Detective Inspector John Jago

When the Blitz starts, DI Jago is based at West Ham police station, where he’s assisted by Detective Constable Peter Cradock – not everything Jago might wish for, but, as they say, there’s a war on.

He’s 42 and a bachelor – he didn’t set out not to marry, but simply hasn’t found the right person. He left school at sixteen, and at eighteen was conscripted to fight in the British Army during the Great War. Two years later the war ended, and he had to find his way back into civilian society.

In 1919 he joined the Metropolitan Police and served as a uniformed constable until transferring to the Criminal Investigation Department. He was promoted to detective sergeant and later detective inspector. By 1940, he’s spent half his life in the Metropolitan Police.

When the bombs start to fall in September 1940 the police are more stretched than ever. Homes are destroyed, futures are wrecked, and people struggle to maintain as normal a life as possible.

Volunteers come forward in their thousands to serve as rescue workers, stretcher bearers, auxiliary police, firefighters and air raid wardens. The part-time soldiers of the Home Guard train to fight the expected invaders.

But not everyone turns out to be an everyday hero. For some, the dark hours of the blackout are the perfect cover for theft, violence, even murder. Crime doesn’t stop just because there’s a war on – and as duty calls him across East London and beyond, there’s no shortage of cases to keep DI Jago busy.

Photos: Newham Heritage and Archive collection. Used with permission.

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