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Because of the numbers of police officers serving overseas with their regiments during the First World War, the Wolverhampton Chief Constable increasingly relied on Special Constables to make up the numbers. This included bringing back older Constables from retirement and even, on 2 July 1917, asks the Watch Committee “for power to employ women patrols on the streets, or to do any other duty such as visiting Public Parks, Theatres, and particularly work among their own sex and juveniles.”

DX-1008 Special Police WomenWolverhampton Archives has a volume, beautifully illuminated and written by Violet Clinton, of the Wolverhampton School of Art, which lists the names of all the men and women who served as Special Constables during the period 1916-1919. The full list of women is available here, with the list of men here, but the first name solves a particular mystery: Hilda Hutchinson Smith. You may remember that I was looking for information on a Captain Hilda Neville Green, the Adjutant of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve in 1916. One of our volunteers found the baptism of a Hilda Mary Green, born 21 March 1892, in Highgate, the daughter of George William Frederick Neville Green, and it would appear that at some point she adopted one of her father’s names. In 1918, a Hilda M. N. Green married a Kenneth Hutchinson Smith on the Isle of Wight, so I believe this is the same lady, who obviously served as a Special Constable in Wolverhampton as well as serving with the Women’s Volunteer Reserve.

Her husband, who appears to have been Canadian, died at Oaken near Wolverhampton on 7 September 1945. The only further entry I have found for her is in the National Probate Calendar for 1980, which has the following entry:

SMITH, Hilda Mary otherwise Hilda Mary Hutchinson of Cherry Tree Cottage Hinton Bank Farm Whitchurch Salop died 14 April 1980 Probate Birmingham 17 July £26141