John William Hunt was born on the 31st March 1891 at Harpenden and baptised there on the 10th May 1891.
His father, also John Hunt a Shepherd and a Farm Bailiff, married his mother, Elizabeth Eames Horn, on the 25th December 1889 in Billington, Bedfordshire. They had five children one of whom sadly died prior to the 1911 census:
- John William.
- Charles Thomas born in 1893 at Hertingfordbury. Served as Private 43632 in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
- Edward Eames born in 1893 (twin to Charles) died in 1896 at Hertingfordbury.
- Lizzie Horn born in 1897 at Cole Green.
- Winifred Alice born in 1900 at Cole Green.
During the 1891 census John’s parents were living at Moreton End Lane, Harpenden, but by the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to Labby Green, Hertingfordbury. At the time of the 1911 census they had moved again and were now living at Chute Forest, Andover, Wiltshire. However, John had left home and was boarding with the Gear family at 3, Gas House Lane, Hertford and employed as a Carpenter.
John obviously continued working as a Carpenter as the records of the St. Albans branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners show that he joined them on the 21st March 1914. He left the Union on 17th October 1914 as he had joined the Hertford County Constabulary.
As part of the process of applying to join the Police John would have undergone a medical examination by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters at Hatfield, to ensure he was fit enough for Police duties. He would also have been interviewed and then told to wait for a date of Appointment.
John’s Hertford County Constabulary Form 3 Police Service Record has survived and shows the following: He said he was born on the 31st March 1891 at Harpenden, his height was 5 feet 9 ½ inches, his complexion fresh, eyes grey and his hair light brown. The only next of kin recorded was added later as his wife.
John was Appointed as Constable 162 on the 12th October 1914 and started his Probationer training at Police Headquarters on £1/4/6 per week. During his training he would have been Attested and on completion he would have been taken on to the Roll and posted to a Division.
General Order 14 of 21st January 1915 confirmed John’s posting by announcing that he was one of 22 Recruit Constables who had been brought on the Roster for duty and were being transferred from Headquarters. He was shown as PC 162 Hunt J.W. posted to C Division at Watford from the 22nd January 1915.
General Order 138 of the 2nd September 1915 announced the following: The undermentioned Constables having submitted applications to resign their appointments as Constables of the Hertford County Constabulary, the resignations are accepted to take effect on 29th September 1915: PC 162 John W. Hunt C. PC 326 John W. Cook C. Police Constables Hunt and Cook will be paid up to and including 29th September 1915 and will be stuck off the strength of the establishment as from that date.
There was no reference that they had left to join the Military or whether they had the consent of the Chief Constable to do so, a factor critical as to whether any Military service would count towards his Police pensionable service, although it will be seen later that in fact it was.
Army Service During The War.
John’s Army Service Record has not survived but it is believed that he enlisted in October 1915 in the Military Mounted Police as Lance Corporal P/2127. There is a record for a Lance Corporal P/2128 John W. Cook, also of the Mounted Military Police, who is likely to have been Constable 326 John W. Cook, but as neither his Police nor his Army Service records have survived it has been impossible to confirm this. Furthermore, Constable 331 Kimpton, who resigned from the Police shortly after John, is known to have enlisted in October 1915 as Lance Corporal P/2139 in the Military Mounted Police.
John’s Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Roll reveal some information. He landed in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on the 2nd June 1916. Between late September and early October he was back in the UK, almost certainly on two weeks leave, as he got married.
John married Nancy Rubenia Ward on the 2nd October 1917 at Hertford. They had four children:
- Elsie Rubenia born in 1918 at Hertford.
- Janet Elizabeth born in 1921 at Hitchin.
- Vera Louise born in 1923 at Hitchin.
- Eric John born in 1928 at St. Albans.
There is a surviving undated partial record of a list of wounded or sick NCO’s which includes references to two members of the Military Mounted Police, one of whom was P/2127 Lance Corporal Hunt J.W. of the 40th Division, but no further details are revealed. His Medal Roll shows he served in France until the 11th November 1918, but this is almost certainly an administrative date as many of the Hertfordshire Police soldiers who were in the Military Police have the same date, yet they all served for much longer.
He was awarded the British War and Victory medals and the Meritorious Service Medal which was gazetted in the Peace Gazette on the 3rd June 1919 unfortunately, the record for why it was awarded has not survived.
Like every other soldier John would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to apply to re-join the Police. He would have had to have undergone a Medical Examination by the Force Surgeon to ensure that he was still fit enough for Police duties. Having passed this, he would have been re-Appointed on the day following the date of the end of his leave period.
Re-joining The Police.
General Order 188 of the 29th August 1919 announced that the undermentioned having been released by H.M. Army are re-appointed to the Force with effect from date shown: PC 88 Hunt J.W. G Division station Redbourn on 28th August 1919 on £3/18/0 per week PC 95 Jordan F.J. G Division station Colney Heath on 28th August 1919 on £3/18/0 per week. These officers must be formerly re-attested. The Superintendent concerned will report to this office when this has been done showing viz: Date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.
There is one thing of note in this Order which is the change in his Warrant or Collar Number from 162 to 88. 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.
General Order 235 of the 4th December 1919 informed John that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from the 12th October 1919 and his Police Service Record shows another increase to £4/2/0 per week from the 12th October 1920.
The 1920 and 1921 Electoral Rolls show John William Hunt as living at the Police Station, Redbourn.
General Order 61 of the 14th April 1921 instructed John that he was being transferred on the 21st April 1921 from G Division at Redbourn to E Division at Weston and to occupy the cottage being vacated by PC 1 Maxsom. The 1921 Electoral Roll shows John William Hunt as living at Post Office Row, Weston.
The following General Orders all informed John he would receive an increase of pay on the 12th October of the year shown: General Order 174 of the 20th October 1921 from £ 4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week. General Order 131 of the 18th October 1922 from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week. General Order 190 of the 24th November 1923 from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week.
The 1924 to 1926 Electoral Rolls show John William and Nancy Hunt as living at Hitchin Road, Weston.
General Order 206 of the 27th December 1924 informed John that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 12th October 1924.
General Order 101 of the 4th August 1926 instructed John that on the 9th August 1926 he was being transferred from E Division at Weston to D Division at Wheathampstead and to occupy the cottage being vacated by Constable Godfrey.
The General Strike.
General Order 117 of 29th August 1926 concerned the Emergency Regulations 1926 and instructions for 50 Hertfordshire Police Officers to be on standby should the Secretary of State call upon the County Force to draft men elsewhere. The first 20 named would be required to proceed at 8 hours’ notice or less. These included officers from A,B,C, D and E Divisions and it would appear to qualify to be amongst the 20 you needed to have a motor bicycle available. John was not one of the first twenty named as he did not have a motor bicycle.
General Order 140 of 18th October 1926 declared: EMERGENCY REGULATIONS 1926. The following detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary is detailed for duty in the County of Derby as from 19th October 1926, inclusive: There then follows a list of one Inspector, three Sergeants and 47 Constables which included PC 88 Hunt J.W. of D Division at Wheathampstead. The detachment will proceed by nearest railway route to St Pancras, London Midland & Scottish Railway, reporting on the main departure platform at 2 p.m., when Inspector Digby will parade the party and call the roll. The detachment will proceed by the 2.25 p.m. train to Derby. On arrival at Derby, Inspector Digby will report to the representative of the Chief Constable of the Derby County Constabulary who will meet the train and provide omnibus transport to Ripley about 10 miles distant.
Dress: Greatcoats, cape, cloth jacket, 2nd cloth trousers, 1925 issue helmet, leggings, truncheons and handcuffs, woollen gloves, lamps, whistles and chains. Divisional Superintendents will advance Railway fares if required and an account for same will be rendered to Headquarters Office for repayment. Inspector Digby will render a daily report direct to the Chief Constable’s Office each day, showing state of health of all members of the detachment and any matters of interest which may occur.
General Order 157 of 14th November 1926 THE EMERGENCY POWERS ACT, 1926. THE EMERGENCY REGULATIONS, 1926. COAL STRIKE: The Chief Constable is gratified to learn that the services of the detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary added temporarily to the Derby County Constabulary, were satisfactory, and he has much pleasure in publishing the following extract from a letter received from the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, under date 11th November 1926: Begins: “The detachment has done very good work and I will be grateful if you will be kind enough to convey to them my warm thanks for their services. I may say that Inspector Digby did very good work indeed and was of great assistance to my Ilkeston Superintendent. Will you also give him my personal thanks”. Ends.
If this letter from the Derbyshire Chief Constable seems a bit luke warm it transpires 10 of the Hertfordshire Constables suffered food poisoning after eating food which was supplied to them on behalf of the Derbyshire Police Authority. The Hertfordshire Force Surgeon said that their illness should be classed as an injury on duty and the Chief Constable agreed and said no one should suffer any stoppages from their pay. John was not one of those who suffered from the food poisoning.
The 1927 to 1930 Electoral Rolls show John William and Nancy Hunt as living at Police Cottages, Wheathampstead.
Unfortunately, none of the records have survived, so we do not know the details, but John’s Police Service Record lists three occasions when his Police work was commended. Firstly, on the 25th February 1928 he was commended by the Bedfordshire Chief Constable for his involvement in a case of Larceny at Kempston. Secondly, on the 30th July 1928 he was commended by the Coroner and the Chief Constable for his actions in the case of a death by drowning at St. Albans, and lastly on the 18th November 1929 he was commended by the Chief Constable and Chairman of the Bench in a case of shopbreaking.
John’s Police Service Record shows that on the 4th May1932 he received his first additional pay increment to £4/12/6 per week.
John’s Police Service Record shows that he was transferred to A Division at Ware on the 14th May 1936.
It also shows that on the 4th May 1937 he received his second additional pay increment to £4/15/0 per week.
The 1939 Register records that living at the Police Cottage, Bowling Road, Ware is Police Constable John W. Hunt, his wife Nancy and children.
His Service Record shows he received the following pay increases. On the 1st September 1944 he received a War supplement of 19/- taking his pay to £5/14/0 per week. This was made pensionable. On the 22nd December 1944, the War supplement was increased to 23/- taking his pay to £5/18/0 per week and again this was pensionable. On the 1st April 1945 he was put on a new scale of pay of £6/3/0 per week and final on the 6th November 1946 he was again put on a new scale of pay of £7/0/0 per week.
John retired on the 20th October 1948 as a Constable on completion of 34 years’ service. He received a pension of £243/8/11 per annum.
He was issued with a Certificate of Service: Hertfordshire County Police. No.: 24/1948. This is to certify that Constable John William Hunt served as a member of the Hertfordshire County Police from 12th October 1914 to 20th October 1948 when he retired on completion of service. During his service his conduct was exemplary. 21st October 1948. Description: Height: 5 feet 9 ½ inches. Age: 57 years. Eyes: Grey. Hair: Dark brown. Complexion: Fresh.
John William Hunt of 20, Grove Road, Ware died on the 8th February 1973 at Ware.