Police Sergeant Thomas Richards
Carmarthenshire Police Helmet Plate c.1920
The Amman Valley Chronicle, in it's 25th June, 1936 edition, carried an article announcing the retirement of Police Sergeant Thomas Richards and gave us an insight into his career.
He joined the Carmarthenshire Constabulary in 1895 and during his career was stationed at Llandeilo, Llanelly, Pontyberem, Saint Clears and Ferryside. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in April 1919, before being transferred to Cwmamman, where he took up his posting in May of the same year.
During his time in the police force, Sergeant Richards performed his duty in a variety of locations and situations, including the tithe sales and industrial disputes in the Rhondda and Carmarthenshire. Edward VII's visit to Aberystwyth and Swansea, as both Prince of Wales and later, King, saw Sergeant Richards in attendance at the locations and he was on duty at Llanelly for the visit of King Edward VIII.
During the 17 years that Sergeant Richards had charge of Cwmamman, he encountered a wide range of experiences, some of which were extremely unpleasant. He was on duty with another officer; Constable Thomas, on the night that Thomas Thomas was murdered at the Star Stores in 1921. He and Constable J. Thomas were the first Police Officers at the scene of the crime.
In February of 1927, at a special sitting of Ammanford
Court, Police Sergeant Richards gave evidence against a labourer named
George Williams of no fixed abode. His evidence included the following
statement: "I have never met a more violent prisoner in the whole
of my experience."
Christmas did not cause Sergeant Richards to neglect his duty and the consumption of too much alcohol by some of the young men of the village did not go unnoticed by the dedicated officer when they became unruly. The Ammanford Police Court in January 1933, heard how Sergeant Richards saw a young man staggering around on Cwmamman Road. The Sergeant did not immediately arrest the man, despite his inebriated condition, but ordered him and his friends to be on their way, allowing them to head off down the road. Alas, the young group drew the attention of Sergeant Richards again 15 minutes later, when they caused a nuisance by bumping into the crowd of people who were coming from a singing festival. This time the young misbehaver was reported by the Sergeant, before the officer allowed him to catch a bus home. The court showed leniency towards the young man as it was Christmas and he was let off with having to pay only the costs of bringing the case to court.
The following day, the proprietor of the Globe Inn, Garnant was not so lucky when he and his barmaid were reported for selling intoxicating drink during non-permitted hours. Sergeant Richards entered the Globe Inn at 11:30 am on Boxing Day and asked the proprietor whether there were any men there. He admitted that there were. The Sergeant walked through to the back kitchen and saw evidence of drinking, but no customers; these having made a hasty departure. The barmaid admitted serving five men and was charged with aiding and abetting. The proprietor protested to Sergeant Richards, accusing him of taking advantage of the holiday. The court imposed a fine on both the proprietor and his accomplice.
Tales of drunken misdemeanours or serving alcohol outside permitted hours may seem trivial today, when alcohol related crime is so abundant. Some events that required Sergeant Richards attention were, however, extremely distressing. In August of 1933, he was called to attend to a suicide victim at 6:40 am, when the postmaster at Garnant mortally wounded himself with a revolver. Sergeant Richards found the man still alive and tried his best to make him comfortable until the local doctor arrived. His duties then demanded that he investigate the possible reason for the man's actions and to give detailed evidence at the inquest. What would have made the policeman's task more emotionally difficult, is that he and the postmaster would have almost certainly known each other well.
In 1935, Police Sergeant Thomas Richards received the King George Jubilee Medal.
The 25th June 1936, edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle reported on his retirement and stated that Police Sergeant Richards intended to remain in the neighbourhood afterwards. Unfortunately his wife had died the previous December. The article stated that he had carried out his duties with care and judgement and described him as popular with all classes. The Ammanford Police Court eulogised his services at it's 26th of June, 1936 sitting. On the 30th June, 1936, a meeting of the Cwmamman Urban Council was held at the Workmen's Hall, Garnant. There, the Chairman wished the "popular" officer continued good health for the remainder of his days. Mr. G. Tracy Phillips, the Clerk, described Sergeant Richards as a charming gentleman.
Thomas Richards' replacement was Police Sergeant Rees of Tycroes.
The above information was taken from the Amman
Valley Chronicle. Thanks to Ross Mather for the photograph of the
Carmarthenshire Police helmet plate. Ross Mather's collection of police
memorabilia can be viewed at: