Today would change our experience of the Miners’ Strike completely. We didn’t yet know it but we were about to be introduced to violence on the Picket Line for the first, but not the only, time.
This tour also introduced us to a slight change of tactics. We were now a Mobile Reserve being deployed to whichever pit needed our help.
This week we were deployed in sunny Derbyshire and, as was becoming remarkably boring, and predictable, breakfast was about to be interrupted again. We were breakfasting somewhere in Chesterfield when the news came over the tannoy that we were being sent to a pit (sorry, can’t remember the name) to assist one of our colleagues from Devon and Cornwall who had requested some assistance.
When we arrived and reported to the Ground Commander he pointed to a nearby slag heap with a number of striking miners on top of it, throwing things down. It seems that a lone PC from Devon and Cornwall had taken it upon himself to scale the slag heap and ask the miners to desist and come down. Not only did the miners fail to respond to the Devon and Cornwall Politeness Manual they threw the PC down for good measure.
“Go get ’em boys, get them miners down off there and move them away”
So for our first time in the Strike we got down to business and did what were trained to do. Not that you train to scale a slag heap, but we were trained in how to move a crowd and put them where we wanted them to go.
For some reason County bosses always liked the Met to do these little jobs. Whether it was because we had cause to use our training more frequently in London so it became more natural for us, or so that after the Strike the bosses could blame any problems on those bully boys from the Met I don’t know, but I suspect it’s the latter.
There ensued what I believe is known as a skirmish. At the end of it the miners were at the bottom of the slag heap and our Devon & Cornwall colleague was whole-heartedly thanking the Grockles for their timely intervention.
About half way back down the slag heap we encountered a miner, laying on the ground with his left leg protruding at a rather unnatural angle. Even to our inexpert eyes it didn’t look right. We offered to render some First Aid but his response was merely “thank you very much lads, but I’ll be alright, just leave me here”. So we left him where he had fallen, but on arrival at the bottom of the slag heap we did the honourable thing and called him an Ambulance
And so ended our introduction to violence on the Picket Lines. Our tours of duty were never going to be peaceful again.
To be continued………….