Remembering our fallen: DC Maurice Lee and PC Alex Scott
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DC Maurice Lee (above, left) and PC Alex Scott (above, right) were killed when bombs hit Essex Police Headquarters on 16 November 1940.
Both men were in their late 20s and married.
German Luftwaffe were spotted in the dark skies above Chelmsford at 7.15pm on the night of the attack and one of the aircraft was tracked by searchlights and subjected to intense anti-aircraft gunfire.
As the pilot took evasive action, it’s believed he dropped a stick of bombs that fell in a line from police headquarters to fields adjoining Chelmer Road.
The first bomb exploded on the gravel forecourt outside the main building where Alex and Maurice were on duty. The clock on the building stopped at 7.17pm.
Alex, 27, was killed. Maurice, 29, was grievously wounded and died later at the Chelmsford and Essex Hospital.
Maurice George Lee grew up in Good Easter on the outskirts of Chelmsford and joined Essex County Constabulary on November 6, 1935. He married Florence, who lived in the same village.
He taught himself foreign languages and joined the Essex Regiment as an interpreter before buying himself out to join the police. He was posted initially to Grays, and then to Hatfield Heath.
With war imminent, Maurice, or ‘Dixie’ as he was known to friends, was posted to CID where his ability to speak Dutch and German were put to good use translating and assisting with new arrivals to the country.
Maurice Lee was buried in the churchyard at Saint Andrew's Church, Good Easter. His wife Florence died on March 21st, 1985, aged 75. She was buried with her husband.
Alexander Simpson Scott was born in Chigwell and joined the police in 1934. He was posted to Grays and following year became a motor patrol driver at headquarters, qualifying as a first-class driver and wireless operator.
When the war began, traffic officers were armed with revolvers and given the extra job of guarding HQ. Teams of three men worked a 24-hour shift, taking it in turns to watch for fires and guard the front and back of the main buildings.
Alex had only been married 18 months when he was killed.
In January 1994, a few weeks before her own death, Alex’s widow Myrtle wrote:
“At 24, I married Alex Scott and we were to have eighteen months of wedded bliss. He was an all-round sportsman who was loved by all… The war was on and for a holiday we went to Chigwell to stay with his mother and father. After that we went on to Grays to a pal of Alex's from headquarters.
“When we returned to Chelmsford he had to go on duty. That was the last I saw of him. That afternoon I went to the pictures to see a film but instead I slept through it. Going home, I felt something was wrong. During the evening a policeman came and told me that Alex had been killed.
“He took me to my mother who lived nearby. I went to bed and did not wish to get up. Alex's mother asked if he could be buried at Chigwell so that is where he lies today. The only thing to do when you lose someone is get out again as soon as possible. It helps. A few months later I joined the WAAF and left Chelmsford.
“I was so pleased when Alex was remembered at the memorial service at police headquarters in 1992. He was the love of my life and I've shed a few tears writing this. I still feel his presence sometimes, watching over me. When I look at his photograph I ask, 'Why did it have to happen?'”
PC Alex Scott and DC Maurice Lee are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead register in Westminster Abbey.