Henry James Wilson was born on the 9th January 1895 at Bragbury End near Datchworth and he was baptised on the 14th April 1895 at Datchworth.
He was the youngest of three children of Henry and Martha Wilson. He had two sisters, Ada Isabel born 1891 at Datchworth and Dorothy Margaret born 1893 at Datchworth. His father was employed as a Groom and a Coachman.
During the 1891 census the family are recorded as living at Bragbury, Datchworth. In the 1901 census their address is given as 2 Bragbury End Cottages, Datchworth and confusingly at the time of the 1911 census they are described as living at Bragbury, Knebworth Station, Datchworth. In reality they could well have been occupying the same address on all three occasions. In 1911 Henry was recorded as a Wheelwright’s Apprentice.
No further record of Henry has been discovered until he joined the Police.
Henry’s Police Service Record has not survived but from General Orders we know the following:
General Order 14 of 21st January 1915
The undermentioned Recruit Constables having been brought onto the Roster for duty, are transferred from Headquarters for duty as follows:
1. PC 162 Hunt W.J. C Division Watford 22/01/1915
2. PC 95 Jordan F.G. C Division Watford 22/01/1915 to occupy house to be vacated by PC 193 Francis on 4th February 1915
3. PC 125 Cooling G.A. A Division Hoddesdon 22/01/1915
4. PC 130 Futter F. C Division Watford 22/01/1915
5. PC 184 Edwards F. A Division Ware 22/01/1915
6. PC 115 Wackett L. E Division Royston 22/01/1915
7. PC 189 Howard H.E. A Division Hoddesdon 22/01/1915 to occupy house vacated by PS 20 Wright
8. PC 51 Sermons G.E. R Division Headquarters 22/01/1915
9. PC 223 Lodge G.A. C Division Watford 22/01/1915 to occupy house to be vacated by PS 239 Wright on 4th February 1915
10. PC 214 Wilson H. C Division Watford 22/01/1915
11. PC 266 Cripps W.P. E Division Hitchin 22/01/1915
12. PC 271 Spencer C. G Division Hatfield 22/01/1915 (W.R.D. augmentation)
13. PC 329 Smith F.R. E Division Hitchin 22/01/1915
14. PC 327 Green P.J. E Division Hitchin 22/01/1915
15. PC 328 Smith S. C Division Watford 22/01/1915
16. PC 274 Rowlingson H. G Division Harpenden 22/01/1915 (W.R.D. augmentation)
17. PC 331 Kimpton G. C Division Watford 22/01/1915
18. PC 120 Day A.J. B Division Bishops Stortford 22/01/1915
19. PC 323 Cook J.W. C Division Watford 22/01/1915
20. PC 325 Reed G.W. E Division Stevenage 22/01/1915
21. PC 332 Childs J.T. E Division Hitchin 22/01/1915
22. PC 330 Crouch G.L. D Division Great Berkhamsted 22/01/1915
(W.R.D. stands for Weekly Rest Day – those so marked were ‘extra’ officers that had been agreed were necessary in order to implement the weekly rest day).
Despite all the above being posted to Divisions at the same time it is not possible to say when Henry was actually Appointed as records for these Officers, where they still exist, show a number of different dates for their Appointment.
The large numbers of new officers all being trained at Headquarters at Hatfield at the same time was unprecedented in the history of the Constabulary up to that point and reflected the dire situation regarding the strength of the Constabulary following the outbreak of the War and the subsequent loss of Army Reservists and volunteers. As it is virtually every man listed above ended up enlisting into the Army.
Including his training Henry probably only served for some 3 months before resigning in order to enlist.
General Order 42 of 17th March 1915
Police Constable 214 Henry James Wilson, C Division having submitted an application to resign his appointment as a Constable, the resignation is accepted to take effect on 8th April 1915. Police Constable Wilson will be up and including 8th April 1915, and he will be struck off the strength of the establishment as from that date.
His Army Service Record did not survive but from his Medal Roll Index Card, Medal Rolls, his Commonwealth War Grave Commission record, Soldiers Died in the Great War, De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and the Register of Soldiers Effects we know the following:
Henry James Wilson enlisted at Hertford on the 31st May 1915 into the Hertfordshire Yeomanry as Private 2425. He landed with them on 16th Novemberr1915 in the 2b Balkan Theatre. He later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) as Private 110612. He died of illness in hospital in Beirut on 16th October 1918 and was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.
The Soldiers Died in the Great War records that Private 110612 (formerly 2425, 3/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry having enlisted at Hertford) Henry James Wilson born at Datchworth, Herts. living at Stevenage, Herts. of the Machine Gun Corps. (Cavalry) died on 16 October 1918 in Mesopotamia whilst serving in the Asiatic Theatre.
The Register of Soldier’s Effects shows that Private 110612 Henry James Wilson, 19th Squadron Machine Gun Corps, died on the 16th October 1918 at the 32nd Clearing Hospital in Beirut. He authorised his effects to go to his parents.
De–Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour records:
Wilson, Henry James, Trooper 110612, Herts. Yeomanry, attached Machine Gun Corps Australian Cavalry Australian Expeditionary Force, only son of Henry Wilson, of 4, Albert Street, Stevenage, by his wife Martha, daughter of the late Joseph Denton, of Northamptonshire. Born Bragbury End, Datchworth, County Hertford, 9 January 1895, educated Aston County Council School, was a Policeman, volunteered for active service, and joined the Herts Yeomanry 31 May 1915, served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from October following, and was subsequently attached with his section to the Australian Cavalry Machine Gun Corps. He died near Damascus 16 October 1918, of enteritis, contracted while on Active Service. Buried at Beirut. He was a good cricketer, and a footballer of local repute. Unmarried.
Commonwealth War Grave Commission record reveals:
In Memory of Private Henry James Wilson 110612, 19th Squadron, Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) who died on 16 October 1918 Age 23. Son of Martha Wilson, of Bragbury End, Stevenage, Herts., and the late Henry Wilson. Joined Herts. Yeomanry, May 1915, proceeded to Egypt, October 1915. Remembered with Honour Beirut War Cemetery Grave No. 38. His mother requested “Simply to thy cross I cling, dearly loved, deeply mourned” engraved on his headstone.
Henry James Wilson is remembered on the Stevenage War Memorial and at St Nicholas and Holy Trinity Churches.