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Bletchley historian John Taylor continues his look at life in the area during World War II

Gunfight at Woughton
Ye Olde Swan pub-associations with Dick Tirpin were perhaps appropriate for Woughton-on-the-Green, in view of a latter-day 'highway assault' in the early days World War II .

Sunday Citizen August 18, 2002

A23 Windsor Street, Bugs Bunny must have thought birthday time had arrived rather early, for having won second prize in a rabbit show at Watford, his owner had now decided to offer him up for stud.

Indeed, a fate far more deserving than that which befell many of his furry brethren, scampering around the local fields, for with rationing firmly estab¬lished as a way of everyday life, rabbits were becoming an important supple¬ment to the available food.

Classed as vermin, from the damage they caused to essential crops, unskinned examples could fetch 7'/2d (3p| per lb, while the skinned vari¬ety commanded an extra tuppence.


However, it was not only gun-toting farmers stalking the local hedgerows, for on mobile patrol between Newport Pagnell and Bletchley, the local copper also became a mite perturbed when bullets started winging in his direction.

Some days previous, the police had circulated the details of a wanted man, and the police constable on duty near Woughton-on-the-Green, Pc Snarey, noticed a man resembling the descrip¬tion crouching in a field.

Immediately he attempted an arrest, but a gunshot suggested perhaps the suspect was none too keen on the idea and a chase then ensued.

During the pursuit Pc Snarey exchanged several shots with the fugitive, but after a mile or so the man then crossed the River Ouzel and escaped.

However, a war reservist constable had raised the alarm and with the entire North Bucks police force now mobilised, the search resumed, assisted by the Home Guard and military units armed with machine guns.

Reportedly aged between 35 and 40 and 5ft 8ins tall, the man was said to be wearing the uniform of a Scottish officer and all lorries travelling along the main road were stopped and searched.

At Simpson bridge, drivers found themselves confronted with fixed bayonets but even so one driver unwisely took uppance and had his attitude problem then corrected at the police station, where his credentials were checked.

Also at the police station, on the Sun¬day the Chief Constable of Bucks held a long conference with Superintendent Bryant and Inspector Merry and with an armed guard placed at the gate, prolonged telephone conversations took place with the authorities in London.

Yet this was not the only instance of gun law, for a young lady was wounded when the car in which she was travelling came under fire from the Home Guard, having ignored an order to stop. No doubt these were jittery times, but in conclusion it would perhaps be best not to dwell upon the consequent laundry bill when several Bletchley residents were suddenly startled by the stately progress of an old crock proceeding along Bletchley Road in a series of loud backfires!