George William Reed was born on the 27th March 1893 at Newport, Essex.
His father, Frederick Reed a Platelayer of the Great Eastern Railway, married his mother, Emily Bright, in 1892 at Saffron Walden. They had four children all born in Newport, one of whom sadly died before the 1911 census:
- George William.
- Florence Emily born in 1895.
- Walter Sydney born in 1901 and died in 1902.
- Leonard Albert born in 1909.
During the 1901 and 1911 census returns the family were living at The Green, Newport, Saffron Walden, Essex. In 1911 George was employed as a Railway Porter.
Little is known about the next three years except George was working as a Railway Porter at Cheshunt for the Great Eastern Railway Co. He then applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
As part of that process George underwent a Medical examination on the 10th August 1914 by G.A. Upcott Gill, Police Surgeon, who signed the following certificate: I hereby certify that I have examined the above named candidate as to his health and bodily strength, and consider him fit for the Constabulary of this County. He would also have been interviewed and told to wait for a date of Appointment.
George’s Form 3 Hertford County Constabulary Record Sheet has survived and shows that he was Appointed as Constable 325 on the 12th October 1914 on £1/4/6 per week. It also recorded that he said his age on joining was 21 7/12 years, he was born at Newport, Essex on the 27th March 1893, his height was 5 feet 9 inches, chest 35 inches to 37 ½ inches, complexion fresh, eyes brown and his hair dark brown. He said he could ride a pedal cycle but could not swim. He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin as his father, F. Reed of Newport, Essex.
He underwent his Probationer training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. At the completion of his training he was Attested on the 20th January 1915 by C.W. Gaussen J.P. and Theo Bassett J.P. at Hatfield. On the 22nd January 1915 he was taken on to the Roster and posted to E Division at Stevenage.
General Order 14 of 21st January 1915 confirmed George’s posting by announcing that he was one of 22 Recruit Constables who had been brought on the Roster for duty and were being transferred from Headquarters. He was shown as PC 325 Reed G.W. posted to E Division at Stevenage from the 22nd January 1915.
General Order 100 of the 9th June 1915 instructed George that he was being transferred from E Division at Stevenage to D Division at Great Berkhamsted on the 12th June 1915.
General Order 119 of the 4th November 1916 Removals announced that PC 324 Bozeat was being transferred to D Division Great Berkhamsted on the 9th November 1916 and to occupy the room at the Police Station being vacated by PC 325 Reed. George remained at Great Berkhamsted, but it is not known where he was living.
George married Annie Mary Birch on the 29th November 1916 at Bishops Hatfield and they had two daughters both born in Great Berkhamsted:
- Mary Evelyn born in 1917.
- Hilda Florence born in 1919.
On the 2nd May 1917 George 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. He had previously failed to qualify at Tring on the 23rd November 1915 and on the 6th December 1916, which quite clearly held back his normal pay increments.
General Order 49 of the 16th June 1917 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/4/6 to £1/6/10 per week from the 2nd May 1917.
Army Service During The War.
George’s Army Service Record has survived and from this we know the following: Frederick enlisted on the 10th December 1915 at Berkhamsted and on the 11th December 1915, he was transferred to Section B Army Reserve and returned to his Police duties. This was 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. 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.
The following was recorded: He gave his address as the Police Station Berkhamsted, his age as 22 years 9 months and his trade as Police Constable. He said he was not married (at this time) and had not previously served in the Military.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age: 22 years 9 months. Height: 5 feet 9 ¼ inches. Chest: 37 inches 2 ½ inch expansion. Distinctive marks: Vaccination 6 left arm. He gave his next of kin as his parents Frederick and Emily Reed of Gate House, Newport, Essex and later his wife Annie Mary Reed of 23, Highfield Road, Great Berkhamsted.
His Medical History Army Form B178 recorded that he was examined at Berkhamsted on the 10th December 1915 and it noted the same information as his description on enlisting with the addition that he said he was born at West Hyde Herts., his weight was 136 lbs., his hair brown, complexion sallow, eyes brown, his physical development fair and had identifying marks of a pigmented patch and a mole on the left side his neck.
On the 23rd April 1918 George was one of fifteen Hertford County Constabulary Police Constables who were Mobilised at the same time. Five joined the Coldstream Guards and ten, including George as Guardsman 32198, joined the Grenadier Guards. They were given consecutive Army Service numbers. The others were 32193 William Sturman, 32194 Charles Spencer, 32195 Horace Human, 32196 James Childs, 32197 Frederick Futter, 32199 Thomas Abrathat, 32200 George Cooling, 32201 Leonard Wackett and 32202 George Berry. Other than perhaps their initial training there is no evidence to show that they served together.
The end of the war arrived before George could be posted overseas and consequently, he did not receive any medals. On the 13th January 1919 he was transferred to the Army Reserve. On the 31st March 1920 he received his final discharge.
His Statement as to Disability Army Form Z22 recorded: Unit: Grenadier Guards. Regiment: 1st Provisional Battalion. Regt. No.: 32198. Rank: Guardsman. Name: George William Reed. Address: 23, Highfield Road, Berkhamsted, Herts. Age last birthday: 25. First joined for duty: April 1918 at Hertford. Medical category: A1. I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my Military Service, signed George William Reed. Examined: Aldershot 15th December 1918.
Like every other soldier George would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to apply to re-join the Police. He would have had to have undergone a Medical Examination by the Force Surgeon to ensure that he was still fit enough for Police duties. Having passed this, he would have been re-Appointed on the day following the date of the end of his leave period.
Re-joining The Police.
General Order 5 of 6th January 1919 listed 13 Police Soldiers who having been released from H.M. Army were re-appointed to the Force with effect from the dates shown. George was shown as PC 325 Reed G.W. of D Division at Great Berkhamsted on 2nd January 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. Superintendents concerned had to report to the Chief Constable when this has been done, showing the date and place of Attestation and before whom taken. The 1919 to 1924 Electoral Rolls record George and Annie Reed as living at 23, Highfield Road, Berkhamsted.
George’s Police Service Record shows that on the 1st April 1919 he was awarded a pay increase from £2/7/0 to £3/18/0 as part of a national increase. General Order 235 of the 4th December 1919 informed George that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from the 12th October 1919.
General Order 170 of the 12th October 1920 announced that George had received a Commendation: Philip Claud Edmonds and Brabazon Sidney Vivian – Housebreaking at Hounslow. At the Brentford Petty Sessions held on 4th October 1920, Police Constable 325 George William Reed ‘D’ Division, station Gt. Berkhamsted, was commended by the Chairman for smartness and discretion displayed in the apprehension of the prisoners at Gt. Berkhamsted. The facts are that Police Constable 325 Reed stopped and questioned the two men who were riding bicycles at Gt. Berkhamsted at 3.15 a.m. on 25th September 1920 and in consequence of this action found the men were in possession of a bicycle and a quantity of tobacco stolen at Hounslow during the night of the 23rd September. The Chief Constable endorses the commendation of the Justices and directs that an appropriate entry shall be made on the Constable’s record sheet.
The following entry from his Police Service Record and General Orders all informed George he would receive an increase of pay on the 12th October of the year shown: In 1920 from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 per week. General Order 174 of the 20th October 1921 from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week. General Order 157 of the 18th November 1922 from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week. General Order 190 of the 24th November 1923 from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week.
General Order 3 of the 8th January 1924 instructed George that from the 14th January 1924 he was being transferred from D Division at Great Berkhamsted to E Division at Stevenage and to occupy the cottage being vacated by Constable 338 Long. The 1924 to 1926 Electoral Rolls list George and Annie Reed as living at 5, Haycroft Road, Stevenage.
On the 9th December 1924 the Chief Constable investigated an accusation that George and PC 186 Lewis were guilty of discreditable conduct in that on the 8th December they did act in a manner likely to bring discredit on the reputation of the Hertford County Constabulary in that they failed to support Acting Inspector Digby (a superior officer) when engaged in the apprehension of prisoner William Marwell. The Chief Constable dismissed the case.
General Order 206 of the 27th December 1924 informed George that he had been granted an increased rate of pay from 4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 12th October 1924.
General Order 22 of the 3rd February 1927 instructed George that he was being transferred from E Division at Stevenage to A Division at Thorley and to occupy the cottage being vacated by Constable Smith. This was followed by General Order 27 of the 12th February which stated that the transfer had been suspended temporarily. George’s Police Service Record shows he finally moved on the 24th February. The 1927 to 1930 Electoral Rolls record George and Annie Reed as living at Thorley Police Cottage.
His Police Service Record also shows that on the 12th October 1931 the Standing Joint Committee agreed a pay increase from £4/10/0 to £4/12/6 per week. A further increase was awarded on the 12th October 1936 from £4/12/6 to £4/15/0 per week.
On the 11th November 1938 George was off sick for fifteen days having suffered a bruised ribs and shoulder. This was classified as an injury on duty but the record of the circumstances of how the injury occurred have not survived.
General Order 116 of the 16th August 1939 announced the retirements on Pension of one Police Sergeant and six Constables. Having all submitted applications to resign their respective appointments in the Hertford County Constabulary on 11th October 1939, on pension, the resignations had been accepted. George was one of the Constables. They would all be paid up to and including the 11th October 1939, and their names struck off the establishment of the Force on that date.
Of course, before he had a chance to retire World War 2 started and the 1939 Register shows Police Constable George Reed and his family as living at the Police Cottage, Thorley Street, Braughing.
On the 31st October 1939 George’s Police Service Record shows that he was transferred from A Division at Thorley to E Division at Hitchin.
Included in the Police Service Record of PC George Cooling is a memo together with associated responses:
It was dated the 11th July 1941 was from Superintendent H.A. Goodson E Division to the Chief Comstable and entitled Rent Allowance – PS 7 Capon Royston, PC 325 Reed Hitchin, PC 296 Barker Hitchin, PC 125 Cooling Hitchin.
I respectfully submit herewith applications from the above named members of this Division, for an increase in allowance for Rent to a rate of £1 per week, on the grounds of increase in Rates and payment for War Damage Insurance. I respectfully recommend the matter receives favourable consideration.
The Chief Constable’s made these notes to the Deputy Chief Constable:
- None of these applications show the exact increase in rates. War Damage Insurance appears to be less than 1/- per week, whereas the increase asked for are upwards of 5/- per week.
- Sergeant Capon was permitted to live in his own house as a special privilege, therefore I do not feel in the least that any expenses connected with it are my concern.
- Constable Reed should know that the Secretary of State has doubtless considered in general such cases as his. If he feels unfit to continue duty he should ask to see the Staff Surgeon.
- I feel that it would be probably be better to let these men go on pension.
Signed S.M.E. Fairman and dated 13th July 1941.
On the same day the Chief Constable replied to the Superintendent E Division: These men were granted a special privilege to reside in their own houses, in some cases to the detriment of other officers. None of these applications show the exact increase in rates. War Damage Insurance appears to be less than 1/- per week, whereas the increases asked for are upwards of 5/- per week. Sergeant Capon was permitted to live in his own house as a special privilege therefore I do not feel in the least that any expenses connected with it are my concern. If hs is dis-satisfied he can move back into the Police Quarters. Constable Reed should know that the Secretary of State has doubtless considered in general such cases as his. If he feels unfit to continue duty, he should ask to see the Staff Surgeon. Please inform these men accordingly, and report when done. S.M.E. Fairman Captain Chief Constable.
Finally on the 5th August 1941 Inspector F. Futter on behalf of the for Superintendent E Division repported to the Chief Constable: I respectfully report in accordance with the above that the Officers concerned have been informed as to the contents of Memo CC 15900/41.
George did not choose to see the Force Surgeon and stayed in the Force and on the 1st April 1945, he received a National pay increase to £6/3/0.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
George retired on the 12th October 1945 on pension having completed 31 years of Service. He received a pension of £213/15/9 per annum.
George William Reed, a retired Engineers Clerk, of 56, Gaping Lane, Hitchin died on the 8th November 1967. He was buried on the 13th November 1967.