Rymer-Jones, John Murray (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 10699
Department
Sound
Production date
1989
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 710, Number Of Items 24
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

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Object description

British officer served with 174th Bde Royal Field Artillery on Western Front, 1916; served with Y40 Trench Mortar Bty on Western Front, 1916-1917; served with 74th Bde Royal Field Artillery on Western Front and in Germany, 1917-1919; served in Ireland, 1920-1921; worked as senior officer with Metropolitan Police in London, 1934-1943;served as Inspector General of Palestine Police, 1943-1946; worked as senior officer with Metropolitan Police in London, 1946-1948

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Blackheath, London, 1897-1910: family history and circumstances; health problems; education at preparatory school in Margate. Education as boarder at Felsted School, 1910-1914: morning routine; initial problems in acclimatisation; concentration on classics and dislike of Greek; question of corporal punishment; friend; failed attempts through illness to pass Woolwich entrance examinations, 1914; OTC activities; story of reactions of crowds in London on outbreak of war, 4/8/1914; failed attempts through illness to pass Woolwich entrance examinations, 1914. REEL 2 Continues: Recollections of period at Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, 7/1915-1/1916: success in passing entrance exams; commission into Royal Artillery; nature of training; question of personal morale of recruits and opinion of high command. Attending gunnery course at Shoeburyness, 1/1916: meteorological corrections; training in role as forward observation officer; question of ineffectiveness of shrapnel shells; story illustrating difference between theoretical and practical gunnery; reactions to news of Battle of Jutland, 1/6/1916; problems with Royal Navy gunnery. Period with training unit at Brighton, 1/1916-5/1916: training drivers on South Downs; visits to London theatres. Background to posting with other Woolwich trained regular officers to raise standards after poor gunnery reports exercises for 4.5 howitzer Bty of 174 Bde, Royal Artillery attached to 40th Div, 5/1916. Recollections of period in Vermelles sector, Bethune area, 6/1916-7/1916: voyage out and initial billets; role of officer's servant and food rations; review of Loos offensive, 9/1915; opinion of Siegfried Sassoon; personal morale; question of absence of German shelling on mining villages; gun position camouflage. REEL 3 Continues: gun position layout; role as forward observation officer at observation post; occasional German shellfire; shortage of ammunition; volunteering to join trench mortars. Recollections of period at Trench Mortar School at St Pol, 6/1916: nature of British 'toffee apple' trench mortars; absence of practice firing; questions relating to film of mortar shell explosion included in 'Battle of Somme' film; assembly of mortar; attachment to mortar unit in Hohenzollern Redoubt sector; noise of preliminary bombardment prior to Somme offensive; nature of mortar pit; collecting unexploded German minenwerfer shells. Posting to Y40 Trench Mortar Bty attached to 40th Div at Murocq and Colonne sectors, 6/1916-10/1916: infantry officers attached to battery; German 'pineapple' mortar shells; story of shell shock symptoms after close escape from minenwerfer blast; British Stokes mortars; question of staff officers' role in planning trench raids to identify opposing German units; effectiveness of trench mortars in clearing barbed wire. REEL 4 Continues: story of successful demonstration trench mortar shoot against German front line from support line mortar pits; policy of refusing to fire without reason to avoid German counter-fire on infantry; role of officer of Sherwood Foresters carrying out solo raids to identify opposing German units; story of futile trench raid on Double Crassier; review of situation during Loos offensive, 9/1915; question of use of trench mortars against German snipers; activities of British sniper; story of using trench mortars to bring down tower occupied by German sniper; rat problem and opinion they caused trench fever; lice problem; stories illustrating relationship with NCOs and other ranks; unit establishment; relationship with infantry officers. REEL 5 Continues: enjoyment of lifestyle; visits to cafes in Bethune; story illustrating relationship with French civilians, morning tea; stories illustrating opinion of CRA Oswald 'Paddy' Reid VC and his assistant Tim Pyle; explosion of trench mortar and bomb store whilst testing silencer attachment; GB leave. Recollections of period in Somme area, 10/1916-3/1917: situation and conditions of service; role guarding Headquarters, 40th Div at Maurepas Ravine; care of horses; effects of winter conditions; latrines; brief attachments to field artillery batteries; view of troops faking attack for film cameraman, 2/1917. REEL 6 Continues: story of being filmed by cameraman during advance following German withdrawal to Hindenburg Line at Peronne, 3/1917; background to hospitalisation with dysentery in dressing station; reactions to being invalided as stretcher case back to GB despite recovery, 4/1917; question of role of trench mortars and introduction of Stokes mortar; reception at Charing Cross Station. Period at No 3 General Hospital, Wandsworth, London, 4/1917: relationship with Australian officers; second hand reports of Australian troops misconduct in Egypt; unofficial recreational visits to London. Period of convalescence, 5/1917-7/1917: stay at Great Central Hotel, Marylebone, London; visits to various matinee shows including 'Cheap'; continued problems with health; posting to light duties at Royal Artillery Depot, Woolwich; ruse to secure early draft to France. Recollections of period with 18 pdrs of A Bty, 74th Bde Royal Field Artilleryattached to Guards Div by Yser Canal, Ypres area, 7/1917-10/1917: initial posting to unit in 20th Div; lack of officers through casualties immediately before arrival; presence of Prince of Wales at Headquarters, Guards Div. REEL 7 Continues: neighbouring French troops and question of effects of mutinies, 1917; replacement officers; death of former school friend; ammunition supply; opinion of commanding officer Colonel Charles Vickery; opinion of signallers; French 75mm guns; standards of conduct expected by Vickery from officers; buying books for officers' mess; removal of German corpse from OP established at Wijendaft pillbox; tactical value of German pillboxes in neutralising British barrages; muddy ground conditions; opinion of tactics and problem with use of shrapnel during Ypres offensive, 1917; account of role as Forward Observation Officer moving into Steenbeek Valley during advance on Langemarcke, 4/10/1917, including method of maintaining communications, role of signallers in repairing telephone lines, gun positions and German counter-battery fire. REEL 8 Continues: moving into front lines and reporting to Lieutenant Colonel Alexander commanding 1st Bn Irish Guards, 3/10/1917, including decision to accompany assault company over top to get best possible liaison with advancing troops, preliminary barrage, attack at 05.00, treatment of casualty, capture of pillbox, sending corrections and details of newly established front line back to battery and use of guns to break up German counter-attack from Houthulst Forest; advance of gun position to Steenbeek. Recollections of period in Steenbeek gun positions, 10/1917-11/1917: story of meeting Prince of Wales, shells dropping short in his vicinity and discovery that Belgian battery was responsible; opinion of Prince of Wales; effects of German mustard gas shells; accommodation in Purity Chateau Pillbox; supply situation including ammunition and food rations; increased cigarette smoking and belief it helped alleviate gas symptoms; casualties. REEL 9 Continues: question of state of morale; question of shell shock; story of treating wounded driver; story of special evening meals held by Vickery for his junior officers at HQ dugout pillbox; effects of gas shells and hospitalisations during move to Cambrai area, 11/1917. Convalescence at hotel in Cap Martin, 11/1917. Aspects of operations in Cambrai area, 11/1917: rejoining unit; opinion of situation; role of Guards Brigade in stemming retreat and stopping German counter-attack. Recollections of period in gun positions in Death Valley, Arras area, 11/1917-3/1918: situation; OP duty; story of attending evening meal held by Vickery and Royal Flying Corps officer at HQ dugout at Fampoux. REEL 10 Continues: war situation; period attached to 2nd Div; opinion of divisional morale and reports of self inflicted wounds; ineffectual camouflage of guns positions and role of Brigadier Willis in ordering digging well camouflaged sunken gunpits in readiness for German offensive; move south on German offensive in Somme area, 21/3/1918. Recollections of operations, 3/1918-4/1918: problems of gun positions in mustard field; infantry positions; looting abandoned canteen; liaison and OP duties attached to 1st Bn Welsh Guards including story illustrating importance of company in maintaining personal morale and story of meeting friend in front line; letter and parcel contact with GB; liaison duties with 1st Bn Grenadier Guards and stories illustrating military enthusiasm of Colonel John Gort; changes in artillery tactics; opinion of US troops; review of situation following German offensive, 3/1918-4/1918,including question of effect on German morale of British supply dumps and question of Allied response. REEL 11 Continues: review of situation following German offensive, 3/1918-4/1918, including reports of role of artillery in breaking up over confident German attack in Arras area, changes in defensive tactics and state of morale British conscript troops. Recollections of advance, 8/1918-11/1918: introduction of flexible attacking tactics; disbelief in role of cavalry; problems caused by casualties amongst battery horses; periods commanding battery; story of officer's initial difficulty in adjusting to new problems of open warfare conditions; period acting as brigade adjutant; story of reconnaissance patrol including meeting isolated officer, reaction to German shells and story of seeing German soldiers shot by their own side whilst trying to surrender; story illustrating attitude of French civilians at Solesmes; story of slight knee wound from German shell shrapnel whilst at gun positions; local treatment of wound; story of officer's reaction to 'Blighty' wound; reactions to Armistice whilst at Mauberge airfield, 11/11/1918, including death of officer, 9/11/1918 and story of flying over battlefield at 11.00. Period at Charleroi, 11/1918-12/1918: treatment by Belgian civilians of female collaborators; question of German atrocities. Recollections of period in Cologne area, 12/1918-7/1919: question of fraternisation and relationship with German civilians. REEL 12 Continues: resentment amongst troops over having to pay on public transport and Plumer's actions to allow free transport; troops' refusal to parade through resentment over demobilisation arrangements; demobilisation arrangements made as adjutant and awareness of unemployment problems in GB status as Army of Rhine and precautionary march into open country prior to signing of peace treaty, ca 6/1919; horse riding activities and story of near accident during march past Plumer; question of British soldiers looting from German civilians; story of conversation with female German interpreter on conduct of German males; subsequent collapse of German economy. Period attending battery commanders course at Salisbury Plain and Shoeburyness, 7/1919. Period on postings at Swanage and Bulford, 1919-1920: background to decision to give up adjutant's posting in Germany; reactions to mechanisation process; attitude to hunting; minimal duties; question of wartime temporary rank and slow promotion prospects; loss of opportunity to serve in Sudan Defence Force due to engagement to be married. Period with 1st Bn, King's Own Liverpool Regt, Dublin, Ireland, 1920-1921: selection to act as infantry officer; posting as transport officer and riding horses in parks; guard duties; night curfew patrols; detachments to guard isolated police stations at Lucan. REEL 13 Continues: detachment to guard isolated police stations at Lucan and story of visit to Irish civilian suspected as Sinn Fein; raids on houses of Sinn Fein suspects including one belonging to former British officer and question of attitude to Home Rule for Ireland; Sinn Fein attacks on British officers on Bloody Sunday 1920; story of accompanying vehicles carrying officers corpses and attitude of Irish civilians and Black and Tans; confinement to barrack areas following Bloody Sunday; stories of failed attempts to capture Sinn Fein intelligence officer; opinion of Michael Collins; method of carrying out raids on suspects' houses following discovery of Sinn Fein nominal raids and nature of Sinn Fein activities; attitude to Sinn Fein and Home Rule. REEL 14 Continues: nature of Sinn Fein activities; attitude to Irish; story of failed attempts to capture Sinn Fein intelligence officer; opinion of Black and Tans and question of effect of their prior war service; question of postings; second hand reports of Irish crowds reactions to departure of troops. Recollections of period as Superintendent in command of Z Division of Metropolitan Police based at Croydon, 1935-1937: plans for anti-corruption drive; sporting activities designed to restore state of morale; problems in arranging royal escort on unexpected attendance by Mrs Simpson during Derby Day, 1936. Period as Chief Constable at Scotland Yard, 1937-1941: opinion of Sir George Abbiss; office role; taking over responsibility for emergency calls; preparations for air attacks; buying country cottage for family at Sandhurst, 8/1939; cancellation of mobilisation orders as regular officer due to responsibilities as senior police officer; outbreak of war and false alarm of air raid, 3/9/1939; moving in with aunts; distribution of police air raid sirens augmented by factory sirens; story of origins of accidental air raid alarm worsened by factory sirens and story illustrating reactions of civilians and air raid wardens; decision to suspend usage of factory sirens; viewing demonstration of radar; visits to Savoy Hotel; situation, 6/1940; orders to collect all guns from gunsmiths for army use and importance of registering original ownership; plans to use police stations to sign up Local Defence Volunteers, 6/1940. REEL 15 Continues: response to appeal for LDV volunteers; effects of German air raids and story of driving through raid; role as night senior duty officer; question of German air gas attacks; question of sound of air raid sirens and failed prototypes for replacement; role in preparing police buildings, clothing and equipment for war, 1939; effects of blackout; information room running emergency service; question of fascist sympathisers including Sir Oswald Mosley and Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII); state of civilian morale during German air raids; move to regional district, 1941; role of police during German air raids; question of effect of war on crime levels and looting; opinion of Sir George Abbiss. REEL 16 Continues: story of difficulties in getting across London during German air raid; change in character of German attacks, 4/1941; opinion of police organisation. Recollections of period as second in command of No 2 District based on Paddington Green Police Station, 1941-1942: reasons for accepting position; duties; story of exercise to stimulate bomb damage; review of various meetings with Julian Simpson; role at Cup Final at Wembley Stadium and story of meeting Ernest Bevin. Period working with Ministry of Labour, 1942: background to being assigned to attempt to recruit non-essential military personnel for labour force from Royal Navy; preparing report following first visit to Chatham dockyard; visits to various storage and secret establishments of Royal Navy and RAF across country. Recollections of period as Inspector General of Palestine Police, Jerusalem, Palestine, 8/1943-5/1946: qualifications and nature of selection interview; interview with Bishop of Jerusalem over question of appointment of parsons for Palestine Police; reasons for applying for position. REEL 17 Continues: historical origins of Arab/Jewish conflict in Palestine including biblical stories, attitude of Ben-Gurian to problems, role of T E Lawrence and promises made to both sides during First World War; personal attempt to take even handed approach; background to Arab revolt and British reprisals, 1936-1939; question of subordination of Palestine Police to military and naval authorities for operations against Syria and Greek islands, senior army commanders including General McConnell; nature of relationship with senior officers of Palestinian civilian government including High Commissioner Harold McMichael and Attorney General Sir William Fitzgerald; story of reaction to police officer shooting barber for breaking curfew and refusal to tolerate such shootings; insistence on neutral approach to conflict; composition and mixed origins of Palestine Police. REEL 18 Continues: story of capture and escape of senior Jewish police officer; relationship with Jewish police officers; organisation of Palestine Police including formation of Desert Patrol and role of Criminal Investigation Department; relationship with Ben-Gurian and his moderate influence; question of change in British policy towards Jewish immigration in Palestine, 1939; assassination campaign launched by Jacob Stern Gang; discovery of bomb close to Palestine Police headquarters; role of Begin and Irgun Gang; British encouragement of Jewish Hagenar groups during Arab revolt, 1936-1939; increasing anti-British attitude of Hagenar groups; supportive role of Ben-Gurian and Jewish Agency; relationship with Jewish Settlement Police; question of Churchill's attitude to Zionism; problem with shortage of men on promotion of officers into other police forces and lack of support from military authorities as end of war approached, 1945; role of Jewish Agency; question of Arab insurgents, organisations and leaders; opinion of Arab police staff; question of success in improving state of Palestine Police following arrival, 1943. REEL 19 Continues: question of increasing activities of Stern and Irgun Gangs, 1943-1946, including successful escape of Stern gang members from Latrun Internment Camp prior to arrival, 8/1943; success of street patrols in containing activities, assassination of police officer despite warnings to him to increase personal security, increased methods of defend police stations from attack, Irgun gang declaration of war on Palestine Police and increasing scale of attacks, 2/1944; Jewish Agency role in supplying political intelligence and question of direct infiltration of Jewish Agency; gradual development of close relationship with Ben-Gurian in attempt to stop Jewish Agency disseminating anti-Palestine Police propaganda; question of control of Jewish riots, 11/11/1945, including story illustrating nature of disturbances, policy of using only batons in suppressing riots, question of women in front rank in rioting crowd and comparison of Palestine Police treatment of rioters with contemporary Jewish treatment of Arab rioters; reasons for refusal to use Military Courts and death penalty against insurgents; question of moderate use of batons against rioters and successful dispersal of crowd; question of recruitment of former 'Black and Tans' on formation of Palestine Police. REEL 20 Continues: question of recruitment and conduct of former 'Black and Tans' on formation of Palsestine Police; aspects of shortage of police following end of war , 5/1945, including organisation of Potential Officers Training Unit for police sergeants, acceptance of loss of police sergeants offered rapid promotion in other colonial police forces, nature of training at Potential Officers Training Unit and high reputation of Palestine Police; visit to GB to try and get extra men for Palestine Police; background to formation of Palestinian Mobile Force; dispute with Chief Secretary Shaw over his concept of 'normality' illustrated by his refusal to allow bank building close to Palestine Police Headquarters to be requisitioned and consequent casualties in Irgun attack; intelligence warnings of plans by Begin to blow up King David Hotel from La Regence night club, 11/1945. REEL 21 Continues: CID intelligence warnings of plans by Begin to blow up King David Hotel from La Regence night club; rejection by Chief Secretary, GOC and High Commissioner of requests to close La Regence and for improved security arrangements for King David Hotel, 11/1945; rejection by authorities of further CID intelligence warnings of definite Irgun intention for attack on King David Hotel immediately prior to leaving Palestine, 5/1946; severe casualties and Shaw's reactions following bombing of King David Hotel, 7/1946; awareness of divisions between Christian and Muslim Arabs during visit to Lebanon; aspects of visits to Jordan including opinions of Sir John Glubb and King Abdullah; return of army personnel to Palestine and question of demobilisation. REEL 22 Continues: difficulty in persuading returned army personnel of changed circumstances and rise of Jewish insurgency; case of kidnapped and murdered British soldiers; background to Jewish attack on Palestine Police station and controversy over subsequent military execution of captured wounded Jewish insurgent Dov Gruner, 1947; question of changes in situation on mission with Police and Prisons Recruiting Commission to Palestine, 1/1948; story police officers foiling Jewish insurgents' attack on bus carrying Arabs from Hebron; question of changes in situation on mission with Police and Prisons Recruiting Commission to Palestine, 1/1948; question of Jewish massacres of Arabs, 1948; discovery of German attempt to stir unrest amongst Arab population, serious nature of situation and capture of German agent, 1944. REEL 23 Continues: capture and imprisonment of German agent, 1944; question of organisation of routine police work; murders caused by 'blood feuds' between families; pressures of shortage of policemen; mounted patrols in country; internal security role of PMF patrols; daily routine; problems with standing patrols during curfew; question of position as target; background to decision to give up responsibility for prisons; story of visit from Lord Gort including question of to number of prisoners per cell in Jerusalem Prison and his inspection of Latrun Internment Camp. REEL 24 Continues: story of visit from Lord Gort including his inspection of Latrun Internment Camp and his reaction to misbehaviour of Free Polish prisoners; one year extension of two year contract; problems in finding replacement as Inspector General (Palestine Police) prior to return to take up senior rank in Metropolitan Police; stories illustrating difficult relationship with Chief Secretary Shaw including questions of responsibility for stores and protection of oil pipeline.

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