William Alfred Hall was born on the 7th December 1888 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
His father, also called William Alfred Hall, married his mother Harriet Cole in 1887 in Tunbridge Wells. They had four sons of which William was the eldest. The other three were Ernest and John William, who were both born in Tunbridge Wells in 1891 and 1892 respectively, and Herbert who was born in 1896 in Bidborough.
At the time of the 1891 census the family were living at 4, Percy Cottages, St Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells and William senior was employed as a Carrier of Corn. By the 1901 census they were living at 1, Grosvenor Wood, Tunbridge Wells and William senior was now working as a general labourer.
Early Army Service.
His Army Service Record has survived so we know he enlisted for short service of 3 years with the Colours and 9 in the Reserve. He was Attested on 27th September 1907 at Chichester as Private 7441 in the Coldstream Guards. He stated he was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he was 18 years 9 months old and had been living at home during the last 3 years. He was not an apprentice and was unmarried and had never been sentenced to imprisonment or previously served in the Military.
He was medically examined on 28th September 1907 at Chichester and the following recorded: Apparent Age: 18 years 9 months, Height: 5 feet 10 inches, Weight: 132 lbs, Chest: 37 ½ inches expansion 2 inches, Complexion: fresh, Eyes: hazel, Hair: brown, Religion: Church of England, Distinctive marks: 1 ½ inch scar left side of head.
He gave details of his next of kin as his father William Alfred Hall of 49, Bognor Road, Chichester and his younger brothers Ernest, John and Herbert.
On the 1st October 1907 he joined the Regiment at London. On the 10th January 1908 he was admitted to Caterham Hospital for 6 days with Tonsillitis. On the 14th February 1908 he received a 3rd class certificate of education. On the 14th August 1908 he was admitted to Aldershot Hospital for 15 days with a painless ulceration. During 1908 his father died. He spent the whole of the 3 years serving at home and on the 27th September 1910, he went into the Reserve.
On leaving the Army William went to work as a Labourer for Hall and Co., Whyke Road, Chichester and was probably living with his family. In the 1911 census his mother and brothers, Ernest and Herbert, were living at 79, Bognor Road, Chichester. In all probability he had already applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
William’s Form 3 Police Service Record still survives and shows that he was medically examined on 1st November 1910, the Police Surgeons Certificate stated:
“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) Lovell Drage Surgeon.
In between his Medical and starting with the Police William married Florence Freeman on 11th February 1911 at the Church of St George, Rumboldswyke, Sussex. They had three children, Herbert William born in 1912 at Ware but died aged three on 14th March 1915 and was buried on the 18th March 1915 at Ware, then Cyril Henry Page who was born in 1918 Edmonton and Eva May who was born in 1924 at Stevenage.
William started his Probationary training at C Division Watford on the 14th February 1911. He was Attested on the 21st March 1911 at Watford but was not finally appointed until the 16th March 1911 as Police Constable 274 at which time he posted to A Division at Ware.
His description was included on the form:
He was born on 7th December 1888 at St. Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells. Height: 5 feet 10 inches. Chest: 37 inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Hazel. Hair: Brown. It was also noted that he knew how to ride a bicycle and how to swim.
As well as his Service Record a number of General Orders also refer to Ernest. General Order 12 of the 28th March 1911 announced that: “PC’s 274 Hall, 271 James, 273 Gubble, 270 Lowe and 269 Bignill are appointed on the strength of the Force on 23/11 per week from 16th March 1911”.
At the time of the 1911 census William and Florence are living at 86, Watton Road, Ware and the Electoral Roll of 1914 has them listed at the same address.
In June 1911 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. It was also necessary for him to have this as it was a condition of further progress up his pay scale.
William’s early Police career has a mildly chequered history in that he fell foul of the Chief Constable on four occasions. Firstly, on the 5th February 1913 he was admonished for being late for duty. Then on 9th May 1913 he was fined 2/6 for failing to do his beat properly. Then on the 3rd September 1913 he was admonished again for missing a Conference Point and finally on the 24th June 1914 he was reduced in pay by one grade from 27/6 to 26/10 from 27th June for again missing a Conference Point.
General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 is a list of 96 officers which included the Chief Constable, 43 Constables who were Army reservists who were recalled and 50 Constables and 2 Sergeants who volunteered for military service. William is shown as PC 274 Hall W.A. A Division recalled to 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards on 4th August 1914.
Army Service During The War.
From his Army Service Record, Medal Index Roll Card and Medal Rolls we know he was Mobilised on 5th August 1914 at London into the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. On the 13th August he landed in France with them. On the 27th September 1914 he was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal in “The Field”. Then a month later on the 29th October he was reported as being “Missing in The Field”.
Wounded And Taken Prisoner.
Published on the 9thh January 1915 in the Herts Mercury:
“Corporal William Hall of the Coldstream Guards having previously been a Constable at Ware has been wounded in the right shoulder and is now a POW at Göttingen, Germany”.
On the 24th April 1915 Lance Corporal 7441 W.A. Hall Coldstream Guards was included on the Casualty Lists issued by the War Office stating he was shown “In an official list received from the German Government: wounded and prisoner of war”.
William was entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of the 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being met by his being named on this list.
On the 21st November 1917 William’s wife Florence gave her address as 26, Chandos Road, Tottenham.
His Army Service Record shows that as of the 30th October 1914 William was a Prisoner of War in Germany and he remained as such for a total of 3 years 140 days. On the 10th March 1918 he arrived in Holland for internment and the War Office Daily List, No. 5526 Prisoner of war in Germany, dated 26th March reported the same. Finally, on the 18th November 1918 William returned Home.
On the 3rd December he was medically examined and found fit to be transferred to the Army Reserve. On the 5th March 1919 he was transferred to Section B of the Army Reserve on demobilisation. Like every other demobilised soldier, he would have been given 28 days leave.
On the 27th September 1919 William received his Final Discharge at the completion of his 12 years’ service. He was later awarded the 1914 Star, British War and Victory medals and Clasp and Roses.
Re-joining The Police.
William was medically examined on the 28th February 1919 whilst he was on leave from the Army.
General Order 57 of 1st March 1919 proclaimed that ten men, having been released from H.M. Army, would be re-appointed to the Force with effect from the dates shown. Ernest was shown as PC 274 Hall W.A. E Division posted to Hitchin on the 6th March 1919. Each officer had to be formally re-attested and the Superintendents concerned had to report to the Chief Constable when, where and before whom this had been done.
William remained at Hitchin for just over a month before being transferred to Stevenage on the 17th April 1919. In the Electoral Roll William Alfred and Florence Hall are listed as living at Police Cottage, Stanmore Road, Stevenage.
William received an increased rate of pay from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week from 16th March 1920 and from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from 16th March 1921.
On the 21st October 1925 William was transferred again to A Division at High Wych to occupy the house vacated by Constable 285 Sirett. The Electoral Rolls of 1926 and 1927 list William Alfred and Florence Hall as living at Police Cottage, High Wych.
As part of the preparations to Police the General Strike General Order 62 of 4th May 1926 announced:
“The Emergency Regulations 1926.
The Following members of your respective Divisions will be warned individually by you that should the County Force be called upon by the Secretary of State under Regulations No. 26 and 27 to draft men elsewhere, they must be ready to proceed at short notice. Orders for equipment and clothing will be issued if and when necessary, but it will be well if the men recognize that they will require some sort of haversack”.
PC 274 Hall W.A. of A Division stationed at High Wych was included but was never utilised.
On the 9th December 1927 William was in trouble with the Chief Constable in that he did enter the Lion P.H. at Eastwick on various dates during 1927 contrary to good order and discipline of the Force. The Chief Constable severely reprimanded him.
The Last Move And Retirement.
On the 8th February 1928 William was transferred for the final time to D Division at Boxmoor. The 1928 Electoral Roll lists William Alfred and Florence Hall living at 38, Horsecroft Road, Hemel Hempstead.
On the 15th March 1936 William retired on completion of his 25 years’ service on a pension of £145/9/7 per annum.
In the 1939 Register William Alfred and Florence Hall are shown as living at 140, London Road, Hemel Hempstead and his occupation is given as being a Park Keeper.
William died on the 22nd October 1970 at Hemel Hempstead. His funeral was held at St John’s Church, Hemel Hempstead at 3.15 p.m. on the 26th October followed by Cremation at Garston.