Photo Mystery

Special Constables?

By Margaret Smith

Armed Guard at Libury Hall During World War 1 After 14/12/1916

Can anyone identify this group of men and their purpose and where the photo might have been taken?

The gentleman second from right in the back row is my great grandfather, John George Mayes who lived in Buntingford.

This page was added on 27/01/2015.

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  • This photograph was taken at Libury Hall Great Munden

    The following information is from the Herts At War Website – Libury Hall. Great Munden, Ware
    Libury Hall, six miles north of Ware, became the county’s largest internment camp. Prior to the war’s outbreak the manor house had been converted into a German industrial and farm colony to provide work and housing for unemployed and destitute German men. By 1914 7,264 German men had found refuge at the hall. It had been set up by three trustees; Baron Bruno Schröder, C.A. Bingal Esq. and Baron William Schröder, to care for German nationals who had fallen on hard times. The home was largely self-sufficient and grew its own produce on over 300 acres of land.

    It would have therefore been a logical move that operations at Libury Hall should be expanded with the outbreak of war and during the course of the war 566 men of age 60-90 were interned in the camp. These were largely elderly and infirm men whose health would suffer if detained in a Military Camp; and the home office were happy for the management of the camp to continue much as it had in the pre-war period. The pre-war director, W. Müller remained in charge of Libury Hall under the supervision of a British commandant and an armed police guard. The police were housed in a farm cottage on the site and wrote that he assumed they would not be charged rent!

    The following is from The Hertfordshire Constabulary Historical Society Archive.
    The Police Guard was made up of a few Regular Police Officers who had temporary postings to Libury Hall and a number of paid Special Constables who lived locally to the area. In 1915 the Military Authorities agreed to take over the guarding of the camp which is shown by the General Order transcribed below.

    General Order 63 of 15/04/1915 Armed Police Guard Libury Hall.
    Consequent upon the Military Authorities having undertaken to provide a Military Guard at the German Farm Colony, the undermentioned officers of this Police will resume ordinary duty and will proceed to their respective stations, as under, on 15th April 1915:
    PS 70 Bowman W. B Division Bishops Stortford
    PC 308 Hussey W.H. A Division Ware
    PC 307 Markwell J. C Division Watford
    PC 298 Smith G. E Division Hitchin
    PC 62 Allen W.J. F Division Hertford
    PC 137 Dowty F.W. G Division Harpenden
    PC 276 Deer H.F. E Division Little Munden
    (Signed) W. Wood Superintendent Deputy Chief Constable of Herts.

    Incidentally all of the above Police Officers, except Sergeant Bowman and PC Dowty went on to serve in the Military during WW1.

    However, this was not the end of Police involvement in the Internment Camp as can be seen in the following General Order:

    General Order 71 of 26/04/1915
    Police Sergeant William Bowman, 70, is transferred from “B” Division Bishops Stortford to “E” Division station Libury Hall Little Munden, as from 23rd April 1915 and will be in charge of the undermentioned Special Constables, forming an Armed Guard at the German Farm Colony, who commenced duty there on dates shown:
    Name of Date of
    No. Special Constable Address Commencing Duty
    1 Bush, Frank 7 Alpha Road Bishops Stortford 23rd April 1915
    2 Taylor, Joseph London Road Knebworth 23rd April 1915
    3 Hall, Godfrey Aston End Stevenage 23rd April 1915
    4 Wilken, Samuel 7 Factory Cottages Royston 23rd April 1915
    5 Sheppard, James 92 Park Street St Albans 23rd April 1915
    6 Hammond, Sidney 23 George Street Hertford 23rd April 1915
    7 Proctor, Thomas High Street Redbourn 23rd April 1915
    8 Carter, John Albert Sacombe Park Ware 24th April 1915
    (Signed) W. Wood Superintendent Deputy Chief Constable of Herts.

    Finally, the following General Order refers to a replacement of a Special Constable:

    General Order 134 of 12/12/1916 Armed Police Guard Libury Hall.
    Special Constable John Albert Carter, having been called up for service in H.M. Army, has submitted his resignation as a member of the Armed Guard. Special Constable Carter will be paid up to the 13th December 1916 inclusive.
    The undermentioned Special Constable is appointed a member of the Armed Guard, vice Special Constable Carter enlisted.
    Name of Date of
    Special Constable Address Commencing Duty
    Mayes, John George Baldock Lane Buntingford 14th December 1916
    (Signed) W. Wood Superintendent Deputy Chief Constable of Herts.

    By Paul Watts (23/07/2019)
  • I would say they are members of the WW1 Home Defence Force later in WW11 The Home Guard with the local policeman doing his bit. HALS might have some records.

    By John Halsey (01/09/2015)