Leonard Wackett was born on the 11th December 1888 and baptised on the 7th April 1889 at Kensworth, Hertfordshire (later to become part of Bedfordshire).
His father, Samuel Wackett a Hertford County Constabulary Police Constable between 1876 and 1903, married his mother, Martha Danes, in 1882 at St. George’s, Hanover Square. They had four children:
- Dora born in 1884 at Great Berkhamsted.
- Ellen born in 1886 at Kensworth.
- Leonard Wackett.
- Samuel James born in 1897 at Bishops Stortford served as Herts PC 161 1922 – 1925.
In the 1891 census the family were recorded as living at Village Road, Kensworth. The 1897 to 1899 Electoral Rolls list Leonard’s father as living at the Police Station, Church Street, Bishops Stortford. The 1900 to 1902 Electoral Rolls and the 1901 census show the family had moved again and were now living at Stanborough, Hatfield.
Following his father’s retirement, the 1903 to 1915 Electoral Rolls list him as living at Puttocks Oak, Hatfield. The 1911 census records his father as a Police Pensioner and Caretaker. However, by the 1911 census Leonard had left home and was working as a house plumber and lodging with the Shirfield family at 59, Victoria Road, Watford.
Little further is known about Leonard’s life over the next three years until he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
A few documents of Leonard’s Police Service have survived but in general the following is taken from other sources.
Leonard was Appointed on the 12th October 1914 as Constable 115 on £1/4/6 per week and commenced his Probationer training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. At the end of his training he would have been Attested and taken on to the Roster and posted to a Division.
General Order 14 of 21st January 1915 confirmed Leonard’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 115 Wackett L. posted to E Division at Royston from the 22nd January 1915.
A preformatted memo, which has been adapted, sent by Superintendent F.S. Peck presumably to the Superintendent E Division effectively states: Police Constable 115 Leonard Wackett is posted to your Division, he has received advance pay of £1 on the 20th January 1915. The above PC only having been recently Appointed, will require to be put on duty with other Constables, and carefully instructed in his duties, as responsibility might occur.
General Order 175 of the 7th November 1915 informed Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/4/6 to £1/5/8 per week from the 12th October 1915.
In a report dated the 12th October 1916 Leonard requested an increase in pay. It was approved and General Order 126 of the 26th November 1916 confirmed too Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/5/8 to £1/6/10 per week from the 12th October 1916.
In a report dated the 26th December 1916 Leonard made a request to the Superintendent E Division: Sir, I respectfully make an application to be allowed to get married to Miss C. Dodds of Park Street, Hatfield, Herts. Employed at home in household work. Her father is employed at Gray’s Motor Works Hatfield, Herts. I have £20 in my possession and am free of debt.
The report was forwarded to the Deputy Chief Constable on the 28th December by Superintendent E Division G. Reed: Sir, Re – PC 115 Wackett, I enclose herewith application by the above named to be allowed to get married. PC Wackett has over £20 in his possession and is free from debt. The Deputy Chief Constable endorsed Leonard’s report on the 30th December: No objections W. Wood D.C.C.
Leonard married Christina Mary A. Dodds on the 22nd February 1917 at the Registry Office, Hatfield. They had no children.
General Order 47 of the 14th June 1917 was a list of 16 Constables, including Leonard, who had signified their desire to sit the examination for promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. The necessary examination papers were prepared and forwarded to the Superintendents concerned. The examination was held in accordance with the rules laid down in Order 192/1915.
General Order 68 of the 6th August 1917 announced the result of the Examination for Promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. Leonard was one of those that qualified having taken the exam on the 28th June 1917 in the office of his Superintendent.
General Order 94 of the 4th November 1917 informed Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/6/10 to £1/7/5 per week from the 12th October 1917.
Army Service During The War.
Leonard’s Army Service Record has survived and from this we know the following: Leonard enlisted on the 10th December 1915 at Hitchin and on the 11th December 1915, he was transferred to Section B Army Reserve and returned to his Police duties. This was part of what was known as the Derby Scheme. Thousands of men around the country including dozens of Hertfordshire Police Officers enlisted under the scheme. The Hertfordshire Officers mainly enlisted between the 9th and the 11th December 1915. Every Section B Reservist was issued with an individually numbered Khaki Armlet with a red Crown displayed on it which was to be worn on the upper left arm to demonstrate they were a Reservist and were waiting to be mobilised.
The following was recorded: He gave his address as Farm Cottage, Back Street, Royston, Herts., his age 26 years 11 months and his trade as Police Constable. He said he was not married (at this time) and had never served in the Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age: 26 years 11 months. Height: 5 feet 10 inches. Chest: 35 ½ inches 2 inch expansion. He gave his next of kin as his father Samuel Wackett, Police Cottage, Hatfield and later his wife Mrs. Christina Wackett, Queens Road, Royston.
His Medical History Army Form B178 recorded that he was examined at Hertford on the 16th April 1918 and it noted the same information as his description on enlisting with the addition that he said he was born at Kensworth, Beds., his weight was 131 ½ lbs., his hair dark brown, complexion fresh, eyes grey and his physical development as fair.
On the 23rd April 1918 Leonard was one of fifteen Hertford County Constabulary Police Constables who were Mobilised at the same time. Five joined the Coldstream Guards and ten, including Leonard as Guardsman 32201 who joined the 13th Company, 1st (Provisional) Battalion, Grenadier Guards. They were given consecutive Army Service numbers. The others were 32193 William Sturman, 32194 Charles Spencer, 32195 Horace Human, 32196 James Childs, 32197 Frederick Futter, 32198 George Reed, 32199 Thomas Abrathat, 32200 George Cooling and 32202 George Berry. Other than perhaps their initial training there is no evidence to show that they served together.
The end of the war arrived before Leonard could be posted overseas and consequently, he did not receive any medals. On the 13th January 1919 he was transferred to the Army Reserve. On the 31st March 1920 he received his final discharge.
His Statement as to Disability Army Form Z22 recorded: Unit: Grenadier Guards. Regiment: 1st Provisional Battalion. Regt. No.: 32201. Rank: Guardsman. Name: Leonard Wackett. Address: Queens Road, Royston, Herts. Age last birthday: 29. First joined for duty: 23rd April 1918 at Caterham. Medical category: A1. I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my Military Service, signed Leonard Wackett. Examined: Aldershot 14th December 1918.
General Order 20 of 19th January 1919 was entitled Allowances to wives of Police Soldiers. It announced that the Chief Constable had considered the position of each individual Police Soldier under the new scale of pay and found after taking into consideration the total income of the family from allowances, including the value of the soldier’s food and clothing, that in 16 cases the families were in a worse financial position then they would have been had the man remained in the force. These cases were put before the Standing Joint Committee and they authorised extra payments, with effect from 1st July 1918. PC 115 Wackett L. E Division was awarded £0/0/5 extra per week with £0/11/0 to be paid retrospectively with the allowances for the week ending 22nd January 1919.
Like every other soldier Leonard 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 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. Leonard was shown as PC 115 Wackett L. of E Division at Royston on 2nd January 1919 on £2/7/0 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 1919 Electoral Roll lists Leonard Wackett as living at 1, Victoria Terrace, Royston and the 1920 to 1923 Electoral Rolls show him as living at 7, Queens Road, Royston.
The following General Orders all informed Leonard he would receive an increase of pay on the 12th October of the year shown: General Order 213 of the 17th October 1919 from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week. 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 129 of the 22nd July 1923 instructed Leonard that from the 1st August 1923 he was being transferred from E Division at Royston to B Division at Little Heath and to occupy the house being vacated by Constable Francis. The 1924 to 1927 list Leonard and Christina Wackett as living at Thornton Road, Little Heath and the 1926 Kelly’s Directory records Constable Leonard Wackett as being at Little Heath.
General Order 183 of the 5th November 1923 and General Order 168 of the 25th October 1924 informed Leonard that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from the 12th October 1923 and from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 12th October 1924, respectively.
The 1928 to 1930 Electoral Rolls list Leonard and Christina Wackett as living near Eastwick, High Wych so it can be assumed that he had been transferred there.
Published on the 14th July 1939 in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer under the headline Bishops Stortford Police Court, Sheering Motorist on Drink Charge, Fined £20 and Licence Suspended, Defendant Pleads Guilty: A Fine of £20 with costs and a year’s suspension of his driving licence was imposed at Bishops Stortford Police Court yesterday (Thursday) upon Albert C. Harbord, “Bennyvale,” Sheering described as of independent means who pleaded guilty to a charge of driving a motor car while under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control at Sawbridgeworth on June 29.
Mr. Edwin Coe appeared for the defendant. Alfred Westwood, of 25 Priory Avenue Harlow, said he was looking in a shop window at the corner of Bell Street at 2.55 p.m. with his back to the street, when he “felt” a car coming round the corner. He heard a car crash on to the pavement and he leapt away from the window. The car crashed into the shop, swerved round and went up Bell Street. He was able to take the number of the car. PC L. Wackett who was on duty in London Road, said he received a report and went to Bell Street, where he saw a stationary car which had the nearside front mud guard damaged. A man whom he recognised as defendant was standing by the car. PC Wackett said he noticed that the man was unsteady on his feet, his eyes blurred, his breath smelt strongly of alcohol. He formed the opinion that he was under the influence of drink.
Harbord was taken to Sawbridgeworth Police Station for medical examination. Dr. R.P. Gammie gave evidence that after examining defendant he came to the conclusion that he was under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to prevent him having proper control over his car. There were some mitigating circumstances as to whether or not defendant’s driving licence should be suspended. He had driven for 20 years in various parts of the world and his only conviction was for driving at an excessive speed. Harbord was a man of a rather nervous temperament and during the last few years had been suffering from a distress of the mind, which had left a grievous mark on his mind, his wife having died at an early age after a long illness. The trouble on the day in question was that defendant had been visiting some friends and had had two or three glasses of port on an empty stomach. After a short retirement, the bench imposed the penalty as stated above.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
General Order 116 of the 16th August 1939 announced the retirements on Pension of one Police Sergeant and six Constables. Having all submitted applications to resign their respective appointments in the Hertford County Constabulary on 11th October 1939, on pension, the resignations had been accepted. Leonard was one of the Constables. They would all be paid up to and including the 11th October 1939, and their names struck off the establishment of the Force on that date.
In the 1939 Register Police Constable Leonard Wackett and his wife Christina are recorded as living at 76 Eastwick.
Another source records that Leonard actually retired on the 18th October 1939.
Leonard Wackett died on the 4th October 1976 at Hatfield.