William John Allen was born on the 28th March 1868 at Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire and was baptised there on the 7th June 1868.
His father: John Allen an agricultural labourer and bricklayer married his mother, Elizabeth Knibb, on the 3rd April 1861 at Stoke Goldington. They had four children all born in Stoke Goldington:
- Eva Harriet born in 1864.
- William John.
- Emily born in 1874.
- Agnes born in 1879.
During the 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 census returns the family were recorded as living at High Street, Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire. In 1881 William was shown as working as an agricultural labourer but by 1891 he had left home and joined the Army.
Early Army Service.
William enlisted for short service of seven years in the Colours and five in the Reserves on the 21st December 1885 at Bedford as Private 2831 in the 12th Lancers. The following was recorded: He said he was born at Stoke Goldington, Newport Pagnell, Bucks. and he was 18 years 9 months old. His trade was a Boots at a commercial Hotel. He was not an apprentice, was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never served in the Military before.
He was medically examined on the same day at Bedford and the following recorded: Apparent age: 18 years 9 months. Height: 5 feet 7 ½ inches. Weight: 156 lbs. Chest: 38 inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Light brown. Marks: None. He said his religion was Church of England and gave his next of kin as his parents John and Elizabeth of Stoke Goldington, Bucks.
William joined the Regiment on the 24th December 1885 at Canterbury. On the 1st September 1886 he transferred to the 1st Dragoon Guards as Private 3004 and on the 21st December 1886. he arrived in India.
On the 21st December 1887 he was granted his 1st Good Conduct pay and on the 25th October 1888 was appointed Lance Corporal. On the 12th December 1888 he received a 3rd Class Certificate of Education.
On the 9th September 1889 he reverted to Private and on the 3rd November 1891 arrived Home. On the 21st December 1891 he was granted his 2nd Good Conduct pay. On the 21st December 1892 having completed his seven years in the Colours he was transferred to 1st Class Army Reserve. On the 20th December 1897 at the end of his short service he was discharged as a Private.
On his transfer to the Reserves it seems William 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 62 on the 29th March 1893 and posted to E Division at Hitchin. He would have undergone his Probationer training with a senior experienced Constable under the Supervision of the Divisional Superintendent. With his background it is believed that he very quickly became a Mounted Police Constable.
William married Blanche Dalton, who was known as Bridie, in 1894 at Croydon and they had three children:
- Arthur John born in 1894 at Hitchin.
- Maria Vera Elizabeth Ellen born in 1896 at Hitchin.
- Cyril Leo James born in 1899 at Watford. Enlisted on in 1915, age 16 years, in Royal Horse Artillery discharged in 1927. Joined Mounted Branch of West Riding Constabulary at Wakefield as PC 1062.
The Electoral Rolls of 1897 and 1898 list William John Allen as living at Hitchin Police Station.
The records have not survived but as the 1899 Electoral Roll records William John Allen as living at 8, Bridge Street, Great Berkhamsted it can be assumed he was stationed there. Similarly, as the 1900 Electoral Roll shows him as living at 56, Clifford Street, Watford then it means he had moved to Watford.
General Order 58 of the 13th November 1900 announced that a Mounted Detachment of two Sergeants and four Constables, including William riding Ladybird, would perform duty at the Assizes at Hertford at 12 noon on 17th November 1900 as Judges Escort. The escort was required every morning until the conclusion of the Assizes. Swords with white belts would be worn but not drawn.
General Order 8 of the 4th February 1901 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and four Constables, including William riding the Watford horse, would perform duty at the Assizes at Hertford at 12 noon on 12th February 1901 as Judges Escort. The escort was required every morning until the conclusion of the Assizes. Swords with white belts would be worn but not drawn.
During the 1901 census Police Constable William John Allen, his wife Blanche and three children were living at 42, Liverpool Road, Watford.
General Order 17 of the 4th April 1901 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and four Constables, including William riding Lady Bird, would perform duty at the Essex Hunt Steeple Chases at High Roothing Bury on 11th April 1901. Dress was ordered to be mounted cloaks rolled on the saddle, black sword belts and brown gloves. William was told to march to Ware on the 9th inst. The Detachment were told leave Ware at 11 a.m. on the 10th inst. en route for Hatfield Town, stabling and lodgings had been arranged for them at the Kings Arm P.H. Hatfield Town, Essex for the nights of the 10th and 11th inst. They were then to parade on the Course at 11.30 a.m. on the 11th inst. and report to the Senior Officer of the Essex Police present.
General Order 20 of the 5th May 1901 gave instructions to a Sergeant and three Constables for Mounted duties at the Herts Pony and Galloway Races to be held at Beech Bottom between the Harpenden to Sandridge Roads St. Albans on Thursday 16th May 1901. William was one of the Constables detailed to attend riding Lady Bird.
General Order 18 of the 11th April 1901 instructed William that on Friday 19th April 1901 he was being transferred from C Division at Watford to A Division at Hoddesdon as Mounted Patrol vice PC Chisman.
General Order 28 of the 21st June 1901 announced that a Mounted Detachment of gave instructions one Sergeant and four Constables, including William riding the Hoddesdon horse to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford on the 25th June 1901. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn.
General Order of the 29 of 26th June 1901 gave instructions to William and a second officer to perform Mounted duties at a Garden Party at Panshanger House on Saturday the 6th July 1901.
General Order 46 of the 7th November 1901 announced that a Mounted Detachment of gave instructions one Sergeant and five Constables, including William riding the Hoddesdon horse to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford at 10.15 a.m. on Monday 18th November 1901. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn.
General Order 4 of the 2nd February 1902 announced that a Mounted Detachment of gave instructions one Sergeant and five Constables, including William riding the Hoddesdon horse to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford at 9 a.m. on Monday 10th February 1902. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn.
General Order 26 of the 19th June 1902 announced that a Mounted Detachment of gave instructions one Sergeant and five Constables, including William riding the Hoddesdon horse to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford at 9.30 a.m. on Monday 30th June 1902. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn.
Rationalisation Of The Mounted Officers And A Transfer.
General Order 20 of the 8th October 1902 was entitled Mounted Police and set out specific details of how they would be managed and who would comprise the ordinary Mounted Police Force of this County. William was not included on the list. However, two Sergeants and ten Constables formed a Mounted Police Reserve and it is believed William was part of this. The Reserve would be utilised as Mounted Police on horses which would be provided for them when necessary. They would be provided with a complete mounted kit and they had to parade once a month before the Superintendent who had to report their kit as complete and in good repair. Their saddlery would be kept at their Divisional Superintendents Station and the Superintendent’s Groom was responsible for it being kept clean and in good order when not in use. It had to be cleaned and stowed away by the Mounted Reserve man after use. Superintendents had to submit the names of Sergeants and Constables fit for this duty with preference to ex-Cavalry, Horse Artillery and Mounted Infantry men.
The record has not survived but as the 1904 Electoral Roll lists William John Allen as living at Shamrock, Whippendell Road, Watford it is clear that at some point he had been transferred back to C Division at Watford, probably due to his change of roll.
Mid Herts Bye Election 1904.
General Order 4 of the 6th February 1904 gave instructions for numerous officers regarding performing duty at the Parliamentary Bye Election Mid Herts on Friday the 12th February 1904. There were 21 Mounted Officers detailed for duty, one each in Harpenden, Hatfield, Markyate, Redbourn and Wheathampstead and the remaining were at St. Albans. William was detailed for St. Albans riding a hired horse. The Mounted Party for St. Albans were told to arrive there at 12 noon and put up their horses at the Bell Inn Stables and Mr Reynolds Veterinary Stables in Chequer Street.
The 1906 Electoral Roll records William John Allen as living at 178, Whippendell Road, Watford.
General Order 6 of the 21st March 1906 instructed that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and seven Constables, including William, would perform duty at the Herts Hunt Steeplechases at Annables Farm between the St Albans and Redbourn and St Albans and Luton roads on Wednesday 4th April 1906. All ranks were told to provide themselves with food for the day. Beer and aerated waters would be supplied. On arrival at Annables Farm the horses were to be fed and watered, corn will be provided, prior to going on the course. Black sword belts to be worn and white leather gloves, cloaks rolled. The Detachment were told to proceed to Tring as soon as they were relieved from duty at Annables Farm in accordance with General Order 4 of the 14th March 1906 for duty in Bucks.
Mutual Aid Buckinghamshire.
General Order 4 of the 14th March 1906 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and seven Constables, including William, would perform duty at the Aylesbury Races on the 5th April 1906 reporting to the Chief Constable of Bucks at 11 a.m. Stabling would be provided at the Kings Head Hotel. The Detachment would proceed to Tring on the 4th April, where stabling will be provided, then leave Tring at 8.30 the following morning for Aylesbury and return to Tring when relieved from duty in Bucks. They would remain the night and return to their stations on the 6th April. Special Duty Report Form 115 was to be filled in from the time of leaving on the 4th April to the time of arrival at their respective stations and is to be submitted as soon as possible after returning from Bucks.
General Order 20 of the 3rd August 1906 announced that a Mounted Detachment of three Constables, including William riding the C Division Weights and Measure’s horse, would perform duty at the Tring Agricultural Show being held at Tring Park on the 9th August 1906. The three mounted men were told to proceed to Tring on the Wednesday evening and lodge where ordered.
William performed the identical duty a year later on the 8th August 1907.
General Order 29 of the 29th October 1907 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and five Constables, including William riding the Watford horse, would perform duty at the Assizes at Hertford on 4th November 1907 parading at 9.45 a.m. at Balls Park, Hertford for Judges Escort with instructions as before.
General Order 4 of the 23rd January 1908 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and five Constables, including William riding the Watford horse, would perform duty at the Assizes at Hertford parading at 9.45 a.m. at Balls Park, Hertford for Judges Escort with instructions as before.
Mutual Aid To Buckinghamshire.
General Order 12 of 24th March 1908 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and five Constables, including J William riding the Watford Weights and Measures horse, would perform duty at the Aylesbury Races on Thursday 2nd April 1908 reporting to Supt. Pitson DCC of Bucks on the course at 12 noon. On this occasion though the horses were transported by Rail from Hatfield and Watford and returned the same day.
General Order 5 of the 24th April 1908 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and eight Constables, including William riding the Watford horse, would perform duty at the Harpenden Races on Thursday 14th May 1908.
General Order 16 of the 27th May 1908 instructed William that he would be transferred at once from C Division at Watford to B Division at Bishops Stortford.
Clearly though by the time of the 1911 census William had been moved again as he is recorded as living at the Police Cottages, Essendon, Hatfield with his wife Blanche and children.
The Coronation of George V And Mary Of Teck.
General Order 19 of 14th June 1911 ordered that William 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 Hitchin 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.
General Order 17 of the 7th March 1912 were orders regarding the Policing of the Puckeridge Hunt Races on the 27th March 1912 at Cole Green Farm between Brent Pelham and Meesden. With three other officers William was on Mounted duty riding the Hertford horse.
General Order 26 of the 7th April 1912 were orders regarding the Policing of the Herts Hunt Steeplechases on the 11th April 1912 at Great Wymondley. With six other officers William was on Mounted duty riding the Hertford horse.
The 1913 Electoral Roll lists William John Allen as living at Essendon.
Armed Guard At Libury Hall.
Under a Conveyance and Declaration dated 25 February 1902, Libury Hall was set up to provide under Christian influence, temporary work, shelter, board and lodging for German speaking unemployed and destitute men. During the First World War, it became a privileged internment camp, on condition that it took in and cared for some of the frail, elderly men who could not stand the conditions in the large internment camp of the Isle of Man. The spacious building, which had been used for basket making, was converted into a hospital and the Three ‘Home’ cottages were fitted up for the Police Guard, consisting of twelve Police Constables and a Sergeant. William was a member of the guard.
General Order 63 of the 15th April 1915 ordered that as the Military Authorities had undertaken to provide a Military Guard at the German Farm Colony the Armed Police Guard at Libury Hall would resume ordinary duty and would proceed to their respective stations on the 15th April 1915. William returned to F Division at Hertford.
General Order 90 of the 31st May 1915 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Services) Act 1914. Special enlistment for the period of the war and stated: The undermentioned Police Constables having been specially enlisted in the Military Mounted Police on the 29th April 1915, for the period of the war, are considered by the Army Council as possessing qualifications not possessed by ordinary recruits, and the privileges authorised by Section 2 (2) of the above Act will be extended to them from the date of enlistment:
- PC 62 Allen W.J. F Division
- PC 47 Woolnough A.J. D Division
Like William James Arthur Woolnough was an ex-cavalryman from the 1st Dragoons and a Mounted Police Officer.
General Order 118 of the 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 62 Allen W.J. F Division who enlisted in the Military Mounted Police on the 29th April 1915.
Army Service During The War.
William’s Army Service Record has not survived but from his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls we know that he enlisted on the 29th April 1915 and, at 47 years and 32 days, he was the oldest Hertfordshire Police Soldier to serve in the War. He joined the Military Mounted Police as Lance Corporal 1142 (PC 47 James Arthur Woolnough was enlisted on the same date in the M.M.P was Lance Corporal 1141).
William landed in France on the 24th May 1915 and remained in France until the 1st January 1916 and then apparently transferred to the Russian theatre of war. He remained there until 11th November 1918. This is believed to be an administrative date as many of the Military Police had the same date, yet their Discharge dates indicate they continued to serve for far longer. William was transferred to Class Z of the Army Reserve on the 13th March 1919.
William was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory medals.
General Order 20 of the 19th January 1919 was entitled Allowances to wives of Police Soldiers and 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 and including the value of the soldier’s food and clothing, that in sixteen cases the families were in a worse financial position then they would have been had the man remained in the force. The Chief Constable had brought these cases before the Standing Joint Committee and on his recommendation the Committee had authorised the following extra payments, with effect from 1st July 1918. William was one of the sixteen and received an extra weekly payment of £0/7/5 and retrospective payments amounting to £10/10/10.
Retirement And Life After The Army And Police.
General Order 72 of the 18th March 1919 announced that Police Constable William John Allen 62 “F” Division having submitted on 14th March 1919, an application to resign, the Chief Constable has, in accordance with the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915, given the necessary consent for the retirement on pension without medical certificate. The resignation will take effect from 19th March 1919 and Police Constable Allen will be paid up to that date inclusive, his name being struck off the establishment of the Force on the same day.
General Order 81 of the 1st April 1919 announced that William, having completed 26 years of approved service had been granted a pension of £92/2/5 per annum.
In the 1939 Register William, who was shown as a retired time keeper, and his wife were recorded as living at Arambles, Frinton Road, Frinton and Walton, Essex.
William John Allen died on the 3rd October 1948.