Herbert Sidney Webb was born on the 9th March 1892 at Linton, Cambridgeshire and he was baptised there on the 25th March 1892. However, he was clearly known as Sidney by his family, as seen in the 1901 census, which without doubt lead to some confusion during the First World War.
His father, William Thomas Webb, married his mother, Martha Mary Ann Notley on the 8th December 1883 at Linton. They had seven children all born in Linton
1. Frederick William born in 1884
2. Martha Ellen born in 1886
3. James Henry born in 1890 (known as Henry)
4. Herbert Sidney
5. Olive Emma born in 1893
6. Ernest in born in 1896
7. Gladys Margaret born in 1898 Linton
In all of the census returns of 1891, 1901 and 1911 the family are shown as living at Barham Road or Bartlow Road, Linton. It is thought that this was the same address as Barham Hall is located in Bartlow Road. William was shown as either a farm labourer or a horse keeper on a farm. Herbert is not at home in 1911 as he had joined the Army.
Early Army Service
Herbert’s Army Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know the following. Herbert, possibly as he didn’t know any different, enlisted on the 18th November 1910 at Royston as Private 14978 Sidney Webb, born in 1892 (age 18) at Cambridge, in the Grenadier Guards for short service of three years in the Colours and nine in the Reserves.
In the 1911 census Herbert, shown as Sidney age 19 born in Linton, Cambridgeshire, was living at the Blenheim Barracks, Aldershot with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards.
He served for three years with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and was discharged to the Army Reserve on the 17th November 1913. He would remain a Reservist until the 17th November 1922.
Herbert applied to join the Police shortly after leaving the Army.
Probably as he would have had to produce his birth certificate Herbert was recorded as Herbert Sidney Webb when he joined the Police. His Form 3 Police Service Record has survived and shows the following:
He stated he was born on the 9th March 1892 at Linton, Cambridgeshire. He said his height was 5 feet 10 inches, his chest 35 ½ – 37 inches, his complexion fresh and his eyes and hair as brown. He said he could ride a bicycle but could not swim.
He gave his next of kin as his mother, Martha Webb, of Barnham Road, Linton.
Herbert had a Medical Examination by the Force Surgeon on the 26th February 1914 to determine whether he was fit enough for Police duties.
He was Appointed as Constable 317 on the 9th March 1914 and started his Probationary Training at ‘R’ Division, Headquarters at Hatfield. He was in the 8th Class with Sergeant Cousins and Constable Sharp as his instructors.
On the 20th June 1914 Herbert was transferred to ‘C’ Division at Watford and he was Attested the same day at St. Albans.
General Order 118 of the 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. Herbert is shown as PC 317 Webb H.S. ‘C’ Division recalled to 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards on the 4th August 1914.
Army Service During The War.
Herbert landed in France with the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards on the 13th August 1914. His Police Service Record states that he served on the Western Front between the 15th August 1914 and the 20th October 1914.
However, on the 2nd October 1914 Private 14978 S. Webb Grenadier Guards was recorded as wounded on the Casualty List issued by the War Office. He was entitled to wear a Wound Stripe as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. The terms of this award having been met by his being named in this list.
In the Police Gazette dated Tuesday 26th January 1915 Hebert is recorded as either being absent or a deserter from the Army with the following recorded:
Name: Webb Sidney Regimental No: 14978. Corps: 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards. Age: 23. Height: 5 feet 9 ¼ inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Brown. Hair: Brown. Trade: Not listed. Enlisted: 18th November 1910 Royston. Born: Cambridge. Missing: Date not listed. Place: London.
It is believed that, probably in all innocence, Herbert was listed in the Police Gazette as he had given his full name of Hebert Sidney when he was wounded and, despite providing his Service number, the connection was not made with his original Service Record. From seeing a similar situation on another soldier’s record, when the confusion was uncovered, Herbert would have had to provide proof of his full name and swear in a statement that there had been no deliberate intention to deceive. Clearly the matter must have been satisfactorily resolved as his Police Service Record states that he again served on the Western Front from the 15th August 1915 to the 13th March 1919. He was later awarded the 1914 Star, the Victory and British War medals.
Herbert was demobilised on the 9th April 1919. Like every other soldier he would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to arrange his re-appointment with the Police.
Re-joining The Police.
General Order 94 of 13th April 1919 announced the re-appointment to the Force of seven men who had been released from H.M. Army. Herbert was shown as PC 54 Webb H.S. posted to ‘C’ Division at Watford from the 10th April 1919 on £2/8/0 per week. Each officer had to be formally re-attested and the Superintendents concerned had to report when this has been done providing the date and place of attestation and before whom taken. Herbert was re-attested on the 15th April 1919.
Part of the process of his re-appointment, which initially was provisional, would have involved Herbert having to pass a medical with the Force Surgeon, which he did on the 16th April 1919, to ensure he was still fit enough to perform Police duties.
The other requirement necessary to confirm his appointment was that there had to be a favourable report from his Regiment with regard to his suitability to resume his Police career. Had the report stated that he had been a deserter then it would have been unlikely that Herbert would have been allowed to remain a Constable. The fact that he did supports the theory over the confusion with his names.
Something of note is the change in his Warrant or Collar Number from 117 to 54. 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.
Herbert married Elizabeth Cole on the 10th June 1919 Edmonton. They had five children:
1. Joyce Louise born in 1920 at Barnet who married in 1941 at Hitchin Geoffrey Wilfred Sturman the son of PC William Sturman (who had joined with Herbert)
2. Dennis W. born in 1923 at Barnet
3. Arthur Henry S. born in 1924 at Hatfield
4. Margaretta Irene born in 1928 at Barnet
5. Derek R. born in 1935 at Hitchin
General Order 51 of the 19th March 1920 informed Herbert that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 per week from the 9th March 1920.
On the 11th March 1921 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.
General Order 42 of the 21st March 1921 informed Herbert that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week from the 9th March 1921.
General Order 129 of the 29th July 1921 instructed Herbert that from the 3rd August 1921 he was being transferred from ‘C’ Division at Watford to ‘D’ Division at Great Berkhamsted, and to occupy quarters being vacated by Acting Police Sergeant 35 Reid. The Electoral Rolls of 1922 to 1924 show Herbert and Elizabeth as living at the Police Station, High Street, Berkhamstead.
General Order 26 of the 16th February 1922 announced a Commendation for Herbert:
Rex. V. Bateman, Higgins and Lee. Poaching Prevention Act.
At Hemel Hempstead Petty Sessions on 15th February 1922 the chairman – Spencer L. Holland, Esq. – commended Inspector Herbert Lawrence and PC’s 54 Herbert Sidney Webb and 316 Arthur Samuel Brown for the manner in which they acted in this case. The Chief Constable endorses this commendation and directs that an appropriate entry shall be made on the Officer’s Record Sheets.
General Order 38 of the 16th March 1922, General Order 65 of the 8th March 1923 and General Order 59 of the 5th April 1924 informed Herbert that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week from the 9th March 1922, from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from the 9th March 1923 and from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 9th March 1924 respectively.
General Order 143 of the 26th August 1924 instructed Herbert that from the 4th September 1924 he would be transferred from ‘D’ Division at Great Berkhamsted to ‘B’ Division at Harmer Green, to occupy the cottage to be vacated by Acting Police Sergeant 7 Capon. The 1925 to 1930 Electoral Rolls list Herbert and Elizabeth as living at Harmer Green, Digswell.
General Order 62 of the 4th May 1926 announced that due to the General Strike The Emergency Regulations 1926 had been created and issued instructions for Superintendents:
The Following members of your respective Divisions will be warned individually by you that should the County Force be called upon by the Secretary of State under Regulations No. 26 and 27 to draft men elsewhere, they must be ready to proceed at short notice. Orders for equipment and clothing will be issued if and when necessary, but it will be well if the men recognize that they will require some sort of haversack. In all 72 Officers were named including PC 54 H.S. Webb of B Division, Harmer Green.
A Royal Visit – Mutual Aid To Luton Borough Police.
General Order 156 of 14th November 1926 announced orders for an Inspector, two Sergeants and 18 Constables with regard to the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales to Luton on the 17th November 1926. Herbert was listed as one of those detailed to attend. In command of the Hertfordshire contingent was Inspector G.T. Sharp of ‘R’ Division who would act under orders as laid down by the Chief Constable of the Borough of Luton. The detachment was instructed to report at the Borough Police Station Luton at 9 a.m. The men were ordered to take the following dress and equipment: Great Coats 1925 issue, Cloth jackets 1926 issue, Dress trousers 1926 issue, Cloth helmets 1926 issue, Whistle and chain, Handcuffs, Pocket Book, Truncheon, Black woollen gloves and Capes.
On the 9th December 1930 Herbert was transferred from ‘B’ Division at Harmer Green to ‘E’ Division at Letchworth.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
On the 8th March 1939 Herbert retired on the completion of his 25 years’ service on a pension of £145/9/7 per annum.
In the 1939 Register living at 56, Eldefield, Letchworth are Herbert, a Night Watchman, Elizabeth and three of their children.
Herbert Sidney Webb of 5 Lower Gower Road, Royston died on the 9th June 1966.