Arthur Ernest Hedges was born on the 23rd December 1892 at Tring and baptised there on the 25th March 1908.
His father, Thomas Hedges was a painter and house decorator, who married his mother, Louisa Foskett, in 1876 at Tring. They had eight children all born in Tring. Sadly, one died before the 1911 census:
1. Thomas Henry born in 1877, Served as L/Cpl 30307 Beds. Regt. Regimental Police.
2. Alfred William born in 1880.
3. Ellen born in 1882.
4. Elizabeth Louisa born in 1883.
5. Edith born in 1887.
6. Evelina born in 1890.
7. Arthur Ernest.
8. Lilian Ann born in 1898 and died in 1899.
During the 1901 and 1911 census the family were recorded as living at 17, Akeman Street, Tring. In 1911 Arthur , like his father, was working as a house decorator. Nothing more is known about Arthur other than he trained as a plumber and then applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
Arthur’s Police Service Record has not survived so there is no confirmed date for his Appointment however, based on his rate of his pay when he re-joined the Police and the date of a pay increase in 1919 it may have been the 10th August 1914.
He would have started his career by receiving his Probationer training at Police Headquarters and at its conclusion he was posted to E Division at Hitchin.
A note from his Army Service Record dated 15th April 1915 reads: ‘A’ Company Transfers Depot R.E. Apple Pie Camp, Longmoor, Hampshire, “I hereby certify that No: 97410 Rank: Sapper Name: Hedges A. is fit to work as his trade as plumber.” Signed D.H. Trail Lieutenant R.A.M.C.
Also, from his Army Service Record is a copy of a letter dated the 22nd April 1915 from W. Wood Superintendent Deputy Chief Constabulary, Herts Constabulary Headquarters, Hatfield to Superintendent “E” Division, Hitchin carried instructions for Arthur and was entitled:
Police Constable 280 “E” Hedges A.E.
With reference to the application made by the above named for permission to enlist in the Royal Engineers as a Plumber. The Army Council have decided that the Constable may be considered as a recruit possessing qualifications not possessed by ordinary recruits and the benefits granted by the provisions of Section (2) 2 of the Police Constables (Naval and Military Services) Act 1914 will be extended to him. Police Constable Hedges should be given a copy of this letter to hand to the recruiting Officer upon enlistment.
General Order 68 of the 23rd April 1915 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Services) Act 1914, special enlistment for the period of the war and announced: In continuation of Orders 148/1914, 163/1914, 165/1914, 169/1914 and 56/1915 the Army Council have decided that: PC 280 “E” A.E. Hedges may be considered as possessing qualifications not possessed by ordinary recruits, enabling him to obtain the benefits of the above Act, upon enlisting in the regular Army. Police Constable Hedges will be permitted to join the Army at once.
General Order 118 of the 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 280 Hedges A.E. E Division who enlisted in the Royal Engineers on the 29th April 1915.
Army Service During The War.
From Arthur’s Army Service Record, his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Roll the following is known:
Arthur enlisted at Hitchin on the 26th April 1915 for the duration of the war as Sapper 97410 (later WR/42865) in the Royal Engineers. He stated his address was 17, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts. His age was 22 years 4 months and his trade was both as a plumber and a Police Constable. He was not married and that he had never served in the Military before.
His description was recorded as: Height: 5 feet 11 inches. Chest: 37 inches expanded 4-inch expansion. Weight: 156 lbs. He gave his next of kin as his parents Thomas and Louisa Hedges 17, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts. He said his religion was Church of England.
On the day he enlisted he was tested and found to be proficient as a plumber. On the 12th May 1915 he was transferred to the Billeting Battalion, Royal Engineers. On the 20th August 1915 he transferred to the Reserve Battalion, Royal Engineers and then on the 27th December 1915 he transferred to the 51st Battalion, Royal Engineers.
On the 23rd April 1916 he was posted to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and on the 17th June 1916, he joined the 68th Field Company via G.B. Depot reinforcements from England.
He was admitted to hospital on the 30th December 1916 and re-joined his unit a week later. On the 25th August 1917 he was granted 10 days leave to the UK.
On the 15th September 1917 he was admitted to hospital and on the 24th September, he returned Home and was admitted to the Manor House Hospital Folkstone with an ankle injury. Whilst there he had an influenza attack. On the 23rd October he was moved to the Shorncliffe Military Hospital and then on the 30th October he was moved again to the King’s Lancashire Military Convalescent Hospital Blackpool. He was discharged on the 18th December 1917 to the Command Depot.
On the 27th December 1917 he arrived at the Royal Engineers Training Camp at Newark. On the 14th April 1918 he transferred to the Transfer Depot Railway and Roads Training Centre at Longmoor.
On the 16th April 1918 he was posted to the British Expeditionary Force and eleven days later joined his unit from J.J.B.D. On the 15th June 1918 he was admitted to Hospital and discharged on the 22nd July 1918. On the 25th July he arrived at J.J.B.D.
On the 8th January 1919 he was despatched to W.R. (Shorncliffe) for demobilisation and on the 8th February 1919, he was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve.
His Army Form Z11, Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity (Soldier not remaining with the colours) records the following:
Surname: Hedges. Christian names: Arthur Ernest. Regt. No. WR/42865. Rank: Sapper. Record Office: Taverstock Square. Unit: 304 Road Construction Company. Regiment: Royal Engineers. I have received an advance of £2. Signature. Address for pay: 19, Charles Street, Tring, Herts. Theatre of War: France. Born in year: 1892. Medical Category: A1. Place of joining in emergency: Longmoor. Specialist Military qualification: None. The above named is granted 28 days furlough from the date stamped hereon after which date uniform will not be worn. Dated 11th January 1919. Office issued: Purfleet.
He was awarded the British War and Victory medals.
Re-joining The Police.
Having been granted 28 days leave Arthur would have used the time to arrange the re-joining of the Police. This would have involved him having to undergo a medical examination with the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters Hatfield to ensure he was still fit enough for Police duties. The date of his re-joining of the Police would have coincided with the end of his period of leave.
General Order 23 of 25th January 1919 listed 25 Police Officers who having been released from H.M. Army had been re-appointed to the Force. Arthur was shown as:
PC 310 Hedges A.E. E Division at Hitchin from 6th February 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. The Superintendents concerned had to report to Headquarters the 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 from 280 to 310. 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.
Hertfordshire Detachment To Luton Re Riots.
Arthur was part of a detachment sent to Luton to help quell rioting between the 20th July and the 5th August 1919.
General Order 177 of the 9th August 1919 announced that the following extract from a letter received from the Head Constable of the Luton Borough Police under date 4th August 1919 was published for information.
“I desire to express to you my high appreciation of the members of your Force on detached duty here for the riot. They proved to be excellent fellows in every way, gave a splendid account of themselves when need arose and conducted themselves in a manner which was credit to any Police Force.”
The Chief Constable is very gratified to have such a good account of the services of the detachment and congratulates Inspector Wright and the Sergeants and Constables. An entry of service on Riot Duty will be made in each man’s record sheet.
To see the whole photograph go to the Mutual Aid category and the article Hertford County Constabulary Assist With Quelling Rioters.
General Order 213 of the 17th October 1919 informed Arthur that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from the 10th August 1919.
The End Of A Brief Career.
General Order 225 of the 9th November 1919 announced that Police Constable 310 Arthur Ernest Hedges E Division was dismissed from the Force and that he was to be paid up to the 7th November 1919. The reasons for his dismissal were that he had failed to attend a Conference Point at 1 a.m. on the night 30/31st October 1919 and had omitted to make the necessary entries in the Guardroom duty register and occurrence book on 7th November 1919, but more tellingly he was found guilty of conduct unbecoming to a Police Officer in that he did, by surreptitious means and with a view to ascertaining the movements of a superior officer, place a mark on the entrance door of that officer’s private house.