Henry Francis Charles Elkins, who was known as Harry, was born on 10th March 1883 in Umballa, India into what can only be described as a Military family. Also, like the Dolley brothers, this is a story of two brothers who were Hertford County Constabulary Police officers, only fortunately with a much happier ending.
Henry’s father was Daniel Charles Elkins who married his mother Emily Kate George on the 22nd November 1876 at St Marks Church, New Swindon, Wiltshire. Daniel Elkins had enlisted in the 9th Lancers on 5th April 1871 at Aldershot.
His father was posted to India, taking his new wife with him, on 28th December 1876 and he served there and in Afghanistan until 22nd November 1885. Daniel and Emily had seven children with the first being Henry. Then came Bertram George Canon who was born on the 28th May 1884 also in Umballa. Like their father he became a career soldier finishing as a Colour Quarter Master Sergeant in the Royal Fusiliers having served right through WW1.
Next came Ernest Albert Victor who was born on the 15th December 1887 in York and was to become the second Hertfordshire Police Officer. He volunteered and served with the Hertfordshire Yeomanry and his story is recounted in the category dedicated to them. Fourth eldest was Douglas Stewart who was born on the 29th April 1890 in Chorlton, Manchester he served in the 1/8 Battalion, Middlesex Regiment again throughout WW1.
Then came the first of two sisters, Edith Madeline, who was born in 1893 in Dundalk, Ireland followed by Theresa Patricia Kate born on the 16th August 1894 in Aldershot. Finally, there was Eugene who was born in 1899 at Fort George, Guernsey. He served as a Private G/28924 in the 7th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment and died of wounds on the 31st March 1918 in France.
During the 1891 census the family were living in Ireland where their father was serving as a Troop Sergeant Major in the 9th Lancers.
At the time of the 1901 census the family were living at Inkerman Barracks, Knaphill, where their father, who had left the Army after completing 21 years’ service, was the Canteen Steward in a Beer Bar and probably employing Henry who is a Canteen Waiter.
In the 1911 census the family, except Henry and Ernest were living at 98, High Street, Berkhamstead where their father is running his own Wine and Spirit Merchants.
Whilst Ernest had just joined the Police, Henry had followed in his father’s footsteps as the 1911 census records him as living at the Canterbury Barracks, Sturry Road, Canterbury where, as a single man, he was a Lance Corporal in the 9th Lancers.
Early Army Service.
Unlike his father’s record, Henry’s Army Service Record has not survived. The only details we have are gleaned from his Police Service Record which does still exist.
He is understood to have enlisted in the 9th Lancers around the 17th July 1903 as Private 5015. He served 8 years and went into the Reserve as a Lance Corporal on the 17th July 1911 and was due to be discharged from the Reserve on the 17th July 1915.
Henry’s four page Form 3 Service Record has survived, and the following information is contained within it:
Henry had clearly planned to join the Police well before he left the Army and must have been on leave from the Army when he was medically examined on 20th June 1911 and when he started his Probation. The Police Surgeon’s Certificate stated:
“I hereby certify that I have examined the above candidate as to his health and bodily strength and consider him fit for the Constabulary of this County”.
(signed) Lovell Drage Surgeon.
Henry started his Probationary training at C Division Watford on the 29th June 1911. At this time all training was carried out on Divisions and not at Headquarters. He would probably have been installed either in the single men’s accommodation at King Street Police Station or in lodgings in the town. He was Attested on the 1st August 1911 at Watford in front of two Justices of the Peace, Mr J.F. Watkins and Mr S. Tapprell Holland, but not finally appointed until the 16th November 1911 as Police Constable 90.
His description was included on the form:
Age on joining: 28 3/12 years. Place and date of birth: Umballa, India 10th March 1883. Height: 5 feet 11 inches. Chest: 37 ½ inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Hazel. Hair: Dark brown. Marks: Scar on middle finger right arm. Religion: Church of England. Benefit society: Hearts of Oak. Amount of weekly benefit: 18/-.
His previous occupation, presumably before serving in the Army, was given as a Grocers Assistant. It also showed that he could not ride a bicycle and that he could not swim.
On the 13th December 1911 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. It was also necessary for him to have this as it was a condition of further progress up his pay scale.
His Rates of Pay were shown for throughout his service. NSP is believed to refer to a national pay increase.
Rank Rate of Pay Date of Increase
PC £1/1/7 29/06/1911
PC £1/3/11 16/11/1911
PC £1/5/8 30/05/1912
PC NSP £1/6/3 01/10/1912
PC £1/6/10 16/11/1913
PC £2/10/0 02/01/1919
PC NSP £4/4/0 01/04/1919
PC £4/6/0 16/11/1919
PC £4/8/0 16/11/1920
PC £4/10/0 16/11/1921
PC £4/12/6 16/11/1928
Henry married Alice Rose Castle on the 17th December 1912 in Eastry, Kent. They had a son, Ian Charles born 8th April 1916 at Watford. (He was a Sergeant Pilot, Service No: 742893, in the RAF Volunteer Reserve who died on the 12th March 1941).
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. Henry is shown as PC 90 Elkins H.F.C. C Division recalled to the 9th Lancers on 4th August 1914.
Despite the above Order the Electoral Roll for 1915 shows that he is living at 15, Souldern Street, Watford.
Army Service During The War.
Henry’s Police Service Record is endorsed “Recalled to colours 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers 4th August 1914 rank Lance Corporal. Home service from 4th August 1914 to 17th December 1918, medals nil, wounded badges nil, Demobilised 17th December 1918 rank Orderly Room Sergeant Major”.
Certainly, no Medal Roll or Medal Roll Index card could be found for Henry an entry in the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland Membership Register indicates where he was for at least some of the time. Henry F.C. Elkins registered on the 19th February 1918 stating he was a soldier. The Lodge was at Curragh Camp, Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland. He resigned in 1919.
Again, it’s Henry’s Police record that we have to turn to learn that he was Discharged from the Army on the 1st January 1919. All soldiers were granted 28 days leave when they were demobilised and as Henry was demobilised on 17th December 1918 then that would be correct.
Re-joining The Police.
Henry was medically examined by the Police Surgeon on 1st January 1919 to ensure he was fit to resume his duties as a Constable.
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. Henry was shown as PC 90 Elkins H. of C Division at Watford on 2nd January 1919 on £2/10/0 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.
Henry was re-attested on the 7th January 1919 and resumed full duties from that date.
On 27th October 1920 Henry’s Service Record shows that he was transferred to St Albans (there was a large part of the City not covered by the St Albans City Police), and the Electoral Rolls for 1921 to 1924 show the family were living at 44, Tess Road, Fleetville, St Albans.
On the 17th February 1923, whilst stationed in St Albans, Henry passed his exam and qualified for promotion to the rank of Police Sergeant, but he was never promoted.
General Order 191 of 20th November 1924 announced that on the 1st December 1924 Constable 90 Elkins of D Division at St Albans would be transferred to E Division at Letchworth. The Electoral Rolls of 1925 to 1930 record the family as living at 27, Pix Road, Letchworth.
On the 16th January 1935 the Chief Constable admonished PC 90 Elkins E Division for failing to take details of a road traffic accident reported to him on the 30th November 1934.
On the 15th November 1936 Henry retired on pension on completion of his service.
Life After The Police
The 1939 Register Henry and Alice Elkins are living at 197, Cambridge Road, Hitchin. Henry is employed as a Storekeeper for a Tool Manufacturer.
They later moved to Herne Bay, Kent. Henry died on 21st January 1957 in Canterbury, Kent.