Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill son of an aristocratic mother and a travelling salesman father, has had a varied career since becoming involved with the current hostilities. As a Storm-Leader 2nd Class in the BUF, he did well in the successful Battle of Camrose but then was unfortunate enough to be at Robbleston Hall, the less successful minor action that followed. As one of the rearguard, Ronnie performed with distinction, continuing to engage the enemy with his sub-machine gun until he ran out of ammunition.
After which, he disappeared. Not wishing to spend an unspecified time as a prisoner of some dubious Welsh faction (and knowing that BUF prisoners rarely received gentle treatment), he made a speedy exit from the scene of battle, stole some clothes from various washing-lines and made ruthless use of his undoubted charm – particularly with the ladies – to get as far away as possible.
Some weeks later, he arrived back in England via the Forest of Dean. It was his intention to make his way to Herefordshire and join his uncle, Sir Gilbert Hill. Sir Gilbert had raised a force to protect his interests in the Golden Valley and Ronnie felt confident his experience would persuade his uncle to welcome him into that force. The fact that Sir Gilbert was fighting on the opposite side to the BUF did not deter Ronnie in the slightest. He was no fascist, he was first and foremost, an adventurer, although in truth, he did love a sharp uniform. In fact, it was the uniform which led him to join the BUF. Once in the ranks, he threw himself into his soldiering and soon became an officer. In this, his part-aristocratic background helped as well; the aggressively egalitarian and plebian BUF hierarchy were no less susceptible to a toff than anyone else.
Once back in England, Ronnie was able to relax and take stock of his situation. Meandering vaguely in the direction of Herefordshire, he found himself one night in a pub in Ross-on-Wye, sharing a few pints with a couple of off-duty coppers. If he’d chosen to, he could have reached his uncle Gilbert’s estate in the south of Herefordshire but something had prevented him making his way directly there although he didn’t know what it was. So, he was skirting round the borders of the county aimlessly and that was what brought him to Ross.
The policemen were chatting about life in general and the situation in Herefordshire which they felt was unsatisfactory. They began talking about the possibility of moving to Wiltshire – they’d heard there was a new Chief Constable there who held views closer to theirs. Ronnie was only half listening to them until he heard them mention the new Chief’s name.
“Sorry to interrupt chaps”, he said “What were you saying about the new chief in Wiltshire?”
“Er, he’s got the right idea about what the police should be doing and he’s really got the right idea about these Auxiliary Police units – nothing more than a load of BUF hooligans.”
Ronnie wasn’t flustered by this unflattering reference to his old comrades; his BUF career was in the past and he had no problem in wiping it from his memory when it suited him and he certainly never referred to it when talking to chance companions in a pub.
“Yes, of course,quite so but what did you say his name was again?” he said casually.
“Sir Albert Brock, friend of The Kings and down from London”
Ronnie couldn’t believe his ears but kept his astonishment from showing. ‘Friend of The King’s’ maybe but also a very good friend indeed of Lady Geraldine Bigsworth-Hill, Ronnie’s mother. Old Bertie “Badger” Brock – who’d have thought it?
Never one to waste an opportunity or time, Ronnie decided his future lay in Wiltshire and, by the end of the evening, so had his companions. So next day, Ronnie, Ted Mundy (ex-Herefordshire police sergeant – ex as of that morning) and Stan Crowther (also recently ex-Herefordshire police – a constable, in his case) piled into Ted’s old Bedford van and headed off to Wiltshire.
They arrived at police Headquarters late in the afternoon and Ted and Stan immediately applied to join the force and, having documentary proof of their previous experience, were welcomed with open arms – trained policemen were a valuable commodity in these troubled times. They were a little taken aback to learn that Ronnie also had business at HQ but he was reticent about sharing the nature of it with them and they were soon too busy going through the formalities of their enrolment to concern themselves with him any more.
Ronnie, not without difficulty, persuaded the desk sergeant to send his card up to the Chief Constable – he was not persuaded that Ronnie really was a close family friend of Sir Albert but he thought it best not to take a chance. When, as seemed likely, the message came back that Ronnie was unknown to the Chief, the sergeant would know what to do. He relished the prospect.
Thirty years in the force enabled the sergeant to fix his expression as a blank mask when the message he received from on high was: “Sir Albert says send the young gentleman up immediately”.
Ronnie was received very cordially by Sir Albert who was most anxious to have news of Lady Geraldine. Then over a couple of brandies, Ronnie told the tale of his recent exploits. Sir Albert harumphed mightily when he heard of Ronnie’s involvement in the BUF, an organisation the Chief Constable loathed with a passion. However, he intuitively realised that Ronnie was no fascist at heart and he was most interested in the active service the young man had experienced. He drew the meeting to a close with “Must get on; lot’s to do but let me have a think – I may have something for you, young feller. In the meantime, you must stay with me. I’ve got this great big house – goes with the job – with only me and the servants in it. Desk sergeant’ll tell you where it is. My man, Tremble, will look after you. You remember him? Been with me for years. Splendid fellow until 8 pm and then, of course, the effects of the wine – My Wine – take hold. Ah well, could be worse. Off you go then; I’ll see you later.”
Ronnie left police HQ with a strong impression that his fortunes were about to take a turn for the better……..