Manhunt on the Downs πŸ”‰

Long Furlong, Looking North, Patching

Margaret Scourfield Davies lived at Myrtlegrove Farm and in the interview she recalls a manhunt that took place on the Downs around Myrtlegrove (between Findon and Patching) in May 1934.


A burglar named Hills robbed a house in High Salvington. The police were alerted. Two policeman in a car were driving along the Long Furlong road (now A 280) when they spotted the suspect by the entrance to Tolmare Farm. They got out of the car to question the man. However Hills drew a gun and shot one of the officers. P.C. Jex. It was the middle of the night and dark and Hills easily made his escape.

Over the next few days the police scoured the Downs but could not find their man. Captain Bendtick Budd, leader of the British Union of Fascists in Worthing organised his own manhunt, with his blackshirted followers conducting their own search for the fugitive.

Hills was eventually run to ground in Patching Woods where he was shot dead. The police later claimed he shot himself; but Vic Jacobs, a local cowman I interviewed in 1987 was convinced that the police shot him.

PC Jex recovered from his wound and later ran Jex newsagent in Broadwater for many years.

Listen to Margaret’s own lively interview and see what you think!