Percy Crispin Godfrey was born on the 20th March 1893 at Chertsey and he was baptised there on the 25th June 1893. His father was recorded as being a licensed victualler at The Prince Albert, Guildford Street, Chertsey.
His father, Owen Godfrey, married his mother, Ellen Cook, on the 10th May 1884 at St. Saviours, Croydon. They had seven children one of whom died prior to the 1911 census:
1. Florence Emma born in 1885 at Staines.
2. Ethel born and died in 1887 at Chertsey.
3. Frederick Graystone born in 1888 at Chertsey.
4. Leonard George born in 1889 at Chertsey. Second Lieutenant 10th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers killed in action on the 20th July 1916 in France.
5. Percy Crispin.
6. Nellie Victoria born in 1897 at Chertsey.
7. Herbert Owen born in 1900 at Taunton. Served in Royal Navy from 17th January 1918 transferred to RAF on the 1st April 1918.
During the 1901 census Percy and his family were living at Green Street, Royston and his father was employed as a Carpenter. They are still at the same address in the 1911 census. Percy was employed as a builder’s labourer.
Little else is known about Percy’s life during this period other than he later worked as an Asylum Attendant at the London County Council, Long Grove Asylum, Epsom. Then he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
Percy’s Form 3 Police Service Record has survived and shows that as part of his application process he was Medically Examined by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters, Hatfield on the 3rd July 1914 to ensure he was fit enough for Police duties. He would also have been interviewed and then told to wait for a vacancy.
The following was recorded. He said he was born on the 20th March 1893 at Chertsey. His height was 5 feet 9 ¼ inches, chest 35 – 38 inches, complexion fair, eyes grey and hair fair. He said he could both ride a pedal cycle and swim.
He was Appointed as Constable 183 on the 22nd July 1914 and stated his Probationer training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. He was in the 9th Training Class with instructors Sergeant 57 Wright and Constable 20 Wright. He was Attested on the 5th August 1914 at Hatfield.
Taken On The Roster.
On the 17th August 1914 Percy completed his training and was taken onto the Roster at D Division at Hemel Hempstead.
On the 22nd December 1914 Percy 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.
Percy married Ethel May Sear on the 9th April 1915 at Hemel Hempstead. They had three daughters all born in Hatfield. Jean born in 1925 and twins Patricia and Thelma born in 1928.
General Order 95 of the 4th June 1915 entitled the Police Constable (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914, Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 announced:
The undermentioned Police Constables being desirous of enlisting in H.M .Army for the period of the War, the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent for enlistment, as required by the above Acts:
1. PC 105 Armitage H.M. D Division
2. PC 330 Crouch E.L. D Division
3. PC 183 Godfrey P.C. D Division
4. PC 35 Reid A.W. D Division
5. PC 288 Rolls G.J.W D Division
The Constables will be permitted to join the Army at once and will be paid up to and including the date prior to that on which they commence to draw Army pay. The Superintendent D Division will report to Headquarters the date on which the Constables are enlisted in the Army, and the Constables will be struck off the strength of the establishment of the Force, as from that date.
General Order 118 of the 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. Percy is shown as PC 183 Godfrey P.C. D Division who enlisted in the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment on the 7th June 1915.
Army Service During The War.
Percy’s Army Service Record has not survived but from his Police Service Record, his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Roll we know that he enlisted as Private 22022 on the 7th June 1915 into the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and was apparently at some time part of the Army Gymnastic Staff at Eastbourne. He served on the Western Front between the 7th July 1916 and the 7th July 1918.
An entry dated the 22nd September 1916 from 149th Field Ambulance records states that Sergeant 22022 P.C. Godfrey B Company, 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, with 1 year 4 months service and 2 months with the Field Force, was admitted with a right inguinal hernia, although the entry has been crossed through.
He received a wound stripe and when demobilised on the 14th February 1919 he held the rank of Staff Sergeant. Percy was awarded the British War and Victory medals.
Re-joining The Police.
Like every returning Serviceman Percy would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to arrange to re-join the Police. As part of this process he would have needed to have a Medical Examination to determine whether he was still fit enough for Police duties. Percy was seen by the Force Surgeon on the 22nd January 1919.
General Order 23 of 25th January 1919 listed 25 Police Officers who, having been released from H.M. Army, had been re-appointed to the Force. Percy was shown as: PC 183 Godfrey P.C. D Division at Hemel Hempstead from 30th January 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. The Superintendents concerned had to report to Headquarters the date and place of Attestation and before whom taken. Percy was re-attested on the 5th February 1919. The Electoral Roll of 1919 lists Percy as living at Clifford Cottage, Paradise, Hemel Hempstead.
General Order 92 of the 11th April 1919 instructed Percy that he was being transferred from D Division at Hemel Hempstead to D Division at Flamstead on the 22nd April 1919.
General Order 180 of the 11th August 1919 informed Percy that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from the 22nd July 1919.
General Order 46 of the 6th March 1920 instructed Percy that he was being transferred from D Division at Flamstead to C Division at Watford to occupy the married Constable’s quarters at King Street (crossed out and handwritten St. Albans Road) Police Station. The Electoral Rolls of 1920 and 1921 list Percy and Ethel Godfrey as living at the Police Station, St. Albans Road, Watford.
General Order 11 of the 12th January 1921 instructed Percy that he was being transferred on the 20th January 1921 from C Division at Watford to G Division at Wheathampstead, to occupy the house being vacated by PC 149 Maltby (Pensioned). The Electoral Rolls of 1921 to 1926 record Percy and Ethel Godfrey as living at High Street, Wheathampstead.
General Order 138 of the 12th August 1921 and General Order 95 of the 31st July 1922 informed Percy that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week from the 22nd July 1921 and from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week from the 22nd July 1922 respectively.
Mutual Aid To Norfolk.
General Order 68 of the 11th April 1923 ordered a detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary consisting of an Inspector, two Sergeants and 17 Constables, including Percy, for duty in the County of Norfolk from 11th April 1923 regarding a strike of agricultural workers.
Their orders were: The detachment will proceed by nearest rail route to Cambridge arriving G.N. Railway 10.41 a.m. and G.E. Railway 11.38 a.m. On arrival at Cambridge Railway Station Inspr. H. Wright will call the roll, take charge of the detachment and proceed leaving Cambridge G.E Railway at 11.45 a.m. arriving at 4.12 p.m. On arrival at Holt the Inspector will march the detachment to the Police Station and report to Superintendent Levi Collyer. Superintendents will make arrangements for the above officers to reach Cambridge on Wednesday 11th April 1923 by the time stated. Dress: Great coat, Cloth Jacket, 2nd Trousers, 2nd Cloth Helmet, Leggings and usual appointments. Railway fares may be advanced if required and an account for same will be rendered to Headquarters for repayment.
General Order 84 of the 26th April 1923 was entitled Strike of Agricultural Workers Norfolk, Reference Order No. 68/1923 and announced:
The members of the detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary having returned to their respective stations the Chief Constable has much pleasure in publishing for general information the following extract from a letter received from the Chief Constable of the County of Norfolk, under date 23rd April 1923:
Begins: “On behalf of the Norfolk Police Authority, and myself, I would wish to thank you most sincerely for so kindly and quickly coming to our help. As the result of your timely aid the intimidation and hindering of workers was at once stopped. I need hardly say that your men behaved themselves at all times in an exemplary manner and carried out all the duties they were asked to perform to my entire satisfaction. Every effort was made to make them as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and I hope that they will carry back a happy memory of their short tour of duty in Norfolk.” Ends. The Chief Constable endorses the remarks of the Chief Constable of Norfolk and is gratified that the members of the Detachment maintained the high standard and upheld the reputation of the Hertford County Constabulary.
General Order 143 of the 11th August 1923 and General Order 118 of the 1st August 1924 informed Percy that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from the 22nd July 1923 and from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 22nd July 1924 respectively.
The General Strike.
General Order 62 of the 4th May 1926 concerned the Emergency Regulations of 1926 and instructions for 50 Hertfordshire Police Officers, made up of three Inspectors, seven Sergeants and 40 Constables, to be on standby should the Secretary of State call upon the County Force to draft men elsewhere at short notice. These included officers from A,B,C, D and E Divisions. Orders for equipment and clothing would be issued if and when necessary, but the men were advised that they would require some sort of haversack. Percy was one of the Constables named in the list. There is no record of him having been mobilised.
General Order 101 of the 4th August 1926 instructed Percy that he was being transferred on the 9th August 1926 from D Division at Wheathampstead to A Division at Stanstead Abbotts, to occupy cottage being vacated by ex-Constable Reed. The Electoral Rolls of 1927 to 1930 list Percy and Ethel Godfrey as living at Park Road, Stanstead Abbotts.
The Chief Constable and the Deputy Chair Herbert D. Crotman Esq. KG. sitting at the Herts Quarter Sessions on the 4th January 1931 commended Percy’s actions In effecting the arrest of William Reed and A. Martin at Stanstead Abbotts on the night of 13th and 14th December 1930 on charges of possessing housebreaking implements by night and larceny of a motor car from the Metropolitan Police District. Vide General Order 3/1931.
Transferred Twice More.
The General Orders have not survived but Percy’s Police Service Record shows that he was transferred on the 23rd November 1931 from A Division at Stanstead Abbotts to D Division at Wiggington and then finally on the 9th April 1935 to D Division at Berkhamsted.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
Percy retired as a Constable on the 21st July 1939 having completed his 25 years’ service on a pension of £149/10/5 per annum.
In the 1939 Register Percy, who is shown as a retired Constable working as a storeman in an Anti-Aircraft Store at Hemel Hempstead, is listed as living with his family at 7, Paradise, Heath View, Hemel Hempstead.
Percy Crispin Godfrey died on the 14th January 1967 at Hemel Hempstead.