By Len A.Hynds

After a month of learning beats, going out each day with an experienced officer, you are at last allowed out on your own, to be let loose amongst the public, a most strange experience, because at last after all those months of training you have no one else to rely on, because you were on your own, with no personal radios to summon immediate help as they can do today. For the first two years you are known as a probationer, and that very first day could cause you some worry. The two senior Sergeants of my new relief both spoke to me on parade that day and I was given a very quiet beat on that Sunday afternoon, which contained no major roads, and very few of the ninety public houses on our manor.

So off I went, religiously patrolling all those back streets, which were very quiet, with lots of people sleeping off their Sunday dinner. To all intents it was going to be the perfect quiet day.

I was crossing the road at the end of a cul-de-sac, when I thought I smelt smoke. I walked slowly down the cul-de-sac which had terraced houses on both sides, when I saw smoke seeping from beneath a street door. I banged on the door, but nobody answered, and looking through the letter box I could see smoke in the passage and heard a radio blaring from a rear kitchen. An upper window of the house next door opened, and a sleepy l ooking man said the family were in the back and couldn't hear the door, as their radio was too loud as usual.

I told him that I thought that there was a fire in one of the intervening rooms, and asked him to run to the nearest telephone to get the fire brigade. I then charged the street door with my shoulder and the yale lock broke and I was in the smoke filled passage. Closing the door behind me to prevent draught I ran down the passage, and the second room was well alight and almost burning through to the passage. Rushing past it I pushed open the door into the rear kitchen to find the family sitting down listening to the radio.

I got them out of the back and into the yard, and one by one over the wall into the next doors' house. I got them into the street, together with those startled occupants, and then went to the house on the other side, ensuring that it had also been evacuated.

Having ensured that the three houses were completely empty, I pushed a parked car from outside the burning house, and asked whose it was, but nobody knew. It was unlocked. There was nothing further I could do until the brigade arrived so checked my stolen car list, and the car was on it. Luckily I had worn gloves when moving it.

The fire brigade arrived and confined the fire to one house, which was completely gutted. The family had lost everything, and were not insured. I knew that I would have to get them help from the Borough Council, and that could be difficult on a Sunday.

I searched the car, and in the boot, I found baseball bats, spray pepper, and face masks, and it was obviously going to be used in crime. The family were cared for by neighbours until I could make arrangements for them, and walked to the nearest telephone box to report in, when I was called by a very agitated man, who had called on a neighbour, and on getting no reply had looked through the letter box, and had seen him hanging from the upstairs banisters.

So on my very first day on my own, I had three serious things to deal with. When I got into the station, those two sergeants, who over the years became such good friends, George Howard, and 'Shaky' Sharman, said such things as, "Can't we get him transferred, upsetting our Sunday afternoon like this," and, "We'll have to watch this one, he's got a nose for the job. "The CID were delighted to watch the stolen car and pounce on the intended robbers when they re-appeared