PC Arthur Battle
Throughout this teaching module, we will be relying heavily on the memoirs of Arthur Battle. Battle’s memoir is one of the most comprehensive texts written about policing in 1930s London. According to a letter written in March 1978, Battle wrote the manuscript, 'This Job's Not Like it used to Be', around 1966. Battle was born during the Edwardian period on 20 August 1907. Like the majority of London policemen, he was not native to the capital; he was born in Bedfordshire. Prior to joining the police, he was employed as a clerk - the second largest occupational pool of recruitment for the force in 1927 – before seeking work as a policeman. Like others in the period, he wanted job security. Being posted initially to the 'N' (Islington) Division in north London in 1929, he was transferred to the 'G' (Finsbury) Division in 1931 where he worked for most of the decade. See the map above showing the 1928 divsions.
Taking and failing his sergeant exam twice, Battle served as a constable for the rest of his career, retiring in 1954 after 25 years of service. Battle's Central Record of Service notes that his conduct was 'exemplary', and he was commended in May 1949 for 'affecting the arrest of a troublesome housebreaker'.
Battle's memoir provides us with the recollections and opinions of a 'bobby on the beat'. It was typed in simple English, and hence is easy to read. Moreover, it is a coherent and comprehensive document; themes raised in the text, such as policing working-class street behaviour, will be linked to other documents across time that make up the eclectic Metropolitan Police Historical Collection.