Herbert Thomas Farrer was born on 12th December 1891 in Hitchin. His father, also called Herbert was a Fireman and then a Driver on the Great Western Railway.
His father married his mother, Maria Currell, on the 15th February 1891 at Leicester and, according to the 1911 census, they had 6 children with one dying before the census.
Herbert Thomas was the eldest, Minnie Annie was born in 1893, Lois Maria in 1895, Dorothy May in 1899 and Constance Mary in 1910. No record of a sixth child has been found and it could possibly have been a still birth.
During the 1901 census the family were living at 20, Coronation Street, Cambridge.
Early Army Service.
Herbert’s earliest Army Service record has survived.
He was Attested on the 7th December 1905 as Private 3099 into the Cambridge Militia to serve in the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.
The following information was recorded:
He gave his name as Thomas Farrer, possibly as he shared the same first name with his father he may have been known in the family as Thomas. He stated he was born in Hitchin, was a British subject and his address was 20, Coronation Street, St Pauls, Cambridge.
He went on to say he was employed by a Mr Robinson, Post Office Cambridge, as a Telegraph Messenger, he was not an apprentice, he was unmarried and had no children. He stated that he had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never previously been a member of the armed services.
The previous day he was medically examined at Cambridge and considered fit for the Militia. The following was recorded:
Apparent Age 17 years (in reality he was a week short of his 14th birthday), height 5 feet 4⅜ inches, weight 115 lbs, chest 32½ inches, expansion 34½ inches, complexion fair, eyes grey, hair brown and his religion as Church of England.
He gave his next of kin as his father Herbert Farrer of 20, Coronation Street, Cambridge. There is only one further entry on the record which reads: “Joined regular Army 26th January 1906” – he was aged 15 years 1 month.
His regular Army Service Record has not survived but in the 1911 census there is a Private Thomas Farrer born c. 1888 Hitchin (there is no birth recorded that matches this) serving with D and E Companies, 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment at Mustapha Pasha Barracks, Alexandria, Egypt.
Meanwhile also shown in the 1911 census is his family living at 76, Ickleford Road, Hitchin with Herbert apparently living there with them and working as a cleaner of engines.
His Police Service Record has not survived but he is believed to have been appointed on 22nd July 1914 and commenced his training at Headquarters with PC’s William Henry Williams, Frederick Hagger, Leonard Howard, Henry Owen, John Robert Rogers and William Henry Wightman. All seven are listed on General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 as being stationed in R Division and having been recalled to their military units. None had been issued with a warrant number indicating that they were all new recruits. The Police Service Records for Hagger, Howard and Rogers survived, and all show their appointment dates as 22nd July 1914 making a strong case for Farrer, Wightman, Owen and Williams to have joined at the same time.
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. Herbert is shown as PC with no number Farrer H. R Div. recalled to the Suffolk Regiment on 4th August 1914.
Army Service During The War.
His First World War Army Service record did not survive and there is no Herbert Farrer shown as having served in the Suffolk Regiment. As seen previously he joined the Cambridge Militia as Thomas Farrer and the following details are taken from the Medal Rolls and Medal Roll Index Card of a Thomas Farrer:
Private then later Lance Corporal 7321 Thomas Farrer landed in France on 10th September 1914 with the 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment.
The 14th Field Ambulance records dated 24th September 1914 show that a Private 7231 T. Farrer suffering a gunshot wound to a leg was admitted and immediately transferred to 15th Field Ambulance.
Undoubtedly due to confusion Private 7231 T. Farrer was listed as “Missing” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office from the 8th October 1914.
Published on the 20th February 1915 in the Hertford Mercury:
Pte. T. Farrer reported bullet wound to leg in France whilst serving with 1st Suffolk Regiment in September since recovered.
Presumably whilst he was recovering from his wound, Herbert Thomas Farrer born c. 1892 a Lance Corporal with 3rd Battalion Suffolk Regiment married his wife, Matilda Laura Culpin on the 10th February 1916 at St John, Felixstowe. His father is shown as Herbert Farrer Engine Driver.
They had 6 children George H. born 23rd August 1917 at Peterborough, Joan born in 1920 at Ware, Leslie T. born in 1923 at Ware and May born in 1925, Betty born in 1927 and Doreen born 31st May 1932 all in Edmonton.
Having recovered from his wound, Lance Corporal, 7231 T. Farrer was posted back to France and on the 2nd June 1916, he was listed as “Wounded, shock, shell” 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 being met by him being named in this list.
He was awarded a Silver War Badge and discharged from the Army on 29th August 1916. The Silver War Badge was issued in the United Kingdom and the British Empire 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.
The large sterling silver lapel badge 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.
The transcript of his award for his Silver War Badge reveals that he originally enlisted on 28th February 1906. He was discharged from the Depot of the Suffolk Regiment on 29th August 1916 due to deafness. Silver War Badge number 768 was issued on 10th October 1916. He was also awarded the 1914 Star and the British War and Victory medals.
Re-joining The Police Service.
General Order 13 of 15th November 1916 reads:
“The undermentioned Reservist Police Constable’s having been discharged from H.M. Army as being no longer physically fit for War Service, and certified by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon to be unfit for further Police Services, have been struck off the strength of the Force, as from the date set forth opposite their respective names:
1. PC Williams W.H. R Division 26/08/1916
2. PC Farrer H.T. R Division 04/09/1916
3. PC 308 Bennett J.J.G. D Division 13/11/1916″
However, it would seem that he was later allowed to re-join as he was one of 8 new recruits mentioned in the following General Order:
General Order 93 of 13th April 1919
The undermentioned recruit Constables having been brought on the Roster for duty, are transferred from Headquarters to Divisions for duty as follows:
PC 20 Farrer H.F. A Div. Station Hoddesdon 11/04/1919
PC 2 Haines E.F. C Div. Station Watford 11/04/1919 Temporary duty at Hertford
PC 46 Skeggs A. C Div. Station Watford 11/04/1919
PC 123 Watson H. C Div. Station Watford 11/04/1919
PC 138 Camp A. D Div. Station Hemel Hempstead 11/04/1919
PC 154 Hagger F. E Div. Station Hitchin 11/04/1919
PC 122 Rogers J. E Div. Station Hitchin 11/04/1919
PC 14 Hollands C.H. E Div. Station Hitchin 11/04/1919 Temporary duty at Hertford
Each officer must be Attested. Superintendents concerned will report when this has been done showing, viz: Date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.
General Order 155 of 11th July 1919 announced that several Constables would receive an increased rate of pay including PC Farrer H.T. A Division from £2/3/0 to £2/5/0 per week from 10th April 1919. This is followed by General Order 235 of 4th December 1919 with a further increase for PC 20 Farrer H.T. A Division from £3/14/0 to £3/16/0 per week from 17th October 1919.
The Electoral Roll for 1920 records Herbert Thomas Farrer as living at Lampits Lodge, Conduit Lane, Hoddesdon. Then General Order 161 of 21st September 1921 announced that from 26th September 1921 PC 20 Farrer A Division stationed at Hoddesdon would occupy a new County house at Hoddesdon. This was almost certainly 29, Burford Street, Hoddesdon as the Electoral Rolls between 1922 and 1924 show Herbert Thomas Farrer living there.
General Order 196 of 9th December 1921 states that PC 20 Farrer H.T. A Division would receive another pay increase from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from 17th November 1921.
Then General Order 51 of 22nd March 1923 changed everything when it announced:
“Retirement physically unfit
The undermentioned Police Constable has been certified medically unfit for further Police Service by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon:
PC 20 Farrer H.T. B Division service 6 years 183 days. Constable Farrer will be paid up to and including 11th April 1923 and his name struck off the establishment of the Force on that date”.
This was followed by General Order 75 of 21st April 1923
“Pension Award Of.
The following pensions have been awarded and will become effective on dates shown:
Rank No Name Div Completed Annual Date of
Years of Pension Pension
Service Granted 1923
1. PS 30 Berry W.J. B 25 £181/17/6 21/04
2. PC 77 Hayes A. D 9* £76/5/4 15/03
3. PC 20 Farrer H.T. B 6* £69/6/8 12/04
4. Widow Hunt Marian £30/0/0 08/01
5. Widow Wicks Nellie £30/0/0 05/03
*Police Pension is less any amount received from Military Authorities.”
Life After Police Service.
The Electoral Rolls between 1924 and 1927 show Herbert and Matilda living at 155, Lyndhurst Road, Wood Green and in 1927 a Herbert Thomas Farrer was appointed as a Postman in North District.
Herbert and Matilda Farrer are then listed in the 1935 Electoral Roll as living at 1, Croxford Gardens, Wood Green and they are still at the same address during the 1939 Register. Herbert is recorded as now being employed as a Watchman in a factory.
In the 1952 Electoral Roll Herbert, Matilda and daughters Doreen and Betty are all listed as living at 8, The Hollies, Wood Green.
Herbert Thomas Farrer died aged 62 in 1954 at Wood Green.