Benjamin Charles Wise was born on the 25th March 1893 at Hoxton and baptised on the 3rd December 1893 at St. Anne’s, Hoxton. The family are shown as living at 8, Mill Row, Kingsland Road, Hoxton.
His father, also Benjamin Wise a builder’s labourer, married his mother, Henrietta Alice Taylor nee Graham on the 3rd June 1887 at Bethnal Green. She had married a James Taylor in 1875 and had been widowed. Benjamin and Henrietta had two children:
- Jane Elizabeth born in 1887 at Hoxton.
- Benjamin Charles.
During the 1901 census the family were living at 14, Whitmore Road, Shoreditch and at the time of the 1911 census they were living at 28, Tottenham Road, Hackney and Benjamin was employed as a Warehouseman. Little is known about his life for the next two years until he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
Benjamin’s Police Service Record has not survived but it is believed he was Appointed as Police Constable 294 on the 5th August 1913. This is based on the anniversary date of his known pay increases and the fact that he retired after serving nearly seven years in 1920, and is supported by other Constables who are definitely known to have that date of appointment and who share the same anniversary date for their pay increases and who are on the same rate of pay as him.
Benjamin would have started his Probationary Training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield earning £1/4/6 per week. Towards the end of his training he would have been Attested. At the end of training he was taken onto the Roster and posted to D Division at Hemel Hempstead.
General Order 80 of the 15th May 1915 announced that Benjamin had been Commended as follows: The conduct of PC 294 Wise B.C. D, in stopping a runaway horse at Hemel Hempstead on 7th May 1915, has been brought to the notice of the Deputy Chief Constable. The evidence shows that Police Constable Wise acted with presence of mind and courage and at the risk of personal injury probably prevented a serious accident. Police Constable Wise is commended for his action in the matter.
General Order 133 of the 18th August 1915 informed Benjamin that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/5/8 to £1/6/10 per week from the 5th August 1915.
Benjamin married Lily Elizabeth Dean on the 18th November 1915 at Hemel Hempstead. They had three children all born in Hemel Hempstead:
- Benjamin Thomas born in 1916.
- Lily Jane Mary born in 1918.
- Winifred Alice born in 1921.
General Order 105 of the 9th September 1916 informed Benjamin that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/6/10 to £1/7/5 per week from the 5th August 1916.
General Order 124 of the 18th November 1916 was a list of 16 Constables, including Benjamin, who had signified their desire to sit the examination for promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. The necessary examination papers were prepared and forwarded to the Superintendents concerned. The examination was held in accordance with the rules laid down in Order 192/1915.
General Order 137 of the 21st December 1916 announced the result of the Examination for Promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. Benjamin was one of those that qualified having taken the exam on the 25th November 1916 in the office of his Superintendent.
General Order 77 of the 10th September 1917 informed Benjamin that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/7/5 to £1/8/0 per week from the 5th August 1917.
General Order 61 the 5th July 1918 was entitled The Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 The Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 and stated: Reference Order 145/1914 subsequent orders on the same subject and order No/. 58/1918. Consequent on the release from the Army and re-appointment in the Force of Police Constable 11 Pearman and in order to comply with Government requirements: PC 294 Wise B.J. D Division Hemel Hempstead will be released for military service on 18th July 1918. In accordance with the resolution of the Standing Joint Committee dated 5th January 1917 the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent to Police Constable Wise to enlist in H M Army. Police Constable Wise is granted leave of absence from 11th to 17th July 1918 inclusive and will be paid up to an including 17th July 1918.
General Order 67 of the 16th 1918 announced: Police Constable Wise B.C. D Division. Order No/. 61/1918 is hereby suspended owing to the above named having sustained an injury to the left eye rendering him temporarily unfit for military service.
Army Service During The War.
Benjamin’s Military Service Record has survived but it makes no mention as to whether he first enlisted in December 1915, which the vast majority of his colleagues did, as part of what was known as the Derby Scheme. Thousands of men around the country, including dozens of Hertfordshire Police Officers, enlisted under the scheme. The Hertfordshire Officers mainly enlisted between the 9th and the 11th December 1915 and were immediately transferred to Section B Army Reserve and returned to their Police duties. Every Section B Reservist was issued with an individually numbered Khaki Armlet with a red Crown displayed on it which was to be worn on the upper left arm to demonstrate they were a Reservist and were waiting to be mobilised.
On the 9th August 1918 Benjamin enlisted in the Royal Air Force for the duration of the war as Private 283322. The following was recorded: He said he was born on the 25th March 1893 at Shoreditch, London, his civilian occupation was a Police Constable and he was married on the 18th November 1915 at Hemel Hempstead. He gave his next of kin as his wife Lily E. Wise of 21, Aubrey Street, Hemel Hempstead. Details of his children were also recorded.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Height: 5 feet 11 inches. Chest: 34 inches. Hair: Brown. Eyes: Brown. Complexion: Sallow.
On the day he enlisted he was posted to RD (possibly Reserve Depot?). He also had a Medical examination and was placed in category Grade III. On the 23rd October 1918 he was re-classified to Air Mechanic class 3 and his trade was recorded as Driver Petrol. On the 8th November 1918 he was posted as part of the British Expeditionary Force to France. On the 12th January 1919 he returned to the UK and on the 17th February 1919, he was transferred to RAF Reserve G.
Benjamin was awarded the British War and Victory medals.
Like every other soldier Benjamin would have been granted 28 days leave on demobilisation. He would have used this time to arrange his re-joining of the Police. As part of that process he would have had to undergo a medical examination with the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters at Hatfield.
Re-joining The Police.
General Order 26 of the 31st January 1919 announced the re-appointments to the Force of four Police Soldiers who had been released from H.M. Army. Benjamin was shown as PC 294 Wise B.C. posted to D Division at Hemel Hempstead from the 30th January 1919 at £2/8/0 per week. Each officer had to be formally re-attested. The Superintendents concerned had to report when this had been done showing the date and place of attestation and before whom taken. The 1919 and 1920 Electoral Rolls list Benjamin Charles Wise as living at 21, Herbert Street, Hemel Hempstead.
General Order 182 of the 20th August 1919 informed Benjamin that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 per week from the 5th August 1919.
General Order 197 of the 8th October 1919 was a very important announcement regarding Benjamin’s Military Service: At the meeting of the Joint Standing Committee held on 3rd October 1919, the privileges conferred by the Police Reservists (Allowances) Act 1914 as amended by the Police (pensions) Act 1918 i.e. to permit the period of Army service to account as approved service in the Police Force, were extended to the undermentioned Constables:
No. Rank Name Div Date Date Period & No. Resigned Re-appt. to Count
1 PC 56 Thompson H.W. E 10/04/1915 10/04/1919 4 yrs. 1 day 2 PC 307 Markwell J. C 02/11/1915 10/07/1919 3 yrs. 250 days 3 PC 328 Smith S. C 17/12/1915 22/05/1919 3 yrs. 156 days 4 PC 294 Wise B.C. D 06/08/1918 30/01/1919 177 days
General Order 109 of the 30th June 1920 announced Benjamin’s retirement due to being physically unfit as follows: The undermentioned Constable has been certified medically unfit by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon. PC 294 Wise B.C. D Division Service 6 years 352 days. Police Constable Wise will be paid up to 21st July 1920, inclusive, and his name struck off the strength of the Force on that date.
General Order 20 of the 9th February 1921 announced that Benjamin had been awarded the following disablement gratuity as follows: PC 294 Wise B.C. D Division. 6 years’ service. Cause of discharge medically unfit. Amount of gratuity £106/17/10.
The 1921 Electoral Roll records Benjamin Charles Wise as living at 23, Sunnyhill Road, Hemel Hempstead.
Benjamin’s wife Lily died on the 2nd May 1923 at Watford. In 1924 he married Florence Louisa Whitmarsh at Edmonton. The 1923 to 1930 Electoral Rolls list Benjamin Charles Wise as living at 39, Fuller Road, Watford.
The 1939 Register records Benjamin Charles Wise, a motor lorry driver, Florence and his son Benjamin as living at 6, Dover Way, Watford.
Florence died in 1948 at Watford. Benjamin married for the third time in 1959 at Watford to a widow, Edith Maud Gardner nee Sawyer. She died in 1970 at Watford.
Benjamin Charles Wise died in 1973 at Watford.