Leonard Ernest Dolley and Herbert George Dolley were brothers who had the misfortune to be the first and second Hertfordshire Police Officers to make the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.
They were both born in Hertingfordbury. Herbert, also known as Bertie, was the eldest and was born in 1887, Leonard was born six years later in 1893.
Their father was Frederick Thomas Dolley, who was employed as a gardener, and their mother was Mary Ann and they had eight children. They were Frederick Charles, Emily Ann who died aged 5 in 1882, Nahum, Rose Ellen, Thomas, Herbert, Alice Caroline who died aged 4 in 1894 and Leonard.
At the time of the 1891 census the whole family were living at Cole Green. In 1900, at the young age of 49, their mother Mary Ann died. During the 1901 census their father was still living in a cottage at Cole Green and looking after the surviving 6 children. However, on 8th September 1903 he re-married to a Sarah Jane Pellet at Hertingfordbury. By the time of the 1911 census Frederick and Sarah were living at 27, Keyfield Terrace, St Albans with Thomas.
Leonard Ernest Dolley – Early Military Service.
In the 1901 census Leonard is recorded a being 8 years of age and would still have been at school.
His Army Service Record has survived and from Army Form B64 we know that on 22nd September 1909 he was employed by the Great Northern Railway Goods Department at Letchworth as a Lad Porter. On 6th December 1909 he resigned of his own accord and on the same day took up employment with Messrs. Field & Co. Works Road, Letchworth as a labourer engaged in asphalt work. He remained with this company until he enlisted.
On the 13th March 1911 he was medically examined in London, his pulse was recorded as 84 and he was found to be fit for Military Service.
From Army Form B217 we know that on 21st March 1911 he was Attested at London as Private 7863 for short service (3 years in colours 9 in reserves) into the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.
The following information was recorded:
Born, Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire. Age:18 years 18 days. Trade: General labourer. He went on to state that he had not lived with his father for 3 years, he was not an apprentice, he was not married, he had never been to prison and never served in the Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as follows:
Apparent age: 19 years. Height: 6 feet 1 7/8 inches. Weight: 168 lbs. Chest: 36 ½ inches expansion 2 ½ inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Brown. Religious denomination: Wesleyan. Distinctive marks: Mole right side abdomen, small birthmark left hip, scar left thumb.
He gave his next of kin as his father Frederick of 27, Keyfield Terrace, St Albans, his brother Frederick of Hall Green, Hertford, his brothers Nahum and Thomas both of Watton, Hertford.
Prior to enlisting on 19th March 1911, he passed his 3rd Class Certificate of Education. On 28th March 1911 he joined his Battalion at Caterham and commenced his service at ‘Home’.
On 4th April 1911 he was re-vaccinated and 20 days later admitted to hospital at Caterham for 9 days with an abscess on his left arm as a result of the vaccination.
On the 28th June 1911 he passed his 2nd Class Certificate of Education and on 15th July 1911 he was posted to Pirbright Camp. On the 17th August 1911 he was posted to London and then on the 5th October 1911 he was posted to Aldershot.
On the 14th March 1912 he was medically examined and found to be fit for service in Egypt and on the twenty second he was posted to Egypt. He arrived in Cairo on the 3rd April 1912. On completing his overseas service on 1st January 1913, he was posted to London.
On the 21st March 1913, on the second anniversary of his Attestation, he was awarded a Good Conduct badge. On the 8th October 1913 he was posted to Aldershot.
On the 26th February 1914 he was medically examined and found fit to be transferred to the Army Reserve and on the 21st March 1914, he was transferred to the Army Reserve on the expiration of his period of Army Service.
The following details are from Army Form B2056 “Transfer to Army Reserve” and it’s interesting to note the changes in his description:
Name: Leonard Ernest Dolley. Number and rank: 7863 Private.
Regiment: ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion Scots Guards.
Age: 21 years. Height: 6 feet 3 ½ inches. Chest: 38 inches. Waist: 36 inches. Exact size of helmet: 22 ½ inches. Size of rifle butt: Long. Exact size of boots: 12.4.
Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Brown.
Trade: General Labourer. Intended place of residence: 27 Keyfield Terrace, Old London Road, St. Albans, Herts.
Cause of transfer: On expiration of period of Army Service.
Number of Good Conduct badges: One.
Classification for Proficiency Pay: Class II at 3rd.
Certification of Education: 2nd Class.
Musketry Classification: 2nd Class.
Military Character: Very Good.
Character: A clean and hardworking man.
Certified Medically Fit: Aldershot 26/02/1914 Lieutenant Rankin RAMC.
Distinctive marks: Mole right side abdomen, small birthmark left hip, scar left thumb.
Furthermore, the details from Army Form D489 “Certificate of Sobriety and Trustworthiness” emphasise his good character:
Regimental No: 7863. Rank: Private. Name: Leonard E. Dolley. Regiment: 1st Battalion Scots Guards.
“I believe that Leonard E. Dolley is thoroughly trustworthy and to the best of my belief he has never been under the influence of liquor during the last 3 years of his Army Service, which expired on 20th March 1914.”
Place: Ramillies Barracks Aldershot. Date: 20th March 1914. Signed: Lieutenant Colonel Commanding 1st Battalion Scots Guards.
Leonard Ernest Dolley – Police Service.
His Police Service Record did not survive but we know the following from General Orders.
Leonard was Attested as Constable 68 on 9th March 1914 and was posted to F Division and stationed at Hertford. He clearly had planned ahead with regard to his joining the Constabulary as he was only transferred to the Army Reserve on 21st March. He must have sought permission to apply to the Constabulary and be allowed to attend his interview at Police Headquarters. Soldiers who are about to be transferred to the Army Reserve are normally given leave and Leonard has taken this opportunity to join the Police as soon as he could.
Just 4 months into his Police career war was declared and Leonard appears in General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 which comprises a list of 96 officers made up of the Chief Constable, 43 Constables who were Army reservists who were recalled to the Colours and 50 Constables and 2 Sergeants who volunteered for military service. Leonard is shown as PC 68 Dolley L.E. F Division who was recalled to 1st Battalion Scots Guards on 4th August 1914.
Leonard Ernest Dolley – War Service.
On the 5th August 1914 Leonard was mobilised in London and posted to 3rd Battalion Scots Guards. Medically examined and found fit for duty.
On the 19th September 1914 he was transferred to the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.
On the 12th November 1914 he was transferred again to the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.
On the 7th December 1914 he was Killed in Action the first Hertfordshire Police Officer to lose his life.
The following is the record of Leonard’s death as it was reported by his Regiment. The details were taken from Army Form B103 Casualty Form Active Service.
Regiment or Corps: 1st Battalion Scots Guards. Regimental No: 7863. Name: Leonard Ernest Dolley. Enlisted: 21/03/1911. Terms of Service: 3. Service reckons from: 21/03/1911. Report from: Officer Commanding Battalion Date: 10/12/1914. To 2nd Battalion 12/11/1914. Killed in Action. Date: 07/12/1914. Information From: Army Form B213 List 9885.
The UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 shows that he authorised that a Miss C. Petersen would receive his effects.
This was Christina Emma Petersen who was the sister of Frederick Martin Petersen, who married Leonard’s sister Rose, and is undoubtedly the sweetheart mentioned in the Hertfordshire Mercury article below.
On the 20th May 1919 the following was notified: Effects Form 118A – Letter to Officer Commanding Scots Guards Records Buckingham Gate SW. from War Office Imperial Institute South Kensington London SW 7.
Handwritten note on top: Amended instructions. This form replaces the F118 forwarded to you on 1st April 1915. (This early form simply gave a different address for Miss Peterson).
Typed text: Will you please note that any articles of personal property now in your possession or subsequently received by you belonging to the late No. 7863 Pte. Leonard Ernest Dolley 2nd Battalion Scots Guards should be despatched to Miss C. Peterson 21D Block, Sutton Model Dwellings, Chilton Street, Deptford, SE8. Any medals granted to the deceased that are now in your possession or that may hereafter reach you should be disposed of to the above named person. Signed C. Harris Assistant Financial Secretary.
There is then a number of receipts signed and returned by Miss Christina Peterson for the following items:
1. Christmas Gift from Her Royal Highness Princess Mary.
2. Pocket book, letter and photographs.
3. 2 X Postal Orders for 10 shillings and 4 shillings the effects of Leonard Ernest Dolley.
4. 3 Medals and clasp. He was awarded the 1914 Star and clasp, British War medal and Victory medal.
His Medal Rolls and Medal Rolls Index Card show that Leonard Ernest Dolley was Private 7863 in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards who landed in France on 22/09/1914. He was awarded the 1914 Star and the British War medal and Victory medal.
On the 8th February 1922 an application was made for his medals and the Clasp and Roses.
The Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919 record shows that Leonard Ernest Dolley, born at Hertingfordbury and living at St Albans enlisted at London as Guardsman 7863 in the Scots Guards. He was killed in action on the 7th December 1914 in France & Flanders.
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour records: Dolley, Leonard Ernest, Private 7863 Scots Guards, son of Frederick Dolley of St Albans Herts. Served with the Expeditionary Force, Killed in Action 07/12/1914.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he has no known grave and he is remembered as follows:
In Memory of Leonard Ernest Dolley Private 7863, 2nd Bn., Scots Guards who died on 7th December 1914 Remembered with Honour Ploegsteert Memorial on stone panel 1H.
General Order 189 of 27th December 1914 was published stating: The Chief Constable regrets to announce that the following deaths have occurred.
1) Pte. 7883 Leonard Ernest Dolley 1st Battalion Scots Guards killed in action on 9th December 1914. Pte. Dolley joined the Hertford County Constabulary as a Constable on 9th March 1914 and was recalled to his Regiment on the mobilization of Reservists on 4th August 1914, on which date he was struck off the strength of the establishment of the force.
Published on 23rd January 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury:
“Constable Leonard Dolley – One of the victims of German bullets in the trenches in France on December 7 was Pte. Leonard Ernest Dolley, of the Scots Guards, son of Mr F.T. Dolley, gardener, and Mrs Dolley, of 27 Keyfield Terrace, St Albans.
Pte. Dolley joined the Scots Guards in London when he was 18, and had served three years, and was on the reserve when he joined the Hertfordshire Constabulary, and was stationed in Hertford when he was called up. The first news of his death reached his parents in rather a roundabout way.
Pte. Dolley had a sweetheart in London and fighting alongside him in the trenches was a friend of this young lady’s friends, to whom he wrote, and the news eventually reached St Albans by this means. Some weeks elapsed before official intimation of the sad occurrence arrived from the War Office. Mr and Mrs Dolley have another son at the front, a gunner, in the Royal Artillery.”
Published on 23rd January 1916 in the Hertfordshire Mercury
“Death of Two Herts Constables In The War
Two members of the Herts Constabulary both brothers, PC Bertie George Dolley who was stationed at Bishops Stortford, and PC Leonard Dolley who had been stationed at Hatfield, have both gallantly laid down their lives for their country’s cause. Both were reservists and were called up at the outbreak of the war. Leonard, who was in the Scots Guards, was killed in France soon after reaching the front, and Bertie belonging to the RGA was wounded on Christmas Day and died on Boxing Day. Both were natives of Cole Green, and have died in the prime of manhood, being under the age of 30. Leonard was unmarried but Bertie leaves a widow and four young children under the age of 7. The death of the latter was recorded in last week’s obituary notices.”