Sidney Smith was born on the 14th September 1892 at Poynders End, Preston near Hitchin.
His father, Jesse Smith a Woodman on a farm, married his mother, Emma Payne, on the 25th October 1890 at St. Mary’s, Hitchin. Emma already had a daughter Edith Maud Crawley born in 1889 at Wymondley who died in 1900 at Hitchin. Jesse and Emma had four other children:
- Leonard Charles (known as Charles) born in 1891 at Hitchin.
- Sidney Smith.
- Ethel Mary born in 1895 at Hitchin.
- Frederick born in 1900 at Hitchin.
In the census returns of 1891 and 1901 the family were living at Poynders End. By the time of the 1911 census they had moved and were now living at Chequers Lane, Preston, Hitchin and Sidney was employed as a general farm labourer.
Little is known about Sidney for the next three years other than he was employed by Herbert George Fenwick of Temple Dinsley, Preston. Then he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
As part of the process Sidney underwent a medical examination by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters, Hatfield on the 10th August 1914, who signed the following certificate: I hereby certify that I have examined the above candidate as to his health and bodily strength and consider him fit for the Constabulary of this County. Signed: G.A. Upcott Gill. He would also have had an interview and would have been told when to report for training.
Sidney’s Hertford County Constabulary Form 3 Record Sheet has survived so we know that he was Appointed as Constable 328 on the 12th October 1914 earning £1/4/6 per week.
The following was recorded: His age on joining was 21 1/12 years, he was born at Poynders End, Preston on the 14th September 1892. His height was 5 feet 9 ½ inches, chest: 35 ½ inches – 27 ½ inches, complexion dark, eyes brown, hair brown and he had a scar on the fore finger of his left hand. He said he could ride a pedal cycle but could not swim, that his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his father Jess Smith of Poynders End, Preston, Hitchin and later his wife Louisa Smith.
He underwent his Probationer training at Police Headquarters and was in Class 11 with Sergeant 57 Cousins and PC 20 Wright as his instructors. He was Attested on the 20th January 1915 before C.W. Gaussen J.P. and Theo Bassett J.P. at Hatfield. At the end of his training he was taken onto the Roster and posted on the 22nd January 1915 to C Division at Watford.
General Order 14 of 21st January 1915 confirmed Sidney’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 328 Smith S. posted to C Division at Watford from the 22nd January 1915.
On the 4th May 1915 he 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.
General Order 175 of the 7th November 1915 informed Sidney that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/4/6 to £1/5/8 per week from the 12th October 1915.
General Order 179 of the 20th November 1915 announced Sidney’s resignation as follows: Police Constable 328 Sidney Smith C Division has submitted an application for permission to be allowed to resign his appointment as a Constable of the Hertford County Constabulary for the purposes of joining HM Army. Owing to the number of men who have enlisted from this Force, the Standing Joint Committee have given instructions that permission to join HM Forces cannot be given to any more men. Police Constable Smith is permitted to resign that on the clear understanding that the privileges conferred by the Police Constables (Naval and Military Services) Acts will not be extended to him. He will be paid up to the 17th December 1915 inclusive.
Army Service During The War.
Sidney’s Army Service Record has survived albeit that it is one of the burnt records that was damaged in the Blitz of World War 2. From this and his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Roll the following is known:
In Sidney’s record is a letter to him dated the 14th December 1915, from Lieutenant Gifford Recruiting Officer for Commandant Military Police it states: Permission is hereby given to you to enlist in the Military Mounted Police in the rank of Lance Corporal, provided you are fit for service abroad, daily rate of pay 1/9 per diem with usual Army rate of separation allowance, and 5/- for the first child, 3/6 for the second and 2/- for each additional child per week. If you accept the above, you should proceed to the nearest Recruiting Officer in your District for the purpose of being Attested for General Service. The Recruiting Officer is requested to note that no candidate is to be Attested into the Military Police who is not fit for service overseas. The Recruiting Officer is authorised to issue the necessary railway warrant (provided you fulfil the above conditions) for your joining at Aldershot as soon as possible. Attestation papers to be forwarded to the Provost Marshall, Aldershot. This paper must be presented to the Recruiting Officer on 28th November 1915 after which date it becomes obsolete.
Sidney enlisted at Hitchin as on 22nd December 1915 as Lance Corporal P/2900 in the Military Mounted Police. He gave his address as Poynders End, Preston, Hitchin, his age as 23 years 3 months and his trade as Police Constable. He said he was not married and had not served in the Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Age: 23 years 3 months. Height: 5 feet 9 ½ inches. Chest: 35 inches 2 inch expansion. He gave his next of kin as his parents Jesse and Emma Smith of Poynders End, Preston, Herts.
His Medical History Army Form B178 recorded that he was examined at Hitchin on the 22nd December 1915 and it noted the same information as his description on enlisting with the addition that he said he was born Hitchin, Herts. and his weight: was 157 lbs.
Sidney joined at Aldershot on the 22nd December 1915. On the 14th April 1916 he embarked at Southampton and disembarked at Rouen the following day joining No. 5 General Brigade to begin service on the Western Front. On the 30th May 1916 he joined 14th Corps.
On the 7th November 1917 Sidney entrained in France having been posted to the British Expeditionary Force on the Italian Front. On the 11th November he arrived in Italy. On the 1st December 1918 he was granted 14 days leave to the UK returning to his Unit on the 26th.
Mentioned in Despatches.
Sidney was Mentioned in Despatches as follows: Military Police P/2900 Pte. A/L/Cpl. S. Smith MMP attached GH2 was mentioned in a dispatch from General F.R. Earl of Cavan KP KVB MVO dated 18 January 1919 for gallant and distinguished services in the Field. I have it in command from the King to record His Majesty’s high appreciation of the services rendered. War Office (signed) Winston Churchill Secretary of State for War, Whitehall SW. Dated 1st March 1919.
Published on the 3rd June 1919 in the London Gazette Issue 31384 Page 7213: Acting Lance Corporal P/2900 S. Smith Military Police attached to General Headquarters Mentioned in Despatches. Despatch received from General F. R. Earl of Cavan, K.P., K.C.B., M.V.O., Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in Italy. I have the honour to submit the name of this Officer who served under my Command during the period 15th September 1918, to 31st December 1918, whose distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty I consider deserving of reward.
Sidney was transferred back to the UK on the 18th April 1919 and then on the 17th May 1919 he was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on demobilisation at Aldershot.
His Statement as to Disability Army Form Z22 recorded: Unit: Assistant Provost Marshal General Headquarters Italy. Regiment or Corps: Military Mounted Police. Regt. No. P/2900. Rank: L/Cpl. Name Smith Sidney. Address: Poynders End Preston Hitchin. Age last birthday: 26. Date and place joined: 22nd December 1915 Aldershot. I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my Military Service, signed: S. Smith. Place of examination: General Headquarters Italy. Date: unreadable.
His Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity Army Form Z11 recorded: Name: Smith Sidney. Regt. No.: P/2900. Rank: L/Cpl. Record Office: Aldershot. Unit: Assistant Provost Marshal General Headquarters Italy. Regt. Or Corps: Military Mounted Police. Pay Office: Woking. Address: Poynders End, Preston, Hitchin, Herts. Theatre of War: Italy. Year born: 1892. Medical category: A1. Placing of re-joining in case of emergency: Hounslow. Ranted 28 day furlough. Issued Purfleet 20th April 1919.
Sidney was awarded the British War and Victory medals, the Mentioned in Despatches Certificate and oak leaf device which was worn on the ribbon of his campaign medal.
Like every other soldier Sidney 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 underwent a Medical Examination on the 11th May 1919 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 112 of the 15th May 1919 announced that Sidney was one of two men who having been released from H.M. Army were re-appointed to the Force. He was shown as PC 328 Smith S. C Division at Watford from the 22nd May 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. He had to be formally re-attested and his Superintendent was told to report to the Chief Constable when this had been done, showing the date and place of attestation and before whom taken. Sidney was re-attested on the 27th May 1919. Due to a national pay increase Sidney was immediately put on £3/18/0 per week.
Hertfordshire Detachment To Luton Re Riots.
Sidney was part of a detachment sent to Luton to help quell rioting between the 20th July and the 5th August 1919. General Order 177 of the 9th August 1919 announced that the following extract from a letter received from the Head Constable of the Luton Borough Police under date 4th August 1919 was published for information. “I desire to express to you my high appreciation of the members of your Force on detached duty here for the riot. They proved to be excellent fellows in every way, gave a splendid account of themselves when need arose and conducted themselves in a manner which was credit to any Police Force.”
The Chief Constable is very gratified to have such a good account of the services of the detachment and congratulates Inspector Wright and the Sergeants and Constables. An entry of service on Riot Duty will be made in each man’s record sheet.
To see the whole photograph go to the Mutual Aid category and the article Hertford County Constabulary Assist With Quelling Rioters.
General Order 197 of the 8th October 1919 was a very important announcement regarding Sidney’s Army Service: At the meeting of the Joint Standing Committee held on 3rd October 1919, the privileges conferred by the Police Reservists (Allowances) Act 1914 as amended by the Police (pensions) Act 1918 i.e. to permit the period of Army service to account as approved service in the Police Force, were extended to the undermentioned Constables:
No. Rank Name Div Date Date Period & No. Resigned Re-appt. to Count 1 PC 56 Thompson H.W. E 10/04/1915 10/04/1919 4 yrs. 1 day 2 PC 307 Markwell J. C 02/11/1915 10/07/1919 3 yrs. 250 days 3 PC 328 Smith S. C 17/12/1915 22/05/1919 3 yrs. 156 days 4 PC 294 Wise B.C. D 06/08/1918 30/01/1919 177 days
As a result, Sidney’s Police Service Record was endorsed: Period of Army Service from 18th December 1915 to 21st May 1919 to count as Police Service for pension purposes vide Standing Joint Committee Resolution 35 dated the 9th October 1914.
General Order 235 of the 4th December 1919 informed Sidney that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from the 12th October 1919. His Police Service Record also shows that he received a further increase from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 from the 12th October 1920.
General Order 81 of the 19th May 1921 instructed Sidney that from the 27th May 1921 he was being transferred from C Division at Watford to B Division at Bishops Stortford.
General Order 174 of the 20th October 1921 informed Sidney that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week from the 12th October 1921.
General Order 184 of the 9th November 1921 instructed Sidney that from the 18th November 1921 he was being transferred from B Division at Bishops Stortford to B Division at Thorley.
Sidney married Louisa Pullen on the 21st February 1922 at Thorley. They had no children.
The 1923 to 1926 Electoral Rolls list Sidney and Louisa Smith living at Thorley Police Cottage.
General Order 135 of the 25th October 1922 and General Order 183 of the 5th November 1923 informed Sidney that he would receive from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week from the 12th October 1922 and from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from the 12th October 1923, respectively.
General Order 100 of the 30th June 1924 announced that Sidney had been commended as follows: At the Bishops Stortford Special Petty Sessions held on 26th June 1924, the Chairman F. Finn Esq. complimented Constable 328 Smith A Division, on his action in stopping and searching Reginald King and William Norton, both of no fixed abode, at 2.20 a.m. on the morning of Thursday 19th June 1924. Both men being found in possession of housebreaking implements. The reports in the matter show that the Constable was alert and acted intelligently and the Chief Constable endorses the compliment of the Chairman of the Petty Sessions and directs that an appropriate entry shall be made in the Constable’s record of service.
General Order 168 of the 25th October 1924 informed Sidney that he would receive increased rates of pay from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 12th October 1924.
Commendation Of A Sort!
General Order 166 of the 8th December 1926 announced a commendation as follows: The Chief Constable hereby commends the action of Constable 206 Hales A Division for his promptness in effecting the arrest of Richards Alfred Salthouse CRO 558/09 on a charge of shopbreaking at Bishops Stortford on 27th August 1926. The arrest and recovery of stolen property to the value of £340 was primarily due to the action of Inspector Herbert A Division in giving effect to instructions laid down by headquarters that immediately a robbery of this nature is reported enquiries should invariably be made at the nearest Railway Station notwithstanding the frequent use made by thieves of motor transport. In consequence of the instructions given by the Inspector the thief was located and arrested at Bishops Stortford Railway Station by Constable Smith from whom he subsequently escaped but was re-arrested by Constable Hales who showed praiseworthy initiative and promptitude. Constable Smith effected the arrest of Salthouse in the first instance but failed to take adequate recautions against the escape of his prisoner.
The background to the commendation was published on the 10th June 1926 in the Illustrated Police News under the headline Labour Party Agent Sent to Prison: Stated to have led a life of crime since 1906 when he returned from South Africa, where he had been working in the gold mines, Richard Alfred Salthouse, described as an organiser, of Pitfield Street Hoxton, was sentenced at St. Albans Quarter Sessions to three years penal servitude for breaking and entering the shop of Ernest John Copley, sub-postmaster, at Bishops Stortford, between August 26 and 27 and stealing £340 in money and stamps. The accused, it was stated, had been agent for the local Labour Party at Shoreditch, and earlier this year had been bound over for action likely to cause disaffection among the public. The accused stated that three months after coming back from South Africa he fell into crime, and his sentences had grown larger for each offence. He had never asked for mercy, but now asked for a chance to make good. The Mayor of Shoreditch and the ex-Mayor of that Borough appealed for a further chance for the prisoner. The Mayor said that Salthouse had rendered him great assistance in organising “Flag” days and outings for poor children. He had been a good friend to the poor and needy.
General Order 22 of the 3rd February 1927 instructed Sidney that he was being transferred from A Division at Thorley to E Division at Stevenage and to occupy a new police cottage at New Road, Stevenage. His Police Service Record shows that he moved on the 14th February 1927. The 1927 to 1929 Electoral Rolls list Sidney and Louisa Smith as living at New Road, Stevenage.
Sidney’s Police Service Record shows he was commended again as follows: Commended by the Chief Constable on 11th March 1928 for actions taken in case of motor car stolen from Wisbech vide Order 38/1928. For correspondence see records of PS 36 Newnham.
PS Newnham’s Service Record has survived but unfortunately the correspondence is no longer contained within it. However, a similar annotation on his Record Sheet reads: Commended by the Chief Constable and the Justice of Wisbech Petty Sessions held on 9th March 1928, for the astuteness and diligence he displayed in arresting two men, and recovering a stolen motor car, near Stevenage on the night of 3/4 March 1928 vide CC Order 38/1928.
The 1930 Electoral Roll records Sidney and Louisa Smith as living at 121, Fairview Road, Stevenage which is believed to have previously been called New Road.
Sidney’s Police Service Record shows that on the 20th February 1931 he was transferred from E Division at Stevenage to C Division at Watford. There is a note on the reverse of his Medal Roll Index Card, dated October 1935, in connection with his application for his Oak Leaf emblem, which gives his address as 113, Pinner Road, Watford.
The Final Transfer.
His Police Service Record again shows that on the 15th February 1936 he was transerred from C Division at Watford to C Division at Abbotts Langley.
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. Sidney 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.
Of course, before he had a chance to retire World War 2 started and the 1939 Register records Police Constable Sidney Smith and Louisa Smith living at 2, Police Cottage, Langley Road, Watford.
Sidney’s Police Service Record shows that he received two further pay increases of £4/12/6 per week from the 23rd November 1939 and £4/15/0 per week from the 12th October 1940.
Having been retained for War Service Sidney finally retired on the 14th July 1943 on a medical certificate but his pension was on the same scale of a full time pension of £165/2/5 per annum.
Sidney Smith of 4, Chequers Cottages, Preston, Hitchin died on the 17th March 1979 his funeral was held at 2.15 p.m. on Thursday 22nd March 1979 at St. Martins Church, Preston.