Saturday, December 09, 2023

Searching for PC Bodger

Back in the Fifties, before I was born, my mother worked as a secretary for the police in Somerset. Many of her stories of those days involved a particular officer: PC Bodger.

There was the time he stopped the Suffragan Bishop of Bath and Wells and his wife because their car was going so slowly. "What's the matter? You drunk or summat?"

My mother saw the resultant letter of complaint; "Such a lifelike imitation of the Gestapo one never thought to see in England."

And there was his finest hour: the opening of the Chew Valley Reservoir. 

The stories of his controlling the crowds with a megaphone - "Make way for Her Majesty the Queen" and "You boys! Stop playing with your balls there in the street" - went round the force.

So I thought I would see if I could find PC Bodger in the British Newspaper Archive. And it turned out that I could.

In July 1957 the Bristol Post reported that a George Chambers had received 12 months probation, subject to his seeking medical help, after being convicted of assaulting Bodger:

For Chambers Mr Roger Stokes recalled that at the original hearing the assaulted officer PC Jack Bodger, of Montacute, had said he had always known Chambers as a peaceful citizen, The assault been completely contrary to his character. Although he had been struck two blows, the officer said they caused him no injury.

Now I knew Bodger's first name and that he was a thoroughly decent sort.

So I was pleased to find that when he retired from the police in 1964, it was with the rank of Sergeant. There are several report from that time, and we learn that he had been variously stationed at Weston-super-Mare, Street, Minehead, Taunton, Montacute and Yeovil.

He also served in the Army between 1939 and 1945 with the Royal Tank Corps and the RASC Amphibious Corps.

But Sergeant Jack Bodger hadn't finished with public service. As a story from the Bristol Evening Post reveals, he served as Yeovil Town Council's macebearer from his retirement in 1964 until 1984.

In 1984 the new officeholder told the Post that Bodger's uniform fitted him, but the following year a report in the same paper said the council had been obliged to shell out for a larger one.

Clearly, it was hard to find a man of Jack Bodger's calibre.

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