Play / pause Ralph Freeman

Ralph Freeman

  • Joshua Levine


When Ralph Freeman was born in Sunderland in 1917

that city had a thriving Jewish community.

Ralph's parents came from Poland

and he qualified as a solicitor

shortly before the outbreak of war.

Once war began, Ralph continued to pursue the law,

but in a very different direction, because in mid 1940,

the RAF Security School was established

at Halton, in Buckinghamshire,

and that's where Ralph trained to counter the threat

from sabotage and espionage.

After that school, he moved to London,

which was one of 13 RAF police districts around the country.

Now, the RAF Police was dealing with

all manner of crime prevention and security matters,

from guarding the senior Nazi Rudolf Hess,

after his flight to Scotland,

to investigating the murders and attempted murders

of the RAF Cadet serial killer, Gordon Cummins,

to keeping Operation Chastise secret

while tests were made and practice runs were flown.

These were the varied responsibilities of the RAF Police.

In London, Ralph was dealing with

a very wide range of offences committed by

the ever-growing number of RAF personnel,

and these ranged from military offences, like desertion,

to criminal matters like theft and assault.

And as the war drew on,

Ralph became a plain clothes detective

in the RAF Police's Special Investigative Branch,

and as large numbers of American troops arrived in Britain

he began working in tandem with the American authorities.

So by the end of the war,

the RAF Police was a very large organization.

It contained something like 500 officers

and over 20,000 NCOs.

It had members based in the Middle East,

and it provided operational support across the world.

Ralph meanwhile, had met his wife, Sylvia,

at the Balfour Services Club in Portland Place in London.

Now this was a club for Jewish servicemen and women

of all ranks and nationalities.

It offered accommodation, it served kosher food,

it put on dances, films and discussions, and interestingly,

there seemed to have been more Canadian members

than any other nationality,

as well as about 15% non-Jewish members.

Now, after the war,

Ralph and Sylvia went to live in Australia for a while

before returning to London

where Ralph started his own law firm.

He remained within the law

in one capacity or another throughout his life.

He died in 1962, aged only 45 years old.

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