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

 

Sidney Onslow was born on 23rd April 1907 in Sheerness, Kent, the son of Richard Onslow, a foundry labourer and his wife Mary.  On 24th March 1927 Sidney joined the City of London Police and was allocated warrant number 8745

Award

King’s Police Medal (George VI issue)

Announced, London Gazette, 11 January 1946

 Circumstances of Award

London, June 1945, World War II has just ended, but the City remains full of service men and women of various nationalities.  The war, although in some ways changing the nature of the crimes being committed – it had seen the advent of the black market –  had not put a stop to criminal activity: neither did the cessation of hostilities.

On 26th June 1945, PC Onslow was on patrol in a police car with two colleagues in King William Street.  They spotted a stolen motor car drive past them.  One of its occupants was a 25 year old American Army Sergeant from Houston, Texas, Ben Herbert Sutherland.  Sutherland was a deserter from the American Army.   He was also armed.  What happened next resulted in PC Onslow being commended for gallantry and Sutherland being convicted by a Court Martial.

After his arrest, Sutherland appeared before an American Court Martial and, in July 1945, was found guilty of desertion, larceny and the attempted murder of PC Onslow.  He was given a dishonourable discharge and sentenced to life imprisonment.  While he had awaited the verdict, Sutherland had comforted his weeping fiancé who had given evidence to the court on his behalf, evidently to little avail.

After the verdict had been delivered, Sutherland was taken to a US detention barracks in France to await transport to the USA where he would serve his sentence.  However, he is quickly back in England.  Whether prompted by the prospect of lengthy incarceration or separation from his girlfriend, Sutherland escapes and August sees him marrying his 21 year old fiancé, Beryl Coffeey at Finsbury Registry Office before taking her on a honeymoon to Southsea in Hampshire.  There, he is discovered by the officers of Portsmouth CID and, once again in captivity, he is returned to France before his onward sea passage to life imprisonment in the States.

Sidney Onslow meanwhile, now Sidney Onslow KPM, continues to serve as a City of London Police officer until 31st March 1952 when he retires.  He lives until 2001 when he dies in King’s Lynn, aged a very respectable 94.

 

Bibliography

Assorted genealogical records

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

Lancashire Evening Post, 15 September 1945

 

 

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