A FORMER policeman whose interest in history grew after compiling his own family tree, has unveiled a memorial in honour of all the Thames Valley officers who died in the First World War.

During a recent exhibition and ceremony at the Thames Valley Police open day, the families of police who were killed in action were each given a poppy to commemorate their lives.

The event was the culmination of months of research by former police officer Tony Keep, who felt the need to commemorate the services efforts in the war.

He said: “The aim of the research was like everything else, this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One and to focus in on that is very suitable.

“When this came up, I thought why don’t we do something positive and the force has taken it on, as a volunteer it costs the force nothing.

“By doing it I traced the 49 officers who were killed and I have also traced 324 officers who were from the whole forces that actually volunteered or were called to duty.”

He added: “A lot of police officers who joined had previous military experience which wasn’t a problem unless there was a conflict.

“What happened on August 4, when war was declared, all those with previous military experience were recalled to the colours.”

As well a host of names from Reading and Oxford, there were also a number of people from the High Wycombe Police Station who went to fight, including a Sgt Williams.

Mr Keep said this man was one of many men who felt the need to volunteer to serve for their county.

He added: “Sgt Williams served for two years and a few months with the Grenadier Guards, but he left and joined the police.

“He did very well in High Wycombe and got promoted to Sergeant but then this married man with four children decided to volunteer and rejoined the Guards.

“He got promoted through the ranks and was then recommended for commission when he joined the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry around 1916 but he was then killed in action at the end of 1917.

“His fifth child was born in 1918, and she never saw her father, he never saw her, and he left behind his wife with five children, but that was something which was happening regularly.”

Although admitting to finding the research tiring, Mr Keep said he was pleased to look back through history and recognise these officers.

The memorial to these men is currently on display at the Thames Valley Police Museum in Sulhamstead, Reading.