Stroud, Thomas Edward, 255, Police Constable.

Paul Watts with thanks to Adrian Stroud

PC 255 Thomas Edward Stroud
Adrian Stroud

Early Life.

Thomas Edward Stroud was born in 1882 at Plymouth.

His father, Frederick John Stroud a house painter, married his mother Emma Hart in 1876 at Plymouth. Emma already had a son, George Frederick Albert Hamilton Hart born in 1875 at King’s Tamerton, Plymouth. They had five children all born in Plymouth:
With Frederick Stroud:
1. Henry Herbert Stroud born in 1877 and died in 1878.
2. Florence Mary Stroud born in 1879.
3. Thomas Edward Stroud.
4. Frederick John Stroud born in 1885.
5. Beatrice McMahon Stroud born in 1888 died in 1889 Plymouth

During the 1881 census the family were living at 15, Oxford Place, Plymouth. Thomas’ father died in 1890 at Plymouth. In the 1891 census they were still living at the same address.

Thomas’ mother Emma then married a Thomas Gregory. They had a daughter Alice Gregory born in 1892 at Plymouth.

By the time of the 1901 census Thomas’ mother, Thomas Gregory, Alice Gregory and his brother Frederick were recorded as living at 43, Rendle Street, Plymouth but Thomas had left home and joined the Army.

Early Army Service.

Thomas’ Army Service Record has survived and shows that he enlisted on the 12th January 1900 at Devonport, for short service of seven years with the Colours and five in the reserve, as Private 3596 in the Corps of the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery.

The following was recorded: He said he was 18 years 7 months and born at St. Charles, Plymouth, Devon. His trade was as a clerk, he was not an apprentice, was not married and had never been sentenced to imprisonment. He said he was currently serving in the Militia, the Devon Artillery 10th Battalion Royal Field Artillery.

He was medically examined the same day and the following recorded: Apparent age: 18 years 7 months. Height: 5 feet 7 ½ inches. Weight: 122 lbs. Chest 32 – 34 inches. Complexion: Sallow. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Dark brown. Marks: Scars on forehead and back of head, a dot tattooed on back of each forearm.

He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his step-father T. Gregory and his mother Emma Gregory of 43, Rendle Street, Plymouth.

On the 18th January 1900 Thomas joined at Woolwich and on the 13th February 1900, he was posted to the Royal Field Artillery. On the 5th November 1900 he was appointed Acting Bombardier

During the 1901 census Bombardier Thomas Stroud of the Royal Field Artillery is shown as living at the Royal Artillery Camp, Weedon Beck, Northamptonshire.

On the 13th June 1901 he received a 3rd Class Certificate of Education and on the 12th January 1902, he was granted Good Conduct Pay of 1d per day. On the 1st September 1902 he was promoted Bombardier.

On the 14th July 1903 he reverted to Gunner at own request and the following day he was posted to the Royal Horse Artillery. On the 1st April 1904 he extended his service to complete 8 years with the Colours.

On the 12th January 1905 he was granted Class 1 Service Pay at 7d per day. On the 17th March 1907 he was transferred to the Army Reserve Section B and was free to seek employment elsewhere.

On the 11th January 1912 he was Discharged from the Army on the completion of his 1st Period of Army Service having spent all 12 years’ service at Home.

Nothing is known about what Thomas did for nearly two years until he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.

Police Service.

Thomas’ Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he was Appointed Constable 255 on the 28th January 1909 and posted to C Division at Watford. He would have undergone his Probationary training on the Division, as was the policy at that time, which means he would have been trained by an experienced Constable under the supervision of the Divisional Superintendent.

General Order 5 of the 2nd February 1909 confirmed that Thomas had been appointed on £1/3/11 per week from the 28th January 1909.

General Order 26 of the 18th August 1909 and General Order 9 of the 28th February 1911 informed Thomas that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/3/11 to £1/5/8 per week from 29th July 1909 and from £1/5/8 to £1/6/10 per week from the 9th February 1911, respectively.

During the 1911 census Police Constable Thomas Stroud was recorded as living alone at 98 Chester Road Watford.

The Coronation of George V And Mary Of Teck.

General Order 19 of 14th June 1911 ordered that Thomas would be one of twenty Mounted Officers detailed for duty around the County on the 22nd June 1911. He was to ride a hired horse in Watford in connection with maintaining public order during the celebrations. Superintendents were told they were at liberty to detail the Mounted men ordered within their own Divisions to do ordinary other than Mounted Duty if they thought fit. The Chief Constable was however, of the opinion that on a day like Coronation Day, and with the crowd, one Mounted Constable was worth three on foot, and the Mounted Constable moreover would be in a position to go speedily to any part of the Division or County where any sort of disturbance might occur. As far as possible Territorial or Yeomanry Horses would be hired.

Marriage.

Thomas married Frances Edith Godwin in 1913 at Alton, Hampshire. They had two sons both born in Hitchin:
1. Reginald Thomas born in 1917.
2. Kenneth Edward born in 1920. Served in WW2 as Airman 1196726 Royal Air Force Station at Seletar. Became a prisoner of war in the same camp in Malaya as Kenneth Burns son of Hertfordshire PC Archibald Burns who worked with Thomas and they later enlisted together.

Transfer.

The record has not survived but it is clear from the following Orders that at some point before the next Order below Thomas had been transferred from C Division at Watford to E Division at Hitchin.

The Assizes.

General Order 24 of the 6th February 1915 gave instructions to four Mounted Police Officers to perform duty at the opening of the Hertford Assizes:
The undermentioned mounted detachment will be held in readiness to form an escort for the Honourable Sir Edward Ridley, Knight Justice of the High Court of Justice, and one of the Justices of our Lord the King, from Friday the 12th February 1915, until the conclusion of the Assizes:
Inspector Moles J.W. A Division to use horse from Ware
PC 199 Briden J. B Division to use horse from Hertford
PC 255 Stroud T. E Division to use horse from Hertford
PC 249 Burns A. G Division to use horse from St Albans
PC’s Briden, Stroud and Burns will proceed to Hertford on the afternoon of 11th February 1915 and will remain there until Assizes are over. The Superintendent F Division will make arrangement for the out stationed horses, and the men forming the escort will be under his immediate order from 12th February 1915 until after the Assizes. Dress: Mounted Tunics, Winter Helmets, buff gloves, swords will be worn but not drawn. The Deputy Chief Constable will submit by 8th Inst, the names of all officers who will attend the Assizes, specifying the duty upon which each officer will be engaged. The escort will parade at a time and place to be notified later.

General Order 32 of the 27th February 1915 informed Thomas that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/9/2 to £1/9/9 per week from the 28th January 1915.

The Assizes.

General Order 97 of the 7th June 1915 gave instructions to Thomas to be one of six Mounted Police Officers to form an escort for the Honourable Sir Charles John Darling, Knight, Justice of the High Court of Justice, and one of the Justices of our Lord the King, from Thursday 21st June 1915 at the opening of the Hertford Assizes until their conclusion.

Transferred Again.

General Order 111 of 4th July 1915 ordered Thomas to transfer from E Division Hitchin to E Division Graveley from the 9th July 1915.

The Assizes.

General Order 170 of the 1st November 1915 gave instructions to Thomas to be one of six Mounted Police Officers to form an escort for the Honourable Sir Alfred Tristram Lawrence, Knight, Justice of the High Court Justice, and one of the Justices of our Lord the King, from Monday 22nd November 1915 at the opening of the Hertford Assizes until their conclusion.

Published on the 27th November 1915 in the Hertfordshire Mercury.
At Hertfordshire Assizes on Monday, Jean Van Hoof (49), a Belgian, was indicted for setting fire to a stack of wheat straw, the property of Mr J. W. Smith, farmer, of Stevenage, on October 24, with setting fire to a stack of clover hay, the property of Jeremiah Inns, at Knebworth, on the same date, and with setting fire to two stacks of clover, the property of John Inns, at Little Wymondley, on October 25. The prisoner could not speak English, and an interpreter was engaged to speak Flemish. It appeared from the statement of counsel for the prosecution, Mr E. H. Tindal Atkinson, that the prisoner was a Belgian refugee who on the day that the first stacks were set on fire, was walking on the road between Hertford and Stevenage, being on a tramp to Harrogate, a distance of 180 odd miles. He was seen by a man named Charles Cherry, who is in the employ of Mr Jeremiah Inns, to go round a stack situated in a field by the roadside. When he got up to the prisoner the latter asked him some questions in a foreign language, which he did not understand, and then he produced a paper on which was written the name of the places on the main road from Hertford to Harrogate. Cherry directed him as best he could to Stevenage, and he went on. Directly he had gone Cherry saw the stack was in flames. There was no one else about except the prisoner. The prisoner was then traced to Stevenage and on to the public house called the Lord Kitchener, at Graveley, and subsequently was seen by the police outside Baldock in the neighbourhood of the second stack fire. The police let him go that night as he had no matches or other suspicious evidence about him, but the next morning he was found not far away with two boxes of matches, and in the meantime the third fire had occurred. Evidence was given by Charles Cherry, Mrs Paternoster, PC Stroud, Supt Reed, and Inspector Bowyer. The prisoner told the last named that he slept in the field and did not quite know what he was doing. The prisoner had on four shirts, two pairs of trousers, two waistcoats, a sweater, a jacket, and an overcoat. The prisoner said he was not guilty and declared that the second and third stacks were on fire before he got to them. The jury disagreed and began to wrangle aloud to the great amusement of the Court. The Judge told them that if they had any doubts, they had better give a verdict of not guilty. The foreman said that the majority were in favour of doing so. After some further discussion they were told to retire, and they returned shortly after with a verdict of not guilty. The Judge in ordering the prisoner’s discharge told him that owing to the merciful consideration of the law of England he had not been convicted and advised him to have regard for the law in future. The second and third charges were not gone into.

The Assizes.

General Order 9 of the 31st January 1916 gave instructions to Thomas to be one of six Mounted Police Officers to form an escort for the Honourable Sir Reginald More Bray, Knight, Justice of the High Court of Justices, and one of the justices of our Lord the King, from Saturday the 12th day of February 1916 at the opening of the Hertford Assizes until their conclusion.

General Order 11 of the 3rd February 1916 informed Thomas that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/9/9 to £1/10/11 per week from the 28th January 1916.

The Assizes.

General Order 63 of the 6th June 1916 gave instructions to Thomas to be one of six Mounted Police Officers to form an escort for the Right Honourable Rufus Daniel Bacon Reading, Knight Grand Cross of the Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Lord Chief Justices of England, Justice of the High Court of Justice, and one of the Justices of our Lord the King, from Friday the 16th day of June 1916 at the opening of the Hertford Assizes until their conclusion.

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.
Of this number 5 have been accepted provisionally by the Army Council for service in the Military Mounted Police viz:
1. PC 11 Pearman C.H. A Div. Wormley
2. PC 34 Bolter F.L. B Div. Albury
3. PC 49 Smith A. C Div. Watford
4. PC 249 Burns A. E Div. Hitchin
5. PC 255 Stroud T. E. E Div. Graveley
Further instructions with regard to these men will be issued as soon as received.

The order then went on to list a further fifteen Constables who received similar instructions.

General Order 17 of the 21st February 1917 informed Thomas that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/10/4 to £1/10/11 per week from the 28th January 1917.

General Order 19 of the 21st February 1917 was entitled the Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 Enlistment in H M Forces. Reference Order 5/1917:
The following Constables having now been called up for service in the Military Mounted Police, the Deputy Chief Constables hereby gives to them the necessary consent, as required by the above Acts, for the purpose of enlisting in HM Army.
1. PC 11 Pearman C.H. A Div. Wormley
2. PC 34 Bolter F.L. B Div. Albury
3. PC 49 Smith A. C Div. Watford
4. PC 249 Burns A. E Div. Hitchin
5. PC 255 Stroud T. E. E Div. Graveley
The Constables will be released from the Police Service on 28th February 1917 and will be paid up to that date inclusive. Each Constable is granted leave of absence on 27th and 28th February 1917 and will be required to report to the Recruiting Officer on the morning of 1st March 1917.

Army Service During The War.

Thomas’ Army Service Record has not survived but from other research it is without much doubt that he would have initially enlisted under 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. They were all then immediately transferred into Section B of the Army Reserve and returned to normal Police duties pending mobilisation. 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.

The only Hertfordshire Police Officers who enlisted after December 1915 without joining the Section B Reserve, would have done so without the consent of the Chief Constable. They would have had to resign and therefore lose all their pension rights and any possible support for their family’s such as allowances and accommodation. As the Orders above specifically state Thomas had the consent of the Chief Constable then this supports the belief that he was a Section B Reservist.

From Thomas’ Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Roll we know he enlisted in the Military Mounted Police as Lance Corporal P/8283. He landed in France on the 3rd April 1917 and apparently served there until the 1st June 1918. He was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

Constable Arthur Smith had an Army Service number of P/8197 and Constable’s Charles Pearman, Archibald Burns, and Francis Bolter had consecutive Army Service numbers with Thomas of P/8281 to P/8284, though other than their initial training, there is nothing to say they served together.

Like every other soldier Thomas 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.

General Order 178 of the 9th August 1919 was entitled Re-appointment to the Force. Reference Orders 116/1915 and 36/1918:
The undermentioned having been released from H.M. Army are re-appointed to the Force with effect from date shown, inclusive:
PC 321 Lake O.V. C Division at Watford from 8th August 1919 on £4/0/0.
PC 255 Stroud T.E. E Division at Graveley from 14th August 1919 on £4/10/0.
These officers must be formally re-attested. The Superintendents will report to this office when this has been done, showing viz: Date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.

Interestingly Constable Lake, who initially served in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, also served in the Military Mounted Police and it would appear from this and research of other Military Mounted Police officers that they were retained in the Army after the Armistice far longer than ordinary soldiers.

The Electoral Rolls of 1919 to 1922 list Thomas and Frances Stroud as living at Graveley.

Transferred.

General Order 201 of the 21st December 1921 instructed Thomas that from the 31st December 1921 he was being transferred from E Division at Graveley to A Division at Hoddesdon to occupy a new house. The Electoral Rolls of 1923 to 1927 list Thomas and Frances Stroud as living at 33, Burford Street, Hoddesdon.

General Order 169 of the 15th December 1926 informed Thomas that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/10/0 to £4/12/6 per week from the 28th January 1926

The Final Transfer.

The record has not survived but the Electoral Rolls of 1927 to 1930 record Thomas and Frances Stroud as living at the Police Cottage, Waterdell, Watford so as you had to live where you worked it is certain that Thomas had been transferred at some time in late 1926 or early 1927 from A Division at Hoddesdon to C Division at Watford.

Retirement.

A pension record shows that Thomas retired as a Constable on the 8th October 1930 with just under 22 years’ service which included his Army Service during the war. You normally only received a pension after 25 years’ service which means he must have been allowed to retire on a medical pension having been certified by the Force Surgeon as being unfit for Police duties.

The 1931 Electoral Roll lists Thomas and Frances as living at Whitecross, Netherbury, Dorset.

Thomas Edward Stroud died on the 27th March 1937 aged 54 years and was buried at Netherbury, Dorset.

This page was added on 23/04/2020.

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  • Thank you very much for the history of my Grandfather, Constable Thomas Stroud. I learned a great deal about him. My middle name is Thomas, after my Grandfather. I did 30 years of service as a Police Officer, and my son John is a Police Officer. His middle name is Thomas, after my Grandfather. We are a Law Enforcement family.

    By ADRIAN THOMAS STROUD (27/06/2020)