Powell, James Thomas, 304, Police Constable.

Paul Watts

James Thomas Powell 1919 Luton Riot Duty
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

James Thomas Powell was born on the 27th August 1889 at Eastchurch, Sheppey, Kent.

His father, George Powell, married his mother, Sophia Watts, in 1869 at Sheppey. They had 15 children one of whom died before the 1911 census. They had twelve sons and three daughters who were all born in Eastchurch, they were:

1. Albert Edward born in 1870
2. George Thomas born in 1871
3. Isaac born in 1873
4. Charles William born in 1875
5. Thomas Henry born in 1877
6. Sophia born in 1879
7. Edward born in 1881
8. Frederick born in 1883
9. William Alfred born in 1885
10. Alfred Edwin born in 1887
11. James Thomas
12. Arthur Ernest born in 1891
13. Lily born in 1893
14. Daisy Kate born in 1895
15. Ernest Stephen born in 1897 and died in 1902

George was employed as an agricultural labourer throughout his life. In the 1871 census the family were living at Pratts Cottages, Eastchurch, Sheppey, Kent. By the time of the 1881 census the family were now recorded as living at 9, High Street, Eastchurch.

During the 1891 census they are shown as living at 26, Eastchurch and by the 1901 census they are listed as living at Eastchurch Street, Eastchurch. In the 1911 census they are now living at Little Bell, Eastchurch but James had left home and had joined the Army.

Early Army Service.

His Army Service record has not survived, and we know very little of what he did other than he joined the Grenadier Guards, although he probably enlisted for short service of three years in the Colours and nine in the Army Reserve, as was very common at the time.

In the 1911 census he is shown as living at the Blenheim Barracks, Marlborough Lines, Aldershot where he is recorded as Private James Powell 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. He is shown with George Thomas Sharp who later became Constable 280 in the Hertford County Constabulary but there is no evidence to say they knew each other.

Police Service.

His Police Service Record has not survived and there is no evidence to say when he left the Army or whether he immediately joined the Police or worked somewhere else in between.

Other sources, see below, show that he was Constable 304 stationed in F Division at Hertford and may possibly have been appointed on the 2nd March 1913. This is based on the fact that when he re-joined the Police at the end of the War, he was put on the same rate of pay as Constable 44 Abrathat, who we know was Appointed on that date.

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 PC 304 Powell J.T. of F Division recalled to the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards on 4th August 1914.

Army Service During The War.

From his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls we know that James landed in France on 13th August 1914 as Private 14924 with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. He was promoted to Sergeant and was later awarded the 1914 Star and the British War and Victory medals he also received his clasp and roses.

On the 27th September 1914 Private 14924 J. Powell Grenadier Guards was listed as wounded on the Casualty List issued by the War Office. He was therefore entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being met by his name being named in this list.

Published on the 9th and the 16th January 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
James Thomas Powell Police Constable at Hertford wounded by shrapnel.

On the 12th March 1917 James married Beatrice Harrington at Chelsea and they had a daughter Beatrice Ellen S. born in 1917 at Chelsea.

On the 1st August 1917 Sergeant 14924 J. Powell of No. 9 Company, 5th (Reserve) Battalion, Grenadier Guards was admitted to the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank London with a minor illness and on the 7th August, he was discharged back to duty.

On the 3rd July 1918 Sergeant 14924 J. Powell Grenadier Guards was listed in the War Office Daily List No.5608 as having been wounded. He was entitled to wear a second “Wound Stripe”.

On the 10th October 1918 Sergeant 14924 J. Powell 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards was admitted No. 34 Casualty Clearing Station with a shrapnel wound to his right hand and the following day he was transferred by 4th Field Ambulance to No. 19 Ambulance Train and presumably shipped home.

Like every other soldier James would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to reapply to join the Police. He would have had to have undergone a Medical Examination by the Force Surgeon to ensure that, despite his wounds, he was still fit enough for Police duties. Having passed this, he would have been re-Appointed on the day following his date of Discharge from the Army.

Re-joining The Police.

General Order 5 of 6th January 1919 listed 13 “Police Soldiers” who having been released from H.M. Army were re-appointed to the Force with effect from the dates shown. James was shown as PC 304 Powell of F Division at Hertford on 2nd January 1919 on £2/8/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. Superintendents concerned had to report to the Chief Constable when this has been done, showing the date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.

The Electoral Roll of 1919 listed James and Beatrice as living at 43, Byde Street, Hertford.

Hertfordshire Detachment To Luton Re Riots.

James was part of a detachment sent to Luton to help quell rioting between the 20th July and the 5th August 1919.

General Order 177 of the 9th August 1919 announced that the following extract from a letter received from the Head Constable of the Luton Borough Police under date 4th August 1919 was published for information.

“I desire to express to you my high appreciation of the members of your Force on detached duty here for the riot. They proved to be excellent fellows in every way, gave a splendid account of themselves when need arose and conducted themselves in a manner which was credit to any Police Force.”

The Chief Constable is very gratified to have such a good account of the services of the detachment and congratulates Inspector Wright and the Sergeants and Constables. An entry of service on Riot Duty will be made in each man’s record sheet.

To see the whole photograph go to the Mutual Aid category and the article Hertford County Constabulary Assist With Quelling Rioters.

General Order 235 of the 4th December 1919 informed James that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 per week from the 1st December 1919.

Resignation And Life After The Police.

General Order 2 of the 3rd January 1920 announced that Police Constable James Thomas Powell 304 F Division was allowed to resign following a disciplinary matter which occurred whilst he was on duty at Hertford on 26th December 1919. His resignation was accepted by the Chief Constable and took effect as from 31st December 1919.

In the 1939 Register James, who was shown as a Shift Manager in the Production of Sheet Glass, Beatrice and their daughter Beatrice were living at 36, Harold Street, Queenborough, Kent.

James Thomas Powell of 8, Sheet Glass Estate, Queenborough, Kent died on the 20th November 1956.

This page was added on 11/02/2020.

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