Bailiff, Thomas Alexander, 58, Police Constable.

Awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Paul Watts

PC 58 Thomas Alexander Bailiff

Early Life.

Thomas Alexander Bailiff was born on the 29th April 1893 at Byram cum Sutton, Brotherton, Yorkshire. He was baptised on the 4th June 1893 at St. Edward The Confessor Church, Brotherton.

His father John Henry Bailiff, a Forester, was born on the 20th March 1858 in Scotland. In 1888 he married his mother Hellen Higgins, who was born on the 5th March 1866 in Scotland. They had eleven children all but the first were born in the parish of Byram cum Poole (from 1891 it became Byram cum Sutton), Brotherton, Yorkshire. They were:

1.    John Kelly was born in 1889 in Scotland and served as Lance Corporal P1390 in the Mounted Military Police. He was PC 869 in the West Yorkshire Police having been Appointed on the 3rd October 1912.

2.    James Henry was born in 1891. He served as Private 3806 in the West Yorkshire Regiment and as Private 236850 in the Labour Corps.

3.    Thomas Alexander.

4.    Richard Moody was born in 1895. He served as Lance Corporal 23187 in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and was killed in action on the 19th August 1916.

5.    Robert Victor was born in 1897. He served as Private 23153 in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

6.    Charlotte Ellen was born in 1899.

7.    Samuel Roy was born in 1901.

8.    Henry Norman was born in 1903.

9.    Donald Wilson was born in 1904.

10. Caroline Taylor was born in 1906.

11. Margaret Elizabeth was born in 1908.

In the 1891 and 1901 census returns the family were recorded as living in Byram and then Poole, Byram cum Sutton, Yorkshire, respectively. During the 1911 census they were shown as living at Poole, Burton Salmon, South Milford, Byram cum Sutton, but by then Thomas had left home and was working as a gardener and lodging at The Bothy, Sandbeck Park, Maltby, Rotherham, Yorkshire.

The records have not survived to confirm this but at some time between the 1911 census and the beginning of the First World War Thomas must have moved to Hertfordshire, almost certainly for employment. From his Medal Roll Index Card, it is apparent that whilst there he enlisted with the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment a Territorial Force based in  Hertford.

Early Army Service.

Thomas’ Army Service Record has not survived but his Medal Roll Index Card, Medal Rolls and some other sources still reveal a lot of information. As a part time soldier, he would have undergone regularly training which would have included an annual summer camp. The summer camp of 1914 ended with emergency orders for everyone to return to their bases and await further instructions. On the 5th August 1914, the entire Battalion ’embodied’ for war service as part of the East Midland Brigade, itself forming part of the East Anglian Division.

They were ordered to assemble at Romford in Essex, along with the other Battalions of their Brigade, but the expectation they would move to France did not happen and instead they were sent to the area around Bury St. Edmunds where they trained for around two months. The formation of a second line battalion in September saw the 1st Battalion renamed as the 1st/1st Battalion.

Army Service During The War.

Then on the 1st November 1914 the 1st/1st Battalion were mobilised. Early on the 5th November, they left Bury St. Edmunds and sailed via Southampton to Havre, moving onto St. Omer. On Thomas’ Medal Roll Index Card, the date of his entry into a theatre of war was recorded as the 6th November 1914.

The 1st/1st Battalion arrived in the front lines on the 11th November 1914, taking up positions near Hooge. They joined the 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 2nd Division and because of this attachment, they were sometimes referred to as the “Hertfordshire Guards.” They adopted many of the Guards peculiarities as a result, including naming their Companies by number rather than letter. Whilst serving in the 4th Brigade, they fought alongside the following other Guards battalions: The 2nd Battalion the Grenadier Guards, the 2nd Battalion the Coldstream Guards, the 3rd Battalion the Coldstream Guards and the 1st Battalion the Irish Guards.

Award Of The Distinguished Conduct Medal And Wounded For The First Time.

The following article and London Gazette entries give brief details of Thomas’ actions in 1915 which resulted in his award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

(Abridged) The following was published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Saturday 7th October 1916 under the headline “The Hertfordshire’s In The Great War.” By Brigadier-General H. Page Croft, C.M.Q., M.P. Chapter XVI.  The Battle Of Festubert.

The Battle of Festubert between the 15th and 25th May 1915 was an attack by the British army in the Artois region of France on the western front.

Gallant Deeds By Herts Men.

It is very difficult to mention names when all did so well, but these are some incidents which occurred. Private Long, of No.1 Company, was dispatched by Major Page to tell me that reinforcements were needed, and he came back and delivered his message. Major Trefusis then called for a volunteer to take a message to his men in the firing line, and Private Long volunteered and brought back the answer; once again when I ordered up the men of No.2 Company to support the firing line, Private Long of his own will placed himself at their head as guide and with a cheer led them up to support his company. This was the fifth time he crossed the fire swept zone.

Major Page with a mere handful of men charged right up to within 150  yards of the farm, which was our objective, and only came back when he found there was no one on his right and to seek fresh orders and again in the night was out far into the open looking for his wounded men.

Lieutenant Christie was hit charging ahead of the advanced line; and Lieutenant Oliphant, although the only surviving officer in his part of the line ordered his men to dig in and by his persistent example did much to establish the new line.

Private Bailiff, stretcher bearer of No.1 Company, was trying to bring in a wounded Irish Guardsman who was delirious and stabbed him with his bayonet; in spite of this wound Bailiff continued all night to bring in wounded.

There were many other stories of that evening, but I think I have said enough to show that the Herts have made good.

I received later the following message from the Commanding Officer of the Irish Guards: “I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for the great assistance which your stretcher bearers gave me on May 18 and 19 and I should be glad if you would convey to them how much the Officers N.C.O’s and men of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards appreciated their assistance under the most trying conditions which materially helped to collect and bring into safety a large number of wounded. Will you also please thank Major Page and Company which was placed under my command on May 18 for the gallant manner in which they all helped me. We all appreciate their services immensely.”

Our total casualties were 6 Officers – Lieutenants Daish, Palmer, Christie, Loyd, Oliphant and Oldham wounded; 22 N.C.O.’s and men killed and 102 wounded.

Published on Friday 11th January 1916 in the Fourth Supplement (Issue 29438 Page 595) of the London Gazette of Tuesday 11th January 1916 was the announcement that 2597 Private T. A. Bailiff, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, Territorial Force had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal: “His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards for Distinguished Service in the Field.”

Published on Saturday 11th March 1916 in the Supplement (Issue 29503 page 2646) of the London Gazette of Friday 10th March 1916 was the Distinguished Conduct Medal citation for 2597 Private T. A. Bailiff, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, Territorial Force “For conspicuous gallantry in rescuing wounded in the open under heavy fire and continuing his efforts all night until wounded himself.”

Once more there are no surviving records, so it is possible that his ‘friendly fire’ bayonet wound was not serious enough that he had to be returned to England for treatment. However, in February 1916 he did return, probably on two weeks leave, and during that period he married.


On the 19th February 1916 at the Parish Church of St. Augustine, Paddington, Thomas Alexander Bailiff, a bachelor aged 23 and a soldier of Halton Park, Tring (possibly the Army Camp set up in 1914) whose father was John Bailiff a Forester married Alice Lavinia Tidy, a spinster aged 24 (born 8th August 1892) of 22, Kilburn Park Road, Paddington whose father was George Tidy a Horse dealer.

Returned To France And Wounded For The Second Time.

There can be no doubt that Thomas returned to France as from the Medical Records of the 31st Ambulance Train of the British Expeditionary Force it can be seen that Private 2597 T.A. Bailiff of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment was wounded on the 16th October 1916. His  Admission number was 14748 and he entrained at Puchevillers and detrained at Boulogne on the 17th October. His injury was recorded as being an abrasion caused by a piece of shrapnel.

The Casualty List issued by the War Office on the 23rd November 1916 listed Private 2597 T.A. Bailiff of the Hertfordshire Regiment, whose home town was recorded as Poole, as wounded. Thomas was entitled to wear a Wound Stripe as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. The terms of this award having been met by his name appearing in this list.

Returned To France And Wounded For A Third Time.

Following his recovery Thomas again returned to France as the War Office Daily List No. 5360 issued on the 10th September 1917 listed Private 265539 T.A. Bailiff of the Hertfordshire Regiment, whose home town was recorded as Milford, as wounded. There is no other record for a Private 265539 T.A. Bailiff, and this different Regimental Number is believed to be an error as the remaining information is correct, and the fact that he was wounded again is supported by another newspaper article shown below. Consequently, Thomas was again entitled to wear a Wound Stripe as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916.

Return To France And The End Of The War.

Thomas’ Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls show that after he was Private 2597 of the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment he later transferred to the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, who were known as the Sherwood Foresters, as Private 260176 and posted to the 2nd/6th Battalion. Later still he was transferred back to the Hertfordshire Regiment as Private 285063. None of his surviving records show when these events happened or when he was demobilised.

However, there is a Private 3767 Charles William Fletcher of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment who appears on the same Medal Roll page as Thomas and his Army Service Record has survived. He has an identical set of transfers to that of Thomas with almost consecutive new Regimental Numbers. Consequently, it is safe to assume that, on the balance of probabilities, that they served together and were transferred together.

Private Fletcher embarked at Folkestone on the 23rd March 1918 and disembarked at Boulogne the same day. He was transferred to the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) on the 31st March 1918 and posted to the 2nd/6th Battalion and was allocated a new Regimental Number of 260181. He was compulsorily and permanently transferred back to the Hertfordshire Regiment and posted to the 1st/1st Battalion and allocated a new Regimental Number of 285067 on the 25th August 1918. He returned to England on the 10th February 1919 and was disembodied on his demobilisation on the 12th March 1919.

It is possible that Thomas may have been demobilised around the same time as Fletcher.  As well as the Distinguished Conduct Medal Thomas was awarded the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Life After The War. Initially An Unhappy Time.

Like every other soldier Thomas was granted 28 days leave when he was demobilised. He would have used this time to look for employment and somewhere to live. Sadly, he also had to deal with a failed marriage.


Published in the Buckinghamshire Examiner on Friday 31st October 1919 under the headline His Christmas Home Coming: It was the Divorce Court complaint of Mr. Thomas Alexander Bailiff, a gardener, of Earl’s Court road, Mortlake, that his wife and Henry Thomas Wing had been guilty of misconduct. In August 1916, he said, he went to France on service. Later, he came home wounded. It was Christmas time, and his wife said she was sorry he had come as she was going to stay with friends in the country. She refused to say where. She stayed away until two hours before he was due to return to Shorncliffe, and then refused to say where she had been, except that she had been staying with another man. When he came home again, he spoke to Wing, who said, “Yes, and I will compensate you for what trouble I have caused you,” “I absolutely refused,” he added. In August 1918, his wife gave birth to a child, and said Wing was its father. He then packed his things and left the house. After other evidence, a decree nisi was granted, with costs, and £75 damages.

The Electoral Rolls for 1919 to 1921 list a Thomas Bailiff living in Hatfield Park, Hertfordshire. It is possible that if this is Thomas Alexander Bailiff then he may have been employed as a Gardener there and may also have been there before the war. What is known for certain though is that Thomas applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary in 1921.

Police Service.

Thomas’ Police Service record has not survived but from a number of other Hertfordshire Police Historical Society archive sources the following is known. He was Appointed as Police Constable 58 on, it is believed, the 22nd September 1921. This is based on the fact that other Constables who appear in his class photograph are known to have been Appointed on that date and his anniversary date for pay awards was the 22nd September. His starting pay would have been £3/10/0 per week.

Prior to his Appointment he would have had a medical examination by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters Hatfield to ensure he was fit enough for the duties of a Police Constable. He would also have had an interview and then been told to wait for a vacancy.

He underwent his Probationer training at Police Headquarters in Class 24 his instructors were Sergeant 280 George Thomas Sharp and Constable 268 Arthur James Saunders. At some point during his training, he was photographed with six other recruit Constables and his instructors.

Class 24 of 1921

The Spring edition of the 1922 Electoral Roll lists a Thomas A. Bailiff as living at 16, Grace Mead, Hatfield.

General Order 11 of the 17th January 1922 was entitled Postings and announced that seven recruit Constables having been brought on the Roster for duty were being transferred from Headquarters to Divisions. Thomas was one of the seven and was shown as PC 58 T.A. Bailiff and posted to C Division at Watford from the 17th January 1922. It also instructed that each Constable had to be Attested. Duplicate Record sheets were forwarded with one copy to be returned duly completed after Attestation. Divisional Superintendents were also told to ensure the uniforms issued to their respective recruit Constables fitted properly.

Married For A Second Time.

Thomas Alexander Bailiff married Ethel Mary Smith on the 6th May 1922 at the Brentford Register Office. He was recorded as a 28 year old bachelor employed as a Police Constable and living at 2, Halsey Place, Harebreaks, Watford and his father as John Henry Bailiff, a  Forester.

Ethel was born on the 19th July 1886 in Brixton. She had been married before in 1906 to Arthur Frederick Smith and had a daughter, Vera Ethel Evelyn, the same year. By the 1911 census she was living, apparently without her husband but with her parents at 14, Gladstone Road, Chiswick. At the time of her marriage to Thomas she had obtained a divorce from her first husband, a fact endorsed on the marriage certificate, and was still living with her parents at 14, Gladstone Road. Her father was recorded as Reginald James Smith a Solicitors Clerk.

Under the Police Regulations in force at this time any member of the force who married without first obtaining the consent of the Chief Constable was liable to immediate dismissal. A Police officer’s wife was  expected to be actively involved in her husband’s employment especially when they were living on a detached beat. Consequently, on being informed that an officer desired to marry the Chief Constable would cause enquiries to be made of the prospective wife and her family to determine effectively that she was “suitable”. The officer would also have to prove that he had suitable furniture and sufficient savings to support a wife.

A Minor Blemish.

On the 27th June 1922 Thomas was cautioned by the Chief Constable for parading late for duty on the 17th June 1922.

A Daughter.

On the 22nd August 1922 Ethel gave birth to a daughter Phyllis Mary at the Nursing Home, King Street, Watford. Thomas, who was recorded as her father, was shown as a Police Constable of 45, Victoria Road, Watford. He registered the birth on the 28th September 1922.

General Order 131 of the 18th October 1922 informed Thomas that he would receive an increase in pay from £3/10/0 to £3/12/0 per week from the 22nd September 1922. Pay rises were not automatic and nor could they be considered as a right. Each officer had to apply for an increment on the anniversary of his appointment. He had to show that it was merited by his attention to duty, good conduct and efficiency and ultimately its payment was decided upon by the Chief Constable. As such the award of a pay increase was a very good reflection on the officer.

A More Serious Blemish And A Transfer.

General Order 58 of the 30th March 1923 announced that Thomas has been in trouble again. From Thursday 29th March 1923 the Chief Constable ordered that Thomas’ pay would be reduced from £3/12/0 to £3/10/0 per week for a period of 12 months after he was found about 11 p.m. on the 16th February 1923, on the Licensed Premises of the White Lion P.H. St. Albans Road, Watford, where at that time and place gambling for money was in progress and that he was not there in the discharge of his duty. General Order 59 of the same date instructed Thomas that from the 3rd April 1923 he was being transferred from C Division at Watford to D Division at Tring.

The Electoral Rolls for the Spring and Autumn of 1924 list Thomas and Ethel as living at 5, Bunstrux Villas, Tring, although strangely he is shown as Thomas Harry Alexander Bailiff.

Mutual Aid To Norfolk.

General Order 68 of the 11th April 1923 was entitled Strike of Agricultural Workers – Norfolk and announced that a detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary, which included Thomas, was detailed for duty in the County of Norfolk as from 11th April 1923 inclusive as follows: Under Inspector H. Wright two Sergeants and 17 Constables were ordered to proceed by the nearest rail route to Cambridge to arrive at the Great Northern Railway at 10.41 a.m. and the Great Eastern Railway at 11.38 a.m. On arrival at Cambridge Railway Station Inspector H. Wright was to call the roll, take charge of the detachment and proceed leaving Cambridge Great Eastern Railway at 11.45 a.m. to arrive at Holt at 4.12 p.m. On arrival at Holt the Inspector was to march the detachment to the Police Station and report to Superintendent Levi Collyer. Superintendents were told to make arrangements for the 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.

A Job Well Done.

General Order 84 of the 26th April 1923 was entitled Strike of Agricultural Workers Norfolk, Reference Order No. 68/1923 and announced that 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.

A Tragedy.

Tragically Thomas and Ethel’s daughter Phyllis died on the 22nd June 1923 aged 10 months at the Prince of Wales General Hospital, Tottenham after suffering Bronchitis (for 18 days) and cardiac failure. Thomas gave the address of his wife’s parents at 14, Gladstone Road, Chiswick when he registered her death on the 25th June 1923. It is assumed he stayed with them whist Phyllis was in hospital.

Thomas and Ethel went on to have two more children Peter Alexander Reginald Bailiff born in 1924 at Berkhamstead and Audrey Joan Ethel Bailiff born in 1925 at Hemel Hempstead.

A Further Blemish But With Some Good News.

General Order 142 of the 10th August 1923 announced that on the 8th August Thomas was reprimanded by the Chief Constable after he got married without first obtaining the permission of the Chief Constable as required by Article 7 of the Conditions of Service. The Chief Constable remarked, “This matter has in a large measure been dealt with already and I do not propose to punish otherwise than by recording a reprimand for disobedience of orders. I see by reports that the Constable is doing much better and appears to have the making of a good Constable.”

General Order 177 of the 22nd October 1923 informed Thomas that he would receive an increase in pay from £3/10/0 to £3/12/0 from the 22nd September 1923.

Another Blemish.

General Order 77 of the 25th April 1924 announced that on the 8th April Thomas was severely reprimanded by the Chief Constable as he was found at 12 noon on the 25th March 1924 on the Licensed Premises of the Anchor P.H., Western Road, Tring and that he was not there in the discharge of his duty.

General Order 88 of the 23rd May 1924 informed Thomas that he would receive an increase in pay from £3/12/0 to £3/14/0 per week from the 29th March 1924.

A Further Blemish And Another Transfer.

General Order 141 of the 25th August 1924 announced that on the 23rd August Thomas was reprimanded by the Chief Constable after he was absent without leave from his station at Tring on Saturday 26th July 1924. Then General Order 143 of the 26th August 1924 instructed Thomas that he was being transferred from D Division at Tring to D Division at Hemel Hempstead.

General Order 168 of the 25th October 1924 informed Thomas that he would receive an increase in pay from £3/14/0 to £3/16/0 per week from the 22nd September 1924.

A Final Blemish And Resignation.

Thomas was severely reprimanded by the Chief Constable after he was  again found at 9.00 p.m. on the 12th January 1925, in the Licensed Premises of the Hop Garland P.H. at Hemel Hempstead and was not there in the discharge of his duty. A second matter of placing himself under a pecuniary obligation to the Licensee of the Queen’s Head P.H. at Hemel Hempstead by owing him 1/5½ for beer supplied on either the 6th or 7th January 1925, was not proceeded with. The reason given was that he had already submitted an application to resign his Appointment as a Constable which had been accepted by the Chief Constable and took effect from the 7th February. General Order 11 of the 26th January 1925 announced his resignation.

Life After The Police.

Little is known about Thomas’ life after he left the Police other than where he and Ethel lived. The Electoral Rolls of 1925 and 1926 list Thomas and Ethel Bailiff as living at 54, Bury Road, Hemel Hempstead. The 1929 Electoral Roll lists them as living at Chapel Croft, Kings Langley but the 1930 Roll has them living at 63, Blackwell Road, Kings Langley.

The 1939 Register shows Ethel as being married and employed as a School Mistress living in the village of Hethe, Oxfordshire. Living with her are her eldest daughter Vera, son Peter and younger daughter Audrey. There is no trace of Thomas in the Register.

A Bequest.

Thomas clearly made an excellent impression on a previous employer which can be seen by the following newspaper article. (Abridged) Published in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer on Wednesday 30th December 1942 under the headline Latest Wills – York Bequests: Mr. George Summers, of Carr Lane, Acomb, York, £16,927 (net personalty £16,012). He left his property upon trust for his wife for life, and then: £100 to Thomas Bailiff,  sometime under-gardener at Sandbeck Park, Rotherham. In appreciation of his bravery In the Great War. Thomas is shown as living at Sandbeck Park in the 1911 census employed as a gardener and George  Summers was the Head Gardener there.

Thomas Alexander Bailiff died in 1976 and his death was registered in the Chiltern and Beaconsfield district.

This page was added on 26/01/2021.

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