Bass, Philip, 28, Police Constable, St. Albans City Police.

Paul Watts

PC Phillip Bass 1926
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

Philip Bass was born on the 14th November 1890 at Southfields, Wandsworth and he was baptised at St. Anne’s, Wandsworth on the 7th December 1890.

His father, Philip Bass was a Gas Stoker and married his mother, Ann Maria Mellish on the 25th December 1889 at Wandsworth. They had six children all born in Wandsworth, two of whom died before the 1911 census:
1. Philip.
2. William Frank born in 1892.
3. Robert born in 1894 and died in 1895.
4. Annie Maria born in 1895 and died in 1896.
5. Maria Emma born in 1897.
6. Ted George (known as Edward) born in 1902.

During the 1891 census Philip was living with his parents at 5, Balvernie Villas, Merton Road, Wandsworth. By the 1901 census the family had moved and were living at Swingbridge House, Wandsworth. His mother died in 1906.

Early Army Service.

Philip’s Militia Army Service Record has survived and shows the following:
He enlisted on the 15th August 1907 at Kingston on Thames as Private 5491 in the 4th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment.

He said he was 17 years 11 months old and was born in Wandsworth and had lived for the last 12 months at 50, Worple Way, Wandsworth. He was employed as a general labourer by Messrs. Price and Co. Candle Company, Battersea, Surrey. He was not an apprentice, was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and was not already in the Military. He admitted that he had once been rejected for the Military as he had been under age.

His description on enlistment was: Apparent age: 17 years 11 months. Height: 5 feet 6 ¾ inches. Weight: 120 lbs. Chest: 34 ½ inches expansion 2 ½ inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Dark Brown.

He said his religion was Church of England and gave his next of kin as his father Philip Bass of 50, Worple Way, Wandsworth, Surrey.

He had a Medical on the day he enlisted at Kingston on Thames and his Statement of Service shows he served 49 days and then on the 3rd September 1907 he joined the Royal North Lancs Regiment. His Service Record with them has not survived but from his Police Service Record it shows that he left the Army in 1909.

In the census of 1911 Philip, who was recorded as working as a labourer in the oil department of a candle factory, was listed as living at 9, Cabul Road, Battersea, London with his uncle and his family. His father was living at 23a, Baylin Road, Wandsworth, London with his sister and brother, Maria and Edward.

Nothing further is known about Philip’s life for the next two years until he applied to join the St. Albans City Police.

Police Service.

Philip’s St. Albans City Police Record of Service has survived and shows the following:

Philip was Appointed on the 12th September 1913 as Police Constable 28. He gave his age on joining as 22 and that he was born on the 14th November 1891 when in reality he was a year older. He said he was a native of Merton, London and his trade was a labourer.

His description was recorded as: Complexion: Fresh, Height: 6 feet, Eyes: Blue; Hair: Dark brown to grey, Distinctive marks: Letters ZLCJ tattooed on right forearm. He gave his religion as Church of England.

His Military Service was recorded as: Royal North Lancs Regiment 1907 – 1909, Royal Army Service Corps, Tank Corps 1914 – 1919.

He was promoted to Sergeant on the 1st February 1928 and was qualified as a Mounted Officer, a Motor Driver and as an Inspector Under the Diseases of Animals Act.

Philip’s Pay was recorded as follows:
Date                Rate per week
12/03/1914    £1/5/8
12/09/1914    £1/6/10
07/05/1915    £1/7/0
15/08/1919    £4/0/0
12/09/1919    £4/2/0
12/09/1920    £4/4/0
12/09/1921    £4/6/0
12/09/1922    £4/8/0
12/09/1923    £4/10/0
01/02/1928    £5/0/0 On promotion
01/02/1929    £5/2/6
01/02/1930    £5/5/0
01/02/1931    £5/7/6
01/02/1932    £5/10/0
01/02/1933    £5/12/6

Army Service During The War.

Philip’s Army Service Record for the Great War has not survived but in his book “‘Be Proud’ Hertfordshire and The Great War; An Anthology,” John G.E. Cox wrote about how Hertfordshire heard that War had been declared using the Herts. Advertiser, dated the 8th August 1914 as his source: “For example, four St. Albans City Police Constables re-joined their regiments, PC Atkins to Dunbar to re-join the 1st King’s Dragoons; PC Edwards to Bedford to 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment; PC Thorpe to Chelsea Barracks to the Coldstream Guards; and PC Bass to Woolwich to the Royal Army Service Corps.”

From Philip’s Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls the following is known: He landed in France on the 22nd August 1914 as Driver T/26568 in the 12th Field Ambulance, Army Service Corps. He later transferred to the Tank Corps as 317651 and was promoted to Acting Sergeant. He was awarded the 1914 Star and the British War and Victory medals.

Like every other soldier Philip would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to arrange his re-joining of the Police. This would have entailed him having to undergo a medical examination to determine whether he was fit for Police duty. The end of his leave period would have coincided with his date of re-joining of the Police.

Re-joining The Police.

No record survives to show the exact date Philip re-joined the St. Albans City Police other than it was probably at the beginning of 1919.


Philip married Priscilla Katherine Gord nee Johnson (she was known as Katherine). She had married her first husband, Thomas William Gord, on the 23rd August 1913 at Wandsworth. He had served in the war as Driver 960155 in the Royal Field Artillery and was kicked by a horse in France, suffering a fractured jaw, and died of an infection on the 17th November 1917 at the 3rd General Hospital, London. They had a daughter, Elsie May Gord, born in 1914.

Her marriage to Philip was on the 16th October 1921 at St. Faith, Wandsworth. At the time of his marriage Philip was living at 132a, London Road, St. Albans. They also had a daughter, Phyllis May born in 1924 at St. Albans.

The 1922 Electoral Roll lists Philip as living at 19, Portland Street, St. Albans but from 1923 until 1930 the Electoral Rolls record him and Priscilla as living at 22, New Kent Road, St. Albans.

In 1926 Philip appeared in a photograph of the entire St. Albans City Police.

Published on the 24th August 1934 in the Western Daily Press under the headline “Grave Charge Immediately After Accident. Lorry Driver and Death of Cyclist.” Was the following:
When a cyclist was killed and another seriously injured in an accident at St. Albans yesterday, the driver of a lorry, alleged to have been concerned, was charged with manslaughter. It was alleged that the lorry first collided with Kathleen Orchard, of St. Albans, and then with William Edmund Hodsden, a baker, of Redbourn. Both were taken to St. Albans Hospital, where Hodsden was found to be dead and Miss Orchard now lies in a critical condition with a fractured pelvis. Last evening Ernest Albert Price (24), a motor driver, of Northampton, was charged at a special court at St. Albans with the manslaughter of Hodsden. Police Sergeant Bass said that when cautioned and charged, Price said, “I was only going 15 miles an hour.” Price was remanded on bail until August 30.

Price was later acquitted of the charge at the Assizes at Herford on the 15th November 1934

Retirement And Life After The Police.

Philip retired as a Sergeant on the 11th September 1938 on completion of his 25 years’ service with an annual pension of £153/13/0.

The 1939 Register lists as living at the Bull Inn, Horn Street, Winslow, Buckinghamshire Philip Bass, shown as an Inn Keeper, his wife Priscilla, daughter Elsie and an Albert Johnson.

Another address recorded in his Police Service Record for Philip, although there is no date attached to it, was The Marquis of Granby, London Road, Wendover, Buckingham.

Philip Bass, a retired Licensed Victualler, died on the 18th September 1962. At the time, his address was 118, Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton. His funeral was held at 12 noon on the 22nd September 1962 at Brighton Crematorium.

This page was added on 18/04/2020.

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