Leonard Howard was born on the 8th February 1891 at Enfield and baptised on the 19th January 1894 at Enfield.
His father was George Joseph Howard who married his mother, Eleanor Bolden in 1877 at Bishops Stortford. They had seven children, four boys and three girls, and Leonard was the sixth child and their third eldest boy. Their first born child died aged 13 in 1891.
At the time of the 1891 census the family were living at 10, Wellington Place, Enfield and father George was employed as a farm labourer. By the time of the 1901 census they had moved to 3, Wants Cottages, Turkey Street, Enfield and George is working as a drilling machine hand.
During the 1911 census they had moved again, and their address then was 4, Vale Cottages, Eversley Park Road, Winchmore Hill and George’s occupation was recorded as gardener. Leonard was no longer living at home as he had joined the Army.
Early Army Service.
He has two Army Service Records both of which have survived. First is his enlistment into the Militia. On the 15th January 1907 he was Attested into the Militia at Stratford as Private 5089 in the 5th Middlesex Regiment for 6 years. The following information was recorded:
He stated he was born at Enfield Wash, London and his home address for the last 12 months had been at Turkey Street, Enfield. His employer was a Mr Wiltshire (a baker) of Green Street, Enfield Highway and his age was 17 years 11 months. His occupation was a labourer, he was not an apprentice, not married, had no children and had never been imprisoned.
He was medically examined the same day and the following recorded:
Apparent age: 17 years, Height: 5 feet 9 3/8 inches, Weight: 135 lbs, Chest: 34 ½ inches, Expansion: 2 ½ inches, Complexion: Fresh, Eyes: Blue, Hair: Brown, Distinctive marks: Scar left leg, mole left forearm.
He stated his Religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his father George Joseph, mother Eleanor and older brother William all of Turkey Street, Enfield Wash.
There were only two further entries; one stated that he had 47 days instruction in drill and the second that on 2nd March 1907 he joined the Middlesex Regiment.
His Middlesex Regiment record is one of the burnt collections and parts are missing or difficult to read.
He was Attested on 2nd March 1907 at Mill Hill and became Private 11522 in the Middlesex Regiment signing up for short service of 5 years in the Colours and 7 in the Reserve. He supplied very similar information as before except this time he said he was now 18 years old and his occupation was a baker.
He had been medically examined on the 25th February 1907 at Mill Hill and the following recorded:
Apparent Age: 18 years, Height: 5 feet 9 5/8 inches, Weight: 131 lbs, Chest: 34 ½ inches, Expansion: 4 inches.
Then again after what is believed to be 6 months service:
Height: 5 feet 10 inches, Weight: 146 lbs, Chest: 35 inches, Expansion: 4 inches.
On the 7th May 1907 he was posted to the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.
On the 18th January 1909 he achieved proficiency in transport as a driver whilst at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire.
On the 12th February 1910 Army Form B 117 Injury on duty recorded the following: “The accident happened on 12th February 1910 whilst on fatigue at the Recreation Grounds. Pte. Howard slipped and put his knee out. I do not think that Pte. Howard was in any way to blame.” He was admitted to hospital the following day with a slight injury.
Then on the 5th October 1910 he undertook some M. T. duties whilst at Longmoor Camp at Liss, Hampshire and was marked as excellent.
During the 1911 census Leonard was recorded as living at Field Stores, Stanhope Lines, Aldershot – Private Leonard Howard 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment.
On the 4th July 1912 he was posted to the 6th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.
On the 5th August 1913 his Army Employment Sheet was endorsed as follows:
Rank: Private, Military Character: Very Good, Cases of Drunkenness on Duty: Nil, Ordinary Cases of Drunkenness: Nil, Nature of Employment: Caretaker at 2nd Division Offices at Aldershot Sept. 1909 to Oct. 1910 Mounted Infantry 4 months 1910. Regt. Police 2 years 1911 to date, Character from civil employment point of view during period: “A good steady man, honest, sober, trustworthy, industrious, clean, intelligent, hardworking and reliable.”
Preparing To Join The Police.
On the 20th December 1913 Army Form B 2073 Statement Regarding No. 11522 Private L. Howard a candidate for employment in the Police Force. N.B. These answers are to be made in the handwriting of the Commanding Officer. Only men of “Exemplary” or “Very Good” character are to be recommended for employment in the Police Force.
1. Is he thoroughly trustworthy and reliable? – Yes.
2. Is he thoroughly sober? – Yes.
3. Is he energetic? – Yes.
4. Has he incurred any entry during his period of service affecting:
a. His honesty? – No.
b. His truthfulness? – No.
c. His obedience and subordination? – No.
5. Is he in every way, in your opinion, a suitable candidate for Police employment? – Yes.
6. Is he a man you would yourself select for Garrison or Regimental Provost duties? – Yes.
I certify that the answers above are correct to the best of my knowledge.
Signed Major Commanding 6th Bn. Middlesex Regiment.
On the 1st March 1914 he was transferred to the Army Reserve and on the same day Army Form D489 was issued:
Certificate of Sobriety and Trustworthiness referred to in the King’s Regulations, as to Civil Employment of Army Reserve and Discharged Soldiers. Private 11522 L. Howard.
“I believe that Leonard Howard is thoroughly trustworthy and to the best of my belief he has never been under the influence of liquor during the last three years of his Army Service, which expired on 1st March 1914. Place – Mill Hill”.
Signed Major Commanding 6th Battalion Middlesex Regiment.
Army Form B2056 Proceedings on Transfer to the Army Reserve detailed his description which has altered markedly since his enlistment:
Age: 25 years, Height: 6 feet 0 inches, Chest: 39 inches, Waist: 33 inches, Helmet size: 6 7/8 inches, Rifle Butt: Long, Boot size: 9/4, Complexion: Fresh, Eyes: Hazel, Hair: Brown.
Trade: Baker, Address: 33, James Street, Bush Hill Park, Enfield.
Cause of Transfer: On the expiration of his period of Army Service.
Number of Good Conduct Badges: 2.
Classification for Service or Proficiency Pay: 1st Class Proficiency Pay.
Certificate of Education: 3rd Class.
Musketry qualification: Marksman.
Remarks: “A good steady man, honest, sober, trustworthy, industrious, clean, intelligent, hardworking, reliable.”
His Police Form 3 Record of Service still exists and shows that he was born on the 8th February 1891 at Enfield, his height as 6 feet, his chest measurements as 36 inches, his complexion as fresh, his eyes as hazel and his hair as brown. It said that his previous occupation was as a Bakers Roundsman for J. Wilsher of Enfield Highway. It also recorded that he could ride a bicycle but could not swim.
He had a medical with the force Surgeon on the 19th July 1914 and was Appointed on the 22nd July and started his Probationary training at R Division Headquarters at Hatfield. He is believed to have commenced his training at Headquarters with PC’s William Henry Wightman, Herbert Thomas Farrer, Frederick Hagger, Henry Owen, John Robert Rogers and William Henry Williams. All seven are listed on General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 (see below) as being stationed in R Division and having been recalled to their military units. None had been issued with a warrant number indicating that they were all new recruits. The Service Records for Hagger, Howard and Rogers have survived, and all show their appointment dates as 22nd July 1914 making a strong case for Farrer, Wightman, Owen and Williams to have joined at the same time.
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. Leonard is shown as PC with no number Howard L. R Division recalled to 6th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment on 4th August 1914.
Army Service During The War.
On the 5th August 1914 Leonard was mobilised at Mill Hill re-joining the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and 8 days later he landed in France with them as part of the British Expeditionary Force.
On the 25th October 1914 Private 11522 L. Howard of the Middlesex Regiment appeared on the Casualty List issued by the War Office dated 20th September as “Missing”.
On the 20th February 1915 Private 11522 L. Howard of the Middlesex Regiment appeared on a Casualty List issued by the War Office quoting, “In an official list received from the German Government: He was previously reported missing now reported to be a prisoner of war”.
From the records of the International Committee of the Red Cross we know that Leonard was unwounded when he was taken prisoner at Mons on the 23rd August 1914. Then on the 15th February 1917 he was listed as being held at Minden POW Camp which is in the north-eastern part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Prior to this he had been held at Senne POW Camp which is near Paderborn. On the 21st May 1917 he was listed as being held at Freidrichsfeld POW Camp in Wessel, Rhineland.
Escape And Return Home.
Nine days seems to be a very short period of time to travel across Germany and France, presumably on foot, but it may have been whilst he was being transferred to Freidrichsfeld that he escaped, as on the 30th May 1917 he returned home from France after being away 2 years 291 days.
On the 31st May 1917 he was posted to the 6th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. The following is a letter dated 11th June 1917 to the Officer Commanding 6th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, Lower Barracks, Chatham:
“The attached War Office letter is forwarded for information and necessary action. Pte. L. Howard has been instructed to join your battalion on the expiration of his furlough and has been provided with a railway warrant for that purpose.”
Major of Colonel I/C Infantry Records, Hounslow.
The attached letter was also dated 11th June 1917 and was sent to Officer in Charge Infantry Records, Hounslow:
“I am directed to inform you that No. 11522 Private L. Howard 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, an escaped prisoner of war from Germany, who landed in England on the 31st ultimo, has been granted two months furlough, i.e. from 7th June to 6th August 1917, on which date he should be ordered to re-join his reserve unit, and a railway warrant issued by you to him for this purpose. The officer commanding his reserve unit should be informed that he will join on the date of expiry of his furlough and should be taken on the strength from the date he landed in this country. His address whilst on leave is as follows: 33, James Street, Bush Hill Park, Enfield.
I am your obedient servant for Major D.A.A.G. for Brigadier General Director of Personal Services”.
The same day Leonard was also sent a letter:
“Please report yourself to the officer commanding 6th Middlesex Regiment Lower Barracks Chatham on the expiration of furlough on 6th August 1917. Railway Warrant is enclosed herewith for the journey.
Major for Colonel I/C Infantry Records, Hounslow”.
On the 6th July 1917 Leonard married Letitia Hannah Boyce at St Mark’s, Bush Hill Park, Middlesex. There is no record of them having any children.
On the 11th August 1917 Leonard was transferred to the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and the next day he was posted to the 6th Battalion.
This prompted a terse letter dated the 23rd October 1917 to The Officer I/C No. 1 Records Office Hounslow:
“From information received in this office it is understood that Private L. Howard, whilst serving in the Middlesex Regiment was taken prisoner of war. He escaped in June last year and was then transferred to the 16th Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and given the number 11522. You are requested to furnish this office with the authority for this mans transfer to the 16th Queen’s Royal West Regiment, seeing that he is an escaped prisoner of war; also, please forward the present category of health for this man.
For Director of Organisation, War Office”.
Replies were received which, in the short term, seemed to satisfy the War Office but perhaps their interest can be explained by a note on the side of Leonard’s Army Form B103, Casualty Form Active Service, dated 14th November 1917 which stated: “Escaped Prisoner of War not to be sent abroad”. Additionally, Leonard had been given a medical category of B1.
Then on the 14th November 1917 a letter was sent to the Officer I/C Record No. 1 Office Hounslow:
“You are informed that authority is given for No. 11522 Private L. Howard, 16th Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment to be transferred to the 32nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. It is therefore requested that you take the necessary steps for this transfer to be effected. A report should be rendered to this office when the transfer has been carried out.
For Director of Organisation, War Office”.
Indeed, on the 25th November 1917 Leonard was transferred to the 32nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. There were a further two letters which confirmed that he had been transferred.
On the 27th December 1917 Leonard was appointed an unpaid Lance Corporal in the 32nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment at Gorleston. On the 5th January 1918 he re-qualified as a marksman and for Class 1 Proficiency Pay.
Military Foot Police.
On the 15th May 1918 he was attached to E Company, 51st (Graduated) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment at Herringfleet for rations and accommodation. Then on the 15th August 1918 he was temporarily transferred to the Corps of Military Police and appointed Acting Lance Corporal and allotted number P161627.
On the 20th December 1918 he was Medically Examined at Halefield Camp, Bucks. Army Form Z22, Statement as to Disability was completed and contains the following details:
Unit: No. 5 Area E.C. Corps: Military Police, Number: P16127, Rank: Acting Lance Corporal.
Name: Howard, Leonard, Address: Field Cottage, Arkley, Barnet, Age: 27 years, First joined: 2nd March 1907 at Mill Hill, Medical category on joining: A.
What countries have you served and in what capacity: France, Belgium 12 days, Private 16th Middlesex.
Disease/Wound/Illness: Complains of pain round navel due to having been a Prisoner of War for 2 years 8 months.
Employer prior to joining army: Chief Constable of Herts. Hatfield.
Your Industrial Group and occupation: 35 Civil Policeman.
Present condition: Complains of pain round the umbilicus which sometimes doubles him up when walking. Somewhat tender over this region. No definite physical signs made out. Attributable to service during the war: Yes, Degree of disablement: 20%,
On the 28th February 1919 he was issued with Army Form Z11, Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity, which also granted him a 28 day furlough.
Re-joining The Police.
Leonard was medically examined on the 6th March 1919 to determine whether he was fit enough for Police duties. The following General Orders show that he was.
General Order 66 of 9th March 1919 announced that four men, having been released from H.M. Army, were re-appointed to the Force with effect from the dates shown. Leonard is shown as Probationer Howard L. posted to R Division at Headquarters, Hatfield from the 10th March 1919 on £2/3/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. The Superintendents concerned had to report to the Chief Constable when this has been done, showing date and place of attestation and before whom taken.
Leonard then started his Probationary training and his Form 3 Police Service Record shows that he was in the 14th Class with Instructors Sergeant 161 Maskell and Police Constable 280 Sharp (both of these men were also WW1 veterans.)
On the 27th March 1919 Leonard’s Army Form B120, Regimental Conduct Sheet, was endorsed: “Certified that there is no record of the above named soldier having incurred any Regimental entry during his record. Certified on transfer to Army Reserve” Captain for Officer in Charge Records Military Police Corps.
General Order 109 of 12th May 1919 announced that ten Recruit Constables having been brought on the Roster, would be transferred from Headquarters to Divisions for duty. Leonard was shown as PC 52 Howard L. A Division at Ware from the 12th May. He was Attested the same day.
On the 27th June 1919 Leonard returned a receipt for his 1914 Star giving his details as Lance Corporal P/16127 L. Howard, Military Foot Police of 1, Gladstone Road, Ware, Herts.
General Order 155 of 11th July 1919 and General Order 180 of 11th August 1919 informed Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £2/3/0 to £2/7/0 per week from 8th May 1919 and from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from 22nd July 1919 respectively.
On the 9th November 1919 he 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.
Award Of Military Medal.
On the 27th January 1920 The London Gazette Issue 31759 published:
“Private 11522 L. Howard, 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment has been awarded the Military Medal. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards in recognition of gallant conduct and determination displayed in escaping or attempting to escape from captivity, which services have been brought to notice in accordance with the terms of Army Order 193 of 1919. To be dated 5th May 1919”.
Then published in the 7th February 1920 edition of the Herts Mercury:
“Honours For Herts. Heroes. Awards To Prisoners.
For conduct displayed in connection with escaping two Barnet men have been accorded the Military Medal, Private L. Howard, 11522, 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and …”
Leonard returned the receipt for his Military Medal on 21st May 1920 giving his details as Lance Corporal P/16127 Military Foot Police, Leonard Howard, 41, Vicarage Road, Ware. On the 1st March 1921 he returned the receipt for his British War and Victory Medals.
General Order 138 of 12th August 1921, General Order 95 of 31st July 1922 and General Order 135 of 31st July 1923 all informed Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week from 22nd July 1921, from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week from 22nd July 1922 and from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from 21st July 1923 respectively.
General Order 75 of 25th April 1924 notified Leonard that from the 7th May 1924 he was being transferred from A Division at Ware to B Division at Hertford, to occupy the house vacated by Constable Wright. The Electoral Rolls of 1924 to 1930 list Leonard and Letitia Howard as living at 14, George Street, Hertford.
General Order 125 of 12th August 1924 informed Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from 22nd July 1924.
A Royal Visit – Mutual Aid To Luton Borough Police.
General Order 156 of 14th November 1926 announced orders for an Inspector, two Sergeants and 18 Constables with regard to the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales to Luton on the 17th November 1926. Leonard was listed as one of those detailed to attend. In command of the Hertfordshire contingent was Inspector G.T. Sharp of R Division who would act under orders as laid down by the Chief Constable of the Borough of Luton. The detachment was instructed to report at the Borough Police Station Luton at 9 a.m. The men were ordered to take the following dress and equipment: Great Coats 1925 issue, Cloth jackets 1926 issue, Dress trousers 1926 issue, Cloth helmets 1926 issue, Whistle and chain, Handcuffs, Pocket Book, Truncheon, Black woollen gloves and Capes.
A Couple Of Moves and Retirement.
On the 20th January 1931 Leonard was transferred from B Division at Hertford to D Division at Berkhamsted and then from the 9th April 1935 he was transferred again to E Division at Offley.
He retired whilst still at Offley on the 21st July 1939 on completion of his 25 years’ service and received an annual pension of £145/9/7.
Howard’s retirement was very short lived as he died on the 27th August 1939 at West Herts Hospital, having moved to live at Offley Home Farm Estate, Northchurch.