"As a police officer you’ll always be wanted and necessary"
Stanley Kirby served in the Metropolitan Police from 1938-68 and recently celebrated his 100th birthday, just like the Police Federation.
He recalled how it was his father who had given him a nudge to choose a career in policing.
“I was in a dead-end job and looking to do something else,” Stanley said. “So, I thought about the Post Office and the army, and he said, ‘what about the police?’. Well the girl next door was being courted by a policeman and I thought that’s not a bad idea.”
Stanley applied to Scotland Yard and received a book on joining the police. He saw photos of Peel House and the students there.
At the outbreak of World War Two the police was a reserved occupation, so it wasn’t until 1942 when all policemen under the age of 35 were given instructions to enlist – Stanley joined the navy. He finished his military service in 1946 as a Regulated Petty Officer and returned to policing.
“The uniform had changed, and the jacket was now a tunic – a ghastly thing. It was like a corset,” Stanley recalled. “There were no pockets and at the back were two flaps for your pocket book or sandwiches. That was the only means we had of carrying anything.
He thought briefly about giving up the job, but a respected senior officer talked him out of it, telling him “you have 10 years’ service – you’ll always be wanted and necessary”.
Stanley has a fond memory of guarding a diamond necklace belonging to the future Queen Elizabeth. He said: “I was given a pistol and instructed that if anyone attempts to move that necklace ‘shoot them and ask questions later’.”
If he had his life over again Stanley would still choose the police for “job security and comradeship”.