I expected we would both be sent to the same place, and all systems go. No such luck. He was sent to Stockton which was one bus ride. I was sent to Consett, which was two bus rides and was given some very poor lodgings to live in during the week. We did see each other at weekends when I got home late on Saturday afternoon until I had to leave early Monday morning.

The lodgings were so poor that my doctor said I would have to move as I was not getting fed properly. The route to the office was along a colliery road, under a bridge, which was prone to flooding. I would pick up speed on my cycle and go through with legs in the air, making quite a bow wave. It was fine on the morning, but in the evening it was dark and I only had a dim cycle lamp. Once some ‘kind’ person had placed a number of stepping stones just below the water line! It was like riding over railway sleepers when both my tyres were punctured.

The appointment of police cadet was, in fact, an assistant to the police war department. We took care of any fire arms that had to be handed in and supplied about 1,000 Special Constables with gas masks, helmets etc and kept them informed of any wartime developments.

We were also responsible for the pigeon post! Yes – pigeon post. This was in case of radio failure. One busy Saturday morning, we walked across the market square and released some pigeons, apparently with some urgent messages in small containers on their legs. I was sent on night classes for typing and short-hand, taught Morse code and first aid. I went to my first post-mortem where everybody thought I would keel over. ‘Where’s the heart? What’s that bit for?’ I asked. The pathologist explained everything and the Union man was satisfied that the miner had died of coal dust on his lungs.

On occasions I was attached to the Home Guard for rifle shooting etc and once we were instructed by a regular soldier in unarmed combat. We were shown how to attack a sentry from the rear, by hitting him in the kidney, putting an arm around his neck, pulling him to the ground and then hitting him hard. We then had to pair off and practice. ‘When you get them down, show them you mean it by really banging their heads’. One man nearly fainted – his opponent’s hair had come off! We all fell about laughing, much to the discomfort of the ‘opponent’, who did however see the funny side later.