Hertfordshire Police Section B Army Reservists

The Story Of The Reservist Volunteers

Paul Watts


                                                                                                    Section B Reservists At The Rear OF King Street Police Station c. 1916

The Derby Scheme, or more correctly the Group Scheme, was a concept created by Edward Stanley the 17th Lord Derby to boost recruitment to the Army in 1915. He had been appointed as the Director-General of Recruiting on the 11th October 1915 and initiated the scheme five days later. It was considered to effectively be the last step before the introduction of compulsory military service.

The public were informed by the War Office that voluntary enlistment was going to stop and that the last chance to do so would be 15 December 1915. All men aged between 18 and 40 were notified that with this scheme they could still voluntarily enlist providing they agreed to mobilise later on if required with single men being selected before married men.

Those who enlisted under the Derby Scheme but chose to defer their mobilisation were categorised as Class A and the men who wanted to join up immediately were Class B.

The Class A men received a day’s army pay for the day they enlisted. They were also given a khaki armlet with a red cloth crown sewn to it. Each armlet was individually numbered which was recorded on their Army Record. It was to be worn on the left upper arm to show that they had volunteered which would hopefully prevent accusations of cowardice which had become rife from some sections of the public.

The Class A men were transferred to Section B of the Army Reserve and were given an Army Form W.3914 completed with their own details and Group number and they returned to their normal lives until they were mobilised. The men were categorised into single and married status and into 23 groups according to their age. Single men born in 1897 were Group 1 and progressed through to those born in 1875 who were Group 23. Similarly, married men born in 1897 were Group 24 and progressed through to those born in 1875 who were Group 46. Each specific Group was then allocated a mobilisation date.

In respect of the vast majority of Hertford County Constabulary Police Officers that fell within the above criteria they all enlisted between the 9th and the 11th December 1915. It is unknown exactly how many of them actually enlisted as not all of their records, both Police and Army have survived. The life stories of those who were known to have been mobilised can be found in The Volunteer category. Additionally, the following have been identified, from their Police Service Records, as having volunteered as Section B Reservists but were never mobilised.

Rank Number     Name                                        Born              Police Dates of Service

PC 45                   Herbert Batchelor                   18/01/1891   01/12/1913 to 31/12/1938.                                                      PC 238                 William Thomas Bedford       11/07/1882   28/01/1904 to 02/04/1920.                                                    PC 269                 Harry John Bignell                   30/03/1888   16/03/1911 to 15/03/1936.                                                    PC 28                    James John Burch                   16/09/1882   01/05/1907 to 30/04/1932.                                                    PC 205                 Thomas Capell                         13/05/1879   04/10/1900 to 03/12/1925.                                                    PC 221                 Boston Compton                     29/12/1878   26/10/1899 to 26/12/1924.                                                    PC 291                 Robert George Crisford         14/12/1892    05/08/1913 to 13/12/1938.                                                    PC 227                 John Cross                                19/07/1878   28/12/1899 to 23/11/1921.                                                    PC 259                Frederick W. Cumberland       03/02/1882   14/02/1907 to 13/02/1932.                                                    PC 76                  Herbert John Dell                      19/06/1887   17/05/1910 to 08/08/1928.                                                    PC 144                John William T. Downing          17/06/1881   03/06/1901 to 16/06/1927.

John William Turner Downing 1919 Luton Riot Duty

PC 4                   Henry Eames                              05/09/1885   03/06/1909 to 29/10/1924.                                                      PC 204               Joseph Corr Hagger                  15/05/1873   22/01/1903 to 21/01/1928.                                                      PC 247                Alfred Owen Hopwood            06/11/1879   15/07/1902 to 14/07/1927.                                                  INSP 15              Herbert Lawrence                     02/07/1880   21/03/1901 to 31/10/1926.

Herbert Lawrence 1919 Luton Riot Duty

PC 85                  Walter Lewin                              24/09/1876   08/11/1898 to 02/06/1920.                                                        PC 201                Thomas William Lovell             26/02/1877   25/01/1900 to 24/01/1925.                                                  SGT 267              Robert George H. Milton         25/01/1891   08/08/1914 to 07/08/1939.                                                    PC 203                William George Reed                25/07/1880   06/06/1901 to 24/07/1926.                                                    PC 152                John David Robinson                21/02/1880   11/07/1901 to 24/01/1923.                                                    PC 25                  Ernest George Rolph                06/08/1880   11/06/1904 to 10/06/1929.

PC 25A Ernest George Rolph Braughing

SGT 51               George Edmund Sermons        25/05/1891   12/10/1914 to 11/10/1939.                                                    PC 166                Arthur William Smith                13/04/1889   30/06/1910 to 29/06/1935.                                                    PC 60                  Sydney George Smith               04/08/1884   10/07/1906 to 16/07/1930.                                                    PC 159                Charles Viner                              01/02/1877   11/04/1901 to 10/04/1926.                                                      SUPT 51              William Richard West                11/05/1878   03/03/1900 to 03/01/1928.                                                  PC 17                   Arthur Reginald E. Wilkins        24/10/1883   11/03/1909 to 07/05/1924.

The following two General Orders show that initially there was some confusion about the wearing of the armlets.

Orders by Superintendent William Wood                                                                                                                                  Deputy Chief Constable of Hertfordshire                                                                                                                                Order 4/1916                                                                                                               Constabulary Headquarters                                                                                                                                                               Hatfield 10th January 191                    Army Reserve – Section ‘B’.                                                                                                                                                        Police Officers who have been attested and passed into Army Reserve, Section ‘B’ will not wear their armlets either on or off duty.                                                                                                                                                                          (Signed) W. Wood Superintendent                                                                                                                                              Deputy Chief Constable of Herts.


Orders by Superintendent William Wood                                                                                                                            Deputy Chief Constable of Hertfordshire                                                                                                                                        Order 7/1916                                                                                                                  Constabulary Headquarters                                                                                                                                                              Hatfield 25th January 1916        Reference C.C. 9770/1915 and Order No. 4/1916                                                                                                                Order No. 4/1916 Is Hereby Cancelled.                                                                                                                                          It has now been ascertained from the Home Office that the wearing of Khaki Armlets by Police Officers in uniform is left to the discretion of the Police Authority, and as His Majesty the King has publicly expressed wish that everybody entitled to wear the Armlet should do so, it is now ordered that all Police Officers who have been attested and passed into Section ‘B’ are to wear the Khaki Armlet when on duty.                                                                                    The Armlet shall be worn on the left arm above the elbow.                                                                                                  The Armlet should also be worn by officers in plain clothes.                                                                                                      (Signed) W. Wood Superintendent                                                                                                                                        Deputy Chief Constable of Herts.

This page was added on 30/05/2020.

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