Across the country around 130,000 special constables acted as wartime police reserves. Some performed this duty full time while others gave hours when able around their other responsibilities. During WWII, they were trained to respond to a range of extreme eventualities including aircraft crashes and unexploded bombs; some of this training is captured here, featuring Hitchin’s Special Constabulary; captured by amateur filmmakers.
The activities of Hitchin's special constabulary units during World War II; includes action from the firing range; the Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) unit in training, learning to contain and extinguish incendiary bombs; and, female ARP volunteers pose for the camera. Returning to the firing range, a competition is held to find the best shot, with the 'Specials' taking out the cups. The Special Constabulary parade and lay wreaths at the First World War memorial, and we see St Mary's Church in Hitchin. Also shown is a model of the village used for training, footage of the daily life of volunteers working on farms, examples of unexploded incendiaries and incendiary damage and a programme and photos from a dinner honouring the volunteers. The film concludes showing the 'Specials' football team, and a ‘special’ showing funds raised.
The East Anglian Film Archive, the first and largest Regional Film Archive in England, was established in 1976. Since 1984, EAFA has been owned and operated by the University of East Anglia, Norwich (UEA), to support research and work to preserve our moving image heritage. More than 250 hours are freely available online as examples of the wide range of film which attracts interest the world over.