William Ernest Sturman was born on the 25th August 1892 and baptised on the 9th June 1893 at Watford.
His father, Robert Jeffrey Sturman a Plasterer married his mother, Jane Elizabeth Axten on the 18th April 1891 at Watford. They had three children:
- William Ernest
- Sidney – born 22/11/1893 Watford died c. 1973 Hartismere Suffolk
- Ethel Elizabeth – born 18/06/1902 New Brompton Kent married Mayers c. 1924 Watford died c. 1973 Redbridge Essex
During the 1901 census William’s father and a cousin were living at 3, Linden Road Bay Terrace, Gillingham, Medway, Kent. William, his mother and brother, were living at 31, Lower Paddock Road, New Bushey. By the time of the 1911 census the whole family were living at 19, Holywell Road, Watford and William, like his father, was employed as a plasterer.
Little is known about William’s life for the next three years other than in 1912 his father died. Then he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
William’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he was Appointed as Constable 311 on the 9th March 1914 on £1/4/6 per week. He would have undergone his Probationer training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. At the completion of his training he would have been Attested and taken on to the Roster and posted to a Division. It is believed that he was posted to E Division at Royston. General Order 155 of the 10th October 1915 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/4/6 to £1/5/8 per week from the 15th September 1915. General Order 175 of the 7th November 1915 amended this so that he would receive the increase from the 9th March 1915.
William, a Police Constable of Royston, married Olive Emmeline Brothers on the 18th September 1916 at St. Paul’s Church, Kingston Hill, Surrey. They had two sons:
- Geoffrey Wilfred born in 1919 at Royston. He married Joyce Louise Webb in 1941 at Hitchin the daughter of PC Herbert Sidney Webb (who had joined with William).
- Philip Duncan born in 1923 at Royston.
General Order 124 of the 18th November 1916 was a list of 16 Constables, including William, who had signified their desire to sit the examination for promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. The necessary examination papers were prepared and forwarded to the Superintendents concerned. The examination was held in accordance with the rules laid down in Order 192/1915.
General Order 137 of the 21st December 1916 announced the result of the Examination for Promotion from Second Class to First Class Constable. William was one of those that qualified having taken the exam on the 26th November 1916 in the office of his Superintendent.
General Order 22 of the 25th March 1917 informed William that he would receive an increase in pay from £1/6/10 to £1/7/5 per week from the 9th March 1917.
Army Service During The War.
William’s Army Service Record has survived and from this we know the following: William enlisted on the 10th December 1915 at Hitchin 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.
The following was recorded: He gave his address as Kensit Terrace, Barkway Street, Royston his age as 23 years 4 months and his trade as Police Constable. He was not married at this time and he had no previous Military service.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age: 23 years 4 months. Height: 5 feet 11 inches. Chest: 38 ½ inches 2 ½ inch expansion. Distinctive marks: 2 vaccination left arm. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Jane Sturman of 19, Holywell Road, Watford.
His Medical History Army Form B178 recorded that he was examined at Hertford on the 16th December 1918 and it noted the same information as his description on enlisting with the addition that he said he was born at Watford, Herts., his age was now 25 years 8 months, his weight was 144 lbs., his hair brown, his complexion fresh, his eyes green and he had a scar on the back of his left hand and moles on his right shoulder blade and abdomen.
On the 23rd April 1918 William was one of fifteen Hertford County Constabulary Police Constables who were Mobilised at the same time. Five joined the Coldstream Guards and ten, including William as Guardsman 32193, joined the Grenadier Guards. They were given consecutive Army Service numbers. The others were 32194 Charles Spencer, 32195 Horace Human, 32196 James Childs, 32197 Frederick Futter, 32198 George Reed, 32199 Thomas Abrathat, 32200 George Cooling, 32201 Leonard Wackett and 32202 George Berry.
Other than perhaps their initial training there is no evidence to show that they served together. The end of the war arrived before William could be posted overseas and consequently, he did not receive any medals. On the 13th January 1919 he was transferred to the Army Reserve. On the 31st March 1920 he received his final discharge.
His Statement as to Disability Army Form Z22 recorded: Unit/Regiment: 1st (Prov) Battalion, Grenadier Guards. Regt. No.: 32193. Rank: Guardsman. Name: William Ernest Sturman. Address: 8, Green Street, Royston. Age last birthday: 26. First joined for duty: 23rd April 1918 at Hertford. Medical category: A1. I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my Military Service. Signed: William E. Sturman. Examined: Aldershot 15th December 1918.
Like every other soldier William 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 5 of 6th January 1919 listed 13 Police Soldiers who having been released from H.M. Army were re-appointed to the Force with effect from the dates shown. William was shown as PC 311 Sturman W.E. of E Division at Royston on 2nd January 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. Superintendents concerned had to report to the Chief Constable when this has been done, showing the date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.
General Order 20 of 19th January 1919 was entitled Allowances to wives of Police Soldiers. It announced that the Chief Constable had considered the position of each individual Police Soldier under the new scale of pay and found after taking into consideration the total income of the family from allowances, including the value of the soldier’s food and clothing, that in 16 cases the families were in a worse financial position then they would have been had the man remained in the force. These cases were put before the Standing Joint Committee and they authorised extra payments, with effect from 1st July 1918. PC 311 Sturman E Division was awarded £0/1/5 extra per week with £1/17/5 to be paid retrospectively with the allowances for the week ending 22nd January 1919.
The following General Orders all informed William he would receive an increase of pay on the 9th March of the year shown: General Order 75 of the 21st March 1919 from £2/7/0 to £2/8/0 per week. There is a record missing that showed that he received another pay award as part of a national increase. General Order 51 of the 19th March 1920 from £4/0/0 to £4/2/0 per week. General Order 42 of the 21st March 1921 from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week. General Order 38 of the 16th March 1922 from £4/4/0 to £4/6/0 per week. General Order 60 of the 31st March 1923 from £4/6/0 to £4/8/0 per week.
The 1920 Electoral Roll lists William Ernest Sturman as living at 2, East Camp’s Cottages, Green Street, Royston.
Published on the 9th April 1923 in the Nottingham Evening Post: George Wyndham Crank 21 of 19, Curzon Avenue, Carlton Hill, Nottingham, auctioneer’s clerk, was committed for trial at the Cambridgeshire Assizes, by the Cambridge Borough Bench, on Saturday, on a charge of stealing a Coventry Eagle motor cycle, valued at £55, the property of Edward H.L. Hadwen of Clare Cottage. He was allowed bail.
Published om the 11th June 1923 in the Nottingham Evening Post under the headline Says he is “Victim of vile trick”: I am innocent of the charge. I have been the victim of a vile trick. This statement was made, according to the evidence given in the Cambridge police court on Saturday morning by Eric Robinson, 23, of 120, Hewett Street, Nottingham, commercial traveller, when he was arrested at Chesterfield by Detective Constable Abbott of Cambridge. Robinson was charged that on March 16th being concerned with George Wyndham Crank, he stole a Coventry Eagle motor cycle, of the value of £55, belonging to Edward Hubert Lascelles Hadwen. Evidence of arrest having been given the Chief Constable applied that prisoner should be remanded in custody until Wednesday. Robinson asked for bail, as his father was very ill and he would like to see his mother. The Chief Constable said it was important that the accused should be remanded in custody. He would give him every facility to communicate with his parents. Prisoner was accordingly remanded until Wednesday in custody.
General Order 111 of the 11th June 1923 announced that William had been Commended. At the Cambridgeshire Assizes held on 4th June 1923, Mr Justice Lush commended Constable 311 Sturman E Division Royston for his clever action in effecting the arrest of George Wyndham Crank on a charge of stealing a motor cycle. The reports in the case show the constable to have acted with intelligence and the Chief Constable directs that an appropriate entry shall be made in the Constable’s records of service.
General Order 59 of the 5th April 1924 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 9th March 1924.
The 1925 Electoral Roll records William Sturman as living at 22, Green Street, Royston.
General Order 65 of the 25th April 1992 instructed William that he was being transferred from E Division at Royston to A Division at Wareside to occupy the cottage being vacated by ex-Constable 308 Taylor.
The General Strike.
General Order 62 of the 4th May 1926 concerned the Emergency Regulations of 1926 and instructions for 50 Hertfordshire Police Officers, made up of three Inspectors, seven Sergeants and 40 Constables, to be on standby should the Secretary of State call upon the County Force to draft men elsewhere at short notice. These included officers from A,B,C, D and E Divisions. Orders for equipment and clothing would be issued if and when necessary, but the men were advised that they would require some sort of haversack. William was one of the Constables named in the list but there is no evidence that he was ever mobilised.
The 1926 to 1930 Electoral Rolls list William Sturman as living at Northfield Cottages, Wareside.
Armed Army Deserters.
The following has been provided by William’s granddaughter Trisha Sturman:
Here is the quotation that my father wrote about his father, William Ernest Sturman: Shortly before we left Wareside, another firearms case occurred. It involved a man, supposedly an American gangster, who had come to England to avoid the attentions of American law enforcers. For whatever reason, perhaps the effects of the Depression, he joined the British Army, and was soon in the stockade. He broke out of there with a British soldier companion. The two of them went on a rampage that started with a stolen car, then a forced entry into a sporting goods store and netted some firearms, hunting knives and the like. Then they were on their way again. As reports trickled in, it became clear that their line of travel would pass through Hertfordshire, so every policeman was told to get on his bike and pedal around to see if any sort of lead could be found. Within a few hours, and after questioning many people, Dad asked a farm labourer in an outlying part of Wareside if he had seen any strangers or strange cars. “That I have,” came the reply, “Two men asleep in a car up Long Lane. They ain’t local, nor’s the car.” A few minutes cycling took Dad to Long Lane where he found the two men, sound asleep in the front seat of the car. There were a couple of shotguns in the rear seat. There followed a ten minute ride to the nearest farmhouse with a telephone, and a call to his police station, known as “The Copper Hole”, in Ware. “Let me speak to Inspector Rolls,” said Dad. “Can’t do that, Bill,” replied his fellow officer, “He’s having a meeting with the Superintendent about this gangster bloke. He’s not to be disturbed.” “Well, don’t interrupt him, but do tell him that I’ve found the two of them.” About twenty minutes later, the “gangster” and his companion were awakened by the tapping of a policeman’s truncheon on the car window. Their car was surrounded by six policemen, two of whom were armed for this special occasion. The capture took place about two miles outside of Wareside, near a farm at a bend in the road called Nobland Green. All things considered I think my Father was a very effective policeman.
The record has not survived but it is apparent from the comment above and the following entry that William was transferred from A Division Wareside to E Division at Hitchin at sometime between 1930 and when he retired.
Retirement And Life After The Police.
On the 8th March 1939 William was presented with his Hertford County Constabulary Certificate of Service No. 135 which states: This is to Certify that Constable William Ernest Sturman E or Hitchin Division joined the Hertford County Constabulary on the ninth of March 1914 and left on the eighth day of March 1939 having been pensioned on completion of service. His conduct was exemplary. Personal description: Year of birth: 1892. Height: 5 feet 9 ¾ inches. Chest: 36. Complexion: fresh. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Brown.
The 1939 Register records that William Sturman, a retired Police Constable Hertfordshire Constabulary now working in packing and despatching of Matches at Anglia Match Factory, and his wife Olive Sturman were living at 16, Bursland, Letchworth.
William Ernest Sturman died on the 16th May 1964 at Hitchin.