Neville John Reid MBE

Police Constable 321G

Paul Watts with thanks to Kitty Moores

Neville John Reid
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

Neville John Reid was born on 30th April 1895 at South Mimms. He was one of two brothers who joined the Hertford County Constabulary, the other being Amos William. A third brother, Joseph Charles Cullip was a Metropolitan Police Constable.

Their father, William John Reid, married their mother, Alice Esther Bowman, on the 21st May 1882 at Potters Bar. They did in fact have nine children who were: Elizabeth Mary born in 1883 at Sandgate, Kent, Eleanor Louisa born in 1885 at Chichester, Martha Sophia Catherine born in 1888 Fernoy, Cork, Ireland, Emma Gertrude born in 1889 at Potters Bar, Daniel Thomas born in 1891 at North Mimms, Amos William born in 1892 at Little Heath, Neville John, Daisy Alice Victoria born in 1897 at South Mimms and Joseph Charles Cullip born in 1898 at South Mimms.

In the census of 1881 William is a Corporal in the 7th Dragoon Guards, posted at the Cavalry Barracks, South Camp, Aldershot, Hampshire. By the time of the 1891 census he is married to Alice and they are living at Osborne Cottages, Reeves Lane, North Mimms. He is recorded as working as a labourer and being in the Army Reserve.

During the 1901 census the family are living at Church Road, South Mimms and William is working as a general labourer. By the 1911 census the family have moved to Frampton Road, Little Heath, Potters Bar. William was still a general labourer and Neville was a groom.

For the next three years it appears Neville worked as a general labourer lastly for an A.G. Pepper of Borehamwood. Then, probably as his brother Amos had already become a Constable, he applied to join the Police.

Police Service.

His Form 3 Police Service Record has survived, and it contains the following details: He stated he was born on the 30th April 1895 at Potters Bar. His height was 5 feet 10 ¼ inches, his chest 36 ½ inches, his complexion was dark, his eyes brown and his hair was dark brown. He stated he could both ride a bicycle and swim. He gave his next of kin as his mother Alice Reid of 1, Alpha Cottages, Little Heath.

He was medically examined on the 3rd July 1914 and passed as being fit for the duties of being a Police Constable.

He was Appointed and started his Probationary Training at Police Headquarters on the 22nd July 1914 and on the 5th August 1914, he was Attested at Hatfield as Police Constable 321. The previous day had seen seven of his fellow new recruits, who were Military Reservists, recalled to their units on the outbreak of the War.

At the completion of his training he was transferred from R Division at Headquarters to G Division at Fleetville, St Albans on the 11th August 1914. He was there for only a month before he was transferred again to G Division at Harpenden on the 10th September 1914.

General Order 98 of 9th June 1915 announced that under The Police Constable (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 and The Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 eighteen Constables being desirous in enlisting in H.M. Army for the period of the War were given the necessary consent by the Deputy Chief Constable as required by the above Acts.

PC 321 Reid N. of G Division was included. The Order further instructed that the Constables would be permitted to join the Army at once and would be paid up to and including the date prior to that on which they commenced to draw Army pay. The Superintendents concerned had to report to Headquarters the date on which the Constables were enlisted in the Army, and the Constables would be struck off the strength of the establishment of the Force as from that date.

It is probably without question certain that Neville was motivated to enlist by his brother Amos who enlisted the week before him as the following General Order showed:

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. Neville is shown as PC 321 Reid N. G Division who enlisted in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry on 15th June 1915 and Amos is shown as PC 35 Reid A.W. D Division who enlisted in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry on 7th June 1915.

Army Service During The War.

Published on the 19th June 1915 in the Herts Advertiser:
“Police Constables With The Colours
Three Harpenden police officers, viz: Pc’s Neville J. Reid, Hermon Rowlingson and Frank Potton have joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. Another police officer from Harpenden who is with the colours is PC Wright, Grenadier Guards, who has been wounded. In addition, the following Hertfordshire constables who were formerly stationed at Harpenden are with the forces: PC Pond, R.G.A. joined from Royston, PC Ward, R.G.A. joined from Tring, PC Whippe, drill instructor at Bedford, joined from Hitchin district, PC Ernest F. Hawthorn, of Wheathampstead has also enlisted”.

Neville and Amos were two of 23 Hertfordshire Police Officers who joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry who posed for a photograph in 1915 believed at Colchester. The officers were:
1. PC 308 F. Clarke
2. PC 93. F. Potton
3. PC 189 J.W. Clark
4. PC 312 D.E. Cattermole
5. PC 285 G.H. Sirett
6. PC 105 H.M. Armitage
7. PC 313 H.H. Quarrie
8. PC 120 A.T. Day
9. PC 315 W.J. Thurley
10. PC 10 E.A.V. Elkins
11. PC 35 A.W. Reid
12. PS 20 H. Wright
13. PC 233 W.J. Bethell
14. PC 121 F.W.E. Perry
15. PC 274 H. Rowlingson
16. PC 19 H.W. Carder
17. PC 217 O.V. Lake
18. PC 316 A.S. Brown
19. PC 305 G. Archer
20. PC 301 G.A. Allen
21. PC 7 A.G. Capon
22. PC 321 N.J. Reid
23. PC 314 A.W. Corne
The photo included a regular Army Sergeant Jeffrey Arthur Riches who was an instructor.

It is with thanks to Sergeant Ray Poole of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary that the Hertfordshire Police Historical Society have this photograph. The photograph belonged to Neville Reid and he married the aunt of Sergeant Poole’s wife late in life. When Neville died it was found amongst his effects and subsequently given to the Historical Society by Sergeant Poole.

His Army Service Record has not survived but from his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal rolls the following is shown: Private 2538 (later 105800 under re-organisation) Neville J. Reid joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry and landed with them at Gallipoli and Aegean Islands on 16th November 1915. He was later awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.

Re-joining The Police.

Neville was discharged from the Army on the 16th April 1919 upon demobilisation. Like every other soldier he would have been given 28 days leave and he immediately arranged to re-join the Police.

On the 10th April 1919 he was medically examined to determine whether he was still fit enough to perform the duties of a Constable.

Clearly in anticipation that he was General Order 94 of 13th April 1919 announced the re-appointment to the Force of seven men who had been released from H.M. Army. Neville was shown as PC 321 Reid N.J. posted to G Division at Harpenden from the 17th April 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. Each officer had to be formally re-attested and the Superintendents concerned had to report when this has been done providing the date and place of attestation and before whom taken.

There is no record of Neville having been re-Attested or even that he actually resumed duty and the following explains why:
“General Order 140 of 29th June 1919
The Chief Constable regrets to announce that on demobilisation from H.M. Army, the undermentioned Police Officers have been certified by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon to be unfit for further Police Services:
1. PC 233 Bethell W.J. G Division Medical Examination 11/05/1919
2. PC 321 Reid N.J. G Division Medical Examination 10/04/1919
3. PC 98 Rowlingson H. G Division Medical Examination 28/04/1919”

No explanation has survived as to what made any of these Officers unfit for duty but, co-incidentally, all three men had originally enlisted in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry.

The very next Order then announced:
“General Order 141 of 29th June 1919 Disablement Pensions – Award of.
Subject to any Pensions granted from Army Funds, Disablement Pensions have been awarded to the undermentioned Police Constables:
1. PC 233 Bethell W.J. 18 Years’ Service. £75/18/4 yearly from 12th May 191 9.
2. PC 321 Reid N.J. 4 Years’ Service. £49/0/3 yearly from 11th April1919.
3. PC 98 Rowlingson H. 4 Years’ Service. £49/0/3 yearly from 26th June 1919”.

Curiously Neville was awarded 4 years’ service which would have taken him back to April 1915 which doesn’t match with his original date of Appointment (22nd July 1914), his date of enlistment (7th June 1915) or his Pension Record which states that his pensionable Police Service did not begin until the 30th April 1916 when he reached the age of 21.

Life After The Police And Further Army Service.

The 1919 Electoral Roll lists Neville as living at Alpha Cottages, Little Heath. Also, in 1919 he married his first wife Ellen Maria Mayles born at Hatfield. There are no records of them having any children.

The 1920 to 1925 Electoral Rolls list Neville and Ellen as living at 18, Frampton Road, Little Heath and the 1927 Electoral Roll at El Ferdan, Quakers Lane, Potters Bar. In the 1939 Register they are recorded as living at 120, Quakers Lane, Potters Bar. Neville is shown as a Builder and Contractor.
His occupation in 1939 perhaps explains why he managed to get Commission in the Pioneer Corps on the outbreak of World War 2. Records then show that on the 5th July 1940 2nd Lieutenant 139594 N.J. Reid, Pioneer Corps, was promoted to substantive Captain. He was further promoted throughout the war eventually achieving Colonel.

The following is recorded by the Imperial War Museum in relation to Neville and the medals he received:
Neville John Reid served in the First World War with the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. He was commissioned into the Royal Pioneer Corps and served in that unit throughout the Second World War. He was subsequently promoted Colonel and served in Palestine in 1945-46. He was mentioned in despatches three times. The donor is his niece by marriage.
The following medals were donated:
1. British War Medal (1914-1920)
2. 1914-1915 Star
3. Victory Medal (1914-1919)
4. General Service Medal (1918-1964)
5. War Medal (1939-1945)
6. Defence Medal (1939-1945)
7. Italy Star (1943-1945)
8. Africa Star (1940-1943)
9. 1939-1945 Star
10. Badge of a Member of The Most Excellent Order of The British Empire (Military Division) and MBE.

Award Of The MBE.

The following recommendation was made for Neville:
As my 2nd in Command in Bengasi during the months of December, 1942 and January, February and March, 1943, Major Reid has personally supervised the Docks Working Parties, operating in three shifts, in all weathers and under difficult conditions, including enemy action at night, his presence and influence on officers and men have been a source of inspiration to all.
Often as many as 600 Pioneers have been working at one time – on ships, lighters, wharves and quays – and the task of coordinating the work has been greatly facilitated by his ready tact, good humour and practical experience in the handling of men.
In addition to his work in the Docks, Major Reid has assisted in maintaining close touch with the many employing services constituting the Bengasi Base Organisation and he has done much to foster the good relations subsisting between these services and the Pioneer Companies employed by them.
His normal duties as 2nd in command have been carried out conscientiously and well in spite of the demands of the port services on his time and energy and I feel that such keenness and enthusiasm should receive official recognition at the appropriate time.
Major Reid has already distinguished himself in the field – particularly during the recent battle for Egypt, when he commanded a Basuto Pioneer Garrison Company at El Gamil, with a section guarding the Forward Landing Ground at Burg El Arab. He personally withdrew his men from the latter after all R.A.F. personnel had been safely evacuated and reached his main body with his forces intact only after repeated journeys in a single vehicle, which he drove himself.
He fully merits the opinion already expressed of him as an officer of experience, courage and determination, with a high sense of duty.

He was Gazetted on the 14th October 1945.

He married his second wife, Sylvia R. Hopkins, in 1955 at Portsmouth. On the 21st February 1957 it is recorded that retired Colonel Neville Reid MBE with Mrs Reid of 18, Woodland Drive, Watford sailed on the SS Pretoria Castle from Southampton to Las Palmas, Canary Islands.

Finally, Neville married his third wife, Marie Ray in 1968 at Christchurch. He died on the 29th May 1971 at Bournemouth.

This page was added on 03/02/2020.

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