Herbert William Gray was born on the 13th February 1877 at St. Albans.
His father, James George a general labourer married his mother, Jane Peesley, on the 12th December 1875 at Luton. They had six children:
- Ellen Rosa born in 1870 at Knebworth.
- Arnold Percival Howson born in 1871 at Knebworth.
- Alfred George born in 1876 St. Albans.
- Herbert William.
- Caroline Mary born in 1881 at St. Albans.
- Annie Elizabeth born in 1883 at St. Albans.
During the 1881 census the family were living at Harpenden Road, St Albans. Sadly, Herbert’s mother died in 1886 at St. Albans. By the time of the 1891 census the family had moved and were now living at Bernards Heath, St. Albans. Four years later Herbert joined the Army.
Early Army Service.
Herbert’s early Army Service Record has survived and shows that on the 18th July 1895 he enlisted at St. Albans as Private 5410 in the Bedfordshire Regiment. The following was recorded: He said he was born at St. Michaels, St. Albans and his age was 19 years 6 months. In fact, he lied about his age as he was only 18 years 5 months. He gave his trade as a general labourer and said he was not an apprentice, was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never served in the Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age: 19 years 6 months. Height: 5 feet 10 ¾ inches. Weight: 126 lbs. Chest: 33 ½ to 35 ½ inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Hazel. Hair: Brown. Marks: Scar right cheek, one back right elbow one front each knee. He said his religion was Church of England and gave his next of kin as his father George and two older brothers Arnold and Alfred of Bernards Heath, St. Albans.
On the 19th July 1895 he was medically examined at Bedford and passed fit and on the 22nd July, he was posted to the Bedford Regimental Depot. Then on the 28th October, after 103 days service, he was discharged as he was considered unfit for service within three months of enlistment.
This was not the end of Herbert’s military career as on the 10th December 1895 he enlisted again at St. Albans but this time as Private 3194 in the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Militia. Again, his details were recorded and they were the same as before except he gave his correct age as 18 years 10 months. In addition, he said his current employer was Sir Blundell Maple of St. Albans and that he had served in the Bedfordshire Regiment before but had been discharged as he had been under chest measurement. In reality it is believed that his correct age had been discovered and that is why he was discharged as his description on enlistment, including his chest measurement, was exactly the same as before. On the 11th December he was medically examined at Bedford and passed fit. He was examined again on the 6th April 1896, this time at Hertford, and was again passed fit. His statement of service simply records that he underwent 28 days drill and then on the 2nd September 1896 he enlisted in the Grenadier Guards.
Herbert’s Grenadier Guards Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he enlisted as Private 5946 for short service of 7 years in the Colours and 5 in the Reserves and joined the 2nd Battalion.
Herbert’s father died in 1899 at St. Albans.
Boer War – Mentioned In Despatches.
Herbert does not appear in the 1901 census and the Medal Rolls show he served in South Africa during the Boer War. From the records of the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, compiled by Brigadier-General F. Lloyd C.B. D.S.O. is a reference to Herbert being mentioned in despatches. A Special Divisional Order issued at Harrismith and dated 19th November 1900 stated that the following names have been brought to the notice of the Lieutenant-General by their Commanding Officers: There were two names mentioned for valour and a further sixteen for good service during the campaign. Details of an incident at Biddulphsberg on the 29th May 1900 were then given as follows. Lieutenant J.A.C. Quilter, 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards and a party of men belonging to his regiment, who volunteered, rescued 12 wounded men under a heavy fire from the Boers, from being burned to death, as they otherwise would have been by the grass fire. 21 Privates are then recorded followed by Lance Corporal 5946 H. Gray. The Order was signed by G.E. Harley Colonel C.S.O 8th Division.
Herbert was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Wittebergen, Cape Colony and Transvaal and the Kings South Africa Medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.
We know that on the 1st September 1903 Herbert was transferred to the Reserves and he was finally discharged from the Army on the 1st September 1908.
Little is known about Herbert’s life during the next two years other than he worked as a labourer for Messrs. Pike and Sons of St. Albans, then he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary. As part of that process he would have had an interview and then been told to wait for a date of Appointment. He had a Medical examination on the 20th June 1905 by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters to ensure he was fit enough for Police duties.
Herbert’s Hertford County Constabulary Form 3 Service Record has survived and shows he was posted to C Division at Watford on the 21st June 1905. The following was recorded: He said he was born on the 13th February 1877 at St. Michaels, St. Albans. His height was 6 feet, chest 36 inches, complexion fair, eyes brown and his hair as dark brown. He said he could ride a pedal cycle but could not swim. He gave his next of kin as his brother, Arnold Gray of 5, Bedford Road, St. Albans and later his wife Emily E. Gray.
He would have undergone his Probationer training on the Division by a senior experienced Constable under the supervision of the Superintendent. He was Attested on the 25th July 1905 at Watford and appointed as Constable 88 on the 3rd August 1905.
General Order 31 of the 24th August 1905 announced Herbert’s appointment as Constable 88 on £1/3/11 per week from the 3rd August 1905 and his Police Service Record shows he was posted to A Division at Ware. A few days later on the 1st September 1905 his Service Record shows he was transferred again to A Division at Hoddesdon.
In January 1907 Herbert 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.
Parliamentary Elections 1906.
General Order 1 of 1st January 1906 gave instructions to dozens of Police officers in connection with the General Election of January 1906. Voting was carried out over several days and schedules were drawn up detailing where and when officers would perform duty. The following excerpts refer to Herbert: Schedule A Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Mid or St Albans Division on Wednesday 17th January 1906. Div. Rank No. Name Station Place for Duty A PC 88 Gray H W Hoddesdon St. Albans Court House Schedule B Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Eastern or Hertford Division on Friday 19th January 1906. Div. Rank No. Name Station Place for Duty A PC 88 Gray H W Hoddesdon Hertford
General Order 8 of the 7th March 1906 and General Order 11 of the 3rd March 1908 informed Herbert that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/3/11 to £1/5/8 per week from the 15th February 1906 and from £1/5/8 to £1/6/10 per week from the 13th February 1908, respectively.
Herbert married Emily Eliza Pavey on the 31st August 1908 at Hoddesdon. Herbert was recorded as a Police Constable of 38, North Road, Hoddesdon. They had five children:
- Evelyn Gwendoline born in 1909 at Ware.
- Constance Frederica born in 1911 at Wormley.
- Stanley Herbert Reginald born in 1913 at Anstey.
- Cuthbert Alwyn Kitchener born in 1915 at Anstey
- Geoffrey Cyril E. born in 1926 at Ware.
Herbert’s Police Service Record shows that on the 5th August 1908 he was transferred to A Division at Ware and then on the 15th July 1909 he was moved again to A Division at Wormley.
General Order 2 of 13th January 1910 gave instructions to dozens of Police officers in connection with the General Election of January 1910. Voting was carried out over several days and schedules were drawn up detailing where and when officers would perform duty. The following excerpts refer Herbert: Schedule A Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Eastern or Hertford Division on Wednesday 19th January 1910. Div. Rank No. Name Station Place for Duty A PC 88 Gray H W Wormley Wormley Schedule B Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Northern or Hitchin Division on Friday 21st January 1910. Div. Rank No. Name Station Place for Duty A PC 88 Gray H W Wormley Buntingford Schedule D Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Western or Watford Division 27th January 1910. Div. Rank No. Name Station Place for Duty A PC 88 Gray H W Wormley Watford
The 1910 Electoral Roll lists Herbert William Gray as living at 3, Myddleton Cottages, Wormley and the 1911 census records Police Constable Herbert Gray, his wife Eliza and daughters Evelyn and Constance as living at Church Lane, Wormley. Maps show that the Myddleton Cottages are in Church Lane.
General Order 9 of the 28th February 1911 informed Herbert that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/6/10 to £1/8/0 per week from the 9th February 1911.
A Minor Blemish.
General Order 43 of the 3rd July 1912 reported that on the 2nd July the Chief Constable had reprimanded Herbert for omitting to attend conference point at 2 a.m. on 27th June 1912.
Herbert’s Police Service Record shows that on the 10th July 1912 he was transferred to A Division at Anstey.
Herbert’s Service Record shows that on the 10th September 1912 he was in hot water with the Chief Constable again, this time he was fined 5/- and severely reprimanded for drinking on duty.
The 1914 and 1915 Electoral Rolls show Herbert William Gray as living at Cheapside, Anstey.
Military Service During The War.
Herbert’s Military Service is tied quite closely to another Hertford County Constabulary Police Constable, PC 156 Alfred John Blake. Not only were they both A Division men, but they had both belonged to the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and served in the Boer War together. Herbert’s Police Service Record shows that on the 9th September 1914, he had been loaned to the Army as a Drill Instructor. Alfred’s Police Service Record has not survived but considering what they both did next there is every likelihood that Alfred was also loaned to the Army as a Drill Instructor.
On the 16th February 1916 Herbert enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps. His Service Record has survived and shows that he enlisted as Air Mechanic Second Class 22746 for the duration of the war. Alfred Blake enlisted at the same time as 22745. However, other than enlisting together there is nothing to say that they continued to serve together.
The following was recorded: He said he was born in 1877 and that he had previously served for 12 years in the Grenadier Guards. His civilian occupation was given as a Drill Instructor and this was undoubtedly his role in the Royal Flying Corps. Details of his marriage and the births of his children were recorded. He gave his next of kin as his wife, Emily Eliza Gray wife, 70 Walton Rye Common, Hoddesdon, Herts. His description on enlistment was recorded as height 6 feet ½ inch and chest 36 inches. His trade classification was shown as Disciplinarian.
On enlistment he was posted to No. 17 Training Squadron based at Croydon. The day after he enlisted, he was promoted to Sergeant and then on the 1st August 1916 he was appointed Flight Sergeant, and on the 1st September 1916, he was appointed Acting Warrant Officer.
On the 2nd May 1917 he was promoted to temporary Sergeant Major. Then on the formation of the Royal Air Force on the 1st April 1918 he was transferred as a Sergeant Major.
On the 12th January 1919 he went before a Medical Board at Purfleet and was placed in category B11. A month later on the 9th February he was again seen by a Medical Board and was deemed category A and he was transferred to the RAF Reserve. On the 10th February he was awarded a pension of £1/7/6 and 20/- for children. On the 30th April 1920 he was deemed to be Discharged.
As Herbert had not served overseas, he was not awarded any medals.
Re-joining The Police.
General Order 54 of the 26th February 1919 stated that the Chief Constable regrets to announce that on demobilisation from H.M. Army the undermentioned Police Officers have been certified by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon to be unfit for further Police Service. PC 266 Cripps W.P. E Division. Examined 13th January 1919. PC 162 Gallen D. A Division. Examined 24th January 1919. PC 88 Gray H.W. A Division. Examined 22nd January 1919.
General Order 83 of the 1st April 1919 announced the Award of Disablement Pensions: Subject for any Pensions awarded from Army funds the following Disablement Pensions have been awarded to Police Constables Demobilised from H.M. Army and subsequently found to be unfit for further police service, viz: PC 162 Gallen D. Completed 18 years of approved service £75/18/4 per annum from 22nd January 1919. PC 88 Gray H.W. Completed 13 years of approved service £66/9/7 per annum from 9th February 1919. PC 266 Cripps W. P. Completed 4 years of approved service £49/0/0 per annum from 27th January 1919
Herbert William Gray died on the 19th March 1933 at Hertford.