Edward Richard Benn was born on the 10th February 1883 at Uxbridge and baptised on the 4th March 1883 at Hayes.
His father, Richard Benn, married his mother, Elizabeth Jane Knight on the 9th April 1882 at Hayes. They had two sons, Edward Richard and John who was born in 1884. John enlisted on the 27th October 1902 as Private 11547 in the 59th Battalion, 2nd Field Regiment Royal Engineers and was discharged on the 31st March 1920.
During the 1891 census the family were living at Pinner Road, Harrow, Middlesex and Richard was employed as a general labourer. By the time of the 1901 census they were living at 3, Baldwins Cottages, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex. Richard was recorded as working as a carman and contractor however, Elizabeth was not living at home and could not be found. Some nine months later Edward left home and joined the Army.
Early Army Service.
Edward’s Army Service Record has survived and shows that on the 13th December 1901 he enlisted at London as Private 16847 in the Royal Army Medical Corps for short service of three years with the Colours and nine in the Reserves.
The following was recorded: He stated that he had been born in Hayes, Middlesex, that he was 19 years 10 months old and his trade was as a labourer. He said he was not an apprentice, was not married and had never been sentenced to imprisonment. He stated that he was in the 5th Battalion, Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age 19 years, height 5 feet 9 ¾ inches, weight 154 lbs, chest 35 inches minimum 38 inches maximum, complexion medium, eyes brown, hair brown.
He gave his religion as Church of England and his next of kin as his father Richard Benn of 3, Baldwin Cottages, Greenford Road, Harrow, Middlesex (later crossed through and New Southgate inserted), younger brother John same address (later crossed through and Royal Engineers, Aldershot inserted).
Having enlisted and passed his medical on the 13th Edward joined on the 19th December 1901 at Aldershot. On the 30th June 1902 he was Appointed as a 3rd Class Orderly having passed a Class of Instruction at the Training School of the Royal Army Medical Corps at Aldershot.
On the 1st October 1902 he was posted to Gibraltar and then on the 18th November 1902 he was awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education. On the 8th June 1903 he was awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education. On the 13th December 1903 he was granted Good Conduct Pay at 1d per day and on the 1st October 1904, he was granted 4th rate of Corps Pay as Cook.
On the 24th February 1905 he extended his service to 8 years with the Colors and was granted service pay at 6d per day (Class II). On the 16th December 1905 he passed a Class of Instruction for Corporal and on the 1st January 1906, he was appointed Lance Corporal and granted 3rd rate of Corps Pay.
On the 13th December 1906 he was granted a second Good Conduct Badge and Service Pay at seven pence per day (Class I). On the 1st October 1907 he was promoted Corporal and then on the 8th March 1908 he was posted Home.
On the 3rd September 1909 he passed a Class of Instruction at the Army School of Sanitation. Finally, at the end of his eight years’ service on the 12th December 1909 he was transferred to the Section A Army Reserve.
He immediately applied to join the St. Albans City Police.
His Police Service Record has partially survived, and we know from his application form dated the 3rd November 1909 the following: He stated he was born on the 10th February 1883 at Dawley, Hayes. His height was 5 feet 10 inches, complexion medium, eyes grey and his hair dark brown and that he had served at 8 years in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He gave his address as 24, Wargrave Road, South Harrow.
His application was clearly speedily processed as on the 22nd November 1909 he was Attested as Police Constable 23 in the St Albans City Police.
Edward married Edith Mary Joel born on the 2nd August 1910 at St. Martins Ruislip. They had two children John Edward born in 1914 and Helen May born in 1917 both in St. Albans.
In the 1911 census Police Constable Edward Richard Benn and his wife Edith Mary are listed as living at 36, Kings Road, St. Albans. His father Richard is recorded as lodging at 16, Mitchells Row, Richmond, Surrey and is shown as an unemployed Navvy.
The Electoral Rolls between 1912 and 1925 list Edward Richard and Edith Mary Benn as continuing to live at 36, Kings Road, St. Albans.
In 1916 The Watch Committee for St. Albans City Police reported that with the Army in immediate need of competent Drill Instructors Constables Benn and North had been seconded to the Army.
Army Service During The War.
Edward’s World War One Army Service Record has not survived and there is no record of him being awarded any medals. However, the Service Record for Constable Ernest North did survive and on certain matters the records for the two men would have, in all probability been very similar, given that they were released to serve for the same reason.
Ernest North enlisted at Bedford for short service, for the duration of the war, and was immediately promoted to Sergeant and saw service with various training Battalions as a Drill Instructor. He did not serve abroad and was not awarded any medals.
The following General Order 35 of 11th May 1917, issued by the Hertford County Constabulary, who had been instructed by the Home Office in 1916 to administer the St. Albans City Police for the duration of the War, provides more information:
St Albans City Police Drill Instructor Loaned to Army.
The Army Council having decided to dispense with the services of Police Constable E.R. Benn No/. 23 who was loaned to the Army on 7th September 1914 as a Drill Instructor, Police Constable Benn will report at the City Police Station St Albans on Monday 14th May 1917 and take up his ordinary Police duties as from that date inclusive. An extract from a letter received from the Medical Officer i/c Military Hospital, Bedford is published for general information: Begins, “This instructor has been of the greatest assistance in the administration of this hospital and has carried out his duties in every way satisfactorily.” Ends.
Re-joining The Police.
There follows three further General Orders which mention Edward. These are the only remaining records for his Police Service. St. Albans City Police became autonomous once more at the end of the War until they eventually merged with the County Force in 1947.
General Order 99 of 26th November 1917 informed Edward that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/12/0 to £1/13/0 per week from 23rd November 1917.
General Order 127 of 29th November 1918 entitled Hertford County Constabulary Representative Board, published the result of the first election for Divisional Representatives. PC 23 Benn E.R. stationed at St Albans was elected on the 27th November 1918. The first meeting of the Representative Board was to be held in the Court Room, Constabulary Headquarters, Hatfield at 11.30 a.m. on Monday 2nd December 1918, when all the duly elected Representatives had to attend.
General Order 67 of 11th March 1919 was similarly entitled as Hertford County Constabulary Representative Board. This time it published the result of the second election of Divisional Representative is published for general information. PC 23 Benn E.R. stationed at St Albans was re-elected on the 7th March 1919.
The Electoral Rolls of 1927 to 1930 list Edward Richard and Edith Mary Benn as living at 128, Waverley Road, St. Albans.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
With the amalgamation of the City Police and the County Force in 1947 the County took over responsibility for the City Police pensioners consequently, we know that Edward retired on pension after completing his 25 years’ service on the 22nd November 1934.
The 1939 Register records living at 96, Waverley Road, St Albans are retired Police Constable Edward R. Benn (widower) his son John, daughter-in-law Winifred and grandson Dennis.
On the 4th July 1966 Edward Richard Benn of 2, Cerne Cottages, Ticehurst, Sussex died at the City Hospital St. Albans.