Rolls, George John William, 288, Police Constable, Sergeant, Inspector.

Paul Watts

George John William Rolls 1919 Luton Riot Duty
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

George John William Rolls was born on the 15th December 1892 at Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.

His father, John William Rolls a Police Sergeant, married his mother, Elizabeth Foskett in 1882 at Uxbridge. They had six children of whom one sadly died before the 1911 census:
1. Emily Sarah Ann born in 1882 at Uxbridge.
2. Alice Maud Louisa born in 18855 at Aylesbury.
3. Beatrice Florence Caroline born in 1886 at Leckhampstead.
4. Maria Frances Violet born in 1888 at Leckhampstead.
5. Annie born and died in 1889 at Leckhampstead.
6. George John William.

During the 1891 census the family were recorded as living at Church Street, Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire and George’s father was shown as a Police Constable. By the time of the 1901 census he had been promoted to Sergeant and the family were now living at the Police Station, Church End, Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire.

In the 1911 census George’s father had been transferred again and they were now living at the Police Station, Quainton near Aylesbury. George was employed as a domestic gardener.

George was employed as a gardener by Miss Alice de Rothschild of Waddesdon Manor, but he obviously wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.

As part of that process he had to undergo, on the 11th July 1913, a Medical Examination by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters, Hatfield. He would also have been formerly interviewed and then he would have waited for instructions to join.

Police Service.

George’s Hertford County Constabulary Form 3 Police Service Record has survived and shows the following: He said he was born on the 15th December 1892 at Maids Moreton, his age on joining was 20 7/12 years, his height 6 feet 1 inch, chest 37 ½ inches, complexion fresh, eyes hazel and his hair brown. He said he could ride a pedal cycle, but he could not swim. He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his mother Elizabeth Rolls.

George was Appointed Constable 288 on the 5th August 1913 and started his Probationer training at R Division Headquarters, Hatfield. At the end of his training he was Attested on the 1st December 1913, taken onto the Roster and posted to E Division at Hitchin. Two weeks later on reaching his 21st birthday on the 15th December his Pensionable Service Commenced.

In January 1914 he passed his Ambulance certificate, an important qualification, which entitled him to wear a badge on his lower left tunic sleeve to show he was trained in basic First Aid.


On the 18th September 1914 George’s Police Service Record shows he was transferred from E Division at Hitchin to D Division at Great Berkhamsted.

General Order 95 of the 4th June 1915 was entitled Police Constable (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914, Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 191 and announced: The undermentioned Police Constables being desirous of enlisting in HM Army for the period of the War, the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent for enlistment, as required by the above Acts:
1. PC 105 Armitage H.M. D Division
2. PC 330 Crouch E.L. D Division
3. PC 183 Godfrey P.C. D Division
4. PC 35 Reid A.W.D Division
5. PC 288 Rolls G.J.W D Division
The Constables will be permitted to join the Army at once and will be paid up to and including the date prior to that on which they commence to draw Army pay. The Superintendent D Division will report to Headquarters the date on which the Constables are enlisted in the Army, and the Constables will be struck off the strength of the establishment of the Force, as from that date.

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. George is shown as PC 288 Rolls G.J.W.D Division who enlisted in the Army Service Corps on the 7th June 1915.

Army Service During The War.

George’s Army Service Record has survived albeit that it is part of the burnt collection. However, the following is readable: He enlisted at Watford on the 7th June 1915 for the duration of the war as Private S4/122279 in the Army Service Corps. He gave his address as Station Road, Quainton, Buckinghamshire. He said he was 22 years 6 months old and he was a Police Constable. He was not married and had not previously served in the Military. He gave his next of kin as his father John William Rolls of Station Road, Quainton.

His description was recorded as height 6 feet 1 inch, weight 146 lbs, chest 35 inches with 2 ½ inch expansion and his physical development was good.

On the 10th June 1915 he joined at Aldershot and was posted to A Company, Army Service Corps. He passed an assessment to be a Baker. On the 19th June he was appointed a paid Acting Corporal to K Company, Army Service Corps.

On the 10th August 1915 he was appointed a paid Acting Sergeant to the 59th Field Bakery. On the 21st June 1916 at York he was reprimanded whilst an Acting Sergeant for “Being in the Sergeants Mess during prohibited hours”.


George married Caroline Gudgin on the 13th April 1918 at Westcott Church. They had a son, John Dennis Rolls born in 1920 at Watford. In 1942 at Berkhamsted he married Joan Mabel Barber the daughter of PC 256 Walter James Barber.

On the 5th July 1918 he was promoted to Sergeant, embarked aboard S.S. Arundel at Folkestone then disembarked at Boulogne and joined the No. 38th Lines Of Communication Supply Company. On the 30th September 1918 he was temporarily posted to the 29th Lines Of Communication Supply Company.

On the 1st November 1918 he was posted to the 13th Field Bakery and two days later he was granted 3d per day War Pay back dated to the 7th May 1918. On the 28th November 1918 he was posted to the 11th Field Bakery.

His Army Form Z11 Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity issued on the 30th January 1919 at Purfleet records: George John William Rolls, born 1892, Sergeant S4/122279, 11th Field Bakery Royal Army Service Corps. Record and Pay Office Woolwich. Address Westcott Near Aylesbury Bucks. Medical Category A1. Place of re-joining in case of emergency Park Royal. I have received an advance of £2 signed Geo Rolls. Granted 28 days leave.

On the 27th February 1919 he was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on demobilisation at Woolwich Dockyard. He was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

Having been granted his 28 days leave George would have used this time to arrange his re-joining of the Police. This would have involved him undergoing a medical examination by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters at Hatfield to ensure he was still fit enough for Police duties. His date of re-joining would have coincided with date of the end of his leave period.

Re-joining The Police.

General Order 57 of 1st March 1919 announced the re-appointment to the Force of ten men who had been released from H.M. Army. George was shown as PC 288 Rolls G.J.W. posted to D Division at Great Berkhamsted on £2/8/0 per week from the 28th February 1919. George had his medical on the same day. Each officer had to be formally re-attested and the Superintendents concerned had to report when this has been done providing the date and place of attestation and before whom taken.


General Order 169 of the 26th July 1919 instructed George that he was being transferred from D Division at Great Berkhamsted to C Division at Hunton Bridge on the 7th August 1919. The Electoral Rolls of 1920 and 1921 list George John William Rolls as living at Hunton Bridge.

Hertfordshire Detachment To Luton Re Riots.

George 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 182 of the 20th August 1919 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 per week from the 5th August 1919.

Promotion And A Transfer.

General Order 101 of the 29th June 1921 announced that from the 30th June 1921 George was being promoted to be an Acting Sergeant and then General Order 102 of the same date instructed him that from the 7th July 1921 he was being transferred from C Division at Hunton Bridge to B Division at Bishops Stortford. The Electoral Rolls of 1922 to 1924 list George and Caroline Rolls as living at Pleasant Road, Bishops Stortford.

General Order 86 of the 4th July 1922 announced the confirmation of George’s promotion to the substantive rank of Sergeant from the 30th June 1922.

General Order 89 of the 18th July 1922 and General Order 126 of the 21st July 1923 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay with from £5/0/0 to £5/2/6 per week from the 30th June 1922 and from £5/2/6 to £5/5/0 per week from the 30th June 1923, respectively.


General Order 75 of the 25th April 1924 instructed George that he was being transferred from the 7th May 1924 from A Division at Bishops Stortford to C Division at Watford, to occupy the house being vacated by Police Sergeant Goodship. The Electoral Rolls of 1924 to 1927 record George and Caroline Rolls as living at 10, Souldern Street, Watford.

General Order 118 of the 1st August 1924 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £5/5/0 to £5/7/6 per week from the 30th June 1924.

General Order 27 of 25th February 1925 reveals that George had been successful in the Examination for Promotion from Sergeant to Inspector.

General Order 120 of the 20th August 1925 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £5/7/6 to £5/10/0 per week from the 30th June 1925.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday 8th February 1926 George attended a week long refresher class for Police Sergeants at Headquarters, Hatfield.

General Order 116 of the 25th August 1926 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £5/10/0 to £5/12/6 per week from the 30th June 1926.

Promotion And Another Transfer.

George’s Police Service Record shows that from the 1st July 1928 he was promoted to the rank of Acting Inspector and that from the 8th July he was being transferred from C Division at Watford to A Division at Ware. The Electoral Rolls of 1927 to 1930 list George and Caroline Rolls as living at 2, Watton Road, Ware. A year later he was confirmed in the substantive rank of Inspector.

A Spot Of Trouble!

On the 22nd February 1931 George was accused of neglect of duty in that he did without good and sufficient cause fail promptly and diligently to attend a fatal accident which occurred at Thundridge at about 9.10 p.m. on that date or report it to the Superintendent. Having enquired into the matter the Chief Constable accepted his explanation and no further action was taken.


George’s Police Service Record shows that from the 23rd May 1934 he was transferred from A Division at Ware to D Division at Great Berkhamsted.

Theft Of Money.

Published on Friday 14th December 1934 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner under the headline Missenden girl charged theft of money from a house: At the Great Berkhamsted Police Court on Wednesday, Lily Clack, alias Margaret Clark (18), Ballinger Lane, Great Missenden, described as a domestic servant, pleaded guilty to stealing 4/6 from a dwelling house at Berkhamsted on December 5th. Ethel Monger, of Beech Drive, Berkhamsted, married woman, said she was taken ill in the street and meeting the defendant asked her if she would go to her home and fetch her a pair of slippers. The defendant did so and returned to her house later in the evening. After she had gone witness missed 4/6 and 7/1, which she had left in a cupboard. When defendant called again witness gave her a chance to own up, and as she would not do so she informed the police. Inspector Rolls said he interviewed defendant, who denied all knowledge of the money at first, but later said, ” I did take it and spent it all but threepence. I am very sorry. I don’t know what made me do it.” Defendant said that if she was given one more chance she would not offend again. Supt. Camp proved that at Aylesbury in September defendant was bound over for stealing 2/6 from a dwelling house at Wendover. He handed to the Bench a report with regard to the defendant, which he said it was not desirable to make public. A lady rescue worker said defendant had a bad record and would not remain in situations. She was in the habit of frequenting the Air Force Camp at Halton. Defendant was asked by the Bench if she was prepared to go to a home. To this she demurred, and said, ” There is only me and my mother.” The Chairman, “You have been charged before and we can send you to prison for this.” Eventually the Bench adjourned the case for 14 days to consider the possibility of sending defendant to a home.

Shed Fire.

Published on Friday 22nd May 1936 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner under the headline Fire Near Timber Shed: Dense clouds of smoke, and flames that leapt up many feet into the air, created some excitement in Berkhamsted on Saturday morning, when fire broke out in a shed housing a small engine used for driving a saw bench in the yard of Messrs. Gurney, of Raven’s Lane. Almost instantly the entire shed was ablaze; the door was hurled off, and there appeared to be a danger of the wind carrying the flames towards a large open timber shed owned by Messrs. Key and Son. A large quantity of timber was stacked only a few yards from the blazing shed, but the flames were prevented from spreading beyond a low fence separating the two premises. As the shed was only a few feet from the canal, it was possible to organise a chain of buckets, and workmen had the blaze under control before the arrival of the Berkhamsted Fire Brigade. First on the scene was Inspector Rolls, of Berkhamsted, who was on Gravel Path canal bridge, only a few yards away, at the time of the outbreak.


Published on Friday 4th September 1936 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner under the headline Imprisonment: At Berkhamsted Police Court on Wednesday, Reginald George Purple, 12 Council Houses, Little Gaddesden, was charged with indecently assaulting a young girl at Little Gaddesden on August 13th. The girl, who was 9 years old, said she had known Purple, who was a gardener, for about three years, and spoke to him often. She alleged that the offence took place in a shed where Purple worked. On a previous occasion Purple said to her, “Don’t tell your mummy, or we shall get into trouble.” The girl’s mother also gave evidence of seeing her little girl at the shed with Purple. Police Inspector Rolls stated that when he interviewed Purple the accused denied interfering with the girl, and said, “Do you think I should do such a thing when I have children of my own six of them the eldest 18 and the youngest 3?” Mr. Douglas Thorne, who appeared for the accused, appealed to the Bench on behalf of Purple’s wife and children. He said Purple was an uneducated man of low mentality. Purple elected to be dealt with by the Bench and pleaded guilty. The Bench imposed the maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment with hard labour.


Published On Friday 31st December 1937 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner: Charged with breaking and entering a Berkhamsted residence and stealing a gold watch, a temporary postman was committed for trial at the Herts Quarter Sessions by the magistrates at the Hemel Hempstead Petty Sessions on Wednesday. Sir Walter Halsey was chairman of the magistrates. The defendant was Edgar Willis Frost, of Gossoms End, Berkhamsted, and he was charged with breaking and entering Burn Lodge, Berkhamsted, and stealing a gold watch on December 21st. He was represented by Mr. Douglas Thorne. At a previous hearing, Police Constable White said that in consequence of a report received from Walter Burnham, West Road, witness visited the premises and found that entrance had been effected through a bedroom window at the rear on the ground floor. An iron rake bore traces of white paint similar to that on the window frame, and there was a footmark on the settee which appeared to have been made by an “Uskide” sole. In company with Inspector Rolls, witness said he visited Gossoms End and saw defendant. He denied the offence, saying he was working for the Post Office. When asked where he was delivering letters the previous day defendant said, “High Street and Dellfield.” Later he admitted he was in Queen’s Road and West Road, and that he had been to Mr. Burnham’s residence. He said he did not know whether Mr. Burnham was at home or not but placed the letters in the letter-box and came straight away. Witness told him a man of his description had been seen going to Mr. Burnham’s house. When asked why he had left the sorting office so hurriedly upon seeing the Inspector, defendant replied, “I was in a hurry, I had to get back.” Defendant admitted wearing “Uskide” soled shoes that morning. He was told the shoes appeared to have made the mark on the settee in the house broken into. When the footmark was compared with defendant’s shoe defendant agreed that the mark was like one made by his own shoe. Defendant replied, “I did not do it.” On Wednesday, an imprint of an “Uskide” sole was produced and Police Constable White, replying to Mr. Thorne, said that shoes of different people were worn differently. Walter Burnham, Burn Lodge, said he left his premises at 11 a.m. on December 21st and returned at about 12.20 p.m. He noticed a newspaper which he had put on a chair cover had been moved. When he got inside, he was called by his wife to the bedroom and found the bedroom window was open. On the settee there was a dirty mark of the sole of a boot. His wife found a gold watch, valued at £3, which was left in a box beside her bed, was missing. A letter was delivered while he was absent. Walter James Clarke, West Road, Berkhamsted, said his living room window overlooked the path leading to Mr. Burnham’s premises. On December 21st, at about 11.40, he saw a man in a mackintosh and cap and carrying a bag go up the path. He took no more notice as he thought the man was delivering circulars or letters. The man came back roughly 10 minutes later. He could not recognise the man. Mr. Thorne submitted that there was not sufficient evidence for defendant to be committed. With regard to the boot imprint, he said the Bench probably knew that was made by an “Uskide” sole and they would also know that the “Uskide” sole was a standard make. They would know that if soles were worn a considerable time the studs wore out. There were an enormous number of shoes of that make and description and it was quite possible that any other person could have gone to the house other than the defendant and could have got through the window. Mr. Thorne said that defendant had no previous bad character to warrant any such charge being made against him. Actually, it appeared that he was in the unfortunate position of having visited the house as a temporary postman. He found defendant bad been employed by two milkmen at Berkhamsted and had a very good character. The Bench decided to commit defendant for trial at the Quarter Sessions and bail was extended. Mr. Thorne said that defendant pleaded not guilty and reserved his defence.

Retirement And Life After The Police.

George retired as an Inspector on the 31st December 1938 on completion of his 25 years’ service receiving a pension of £223/4/0 per annum.

Published on Friday 6th January 1939 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner under the headline Police Inspector Retires: Popular with police and townspeople alike, Inspector G. Rolls, who had been stationed at Berkhamsted since 1934, retired on Saturday. Inspector Rolls started his career in the Herts Constabulary at the Hatfield Instruction School twenty-five years ago. After serving for a period as sergeant at Watford he was transferred to Bishops Stortford, and then as Inspector at Berkhamsted, when Inspector Goodship was promoted Superintendent at Hertford. Mr. and Mrs. Rolls are leaving Berkhamsted to live at Folkestone in their retirement, and they take with them the good wishes of a large number of friends in police and town circles.

In the 1939 Register George, shown as a retired Police Inspector, and Caroline Rolls are listed as living at 26, Stanbury Crescent, Folkestone.

George John William Rolls died on the 12th August 1968 at 26, Stanbury Crescent, Folkestone. His funeral was held at 11.30 a.m. on Friday the 16th August 1968 at Folkestone.

This page was added on 02/05/2020.

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