Friday, 8 August 2014

Special Constable Hughie Miller directs traffic at Hyde Park Corner during the Blitz.

At the start of World War II my father, who had been a young Lloyds underwriter, a job which he hated had enlisted as a Special Constable and for the first 18 months of the war had been billeted in St James's Park near Hyde Park Corner.

During on enemy raid in 1941 the traffic lights in Central London went down and it was up to the likes of my young and inexperienced father to keep the roads of the West End moving My father had to step in it appears without any prior training and take on perhaps one of the most challenging roundabouts in the whole of the city, Hyde Park Corner, as Oedipus will relate, a place where three roads meet.

A passing journalist was so impressed at my father's performance that he wrote a review of which my father was particularly proud and he kept it for years in his wallet and he would produce it at suitable moments to impress anyone unwise enough to give him the opportunity. Sadly this precious fragment was lost until tonight cleaning out the attic I came across his old army kit bag. There is was and here it is:

The Professional Stroll
 Up at Hyde Park Corner I found the perfect Traffic Special. He was in complete control of the roadway where is says "Piccadilly Traffic," "Knightsbridge Traffic", "Hyde Park Corner Traffic".
He had even learned to stroll negligently to the island after letting loose the floodgates.
Most of his colleagues still scuttled like frightened rabbits or like  you or I would.
With just the right professional touch he pulled them up and let them go. He looked professionally bored. He had accepted just that "Am I wasting my time on you?" expression of the true traffic policeman.
My father loved to tell these stories of his adventures during the War but regretfully they fell on stoney ground with me. I cannot recall one of them so it is with some pleasure that I can add this to my blog as a sort of apology for being so unkind. I would expect that the unknown journalist too would be surprised that this tiny entry knocked off in a few minutes would be remembered  75 years after the event.

My father could have stayed in the Specials as it was a reserved job and indeed he was awarded the Territorial Medal which is the Dad's Army medal but he chose to go into the army as a private. As can be seen from this story Daddy had talent for leadership and with three weeks he was spotted sent to Octu and became an Officer. He ended up a Major.

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