It is rather strange to write of ones memories as a policeman, because it's not the lack of things to write about, as they come flooding back in an irresistible tide, and being a policeman for nine years at one station in South London, walking and driving along those same streets day after day, a different location will trigger off different memories.

For example stand with me in Camberwell Road at the traffic light controlled junction with Albany Road, and let me relate some of the incidents at that one tiny spot.


By Len A.Hynds

The tobacco kiosk that was broken into, and me hiding in the dark nearby just inside a workman’s tent, watching and waiting for the thieves to return, as they were quite likely to, little realising that they had seen me coming and also hidden in the same long tent, behind me.

It was so quiet, that I thought I heard my own heart beats but going faster, and felt my own pulse, thinking that it was the possibility of some action in the near future, but my own heart beats were normal. It was only the sudden smell of someone passing wind in fear made me spin round and in my torchlight find two of them behind me, with sacks of cigarettes.

Driving along at night, just in time to see a lorry with chains attached to the rear pulling the iron grille from a jewellers, with two men about to break the glass, seeing me, leaping onto the back of the lorry, with it driving madly away dragging the grille along sending up showers of sparks and making an unholy din in the middle of the night. I captured two of them and the third came later.

Seeing a drunk knocked six feet in the air by a bus, and getting up and walking away, so relaxed with all the alcohol.

The jeweller’s pawnshop room at the side, where a man with a gun was staging a hold-up, and the jeweller seeing his assistant with his hands in the air raced outside and stopped me.

Getting his keys, I got below the level of the glass in the pawnshop door and locked it from the outside. Telling the jeweller to wait for the gunman’s attention to be on me before getting his assistant out quickly. I then stood up knowing that the gunman could see my outline through the fancy gold painting on the glass, and let him see the key in my hand. He came to the door and tried it, and I told him to throw his gun over the counter. He couldn't get out that way as a strong grille was completely over the counter. He came quietly, cursing his luck. What an amateur!

The poor prostitute who operated in a shop doorway, offering her services for half a crown, twelve and a half pence in today’s money. She was rough, and although she looked like an old woman she was probably only in her 40s. She had been destroyed by the life she led.

St Gemma’s Hostel for fallen women and homeless young girls some 30 yards away, seeing every hour during the night a procession of nuns holding candles going from room to room saying prayers over them. A strange place.

The man who had jumped from the top of a building in Albany Road spreading his brains across the pavement.

The car that I had stopped at those traffic lights containing three young men who had been seen waving a revolver about elsewhere. They sheepishly showed me a toy gun.

Having the film star Bob Hope as the patron of Clubland, a boys club, visiting them when all the lights went out and being the only person with a torch mending the fuses, amidst his marvellous repartee.

Russell’s pram shop on the corner where I brought a silver cross pram for my eldest son, having to sell my little Austin 7 to afford it.

The numerous accidents at that junction I dealt with.

That house just around the corner, where I was sent one night, as 'A call for police,' little knowing that the young couple were expecting their first baby, and the hospital were unable to send a midwife immediately so asked the station to send an officer to keep a watching brief. Met by the young husband outside in a snowstorm, and he raced up the stairs ahead of me, and I followed, expecting a suicide or murder at the very least, and didn't know until I got inside the bedroom what was expected of me. I delivered a 7lb beautiful baby girl, whilst the young husband was in a dead faint. They invited me to the christening, but I declined their kind offer, but the poor babe they named after me with the name Leonora.

It was many months later, on a Sunday morning, I was walking with another PC past the house and the babe was outside in the pram. I proudly said to my colleague as we gazed at the baby, "She is one of mine." Two elderly ladies on their way to church looked horrified.

Going back further in time at that junction, the house that stood on the corner, our home during a part of the war, a house that had been shattered so many times that it became uninhabitable and we had to live in the garden underground shelter. The night when a row of shops were hit, and I watched our newsagent die in the rubble, and as the dead and injured were being dug out, I saw this young girl beside me with tears in her eyes. Several years later she became my wife.

These are just a few of the memories of that one spot, all part of the fabric of life.