James John Green Bennet was born on the 17th August 1891 in Hatfield and baptised there on 20th September 1891.
His father, James George Green Bennett, was a Carman (delivery driver) and married his mother, Harriet Bridges, at Islington on 6th April 1890.
They had 9 children of whom 1 died prior to the 1911 census. There were five boys and 4 girls and James was the eldest.
In the 1891 and 1901 census returns the family are shown as living at New Town Cottage, Hatfield, but by the time of the 1911 census James has left home and his family has moved 6, Chapmans Terrace, Hatfield.
Early Army Service.
His Army Service Record has not survived but from other sources (see further on) it is known that he enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery on the 2nd December 1910. By the 1911 census he was living at Topsham Artillery Barracks, Topsham Road, Heavitree, Devon as a Gunner in the 56th Battery, Royal Field Artillery. He signed up for short service of 3 years in the Colours and 9 in the Reserves which meant he would have entered the Reserves on or about the 2nd December 1913.
Nothing is known about his life until he joined the Hertford County Constabulary.
His Police Service Record has also not survived but from General Orders the following is known.
The only date of his Attestation is from record that was made from a Pension book, which is not available to be able to verify its accuracy, and this shows that it occurred on 9th March 1915 and that he left the Constabulary on 6th August 1915. This completely contradicts the source that is available, General Order 118 of 1915, and it is much more likely that he was Attested on 9th March 1914. The date he was struck off the strength of the establishment is accurate as 6th August 1915.
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. James is shown as Police Constable 308 Bennett J.J. of D Division, who was recalled to the Royal Field Artillery on 4th August 1914. This clearly shows that James was already a serving Constable at this time. No stations are shown for anyone on the list but as a Probationary Constable he would most likely have been posted at the Divisional Headquarters at Hemel Hempstead.
Army Service During The War.
A single burnt Army record has survived that indicates that James was posted as Gunner 62796 to the 56th Battery Royal Field Artillery but there is no date for when this was. However, his Medal Index Roll Card and Medal Rolls also show he was Gunner 62796 but in the 47th Battery Royal Field Artillery and that he landed in France on 16th August 1914. He was later awarded the 1914 Star, The Victory and British War medals. It also shows he was awarded a Silver War Badge and discharged.
The Silver War Badge was issued 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. It was a large sterling silver lapel badge and 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. Not all wounds were visible, and the wearing of this badge went a long way to prevent individuals being accused of shirking their responsibilities.
The transcript of his award for his Silver War Badge reveals that he originally enlisted on 2nd December 1910 and he was discharged on 5th August 1915 from the 2nd Reserve Battery Royal Field Artillery due to wounds received whilst serving overseas. His badge, number 34442, was issued on 1st March 1917
He has an entry in the National Roll of Honour which reads:
He was serving at the outbreak of war and was immediately afterwards sent to the Western Front and took part in the Battle of Mons and Ypres. He was severely wounded and invalided home and was discharged as medically unfit for further service in August 1915 holding the Mons Star, General service and Victory medals. Back Street, Hatfield.
Unfit For Further Police Service.
General Order 159 of 14th October 1915 reads:
Reservist Police Constable John James Green Bennett, who was recalled to the Colours upon mobilisation on 4th August 1914, was discharged from the Army on 5th August 1915 as being medically unfit for further Military Service, consequent upon wounds in the right arm. Reservist Police Constable Bennett has been granted a pension of 20/- per week from Army funds, for a period of six months from 6th August 1915, and under the powers conferred upon them by Section 1 of the “Police Constables (Naval and Military) Services Act 1914, the Standing Joint Committee have also granted to him a pension of 4/6d per week from Police funds, for a period of 6 months from 8th August 1915.
General Order 13 of 15th November 1916 reads:
The undermentioned Reservist Police Constables 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
Life After The War.
James married Daisy Evelyn Humphrey in Willesden in 1920. In the 1939 Register he is recorded as living at 12, Tudor Road, Hayes, Middlesex living with his wife and two sons Donald Frank and Maurice Alfred Bennett. James’ occupation was given as a Bakers Roundsman.
James John Green Bennett of 12 Tudor Road, Hayes died on 24th August 1966 at Hayes Cottage Hospital, Middlesex.