A news item from The Bootle Times, of January 19, 1901.
An officer just back from the front states that to his knowledge no less than eight Scotland-yard detectives are at present roaming about the Cape and in the Orange Free State, in search of defaulters who have so nobly gone forth to fight the Boers and at the same time elude their own pursuers. One of these patriotic rogues was arrested whilst actually taking part in an engagement at Wynburg, and subsequently taken back to Capetown. Two others were caught soon afterwards, fighting side by side, and, though wounded, both were taken in charge. There is a grim undercurrent of irony about all this. Indeed, one of the captured defaulters freely admitted that he had hoped all along to be shot before the police were able to track him, and that he had exposed himself to the fire of the enemy upon every available occasion. Unfortunately, as he himself put it when captured, he had "no luck." One of the detectives used to appear in a different rôle every day, greatly to the amusement of the officers and soldiers, all of whom knew his business. Yet in spite of all he managed to capture within a week two of the men of whom he was in search.
It would be interesting to know upon which roll these police detectives appeared. There is one such on the F.I.D. supplementary roll (well, it sounds like he was a police detective); "civilian Macfarlane, A" "No bar, For services in connection with the personal safety of Earl Roberts and Milne". "Milne" sounds like "Milner". A quick check of SAFF shows "Detective Bryan, A.G." as "Died of Disease, Dundee, 20th Jan.,1902 attached to Native L.C.".
The "eight Scotland Yard detectives roaming about the Cape and the Orange Free State" may have been attached to the Military Police.
Regards to all
I would imagine that there would have been some type of official sanction for police detectives to go to a war zone. At least a temporary posting. A little whimsically, I wonder how the contemporaries of Inspector Lestrade would have apprehended those patriotic rogues-under-arms? No change of name on the part of a rather thick rogue would have made identification easier, of course. If said rogue(s) had changed his/their name(s), well ...... perhaps comparing recent recruits alongside a (convenient and probably very big) book of "mug shots" might help. Or perhaps physical descriptions of recent enlistments might have been perused by a diligent sleuth; "a tattoo of Mother and a sailing ship" on the left bicep". Etc. Etc.
I must say it all sounds a trifle unlikely! I would be delighted to hear of any discoveries you make in this matter.
Charles Warren had been head of the London Metropolitan Police from 1886 to 1888; there was also the case of Franz von Veltheim, who, prior to the ABW, had been a member of the Cape Mounted Police. A Detective Inspector of the City of London Police had brought him back from Paris, to stand trial in London in 1908.
BereniceUK wrote: One of the detectives used to appear in a different rôle every day, greatly to the amusement of the officers and soldiers, all of whom knew his business. Yet in spite of all he managed to capture within a week two of the men of whom he was in search.
This reminded me of Terry Jones's portrayal of Superintendent Harry 'Snapper' Organs and his attempts to find the Piranha Brothers.
"They went into 'iding and I decided on a subtle approach, viz some form of disguise, as the old 'elmet and boots were a bit of a giveaway. Luckily, my years with Bristol Rep.stood me in good stead as I assumed a bewildering variety of disguises. I tracked them to Cardiff, posing as the Reverend Smiler Egret; hearing they'd gone back to London I assumed the identity of a pork butcher, Brian Stoats. On my arrival in London I discovered they had returned to Cardiff, I followed as Gloucester from King Lear. Acting on a hunch I spent several months in Buenos Aires as Blind Pugh, but returning through the Panama Canal as Ratty in Toad of Toad Hall. Back in Cardiff I relived my triumph as Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha."
I've come across this obituary of Ernest Albert William Etheridge, in the Gloucester Journal, Saturday 9th March 1940: -
...."The death has occurred of Mr. Ernest William Etheridge, of 101, Barton-street, Gloucester. ....Mr. Etheridge, who was 64 years of age, and a well-known figure in the city, had been in ailing health for some time. ....A native of Gloucester, Mr. Etheridge early in life enlisted in the Grenadier Guards. He served in the Sudan, and was with Lord Kitchener in the final advance on Khartoum. He also served throughout the South African War, and was the proud possessor of a personal message from Lord Roberts stating: "Pte. Etheridge, 3rd Batt. Grenadier Guards, was attached to Army Headquarters in South Africa throughout the war as a detective, and carried out his responsible duties most efficiently and to my entire satisfaction." ....Mr. Etheridge was wounded during the operations in South Africa, and although he subsequently recovered sufficiently to join the Metropolitan Police the improvement was not lasting. In the last Great War, however, he again volunteered for service, and was again wounded while serving with the Tank Corps in France, where he won the M.S.M. Medal and attained the rank of C.S.M. ....He was the holder of 11 medals, and was one of the six old soldiers who represented Gloucester at the Coronation of King George V."
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