Manhunt on the Downs πŸ”‰

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.

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

 

A recollection

From Richard Howell:

“Thanks for the link to your website. I was particularly interested in your piece about the manhunt on the Downs, as in your interview with the lady, the policeman she refers to who borrowed a horse to hunt for the killer, was my uncle, Cecil Morris. He was married to my father’s sister, Doris and was the village bobby in Findon at that time. I remember him relating this story to me many, many years ago, how a man had been shot and how he had ridden a horse across the Downs looking for the culprit. I particularly remember it because he mentioned PC Jex, and living near Broadwater, I knew Jex’s newsagents well.

Uncle Cecil was an interesting character, who could always tell a good yarn. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps at the age of 16, having lied about his age, and then joined the police after the end of World War I. Apparently he pioneered the use of motor cars for the police, but never rose above the rank of sergeant because he couldn’t be bothered to take the necessary exam for promotion to Inspector!”

Note: The man being hunted, the burglar, Hills, had shot PC Jex, but not killed him

 

Chris Hare