When the phrase ‘line of duty’ is used today many of us immediately think of the hit BBC cop show of the same name.

A few weeks ago it seemed all anyone was talking about was the identity of ‘H’.

But being in the line of duty can also mean the dangers our police officers face on a daily basis, not knowing what they will face every time they are called to an incident.

Read more: Hull's horrific cold case murders including baby dead in mud and beggar burnt alive

There is a lot of anger around the number of police assaults these days but, sadly, it has always been an issue.

Local historian Mike Covell takes a look at some of Hull’s police officers who were killed in the line of duty and the shocking stories behind them.

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Died weeks after Drypool Feast beating

During the Victorian period one of the popular festivities in Hull was the Drypool Feast.

The event was a cacophony of noise and colour, involving a funfair, stalls, sideshows, food, and plenty of drinking.

The Drypool Feast fell either just before or just after Hull Fair and was one of four held in the city throughout the year.

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Historic crimes committed in Hull

It was during this event in 1840 Police Constable John Robinson, badge number 34, was assaulted.

In October 1840, James Harriett was charged with assaulting PC Robinson.

Harriett had assaulted and beaten PC John Robinson at the Drypool Feast while he was on duty.

A number of witnesses saw the attack and promptly reported it to the police.

Tragically, after he was assaulted PC Robinson had to take some time off and, during this period, he developed an illness and died.

James Harriett was sentenced to four months with hard labour for the assault but was never charged relating to PC Robinson’s death.

Accident or murder?

An inquiry was held on Monday, September 20, 1880, at the Wittington Inn in Hull by the Deputy Coroner, Mr R Middlemiss, into the circumstances surrounding the death of Police Constable John Smith.

He was a serving officer with the Hull City Police Force whose body had been found in the Humber Dock early on the morning of Sunday September 19, 1880.

The case seemed open and shut with the inquest stating it had been an accident.

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But there was a dramatic twist when, in February 1882, a woman came forward and claimed her ex-husband once claimed to have murdered a policeman in Hull in 1880.

She was the wife of a fisherman, who then lived at Hull, and said her husband confessed he threw the policeman into the dock because he had turned him out of a theatre.

The authorities did not deem the story believable and the cause of death remains accidental drowning.

Runaway cart and horse proves fatal

On the morning of March 20, 1905 Police Constable George Thomas Nettleton, 44, was killed while trying to stop a runaway horse and van.

PC Nettleton had been on duty near the junction of Beverley Road, Prospect Street and Spring Bank, when the horse bolted and ran along the road.

Seeing a number of women and children nearby, the brave officer jumped in front of the horse, stopping it in the process, but dying as a result of his injuries.

PC Nettleton left behind a wife and two children and a subscription fund was set up to take care of them.

He was later buried in Hessle Cemetery and thousands turned up for his funeral, with the cortege being led by the Hull City Police Band, while mourners lined the streets along the route.

Freak bicycle accident

Police Constable Ronald Turner, 38, was on his bike on the morning of Wednesday, January 1, 1936 when he was hit by a lorry near the Botanic Crossing on Spring Bank.

The lorry was being driven by Joseph Harvey, who did not realise that he had hit anything until a number of pedestrians on the footpath gestured to him to stop.

Hull police officer Ronald Turner who died in a bicycle accident in 1936
Hull police officer Ronald Turner who died in a bicycle accident in 1936

Witnesses at the scene said the officer had mounted his bicycle at the side of the kerb just as the lorry passed.

Some of the cord, which was holding on the covering of the lorry, wrapped around the handlebar and pulled the bicycle and its rider along Spring Bank.

PC Turner was pulled from beneath the lorry and quickly taken to Hull Royal Infirmary but died later that evening as a result of head injuries. He was later buried at Northern Cemetery and over 200 police officers attended.

Tracking down killer motorist

It was the height o9f the Second World War but it was not the enemy that killed poor Constable Charles Winterbottom.

The long-serving 45-year-old aged 45, was assigned a patch around Beverley Road during the blackouts during the war.

On the evening of Wednesday, November 20, 1940, he was cycling along Beverley Road when he was killed in a hit and run near Fountain Road.

Old photo of Prospect Street in Hull
Old photo of Prospect Street in Hull

A city-wide search began for the driver and eventually motor engineer Harold Hood, 41, was arrested. He claimed that he was not in his car that night but two of his passengers testified he had driven them to a party being held at Guildhall.

The uniform and bicycle of PC Winterbottom, along with the car of Harold Hood, were sent to a specialist forensic laboratory and tested under microscope.

Bits of paint from the car were found on the clothing and bicycle of the police officer, bits of paint from the bicycle were found on the car and, in the grill and on the bonnet of the car, fibres from the Police Constable’s uniform were found.

A number of eyewitnesses also came forward and positively identified the car and the number plate.

Harold Hood was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Mr Justice Charles at the York Assizes. He was also disqualified for driving for seven years.