This really happened - to a man not prone to tall tales (that's his plane in the picture above). He only ever told two people: His sister (at the time) and his small granddaughter (50 years later, in Tom's presence). The Metropolitan Police (he was the first detective ever to solve a murder using the Identikit - later Photofit - system, and also the first National boss of the Regional Crime Squads) does not actually have a motto. 'To Protect and To Serve' is almost the NYPD motto, but the song needed one, and as he'd learned to fly in the USA, perhaps he'll forgive the artistic lisence. The fuel figures in the last verse have been confirmed by the team restoring a Bristol Beaufighter at Duxford for the IWM. As the man himself said, “After that, I somehow knew I’d get through the war. Someone upstairs seemed to think I was okay”

BLISS vocal, guitar / tenor fiddle NAPPER octave mandolin, vocal


To be a good copper, you need a good nerve

And in London in war-time we looked for no thanks

Just lived by our motto, to Protect and to Serve

I was born for the job, and I rose though the ranks

But after Dunkirk, it just wasn't enough

And I knew in my heart where I needed to be

Per Adua ad Astra (RAF)

The Yard would just have to get by without me


Cos some poor devils must fly, some poor devils must fall

And some poor devils never ask why, or make sense of at all

I fight to stifle my fears, try to get through one more day

And just pray there's someone upstairs, maybe thinks I'm okay


My first application was shot down in flames

'Reserved occupation' - I hadn't a chance

So I spun them a line - told them I'd flown a plane

When all that I'd done was a day trip to France

The instructor turned green as we lurched though the air

It was damn nearly curtains before I'd begun

So I had to come clean, tell him why I was there

And he signed on the line and he told me, 'have fun!'


Before very long I was down in the Med

With a squadron of Beaufighters, life was a song

But the Luftwaffe thought we'd be better off dead

And they used every trick to help us along

Just two in the cockpit, a 'fish' down below

And when Jerry fired back it was close to the bone

But Norman my navigator, careful and slow

Always got us on target, and found the way home


And I'll never forget one particular shout

When the chap on my wingtip took one on the nose

His crew-man he bought it, but my chum got out*

Alone in the water he hadn't a hope,

And I hadn't much fuel, but just couldn't bear

To leave him alone, so I put out a call

Then circled around, so he'd see I was there

And help them to find him, so lost and so small

Then Norman got nervous, kept tapping the gauge

But that old copper's motto, was stuck on repeat

An MTB came, but it took such an age

I waggled my wings, and we headed for Crete

Enemies above us, enemies beneath

And the engines must surely soon gutter and die

But we made it to base, by the skin of our teeth

And Norman said nothing, and neither did I


In the morning I wondered how close it had been

And as the first sortie was late in the day

I wandered across to the ground crew canteen

To see how much gas we had burned yesterday

Six-eighty-four gallons they told me they pumped

I told them to check - it just couldn't be true

But they showed me the chit - and my heart fairly jumped

The tank's only 'sposed to hold six-eighty-two


* Beaufighters had a very cramped cockpit and were notoriously difficult to get in and out of.