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Eulogy Senior Ass Comm Ted Sheriff

Former Senior Assistant Commissioner Edward (Ted) Sheriff passed away on 22 May 2024, aged 99 years, to the day. His passing was celebrated at the Barnstaple Crematorium on 10 June 2024. He was born at Kensington on 22 May 1925, a suburb for people who worked in Westminster which was 3 miles away. At the age of 16, he started his first job in a factory with the British Electrical Transformer Company which was 7 miles away at Hayes, Middlesex. After working in the factory for 8 months, he volunteered to join the Royal Airforce. As he was under 18, the Airforce wrote to his father to get his permission, which was granted. He joined a combined Australian and Royal Air Force Wellington bomber aircrew in 466 Squadron, based at Driffield, East Yorkshire and flew on bombing and mining operations. He also flew in a Lancaster bomber. After the war he trained as an aircraft fitter and came top of the course. However, he wanted to train as a parachute jump instructor, which was a three month course.

The day before the course commenced, he saw an advert for the British South Africa Police, in Rhodesia House. He was interviewed and accepted into the force, attesting on 28 April 1946, aged 21 years. He sailed to Durban, South Africa, with 95 colleagues on HMS Alcantara, a Royal Mail Lines ocean liner and former armed merchant cruiser and then troop ship from WW11. From there he travelled to Rhodesia on a three-day train journey. On arrival he travelled by donkey and cart to Morris Depot, the police training headquarters in Salisbury. Thus began his distinguished and exemplary police career.

Photographs. Assistant Air Force Advisor, London, WGCDR Leigh Dunnett presents Mr Sheriff with an award in recognition of his service; the award; close up of one of the awards, the Austroalian Airmans code; newpaper article explaining the event. The picture in the article is of Mr Sheriff's full crew.

This is a message from Bruce Braes, the President of the BSAP Regimental Association :

"Today, we gather to honour and celebrate the life of Ted Sheriff (4024), who until his passing was the “Senior Man” of the BSAP Regimental Association. A true officer and gentleman who dedicated his life to military and law enforcement service. Ted's journey was marked by bravery, dedication, and selfless service. During World War II, he risked his life as a gunner flying in a combined Royal Air Force  and  Royal Australian Air Force Lancaster and Wellington bombers, protecting our cherished freedoms.

He continued his service by joining the BSA Police, where he served for 29 distinguished years, embodying the highest ideals of honour, integrity, and commitment.

Ted's career spanned patrolling Matabeleland to leadership roles in Salisbury, Umtali, Que Que, and beyond. Rising to become a Senior Assistant Commissioner, his career achievements demonstrated his capabilities and tireless work ethic. As Chief Staff Officer of Operations, Ted helped guide the BSA Police through turbulent times with steady judgment and unwavering principles. Even after retiring in 1975, Ted continued to give back, training future generations at the Farmers' Co-op in Salisbury and actively participating in the BSA Police Association on his return to the UK.

Ted's life of service left an indelible legacy of uncompromising principles, selfless sacrifices, and lifelong devotion to duty. To his family and loved ones, we offer our deepest gratitude for sharing this remarkable man with us. May his memory be a blessing and his exemplary life a guiding light for future generations. Ted was a hero in every sense, and the world is better for his presence among us. Rest in peace, Sir."

On 5 May 1951, Ted married Beth (née Glasgo) and had two daughters:

  • Christine: children Kira and Quinton; great-grandchildren Keyan, Kyla, and Caitlin.

  • Margaret: children Emma and Bevan; great-grandson Declan.

Christine fondly remembers: "Before going to the Dominican Convent School Margaret and I would daily have to go to Dad ( who always read his paper), after breakfast and be "inspected" making sure our shoes were polished, no fluff on our blazers and hats. If there was the clothes- brush was at hand to rectify the imperfection.

When Kira and Quinton were young teenagers, Dad decided he'd like to learn to make desserts and, as I had many recipes, we spent happy hours together creating these delicious treats. Every few weeks we'd be invited over for fish, chips and peas then homemade icecream with either pecan pie, milk tart, doughnuts, lemon merangue pie, or other favourites."

There were many interesting aspects in Ted's career:

In 1947, he was part of a 30-man motorcycle procession for King George VI's visit to Rhodesia, and escorted Princess Margaret to an official function.

In 1953, he attended the Queens Coronation in London as part of the BSAP mounted escort, his horse was ironically named Teddy.

When Officer Commanding Salisbury Suburban, one evening he walked into the Avondale police station wearing civilian clothing. He announced himself to the patrol officer who was sitting with his feet up on a desk and said, “I am Mr Sheriff” and the patrol officer replied, “Oh yes, and I am Wyatt Earp”! Ted, along with many senior police officers and the Commissioner of Police, was progressive in his thinking and urged the government to merge the police force and establish equal pay and working conditions for African and European policemen, but to no avail.

Ex-Superintendent Jim O’Toole recalls Ted driving a grey non-mine-protected police Renault 4 along numerous dangerous dirt roads in order to liaise with his men on bush-war duties. With energy of purpose and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Ted always believed in taking the same risks as the men under his command in the operational areas.

On a visit to the UK, he discovered that his father was unable to retire as he did not have sufficient funds. From that day, Ted supplemented his salary and later did the same for his widowed mother until the day she died. He considered it a privilege.

About 2 years ago, when diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 3 months to live, he said, “John, I am not one of those that lie down on this couch and die. I have things to do and a life to live.” And onward he marched. He stripped and made his bed every day until the time he moved into the Park Lane Care Home - at times this took up to two hours. He reminds me of the Apostle Paul's words: “Those things that you have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.” Ted lived his standards and principles.

His integrity was often challenged in his police career but he held and lived his principles and did what he believed was right. He never complained about his circumstances in life or his health. Whenever I asked him how he was, knowing his pain and suffering, he always replied, “Oh, I’m alright.” His concern was always for others.

He appreciated his lovely room in the care home, the way the staff took care of him, the excellent cuisine and weekly visits by Tom Clark from Hospice.

Ted appreciated his community at Sanctuary Housing and loved his visits to the Pelican Fish and Chips restaurant and his drives and bus trips around North Devon.

During his final speech when celebrating his 99th birthday on 19 May, 2024, Ted was dressed, as he did every day, in his suit and tie. He thanked everyone for being there and shared how he had lived a very happy, eventful life.

Recently, when calculating his age, he joked with a staff member, “My junior men here want me to be 100 because they want my job.” He never lost his sense of humour. Well Ted, no one wants your job, we do not have the capacity to fill your boots. You will always remain very dear to our hearts.

There is a hole in all our hearts around the world, and within the BSAP Regimental Association. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his family and friends.

Pictures: (L-R) Senior Assistant Commissioner Ted Sheriff; Ted and Beth Sheriff; Ted with his daughter Christine; happy days at the Pelican Fish and Chips Resturant, Barnstaple - Ted, with Christine and the author.

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