Stephen George Burch was born on the 12th July 1891 at Stratton, Biggleswade and baptised on the 27th December 1891 at Aldbury.
His father, George Burch a Game Keeper, married his mother, Eliza Scott, in 1880 at Aldbury. The 1911 census shows they had seven children but only six have been identified. Sadly, two of these died before 1911:
- William Stephen born in 1881.
- James John born in 1882 – Hertfordshire Constable 28 1907 – 1932.
- Tottie Louise born in 1883.
- Beatrice Jane born in 1888.
- Stephen George.
- Lewis Albert born in 1893. Private G/15207 11th Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment died on 21st October 1916.
During the 1891 census the family were living at Stratton Park Lodge, Fairfield, Biggleswade. Stephen’s father died in 1895 at Leighton Buzzard and by the time of the 1901 census the family were living at Aldbury. They were still living there in the 1911 census and Stephen was working as a Railway Plate Layer.
Little is known about Stephen’s life for the next three years other than on the 13th December 1913 he was admitted to the General Register of the National Union of Railwaymen as a Plate Layer for L and M Railway at Boxmoor. He was excluded in March 1915 for arrears. He then joined the Hertford County Constabulary.
Stephen’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he was Appointed Constable 129 on the 17th August 1914 earning £1/4/6 a week. He would have undergone his Probationer training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield and at its conclusion he was taken onto the Roster and posted to E Division at Stevenage.
General Order 144 of the 20th September 1915 and General Order 105 of the 9th September 1916 informed Stephen that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/4/6 to £1/5/8 per week from the 17th August 1915 and from £1/5/8 to £1/6/10 per week from the17th August 1916, respectively.
General Order 5 of the 22nd January 1917 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 Enlistment in H.M. Forces: Consequent upon the demand for men of military age for service in H.M. Army the Standing Joint Committee have reconsidered the strength at which it is necessary to maintain the force and have authorised that a further 20 members shall be released for Army Service. Five of these have been accepted provisionally by the Army Council for service in the Military Mounted Police. Further instructions with regard to these men will be issued as soon as received.
In accordance with the resolution of the Standing Committee dated 5th January 1917 the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent as required by the above Acts to a further fifteen Constables for the purpose of enlisting in H.M. Army. Stephen was included in this group. The Constables enumerated will be released from the Police Service as from Thursday 1st February 1917 inclusive and will be paid up to and including the 31st January 1917.
General Order 8 of the 25th January 1917 referred to Order 5/1917 and announced that the same fifteen Constables who were being released for military service were being granted leave of absence on 30th and 31st January 1917.
Army Service During The War.
Stephen’s Army Service Record has not survived but from his Medal Roll Index Card, Medal Roll and Silver War Badge Roll we know the following:
He enlisted on the 10th December 1915 and on the 11th December 1915, he was transferred to Section B Army Reserve and returned to his Police duties. This was part of what was known as the Derby Scheme. Thousands of men around the country including dozens of Hertfordshire Police Officers enlisted under the scheme. The Hertfordshire Officers mainly enlisted between the 9th and the 11th December 1915. Every Section B Reservist was issued with an individually numbered Khaki Armlet with a red Crown displayed on it which was to be worn on the upper left arm to demonstrate they were a Reservist and were waiting to be mobilised.
Stephen was mobilised on the 2nd February 1917 and posted as Gunner 205981 to the Royal Horse Artillery Depot at Woolwich. Of the fifteen men who were mobilised at the same time as Stephen one joined the Grenadier Guards and two others joined the Military Foot Police. The remaining twelve became artillery men. They were 205951 Harry Wallman, 205952 William Hussey, 205953 Joseph Wallen, 205954 Arthur Mansfield, 205956 Wilfred Darton, 205982 Thomas Kempthorne, 205983 William Cripps, 205985 Alban Freeman, 205986 Herbert Trussell, 205987 Albert Emery and 205988 Henry Camp. Other than during their initial training there is nothing to say that they went on to serve together.
In March 1917 during their training there was an outbreak of Rubella at the Woolwich Depot. Of the twelve men who were mobilised the Army Service Records of ten of them have survived. Of these records two, belonging to Darton and Kempthorne, show they were hospitalised for two weeks with the disease. Additionally, Alban Freeman died of fever on the 7th March which was almost certainly due to the same cause.
General Order 54 of the 23rd June 1917 was entitled The Police Reservists (allowances) Act 1914. Reference order no/. 183 1915. At a meeting of the Standing Joint Committee held at Hatfield on 15th June 1917 six allowances were granted to the dependents of unmarried Constables who have enlisted in H.M. Army for the period of the war. Stephen’s mother, Eliza Burch, was granted a weekly allowance of 8 shillings from the 1st February 1917.
Published on the 20th October 1917 the War Office Daily List No.5395 recorded Gunner 205981 S.G. Burch, Royal Horse Artillery as wounded. He was entitled to wear a Wound Stripe as authorised under Army Order 204 of the 6th July 1916. The terms of this award having been met by him being named on this list.
His Silver War Badge Roll records that Gunner 205981, B Battery, Royal Horse Artillery Stephan George Burch enlisted on the 10th December 1915 and was discharged aged 26 having served overseas on the 21st February 1918. The cause of his discharge was Wounds – Para. 392 (xvi) King’s Regulation 2(a)(i). His Badge number 332311 was issued on the 22nd February 1918.
It is unclear when he was transferred but his Medal Roll shows that he was in the Royal Field Artillery. He was awarded the British War and Victory medals.
Like every other soldier Stephen would, once he had recovered from his wound, 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 would have had to have undergone a Medical Examination 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.
No record has survived as to when Stephen re-joined the Constabulary. However, it is believed that he was posted to B Division at Much Hadham.
General Order 46 of the 4th June 1918 was a list of seven Constables, including Stephen who is stationed in B Division, who had not yet qualified for promotion from Second Class to First Class Constables, and consequently the necessary examination papers had been prepared and forwarded to the Superintendents concerned.
General Order 50 of the 20th June 1918 referred to Order No. 46/1918 and announced the result of the Examination for Promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. Stephen was listed as having qualified after taking the exam on the 12th June in the office of his Superintendent.
The following General Orders all informed Stephen that he would receive an increase of pay on the 17th August of the year shown: General Order 84 of the 9th September 1918 from £1/7/5 to £1/8/0 per week. General Order 213 of the 17th October 1919 from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week. General Order 153 of the 31st August 1921 from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week. General Order 113 of the 24th August 1922 from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week.
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 Stephen, who was stationed at A Division Much Hadham, 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 103 of the 26th May 1923 instructed Stephen that he would be temporarily transferred on the 26th May 1923 from A Division at Much Hadham to E Division at Stevenage.
A Minor Blemish.
General Order 142 of the 10th August 1923 announced that on the 8th August the Chief Constable had reduced him one by one grade of pay from £4/6/0 to £4/4/0 per week as from 9th August 1923 for without the consent of his superior Officer did receive on the 26th July from Mrs. Ada Turner at The Sheep Shearers P.H. Old Knebworth, intoxicating liquor, to wit, beer whilst on duty. PC 211 Henry Thomas Hopwood E Division was similarly charged.
General Order of 154 of the 31st August 1923 informed Stephen that he would receive an increase in pay from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 from the 17th August 1923.
General Order 185 of the 9th November 1923 instructed Stephen that his temporary transfer was over and he was being moved from E Division at Stevenage back to A Division at Much Hadham.
General Order 149 of the 1st September 1924 informed Stephen that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from the 9th August 1924 and then from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 17th August 1924 thus re-instating his pay to the level he would have reached other than for his misdemeanour.
General Order 200 of the 8th December 1924 instructed Stephen that from the 17th December 1924 he was being transferred from A Division at Much Hadham to C Division at Watford.
The record has not survived but as the 1929 and 1930 Electoral Rolls list Stephen George Burch as living at 3, Council Cottages, Barley it is likely that he had been transferred there.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
Stephen retired as a Constable on pension having completed his 25 years’ service on the 16th August 1939.
The 1939 Register records that Stephen, a retired Policeman, his mother and sisters Tottie and Beatrice were living at 38, Trooper Road, Aldbury, Berkhamsted.
Stephen George Burch of 38, Trooper Road, Aldbury, Hertfordshire died on the 30th August 1949.