Search

Remembering 'Telephone Jack' and his razor gang...

As an 18-year-old wounded soldier returning from the Front, John Davies came into Birmingham via train back in 1917. He thought the city looked friendly and the nurses were kind, and he vowed to come back one day. Four years later he returned from his native Wales and joined the Birmingham City Police.

Initially posted to the C Division with its headquarters on Kenyon Street, John later joined the CID. Upon his retirement some 35 years later, he recollected there were areas of the city's streets back in the early days of his career that officers dared not walk alone. In an interview with the Birmingham Despatch in July 1956 he said "It was not a question of whether you would be in a fight on a Saturday night, but how many fights." Jack remembered dealing with the likes of notorious 'Telephone Jack' and his razor gang, who terrorised racecourses around the country and were involved in the Epsom racecourse battle. Throughout the 1920s gangs on the racecourses had become a real problem with different groups vying for territory and making the lives of punters and stall holders a misery. They would force the bookies to pay ridiculous sums of money for basic items such as chalk or a sponge for the blackboard (even if they already had these items), or charge them for 'protection' from other gangs, with the imminent threat of violence of they refused.


During WWII John was the chief inspector in charge of alien registration in the city and helped to classify enemy aliens: people born outside the UK thought to pose a potential security threat to the country during wartime.


After the war he led a special fraud squad - one case concerning fraudulent wartime claims for bomb damaged buildings took eight judges the whole of three Assize sessions to deal with the proceedings!

John dealt with many murder enquiries during his career - he kept a grisly reminder of one wartime murder in his office in the police band headquarters: a walking stick. During a blackout in Kings Norton a lady was murdered and the walking stick found nearby. Officers managed to identify that the offender had a limp and on which leg, just from the stick itself. This crucial evidence led to the arrest and conviction of Eli Richards for murder.


It was stated in the newspaper article that John hoped to take up a Government appointed following his retirement from the police.

176 views2 comments

© 2020 West Midlands Police Heritage Project

  • Facebook B&W
  • Twitter B&W
  • Instagram B&W