March 27th, 2010


Murder Investigation in 1920s/30s Britain involving Army records and wax-seals...

Location: Great Britain
Date: Somewhere in the 1920s/1930s

A retired British Army general of Great War legend and venerable age is horribly, brutally murdered in his home. The police, naturally, begin to investigate. Here endeth the facts and begineth the questions.

1) I can well imagine that the army show a sufficient interest in investigating this themselves or at least want to go through his abode to remove anything prescient to national security. In this case who might carry this out? I know that the Military Police had no investigative force until 1940, when they were moved in from the Met. In that case, would it be Special Branch? The Security Service? Shadowy men from the War Office?

2) I've seen British crime scene photographs from the era, and have many books on the laughable forensics of the day, including original articles and writings of Sir Bernard Spilsbury and company. However, none of the accounts I've read say how buildings were sealed after forensics work was done. Since the general's family are unable to arrive soon (and the police might want to look at the scene again) I would assume them to seal it in some way. Today we would wrap the place up in police-tape, and I have read that in that period wax seals were placed on likely entrance places with signs affixed. Were these seals used in the UK? Did they gum up the entire door or were they only done over a small area (such as near the handle)? Were they impressed with the constabulary logo? I'm at a loss on this one.

3) It soon transpires that research into the records of the general's old regiment might be necessary. Aside from local records and newspaper clippings, our investigators will surely need access to the army service records. I know that in 1922 it was finally decided that all locally held war records would be collated and have formal (though not necessarily central) storage, but where were regimental service records held? The regimental barracks? The War Office? At a central repository? How easy was gaining access to this? Were records altered if the subject was deceased (or presumed deceased)? I know how records are kept today, but I'm unsure of the manner they were in the interwar era.

Many thanks!

(Search terms: all manner - 'wax seal', 'forensic wax', 'police wax seal', 'sealing crime scenes', 'british army investigation', 'military police investigation', 'records great war', 'british army service records', 'british army records historical location', and all manner of dates and alternatives, uncountable and listless)

trek: team

Two questions about armed searches/shootouts

This is a futuristic sci-fi setting, so I'm looking for pretty much universal protocol:

1. So I'm not even sure what to call this - I googled stuff like "armed search procedure" and "military/police search." Basically I'm looking for the general tactics a group of cops or military would use when going into a potentially dangerous setting - whether they're searching a house or actively being attacked by some other group in a building. Like is there anything I possibly should know they'd do besides obviously trying to cover as much area as possible with a gun, yelling "clear" to the others when no one's there, etc. Is it kind of exaggerated in the movies how two or three officers can go into a building and immediately have a set idea of who's covering where, or are there actual non-verbal cues/pre-planned formations?

2. Can you pretty much generally say that in a full-on shootout, double wielding is always a good idea? Or would it, for example, actually be better for a novice gunman to only use one pistol at a time?
straight shooter

Nearly fatal car accident injuries

Time/Place: Present day Vancouver, BC

My character is healthy and athletic, late twenties, about 5'6" and 135 pounds. She's riding shotgun in a small car without airbags. There is a wreck, with the right side of the car smashing into a wall. My character is critically injured.

Now, I want her to live, but I want to get her about as injured as possible while managing to survive without any long-term brain damage or defects. (Things that take weeks or months to recover from are to be expected; in say, a year or so, though, she'd ideally be functioning for the most part normally.)

I've Googled enough to get a basic idea of medical terms and things I want to befall her. I'm thinking definitely some cracked ribs and a mild concussion, but top that all off with some massive internal injury. As I was saying, I want her to be very injured, almost to the point of death, but to recover.

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fran - all the riches in the world

Constructing a coast that discourages seafaring culture

Some questions for the geographers on this comm. I did some googling on fault lines and cliffs and such, but as this is a "is my geography feasible" question, it's not entirely researchable--hence my presence here.

I'm working on worldbuilding a northern hemisphere, European-esque region in a fictional world (contemporaneous with approx. early/mid 19th century Europe) that has a southern coastline with an isthmus that connects to another large landmass. (A rough of the map currently looks like so.) I want the water between these two landmasses not to be easily traversable by boat, as the city on the isthmus has amassed power by collecting tariffs from the merchants who must necessarily come through the city on their way to trade between the two regions.

However, I wasn't really sure how to achieve this effect: I went through several ideas, including reefs; small, hazardous islands or rocks that are difficult to maneuver around; dangerous currents; the city maintaining a large navy. My current idea (that I hope works because it does double duty for some other issues) is that the entire southern coastline (or rather the coastline that draws a line horizontally across the map, not the coastline of the southern peninsula) consist of cliffs, which would discourage the development of nautical technology. To achieve this, I thought it might work if the divide between the two landmasses were situated on a fault line, and that in some bygone era there had been a devastating earthquake that split the land apart, thus creating huge cliffs on either side and preventing easy transport across. Note the gulf should be significantly wide, but it could be a more uniform tear than depicted on the map (I would redraw that entire coastline if I went this route).

My question is: is this at all feasible? Could such an earthquake create a split of that magnitude, leaving such cliffs behind? And if so, would such a quake be able to nevertheless leave behind that spit of land still connecting them? Under what conditions would seaside cliffs be sustained along an entire coastline, reaching all the way to the western boarder of the map?