Boswell, Harry, 256 and 326, Police Constable.

Paul Watts

Harry Boswell Award Of Pension
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

Harry Boswell was born on 11th June 1889 at Hertford and at the time of his baptism on 7th July 1889 at St Mary The Virgin, Ware the family were living at Crib Street, Ware.

His father Henry Boswell, an Agricultural Labourer, married his mother Alice Louisa Carter earlier in the year. They had 4 boys of whom Harry was the eldest followed by Sidney John born 1891, William born 15th November 1892 and Frederick born 6th January 1895. Sadly, Sidney died as an infant the year he was born.

During the census of 1891 the family were living at 27, Maidenhead Yard, Hertford. However, by the time of the 1901 there had been some upheaval and Henry and Alice were no longer living together.

Whilst Henry and eldest son Harry seem to disappear it is believed that Alice was now living with a William Newton, a Farrier, at 18, Devonshire Road, Croydon with her two youngest sons.

By the 1911 census his father Henry is living alone at Gravel Pit Cottages, Wareside and Harry has enlisted into the Coldstream Guards.

Early Army Service.

Harry’s Army Service Record no longer exists but from other records (see further on) we know he enlisted on 16th August 1909 for short service of 3 years in the Colours and 9 in the Reserves.

In the 1911 census Harry is shown as a Private in the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards at the Ramillies Barracks, Aldershot. He would have been transferred to the Reserves on or about the 16th August 1912.

Police Service.

Harry Boswell was Attested as Police Constable 256 on the 14th March 1913 and posted to E Division at Letchworth. His Service Record has not survived but the following General Orders reveal:

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. Harry is shown as PC 256 Boswell H. E Division recalled to 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards on 4th August 1914.

Army Service During The War.

His Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls show he was Private 8442 in the Coldstream Guards, landed in France on 21st August 1914 and was later awarded the 1914 Star, The Victory and British War medals. On 27th May 1920 he applied for his Clasp and Roses.

The clasp was instituted in 1919, as published in Army Order no. 361 of 16 October 1919. The clasp, together with two small silver roses, was awarded to those who had served under fire or who had operated within range of enemy mobile artillery in France or Belgium during the period between 5 August and 22 November 1914. Approximately 145,000 clasps were awarded. The exact number is unknown since the clasp had to be claimed personally by the recipients, of whom a large number had either died before 1919 or neglected to apply. When the ribbon bar alone was worn, recipients of the clasp to the medal wore a small silver rosette button on the ribbon bar.

It also shows he was awarded a Silver War Badge and discharged.

The Silver War Badge was issued to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service in World War I. The badge, sometimes known as the “Discharge Badge”, the “Wound Badge” or “Services Rendered Badge”, was first issued in September 1916, along with an official certificate of entitlement. It was a large sterling silver lapel badge and was intended to be worn on civilian clothes. The decoration was introduced as an award of “King’s silver” for having received wounds or injury during loyal war service to the Crown’s authority. Not all wounds were visible, and the wearing of this badge went a long way to prevent individuals being accused of shirking their responsibilities.

A Casualty List issued by the War Office from the 27th September 1914 showed Private 8442 H. Boswell, Coldstream Guards, listed as “Wounded”. Harry was entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being met by him being named in the list.

Published on 13th February 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
Harry Boswell Police Constable formerly at Letchworth wounded.

The transcript of his award for his Silver War Badge reveals that he originally enlisted on 16th August 1909 and he was discharged on 12th February 1916 from the Coldstream Guards due to a gunshot wound to his right thigh which fractured his femur received whilst serving overseas. His badge, number 18844, was issued on 31st October 1916.

Re-joining The Police.

General Order 17 of 15th February 1916 stated:
Reservist Police Constable Boswell, Harry, 326 C Division, on return from active service in the Army, is re-appointed as a Constable, as from 13th February 1916 inclusive, at £1/6/10 per week.

There are two things of note in this Order. Firstly, Harry has been moved from E to C Division which was probably no more than expediency on the part of the Constabulary. With so much upheaval there would have been vacancies everywhere and as a single man Harry would have been much easier to relocate. Secondly, is the change in his Warrant or Collar Number. Prior to the outbreak of war, it was fairly common to issue the same Warrant Number to more than one individual providing they were posted to different Divisions so that the Divisional letter would differentiate between them. No record of an Order instructing that this should end and that Warrant Numbers should become unique has been found, but it was obviously issued simply by the fact of the number of returning Constables who were not given their old number, as someone else was already using it, and were issued with a new one.

General Order 39 of 1916 referred to below is not available, owing to gaps in the archive, but it probably announced that following examination by the Force Surgeon Harry was no longer fit for service as a Constable.

General Order 65 of 12th June 1916 stated:
Reference Orders numbers 17 and 39 1916.
Ex-Police Constable Harry Boswell has been awarded from Police Funds, a temporary pension of 8/1, per week from 9th April 1916, inclusive.

Life After The Police.

The Electoral Rolls of 1919 to 1930 show Harry Boswell living at 14, Glebe Cottages, Hatfield.

In 1933 Harry Boswell married Lottie Mundy at Hatfield.

In the 1939 Register Harry Boswell is living at 14, Glebeland, Hatfield with his wife and mother-in-law and working as a Painter and Decorator.

Harry Boswell died on 12th December 1972 at 14 Glebe Land, Hatfield.

This page was added on 11/01/2020.

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