in my own special way

With Windy I worked when I wasn’t away.

Ian’s Ghurka March Past we both had to bear –

Except for the days when I was not there.


His story is over.

His lifestyle is done,

Good luck to you Roy,

You‘ve given us fun.


But we had the last laugh,

Cee Jay nearly cried.

For Roy was time-off-in-lieu,

On the day that he died!

Poster for World War I