Arthur Brackett was born on 24th December 1887 at Canterbury and baptised on 15th April 1902 at Bishop Ryder, Birmingham.
His father was William Alfred Brackett and he married Martha Lewin on 2nd March 1879 at St Andrews Church, Kensington. William was recorded as being a Soldier living at Woolwich. Martha already had a daughter, also called Martha, and they went on to have six more children 2 boys and 4 girls.
They were William Alfred who was born on 1st August 1880 at Maryhill, Lanarkshire, Florence who was born in 1882 in Dublin, Maud born in 1884 in Clogheen, Ireland, then Arthur and finally the twins Ada and May who were born on 5th August 1890 at Bethnal Green and baptised on 27th August.
During the 1881 census William, still a serving Soldier, Martha and her daughter were living at Maryhill Barracks, Lanarkshire. William almost certainly remained in the army until at least 1887 with the children’s births tracking his postings to Ireland and Canterbury.
At the time of the twin’s baptism the family were living at 240, Quinn Square, Bethnal Green and William has left the Army and is working as a Boot Laster. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of a sad period for the family as both twins later died in 1890.
The 1891 census shows the family still living at the same address but, possibly brought on by the death of the twins, their mother Martha is recorded as suffering from mental health issues. Then in 1895 there is more sadness as Maud also dies aged 11.
By the time of the 1901 census the family has split up. Arthur is a schoolboy living at an Industrial School in Gem Street, Birmingham. His older brother William has joined the Royal Navy and is based at the Wildfire Sheerness Gunnery School and his sister Florence is employed as a general servant living at 32, Royal Crescent, Kensington. As for their parents their father William, a Bootmaker, is boarding at 16, George Street, Chesham and their mother is residing at the London County Lunatic Asylum in Barkingside, Ilford.
In the 1911 census things have not really moved on. Arthur’s brother William is now serving aboard HMS Africa as a Leading Seaman. His father is now working as a Boot Repairer and lodging at 2 Redvers Street, Hoxton, Shoreditch but sadly his mother is still suffering and living at West Ham Borough Asylum, Goodmayes, Ilford, Essex.
As for Arthur he has joined the Army and is serving with F Company, 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment at Quetta, Baluchistan, India.
Early Army Service.
His Army Service record has survived.
He was Attested at Exeter on 20th May 1905 into the Devonshire Regiment as Private 7936 for Short Service of 9 years in the colours and 3 in the Reserves.
The following was recorded:
Name: Arthur Brackett. Born: Colchester, Suffolk (Should have been Canterbury, Kent). Age: 18 years’ 5 months. Trade or calling: Farm Labourer.
He then stated that he had not been living with his father for the previous 3 years, that he was not an apprentice, that he was not married, that he had never been sentenced to imprisonment and that he never been rejected as unfit for the Military and had never previously served in the Military.
On 30th May 1905 he was successful in a medical examination at Exeter where the following was recorded:
Apparent Age: 18 years 5 months. Height: 5 feet 6 ½ inches. Weight: 129 lbs. Chest: 36 inches. Range 2 inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Grey. Hair: Dark. Religion: Church of England. Marks: He had a distinctive mark on the back of his right forearm on his left shoulder blade.
He gave details of his next of kin as:
Father – William Brackett of Aske street, Pitfield Street, London. His mother – Mary Brackett (clearly this should be Martha), Woodbury Asylum and older Brother – Alfred H.M. Navy (it could be as his father and older brother both had the same first name hat his brother was known by his middle name).
On the 7th October 1905 he was Posted to the 2nd Battalion and began his service at “Home”. On the 30th December 1906 he received Service Pay Class 2 and then on the 5th February 1907 he was Posted to the 1st Battalion and began service in India.
Serving Out In India.
On the 30th May 1907 he was granted his 1st Good Conduct Badge and then on the 6th August 1907 he gained a 3rd Class Army School Certificate of Education. On the 21st March 1908 he started receiving Service Pay Class 1 and, on the 30th October 1908, he gained his 2nd Class Army School Certificate of Education.
Then whilst still in India on 23rd November 1908 he transferred to Essex Regiment as Private 9342 and on the 1st December 1908, he was Posted to the 1st Battalion.
However, on the 30th January 1909 his Service Pay was relegated to Class 2 due to musketry inefficiency.
On the 7th May 1910 he was placed under arrest and on the 17th May he was tried and convicted by District Court Martial of using threatening language to his superior officer and obstructing his superior officer acting in the execution of his office and was sentenced to 21 days detention. He returned to duty on the 13th June 1910. The entry concerning the court martial had been crossed out and over written “Record to be set aside. Authority General Officer Commanding 4th (Quetta) Division”. The reason for this is not known.
On the 27th March 1912 he passed an Ambulance Class. On the 10th January 1913 he agreed to be transferred to the Army Reserve at any time once he had returned to the UK. He returned to “Home” service on 26th February 1913 after 6 years 21 days in India. Then on 1st March 1913 he transferred to the Army Reserve.
It is not known exactly when he was attested as a Constable 192 in ‘C’ Division, but it was probably around March or April 1914 based on what is mentioned in General Order 57 of the 1st April 1920 (see further on). As his Court Martial had been set aside the details would not have formed any part of the check the Constabulary made with the Essex Regiment as to his suitability to be a Constable.
The only other information known about his Police service has been found in the General Order below and those shown further on.
General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 is a list of 96 officers which included the Chief Constable, 43 Constables who were Army reservists who were recalled and 50 Constables and 2 Sergeants who volunteered for military service. Arthur is shown as PC 192 Brackett A. ‘C’ Div. recalled to 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment on 4th August 1914.
Army Service During The War.
He was mobilised at Warley on the 5th August 1914 and Posted to 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment the following day. He landed in France on the 22nd August 1914.
The next entry is for the 5th September 1914 and simply says to Field Ambulance, presumably he was assisting a Field Ambulance. However, on 23rd September 1914 he left the Advance Base to re-join his Battalion at Le Mans.
Then during the night of 30th January 1915, it was recorded that he had suffered a severe gunshot wound to the abdomen which was then amended to say chest. Bizarrely he was also awarded 14 Days Field Punishment No. 1 on the same day.
Over the next few days he was transferred to Armentieres and then Baillent until on the 5th February 1915 he arrived at hospital in Boulogne.
In the Casualty List issued by the War Office dated the 6th February 1915 Private 9342 A. Brackett was listed as “Wounded”. He was therefore entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under the Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being been met by being named in this list.
On the 6th March 1915 he was transferred back to England aboard the SS St Patrick and his service in France ended. For administrative purposes on the 7th March 1915 he was posted to Depot, Essex Regiment and his service at “Home” resumed.
It is not known where he was treated but presumably, he made a full recovery as on the 6th June 1915 he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment. On the 1st August 1915 whilst at Harwich he got himself into hot water by overstaying his pass from 9 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 8th Inst. when on active service. The punishment awarded was 14 days confined to camp and deprived of 8 days’ pay.
Then on the 18th December 1915 he transferred to Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment as Private 24743. Once again, he was in hot water when on the 19th February 1916, whilst at Seaford, when on active service he was absent from 9.30 p.m. on 19th until 9.30 p.m. on the 22nd February 1916. The punishment awarded this time was 7 days confined to barracks and to forfeit 4 days’ pay.
Back To India.
He must have known he was about to go overseas again because on the same day he embarked ship at Devonport. Again, probably for administrative purposes on the 25th February 1916 his service at “Home” ended and the next day his service in India commenced but it wasn’t until the 19th March that he disembarked at Bombay.
On the 13th January 1918 whilst at Delhi he was absent from Tattoo on the 10th January 1918 until 8.00 a.m. on the 13th. His punishment was to be awarded 7 days confined to barracks and to forfeit 3 days’ pay.
On the 30th May 1918 he was told that he must continue in the service under the Military Service Act (session 2) even though he had completed his12 years, together with the extra year he was liable to under Section 87 of the Army Act, as he had not reached the age of 41.
On the 22nd June 1918 he was awarded a £20.00 Bounty under Army Order 209/16. With £6/13/4 credited for present issue. This was authorised by AFW 3458 from D.D.O. Meerut.
Then on the 5th February 1919 he was admitted to the British Station Hospital at Cawnpore suffering Malaria. (These details were taken from an Army Casualty Form which also shows his rank as Sergeant? No other part of his service record shows this. It also records that his reserve occupation was Hertfordshire Constabulary).
Twenty days later he was transferred to the British Station Hospital at Lebong where he was later discharged from on the 10th April. However, on the 22nd April he was placed under stoppages on suffering from a preventable disease.
Details of his journey home are not readable but for administrative purposes his service in India ended on the 5 February 1920 and his service at “Home” resumed the following day.
On the 5th March 1920 he was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on demobilisation. His home address was given as 19, Ballington Street, Sudbury, Suffolk. In total his Army Service amounted to 14 years 281 days and his character rated as “Very Good”. He was awarded the 1914 Star, the Victory and British War medals.
On the 31st March 1920 he was finally discharged on termination of his first period of engagement. On being medically examined he was credited with some disability due to firstly a gunshot wound to his chest and secondly Malaria. Both were deemed to be attributable to his service. It was judged that this lessened his capacity to 50% and he was awarded a Pension of 20/- for a year beginning from the 15th March 1920.
It is undoubtedly this which affected what was to happen next as he resumed his career with the Police.
Unfit For Further Police Service.
General Order 42 of 25th February 1920 states:
The undermentioned Constable having been released by H.M. Army is reappointed to the force with effect from the date shown, inclusive: PC 8 Brackett A. ‘C’ Division Rickmansworth. Date of reappointment 26/02/1920. Rate of Pay £4/2/0d. This officer must be formerly re-attested. The Superintendent concerned will report to this office when this has been done, showing viz: Date and place of attestation and before whom taken.
There is one thing of note in this Order which is the change in his Warrant or Collar Number. Prior to the outbreak of war, it was fairly common to issue the same Warrant Number to more than one individual providing they were posted to different Divisions so that the Divisional letter would differentiate between them. No record of an Order instructing that this should end and that Warrant Numbers should become unique has been found, but it was obviously issued simply by the fact of the number of returning Constables who were not given their old number, as someone else was already using it, and were issued with a new one.
General Order 48 of 9th March 1920 states:
Retirement Physically Unfit.
The undermentioned Constable has been certified medically unfit by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon.
PC 8 Brackett A. ‘C’ Division. Completed 5 years of approved service. This officer will be paid up to the 3rd March 1920 and his name struck off the strength of the force on that date.
Then finally General Order 57 of 1st April 1920 states:
Gratuity Disablement. The following disablement gratuities have been awarded, viz:
1. PC 100 Cade R.J. ‘A’ Division Cottered. Service: 5 years 7 months. Cause of Discharge: Medically unfit. Amount of Gratuity: £86/18/1d.
2. PC 8 Brackett A. ‘C’ Division Rickmansworth. Service 6 years. Cause of Discharge: Medically unfit. Amount of Gratuity: £106/0/0d.
This marks the end of Arthur’s Military and Police careers.
Life After The War.
The only records for Arthur that have been found after 1920 do not make good reading. Life does not turn out well for him and on four occasions in 1921 he finds himself destitute and having to enter different London Workhouses. Initially he reveals he had been a Policeman and Soldier, then just a Soldier and finally he drops all mention of his previous life and states he is just a labourer.
Matters only seem to get worse for him as is shown from the following entry in the Habitual Criminals Register for 1927:
Arthur Brackett, aliases William Blackett and Frank Arthur Brackett, born 1887 Canterbury, 5 feet 11 inches, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, scar each side forehead and each forearm, Parkhurst Prison for stealing a motor car Monmouth Sessions (Newport Co.) sentenced 7th January 1925 for 3 years, released 29th April 1927 to live in London and work as a kitchen porter.
He does not appear to have learned his lesson as this entry in the Police Gazette of 15th May 1931 reveals:
Leicester (City). Remanded until 20th inst. charged with housebreaking (insecure kitchen window) and stealing property described in Case No. 37 of 13.05.1931 – Arthur Brackett, aliases William Blackett and Frank Arthur Brackett, CRO No. 3962/22, born 1887, 5ft. 11in. medium build, complexion: fresh, hair: brown, eyes: grey, clean shaven 2 scars right and scar left of forehead. A kitchen porter native of Canterbury. Previous Convictions of larceny and minor offences at Braintree, Newport (Monmouthshire), Margate, Ramsgate (Arthur Brackett) and on B, C, F and V. (Divisions in the Metropolitan Police area) Brackett filled in the two cheques payable to himself and then signed them H.R. Welsh, which is the name of the loser. Was arrested when attempting to cash them. Other property not recovered. Information to Chief Constable at Leicester.
Then from the Criminal Record Office at New Scotland Yard January 6, 1934: Arthur Brackett, aliases William Blackett and Frank Arthur Brackett, born 1888 Canterbury, 5 feet 10 inches, fresh complexion, light brown hair, blue eyes, 2 scars on forehead one on right and one near outer corner of left eye and one scar on right forearm and two on left forearm. Convicted on 27th June 1933 at the Central Criminal Court and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment at Wandsworth Prison for endeavouring to obtain money by forged instrument (attempted to obtain money on postal draft which had been altered to a greater amount). Officer in the case Police Sergeant Shewry CID ‘A’ Division Metropolitan Police. Intended to be released on 10th February 1934 to live in London and work as a labourer.
Then in the 1939 Register is an entry for a prisoner at H.M. Prison Parkhurst, Newport, Isle of Wight for an Arthur Brackett born 25th December 1887 (believed to be an error as he was born on the 24th), single, occupation Butler.
Finally, Arthur Brackett died from Bronchopneumonia on 22nd November 1957 at The Gables, Whitchurch, Hampshire age 70. Formerly a Workhouse after the 1930’s it was redesignated as a Public Assistance Institution and it was believed to have had a similar function in 1957.