George Tatham was born in 1891 at Sherrington, near Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire and was baptised there on the 9th October 1891.
His father was George Edward Tatham who married Lucy Rainbow at Newport Pagnell in 1875. They had 8 children; 5 boys and 3 girls of which George was the youngest. Two of his sisters died before he was born.
In the 1881 census the family were living at Newport Road, Sherrington and their father was employed as a shepherd. By the time of the 1891 census they had moved to Church End, Sherrington and their father was now a farm labourer.
The 1901 census saw a complete change of circumstances and finds them living at Gilbert House, Gilbert Street, Enfield, Middlesex with their father working as a general carrier.
A notice published in The Herts and Cambs Reporter and the Royston Crow on 21st February 1908 announced another change in direction for the family with the temporary transfer of the license of the Six Bells, Guilden Morden, Royston to George Tatham late of Enfield.
The 1911 census reveals that the temporary transfer became permanent as their father is employed as a publican and the family are still living at the Six Bells. George is employed as a general labourer.
George’s Police Service Record has not survived but from General Order 71 of the 30th July 1918 (see full text further on) we learn that he was Appointed as Constable 310 in F Division stationed at Hertford on 9th March 1914.
Further General Orders reveal some more brief details.
General Order 47 of 26th March 1915 relates to breaches of discipline by two Constables, one of whom was George. It records that Police Constable 310 F, George Tatham, having been reported for: “Being absent from his station from 11.30 a.m. Monday 15th March to 4.20 p.m. 16th March 1915. (28 hours and 50 minutes)”. The Chief Constable decided he should be “Admonished and forfeit two days pay”, which, in relation to the wide ranging scale of punishments available to the Chief Constable, is very much at the lower end. It suggests that whatever George was doing was not considered to be wrong, but that he just should not have done it without seeking his superior’s consent in the first place and of course discipline must be seen to be maintained.
General Order 98 of 9th June 1915 was entitled:
“The Police Constable (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915.”
The undermentioned Police Constables being desirous in enlisting in H.M. Army for the period of the War, the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent, as required by the above Acts:
1. PC 10 Elkins E. A Division
2. PC 120 Day A.T. B Division
3. PC 285 Sirett B Division
4. PC 319 Potter C. C Division
5. PC 133 Mansfield A. C Division
6. PC 145 Abbiss F.W. C Division
7. PC 84 Manton W.E. C Division
8. PC 313 Quarrie H.H. C Division
9. PC 301 Allen G.A. C Division
10. PC 217 Lake O. C Division
11. PC 308 Clarke F. C Division
12. PC 101 Appleby S.R. E Division
13. PC 310 Tatham G. F Division
14. PC 315 Thurley W.J. F Division
15. PC 305 Archer G. F Division
16. PC 93 Potton F. G Division
17. PC 274 Rowlingson H. G Division
18. PC 321 Reid N. G Division
The Constables will be permitted to join the Army at once and will paid up to and including the date prior to that on which they commence to draw Army pay.
The Superintendents concerned 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 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 310 Tatham G. F Division who enlisted in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry on 17th June 1915.
His Army Service Record did not survive but from his Medal Roll Index Card, Medal Roll, Commonwealth War Grave Commission records, Soldiers Died in the Great War, General Orders and a newspaper article we know:
George Tatham enlisted in the 1st/1st Herts. Yeomanry on 17th June 1915 at Hertford as Private 11145 (later 270927 under re-organisation). His Medal Roll and Index Card both show that he held the rank of Acting Sergeant, but every other record shows him as a Private. For reasons unknown he does not appear in a photograph of 23 other Hertfordshire Police Officers who all joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. It is possible that he had already transferred to the Essex Regiment.
He served as Private 202755 in the 11th Service Battalion, Essex Regiment. He was wounded whilst serving in France and died of these wounds at the 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne on 4th July 1918. He was buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France in Plot I.D.36. He authorised his effects to go to his father. He was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medals.
On the 18th October 1917 it was recorded on War Office Daily List No.5393 that Private 202755 G. Tatham, Essex Regiment had been wounded. This entitled him to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of the 6th July 1916. It is not clear whether this was the wound which ultimately led to his dying or whether he was wounded again on a later occasion.
However, War Office Daily List No.5648 published on 20th August 1918 announced that Private 202755 G. Tatham, Essex Regiment, previously reported as wounded was now reported as having died of his wounds. The ten months between the publication of the first list and this one does seem to be an extraordinary length of time for him to remain in hospital in France, but it is possible.
Commonwealth War Grave Commission Records show:
In Memory of George Tatham Private 202755, 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment who died on 4th July 1918 age 26. Son of George and Lucy Tatham, of Guilden Morden, Cambridgeshire. He is Remembered with Honour at the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France in Plot I.D.36.
General Order 71 of 30th July 1918 stated:
“The Deputy Chief Constable regrets to announce that the following deaths have occurred.
1. L/Corpl. P13932 Walter Pepper Military Mounted Police Killed in Action 29th June 1918.
2. Pte. 202755 George Tatham 4th Essex Regiment Died of Wounds 4th July 1918.
Ex-PC Pepper 145 E Division Station Hitchin joined the Hertford County Constabulary on 8th April 1909 and was recalled to Active Service on 4th August 1914.
Ex-PC Tatham 310 F Division Station Hertford joined the Hertford County Constabulary on 9th March 1914 and enlisted in H. M. Army on 17th June 1915.”
Published on 13th July 1918 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“Tatham. Private G. Tatham, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Tatham, Guilden Morden, died of wounds, July 4 at 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne.
Sleep on, dear one, in a far off land,
In a grave I may never see.
But as long as life and memory lives
I shall always remember thee.
The identity of Edie is unknown but may have been George’s sweetheart.