Alban Henry Freeman

Police Constable 139 A

Paul Watts

Alban Henry Freeman Headstone
Geoffrey Gillon

Early Life.

Alban Henry Freeman, who was born in 1889, was the seventh child of William and Annie Maria Freeman. They had 9 children in total, 2 of whom died in their infancy. William was employed as a traction engine driver on farms.

The children, who were all born in Wheathampstead, were Ella Constance born 1869, Jane Elizabeth born and died c. 1872, Alfred Lambert born 1874, William Leonard born 1877 died c. 1879, William Dolphin born 1883, Montague Burnell born 1885 ( served as L/Cpl. 262679 in the 10th Railway Company Royal Engineers in WW1), Alban Henry, Mabel Blanche born 1891 and Annie Eleanor born 1893.

The family were recorded in the census returns of 1891, 1901 and 1911 as living at Marford, Wheathampstead and in 1911 Alban was recorded as being employed as an under gardener.

Police Service.

Alban Freeman’s Police Service Record has not survived but from General Order 76 of 28th August 1917, which announced his death, we know he was Appointed as Constable 139 on 10th August 1914. Given that he would have had to apply and provide references, which would have been checked, had a medical and an interview he probably would have sought to be Appointed in the Hertford County Constabulary long before the outbreak of the War.

From the following General Orders and newspaper articles it is clear Alban was posted to A Division and stationed at Hoddesdon after he completed his initial training at Headquarters.

Alcohol Abuse Is A Major Problem in Hoddesdon.

Published on the 17th July 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“At Cheshunt Petty Sessions John George Skipp, of no fixed abode, labourer, was charged with being found drunk on Stanstead Road, Hoddesdon, on July 8. He pleaded guilty, and the case was proved by PC Freeman. Superintendent Handley reported 57 previous convictions, including 24 for drunkenness, and a fine of £1 1s. or 13 days was imposed. William Henry Hicks, of Lower Edmonton, engine driver, was charged with being drunk and disorderly at Hoddesdon on July 10. The defendant pleaded guilty, saying he had been for an outing and had a drop too much. PC Freeman stated the facts, and the defendant was fined £1 1s., or 13 days”.

General Order 133 of 18th August 1915 announced that, amongst others, PC 139 Freeman, A Division would receive an increased rate of pay from 24/6 to 25/8 per week from 10th August 1915, the anniversary of his Appointment.

Published on the 28th August 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“At Cheshunt Petty Sessions Harry Booth (41), of Old Highway, Hoddesdon, was charged with being drunk and disorderly on August 16 at Hoddesdon. PC Freeman proved finding the prisoner lying in a drunken condition beside a bicycle. When arrested he became very disorderly and violent. Fined 10 shillings, or seven days.
Robert Izzard, of Park Lane, Flamstead End, was similarly dealt with for being drunk and incapable in Duke Street, Hoddesdon, on August 15.”

Why Aren’t You Looking For Zeppelins?

Published on the 25th September 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“At Cheshunt Petty Sessions on Wednesday, John Walker (35), of no fixed abode, was summoned for driving a horse and cart without a light at Hoddesdon on September 10. The defendant pleaded guilty, and the case was proved by PC Freeman. When the witness drew then defendant’s attention to the fact that he had no light, he said: ‘I should think you have enough to do looking after Zeppelins and bombs.’ (Laughter). The Clerk: ‘But they don’t have them in Hoddesdon, do they?’ (Laughter). The witness: ‘No.’ Previous convictions were proved, and the defendant was fined £1 1s. or 13 days”.

Published on the 23rd October 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“At a children’s court of Hertford Borough Sessions on Thursday, Marjorie Sibyl Shannon (13), of 97 Hindes Road, Harrow, was summoned for stealing a bicycle, valued at £2, the property of Mildred Starkiss, at Hertford, on October 19. Miss Starkiss, living at Stony Hills, said she left her bicycle in the yard adjoining Mr Chard’s shop in Fore Street, where she works. Later in the day she missed it and saw it afterwards at the police station. PC Freeman said he had a telephone message respecting a girl who was missing from Harrow. He saw the defendant at Hoddesdon wheeling the bicycle and detained her. He questioned her about the machine, and she said she picked it up in the street at Hertford. The defendant was handed over to the care of her father”.

Published on the 29th January 1916 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“John Rolfe of Lord Street, Hoddesdon, advised the Court that he had seen Frederick George Goode of Edmonton driving a motor cycle, with side-car, at 30 mph, on the wrong side of the road. The motor cyclist had crashed into a fence, overturned, and had fallen into a garden. He stated that, in his opinion, the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, the passenger from the side-car, the defendant’s young lady, had been wounded and clearly needed attention. PC Freeman confirmed to the Court that, on his arrival at the scene, he had seen the young lady receiving attention. The defendant, however, had refused to make any statement. The Constable had taken him into custody because, in his opinion also, the defendant was drunk. Inspector Moles said that the defendant was “mad drunk and would not be reasoned with”. The next morning, however, the defendant had put 2 shillings into the police orphanage box. The defendant was fined 40 shillings for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle”.

Assaulted By A Drunken Mob.

Published on the 17th June 1916 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“At Cheshunt Petty Sessions, William Adams (26), a munition worker, Maurice Adams (49), a dealer, and Albert Adams (18), of Dobbs Weir Lock, Roydon, pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly at Burford Street, Hoddesdon on June 12th, but not guilty to assaulting PC Freeman at the same time and place. PC Freeman said that one of the men had struck him a violent blow, and that another of the men had said “I’d kill you if I had a chance”. Sidney Alfred Taylor, a Special Constable at Hoddesdon, also gave evidence. He said that the men were worse for drink, and that when PC Freeman had asked the men to go away, William Adams had knocked the officer on the head, sending his helmet spinning on the road. He confirmed that a hostile crowd had gathered around the officer and had attempted to release Adams. At the same time, both Albert and Maurice Adams had commenced punching Freeman. Maurice Adams’ wife told the Bench that the police had come to the house to arrest her son and had treated him in an unmerciful manner. The defendants were each fined 10 shillings for drunkenness and 1 guinea each for the assault on the police”.

General Order 105 of 9th September 1916 it was announced that PC 139 Freeman A.H. A Division would again receive an increased rate of pay from 25/8 to 26/10 per week from 10th August 1916.

The Patiently Waiting Rabbits.

Published on the 4th November 1916 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“John Harrington, of Burford Place, Hoddesdon, a labourer, pleaded not guilty to being a suspected person in charge of game. There was also a summons for using obscene language, which he also denied. PC Freeman said that, on the afternoon of 24th October, he had seen the defendant go into Bramble Lane and, noticing that his pockets were bulky, went up to him and found in his pockets the bodies of two rabbits, both still warm, each with its neck broken. On being deprived of the rabbits, the defendant made use of the language being complained of. The defendant said that he had seen the rabbits sitting on the bank, and that he was not going to pass them. (There was much laughter in Court). The Clerk said, “They were both waiting for him”. (There was much further laughter in Court). The defendant, who was stated to have been invalided out of the army, was fined 10 shillings on each summons”.

In General Order 124 of 18th November 1916 PC 139 Freeman A Division was one of 16 officers listed as “having signified their desire to sit for examination for promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable, the necessary examination papers have been prepared and forwarded to the Superintendents concerned. The examination will be held in accordance with the rules laid down in Order 192/1915”.

Then in General Order 137 of 21st December 1916 the results of the examination for Promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable were announced. PC 139 Freeman A.H. A Division, who sat his exam on 6th December 1916, was successful in passing.

General Order 5 of 22nd January 1917 was entitled: “Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915. Enlistment in H M Forces. Reference Order No/. 148/1914 and Subsequent Orders on the Same Subject.”
It Stated:
Consequent upon the demand for men of military age for service in H M Army the Standing Joint Committee have reconsidered the strength at which it is necessary to maintain the force and have authorised that a further 20 members shall be released for Army Service.
Of this number 5 have been accepted provisionally by the Army Council for service in the Military Mounted Police viz:
1. PC 11 Pearman C.H. A Div. Wormley
2. PC 34 Bolter F.L. B Div. Albury
3. PC 49 Smith A. C Div. Watford
4. PC 249 Burns A. E Div. Hitchin
5. PC 255 Stroud T. E. E Div. Graveley
Further instructions with regard to these men will be issued as soon as received.
In accordance of the resolution of the Standing Committee dated 5th January 1917 the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent as required by the above Acts to the undermentioned Constables for the purpose of enlisting in H M Army.
1. PC 297 Kempthorne T.R. A Div Ware
2. PC 9 Emery A.C. A Div Ware
3. PC 139 Freeman A. A Div Hoddesdon
4. PC 265 Camp H. B Div High Wych
5. PC 299 Trussell H. B Div Bishops Stortford
6. PC 261 Wallen J. C Div Watford
7. PC 132 Wallman H. C Div Watford
8. PC 306 Hussey W.H. C Div Watford
9. PC 133 Mansfield A. C Div Watford
10. PC 320 Collett W.C. D Div Hemel Hempstead
11. PC 324 Bozeat W. D Div Great Berkhamsted
12. PC 266 Cripps W.P. E Div Baldock
13. PC 129 Burch S.G. E Div Stevenage
14. PC 300 Jones H.B. E Div Hitchin
15. PC 150 Darton W.C. F Div Welwyn
The Constables enumerated will be released from the Police Service as from Thursday 1st February 1917 inclusive and will be paid up to and including the 31st January 1917.

It was swiftly followed by General Order 8 of 25th January 1917 entitled: “Reference Order 5/1917”
It stated:

The following Constables who are being released for military service are being granted leave of absence on 30th and 31st January 1917 Viz:
1. PC 297 Kempthorne T.R. A Div Ware
2. PC 9 Emery A.C. A Div Ware
3. PC 139 Freeman A. A Div Hoddesdon
4. PC 265 Camp H. B Div High Wych
5. PC 299 Trussell H. B Div Bishops Stortford
6. PC 261 Wallen J. C Div Watford
7. PC 132 Wallman H. C Div Watford
8. PC 306 Hussey W.H. C Div Watford
9. PC 133 Mansfield A. C Div Watford
10. PC 320 Collett W.C. D Div Hemel Hempstead
11. PC 324 Bozeat W. D Div Great Berkhamsted
12. PC 266 Cripps W.P. E Div Baldock
13. PC 129 Burch S.G. E Div Stevenage
14. PC 300 Jones H.B. E Div Hitchin
15. PC 150 Darton W.C. F Div Welwyn

Military Service.

His Army Service record did not survive but the fact he served as a Gunner 205986 in the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery can be ascertained from Commonwealth War Grave Commission records, Soldiers Died in the Gt War, newspaper reports, his burial record and General Orders.

Additionally, research of the 15 above names has revealed that 12 of them joined the Royal Horse Artillery or the Royal Field Artillery with very close or even consecutive service numbers. They were 205951 Harry Wallman, 205952 William Hussey, 205953 Joseph Wallen, 205954 Arthur Mansfield, 205956 Wilfred Darton, 205981 Stephen Burch, 205982 Thomas Kempthorne, 205983 William Cripps, 205985 Alban Freeman, 205986 Herbert Trussell and 205987 Albert Emery.

The Army Service Records of many of the above have survived and all show that they originally enlisted on 10th December 1915 but were immediately placed in the Section B Army Reserve. As such they immediately resumed their Police duties awaiting mobilisation. Given from the above General Order that they all were mobilised at the same time it is safe to assume that, like the others, Alban Henry Freeman also enlisted on 10th December 1915 and was a Section B Reservist. Similarly, it can be assumed that Alban was initially posted to Woolwich for his basic training.

The surviving Service Records also show that whilst at Woolwich many of the men became ill when there was an outbreak of Rubella and it is very likely that is why Alban Henry Freeman died from “fever” on 7th March 1917.

Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919 recorded that Alban Henry Freeman born at Wheathampstead, enlisted at Hoddesdon as Gunner 205985 in the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery and died on 7th March 1917 whilst serving at “Home”.

General Order 76 of 28th August 1917 stated:
The Deputy Chief Constable regrets to announce that the following deaths have occurred
1. Gunner 205985 Alban Henry Freeman R.H.A. died at Woolwich on 7th March 1917. Gunner Freeman joined the Hertford County Constabulary as a Constable on the 10th August 1914 and enlisted in H. M. Army on 1st February 1917.
2. Corporal 16314 Stanley Ralph Appleby Coldstream Guards Killed in Action 14th March 1917. Corporal Appleby joined the Hertford County Constabulary on 25th September 1912 and enlisted in H. M. Army on 11th June 1915.
3. Trooper 2546 George Archer Herts Yeomanry died at Alexandria on 20th July 1917. Trooper Archer joined the Hertford County Constabulary as a Constable on 1st December 1914 and enlisted in H. M. Army on 17th June 1915.
Published on the 24th March 1917 in the Hertford Mercury:
“Wheathampstead – Gunner A.H. Freeman, R.H.A. of Marford died in Hospital from fever after having been in the Army only five weeks”.

The burial records for St Helen’s Church, Wheathampstead show that Alban Henry Freeman age 27 years of Royal Herbert Hospital, Kidbrooke, Shooters Hill, Woolwich was buried there on 14th March 1917.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission record shows:
In Memory of Alban Henry Freeman Gunner 205985, Royal Horse Artillery who died on 7th March 1917 Age 27. Son of William and Ann Freeman. Remembered with Honour, Wheathampstead (St Helen) Churchyard.
Mrs A. Freeman Necton Road, New Marford, Wheathampstead, Herts.

This page was added on 01/01/2020.

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