Whippe, William James, 173, Police Constable.

Paul Watts with thanks to Kitty Moores and Carol Blair

William James Whippe
Carol Blair

Early Life.

William James Whippe was born on the 14th February 1884 at Ruislip and baptised there on the 6th April 1884. The family were recorded as living at Vicarage Cottage, Ruislip.

His father, John Whippe variously a Groom, a Grocer and Gardener and a Coachman married his mother, Alice Taplin in 1878 at Basingstoke. They had four children:

  1. Alice Charlotte born in 1878 at Reading.
  2. Agnes born in 1880 at Ruislip.
  3. William James.
  4. Philip John born in 1889 at Ruislip. Served as Private 3547 Herts Regiment, 204572 Beds Regiment and 203525 Royal Sussex Regiment.

During the 1881 and 1891 census returns the family were living at Bury Street, Ruislip, Uxbridge, Middlesex. Then William joined the Army.

Early Army Service.

On the 13th November 1899 William enlisted at Hounslow as Private 7649 in the Royal Fusiliers for short service of five years in the Colours and seven in the Reserves. The following was recorded: He said he was born in Ruislip, Uxbridge Middx. and his age was 18 years 1 month. In fact, he lied about his age as he was actually only 15 years 9 months. He said his trade was a labourer, he was not an apprentice, was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never previously been in the Military.

His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age: 18 years 1 month. Height: 5 feet 8 inches. Weight: 126 lbs. Chest: 32 – 34 inches. Complexion: Fair. Eyes: Grey. Hair: Fair. Marks: Small scar right elbow small scar right side of chest.

He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin were his parents John and Charlotte of Vicarage Cottage, Ruislip, Middx. later crossed through and replaced with Watford Herts., a younger brother Philip and two sisters Agnes and Alice.

On the day he enlisted he also had a Medical at Hounslow and then three days later he joined at the Hounslow depot. On the 25th January 1900 he was appointed Lance Corporal, and, on the 8th March, he was posted to the 4th Battalion. On the 17th October 1900 he reverted to Private and then six days later he was posted to the 1st Battalion.

During the 1901 census his father was living apart from his mother at 24, Farndon Road, Headington, Oxford with the Everett family. His mother and brother Philip were living at 1, Evergreen Cottage, Headington, Oxford.

On the 20th October 1901 William was posted overseas to the East Indies (Burma) for 2 years 28 days. On the 13th November 1901 he was granted Good Conduct Pay at 1d per day. On the 20th November 1903 he was part of the Sikkim – Tibet Expedition of 1904 which lasted for 1 year 61 days. In order to stay there on the 1st April 1904, he extended his Army Service to complete eight years with the Colours and was put on Class II pay at 4d per day. On the 1st May 1904 he was on Class one pay at 6d per day. On the 13th November 1904 he was granted a 2nd Good Conduct Badge, and, on the 20th January 1905, he returned to the UK.

On the 1st September 1905 he was awarded a Gratuity of £1/12/0 for service with the Tibet Mission Escort. On the 2nd October 1905 he passed a course of instruction in M. I. Duties and on the 28th May 1906, he was awarded a certificate for cold shoeing.

On the 12th November 1907 he was transferred to the Army Reserve A and a year later he was transferred to the Army Reserve B. On the 12th November 1911 he was Discharged on the termination of his first period of engagement.

William was awarded the Tibet Medal 1903-1904 and clasp for Gyantse.

Nothing is known about his life for the four years after he left the Army until he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.

Police Service.

William’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he was Appointed as Constable 173 in C Division at Watford on the 1st June 1911. He would have started his training some weeks before the1st June which is seen by the fact that the 1911 census records Police Constable William James Whippe as lodging at 71, St. Marys Road, Watford. Very unusually William was allowed to work in the same town as where his family were living as the 1911 census shows his father, his mother had died in 1910, his sister Agnes and brother Philip living with the Manning family at Beechfield, Langley Road, Watford.

William’s Probationer training would have been carried out on the Division by an experienced senior Constable under the supervision of his Superintendent. At the end of his training he would have been Attested and taken on the Duty Roll.

General Order 21 of the 22nd June 1911 announced that William had been appointed on the strength of the Force on £1/3/11 per week from 1st June 1911 inclusive.


General Order 1 of the 5th January 1912 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/3/11 to £1/5/8 per week from the 14th December 1911. It also showed that he was now in G Division. The record of when and which station in G Division he had been transferred to has not survived but a later newspaper article shows he was at Harpenden.

Another Transfer.

General Order 23 of the 30th March 1912 instructed William that he was being transferred from G Division to E Division at Ickleford and it would take place as soon as it could be arranged by the Superintendents concerned.


William married Ethel Nelly Faulkner on the 9th April 1912 at Stewkley, Leighton Buzzard they had two children:

  1. William John born in 1914 at Ickleford.
  2. Robert James born in 1918 at Leighton Buzzard.

Gambling On A Sunday.

Published on the 27th September 1913 in the Hertfordshire Mercury and Reformer under the headline Sunday Card Playing: The playing of cards in public places around Hitchin on Sunday afternoons has become a great nuisance that special police in plain clothes have had to be placed on duty to put a stop to it. The Priory Park is a favourite haunt of youthful gamblers and on Sunday week a number of them were busily engaged when PC’s Whippe and Eames appeared on the scene. The boys at once decamped leaving their cards and money lying on the grass. Chase was given and as a result Ernest Foster (16), Richard Warren (14) and James Lawrence (16) appeared before the Magistrates on Tuesday. They pleaded guilty and after hearing the constables’ evidence the bench convicted and fined Foster 2s 6d and the other two 3s 6d owing to their having given wrong names and addresses. The chairman informed them that the Bench was determined to put a stop to Sunday gambling and that future offenders would be severely dealt with.

Kelly’s Directory of 1914 records the Police Constable for Ickleford is W. Whippe.

General Order 104 of the 22nd June 1915 informed William that he would receive an increased rate pay from £1/7/5 to £1/8/- per week from the 1st June 1915.

Army Service During The War.

Police Soldiers In The News.

Published on the 19th June 1915 in the Herts Advertiser under the headline Police Constables With The Colours: Three Harpenden police officers, viz: Pc’s Neville J. Reid, Hermon Rowlingson and Frank Potton have joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. Another police officer from Harpenden who is with the colours is PC Wright, Grenadier Guards, who has been wounded. In addition, the following Hertfordshire constables who were formerly stationed at Harpenden are with the forces: PC Pond, R.G.A. joined from Royston, PC Ward, R.G.A. joined from Tring, PC Whippe, drill instructor at Bedford, joined from Hitchin district, PC Ernest F. Hawthorn, of Wheathampstead has also enlisted.

There is no Police record of William being loaned to the Army as a Drill Instructor but, according to the Police Service Records of Constable’s 232 John Major and 174 Lewis Saunders, they were both loaned to the Army as Drill Instructors at Bedford from the 9th September 1914 and the 10th September 1914 respectively, there is no reason not to believe that they were joined by William at the same time. The fact that they were “on loan” tends to suggest they were still receiving Police pay which would explain why William received the pay increase in 1915.

On the 8th March 1916 William enlisted at South Farnborough into the Royal Flying Corps as Air Mechanic 2nd class 24645. Two other Hertford County Constabulary Constables, PC 156 Alfred John Blake and PC 88 Herbert William Gray had already enlisted in the RFC as Drill Instructors on the 16th February 1916 having been previously “loaned” to the Army.

The following details were recorded on William’s Army Service Record, which is partially burnt from enemy action in World War 2 and, his Royal Flying Corps Service Record: He said he was born at Ruislip, Middlesex, his age was 32 years 24 days, his address was Chambers Lane, Ickleford near Hitchin and his trade was a Police Sergeant (Drill Instructor) although no Police record has survived which confirms this. He said he was married and details of his marriage and children were also recorded. He stated that he had served in the Military before as 7649 Private Royal Fusiliers until his Discharge in November 1911.

His description on enlistment was recorded as: Age: 32 years 24 days. Height: 5 feet 11 inches. Chest: 38 inches 3 inch expansion. Distinctive marks: Nil. He gave his next of kin as his wife Ethel Nelly Whippe of Chambers Lane, Ickleford near Hitchin, which was later crossed through and replaced with 1, Church Villas, Stewkley, Buckinghamshire. His trade classification was shown as Disciplinarian.

On the day after he enlisted, he was appointed as an Air Mechanic 1st Class then as an Acting Sergeant. On the 1st May 1916 he was promoted to Sergeant and then Flight Sergeant at Greenwich. On the 1st June 1917 he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant Major at Greenwich.

On the formation of the Royal Air Force on the 1st April 1918 he was transferred as a  Sergeant Major 1st class. On the 9th August 1918 he was transferred to Great Yarmouth and on the 17th January 1919 to Purfleet. On the 5th February 1919  he was transferred to the RAF Reserve at Chingford. On the 16th July 1919 he was deemed discharged surplus to requirements having re-enlisted in the Chinese Labour Corps.

As William had not served overseas, he was not awarded any medals.

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 23 of the 25th January 1919 listed 25 Police Officers who, having been released from H.M. Army, had been re-appointed to the Force. William was shown as: PC 173 Whippe W.J. E Division at Ickleford from the 6th February 1919 on £2/10/0 per week. Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. The Superintendents concerned had to report to Headquarters the date and place of Attestation and before whom taken. The 1919 Electoral Roll list William James and Ethel Nellie Whippe as living at Chambers Lane, Ickleford.


General Order 117 of the 17th May 1919 announced William’s resignation as follows: Police Constable 173 William James Whippe E Division having submitted on 10th May 1919 an application to be permitted to resign his appointment as a Constable of the Hertford County Constabulary the resignation is accepted and will take effect on 11th June 1919 his name being struck off the strength of the Force as from that date.

No reason has been found for his resignation but by December 1919 William had started another family. It is possible that the breakdown of his first marriage was brought to the attention of his superiors and, in those times, it would not have been considered favourably and he decided to leave the Police rather than be forced to.

Further Military Service.

As already seen from his RFC/RAF Service Record William re-enlisted in the Chinese Labour Corps. His record, albeit another from the burnt collection, has survived and contains a letter dated the 16th July 1919 from Lieutenant Colonel, Chief Recruiting Staff Officer, Whitehall SW1, to, Officer Commanding Labour Corps, Barking Road, Barracks Peckham which said: The bearer Sergeant Major W.J. Whippe RAF has presented himself for enlistment for duty with the Chinese Labour Corps for duty in France. Will you please say whether you are willing to accept him and in what rank. In response there is a hand written note: I am willing to accept him as CSM if possible, otherwise Sergeant. Signed Major Officer Commanding, London District Labour Corps.

William enlisted on the 17th  July 1919 at Whitehall as Colour Sergeant Major 714218 in the Chinese Labour Corps. The normal details were recorded including his next of kin which he gave as his wife Ethel Nellie Whippe of Edmunds Farm Cottages, West Hill, Barcombe, Sussex. After only five months on the 31st December 1919 he was discharged on demobilisation and transfer to the Army Reserve Class Z. He gave his address as 18, Arica Road, Brockley, Kent.

The Royal Irish Constabulary.

In March 1920 William joined the Royal Irish Constabulary serving in Tipperary. After serving nine months he was promoted to Sergeant and then after 1 year and 10 months he was discharged on the 4th February 1922 on a pension of £68/5/0 per annum having accrued 14 years pensionable service. His S.R. Establishment Number was 13913 and Registered Number was 70870.

Second Family.

William and Alice Elizabeth Kislingbury had four children:

  1. Gerald Leslie in 1919 Greenwich.
  2. Patricia Joan born in 1922 at Greenwich.
  3. Ernest W. born in 1928 at Greenwich.
  4. Ella L. born in 1943 at Oxford.

In the 1939 Register recorded as living at West View, Charlton On Otmoor, Oxfordshire are William James and Alice Whippe. William is shown as a Sports Groundsman and also as Police Constable 15 of Oxon Constabulary retired.

The 1939 Register also records that living at 23, Albion Road, St. Albans are Ethel N. Whippe and her son William J. Whippe.

William James Whippe died on the 6th November 1973 at Charlton on Otmoor.

This page was added on 24/06/2020.

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