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The Square Mile, its crime and policing history The Square Mile, its crime and policing history

PC Charles Berg

Charles was born April 1862 in Wapping, London, the son of Charles Berg (senior), a Swedish mariner.  On 30th June 1887 Charles joined the City of London Police and was allocated a warrant number of 5949. He was discharged unfit from the force on 4th July 1912.

Award

King’s Police Medal (George V issue)

Announced, the London Gazette, 1st January 1913

Circumstances of Award

Mr Leopold de Rothschild, one of the famous banking family, left the Rothschild premises at New Court, St Swithin’s Lane, City of London at around 5 pm on 4th March 1912.  As the car he was travelling in turned out of the gateway of the bank and headed slowly (due to the narrowness of the lane) towards King William Street, a man called William Tebbitt stepped in front of it and starting shooting at Rothschild.

Leopold de Rothschild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PC Berg of the City of London Police was on plain-clothes private service duty nearby.  On hearing the shots, he turned and, seeing what was happening, rushed forward to grab hold of Tebbitt who was still firing at Rothschild.  Tebbitt then turned on the officer, firing at Berg at point blank range hitting him just below the jaw.  The bullet entered Berg’s neck and lodged in the right side of his throat.  Other police officers and members of the public arrived on scene and restrained Tebbitt.  He was taken into custody and conveyed to Cloak Lane Police Station.  An account of Tebbitt’s subsequent trial at the Old Bailey can be found on the Old Bailey Online website:

https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t19120423-9&div=t19120423-9&terms=tebbitt#highlight

Berg meanwhile, severely injured, was taken to St Bartholomew’s Hospital.  He eventually recovered, but was so disabled by the gunshot that he retired from the City of London Police.  However, he was able to live on both his police pension and the pension for life he was awarded by the Rothschild family.  He died on 11th February 1936, leaving behind effects amounting to £48.  Obituaries appeared in several newspapers, but by far the best is this swash-buckling contribution from the Nottingham Evening Post:

THEY COULD NOT KILL HIM

SURVIVED SHARKS, GUNMAN, AND RUNAWAYS TO DIE IN PEACE

Runaway horses, sharks, and a gunman all did their best to shorten the life of Mr Charles Berg.  He defied them all and yesterday died peacefully in his bed at his home in Leytonstone, London at the age of 73.

At 16 he sailed before the mast of a wind-jammer.  Once the captain offered a guinea to anyone who would swim ashore with a cable.  Braving the shark-infested waters, Berg dived in and earned his guinea.

When he returned to this country he joined the City of London Police and earned a reputation for bravery by throwing himself at the heads of a runaway team of dray horses.

Later, as personal detective to Mr Leopold de Rothschild, he was wounded by a man who tried to shoot the banker.

For days he lay in hospital with a bullet only a fraction of an inch from his jugular vein.  Its ultimate removal was claimed as one of the surgical feats of the day”.

 

Bibliography

Assorted genealogical records

Farmery, J P (1995).  Police Gallantry, 1st edition. North Manley: Periter and Associates Pty Ltd

Wade S (2008).  Square Mile Bobbies, 1st edition.  Stroud: The History Press

Old Bailey Online website

Nottingham Evening Post, February 1936

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