Letters

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Parish Bounds

I see that in Robert Storch's article on `The Old English Constabulary' (November 1999) he states that, `Finally, in 1872 parish constables were abolished by statute'.

Particularly since parish councils were created in 1894, I have found many instances where this appears not to have been the case. For instance, in Buckinghamshire it was reported in March 1945 (Bucks Free Press) that `It became incumbent on the villages to make these appointments under the Parish Constables Act 1872'. Applications for exemptions from this necessity were `regularly on the agenda of the Bucks Quarter Sessions'. Four parishes had at that time recently applied. The Chairman, Lord Justice Mackinnon, said that `he supposed the time would come when every parish would seek such exception. He had never heard such applications opposed ...'

Beaconsfield Urban District Council discussed applications for exemption in January 1948, and in April 1949, when granting another such exemption, Sir Norman Birkett said the parish councilconcerned considered the constables to be `redundant and an anachronism'.

Desmond Keen

Great Missenden, Bucks

FANY's and Dreadnoughts

I wonder whether anyone could give me some direction in my quest for information regarding the FANY's -- First Aid Nursing Yeomanry -- which recruited volunteers for service in England and overseas during the Second World War and possibly much earlier. A young lady of my acquaintance joined the group in 1943 and was in Cairo in 1944. I have never seen it mentioned in History Today or other UK publications to which I subscribe.

May I mention that Barbara Yorke ended her article (`The Most Perfect Man in History', October 1999) with a reference to `the launch of a new Dreadnought, HMS King Alfred'. King Alfred was classified as a cruiser and construction may have commenced in 1901, but she was not completed until 1903. The battleship Dreadnought was completed in 1906 under a strict code of secrecy and every other battleship in the world became obsolete.

It appears that King Alfred survived the Great War but not the breaker's hammer.

A.J. Fry

Ontario, Canada

Flying over the Enemy

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's achievement was perhaps even more remarkable than David Rooney suggests (`A German Guerrilla Chief in Africa', November 1999). Whereas the Germans had no aircraft in Africa from early 1916, the British army had the assistance of No. 24 (South Africa) Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.

Although obsolete, the aircraft used (BE2c's and Henri Farman's) were very useful for reconnaissance purposes and allowed the British commanders to keep in touch with the enemy and with each other. The aircraft also carried out bombing raids. Initially, the army was very sceptical about the value of air support and in February 1916 sacrificed the lives of many men at Salaita Hill near Mt Kilimanjaro because they ignored aerial observation reports. …