Medcalf, William John, 308 and 195, Police Constable.

Paul Watts

William Stanley Gatehouse Re-joins The Police
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

William John Medcalf was born on the 27th April 1893 at Redbourn.

His father, also William John Medcalf married his mother, Jessie Maria Jarman, on the 11th March 1889 at Redbourn. They had eleven children one of whom died before the 1911 census.
1. Henry Thomas born in 1889 at Redbourn.
2. Helen Elizabeth born in 1891 at Redbourn.
3. William John.
4. Alfred Percy born in 1895 at Dunstable.
5. Cecil Charles born and died in 1897 at Dunstable.
6. Frederick Charles born in 1898. Served as Private 33146 Bedfordshire Regiment in WW1.
7. Alice Maria born in 1901 at Hertford.
8. May born in 1903 at Hertford.
9. Florence Rose born in 1905 at Hertford.
10. Emily Maud born in 1907 at Hertford.
11. Ethel Minnie born in 1909 at Hertford.

During the 1891 census the family were living at Fish Street, Redbourn and William’s father was employed as a Maltster. By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved and were now living at 33, Frampton Street, Hertford. William’s father was now employed as a labourer in a brickfield.

At the time of the 1911 census the family had moved again and were now living at 50, Thornton Street, Hertford. Both William and his father were employed as Maltster’s labourers. Nothing further is known about William’s life over the next three years 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 that he was Appointed as Constable 308 probably on the 10th August 1914 based on the anniversary date for his pay increases and the rate of pay he was put on when he re-joined the Police after the war. His Probationer training would have been carried out at Police Headquarters at Hatfield at the end of which he was posted to C Division at Watford


General Order 57 of the 6th April 1915 announced three resignations: The undermentioned Police Constables having submitted applications to resign their appointments as Constables in the Hertfordshire County Constabulary for the purposes of enlisting in H.M. Army, the resignations are accepted to take effect on 5th April 1915,
PC 90 White G.E.
PC 323 Aylott E.G.
PC 308 Medcalf W.J.
The three Constables will be paid up to and including 5th April 1915 and will be struck off the strength of the establishment as from that date.

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 308 Medcalf W.J. C Division who enlisted into the Royal Horse Artillery on the 6th April 1915 with PC’s 323 Ernest Aylott and 90 George White.

Army Service During The War.

William’s Army Service Record has survived but is one of the burnt collection so it is not complete, but the following was shown:

William John Metcalf enlisted for short service for the duration of the war as Gunner 99378 in the Royal Horse Artillery on the 3rd April 1915 at Watford. Ernest Aylott and George White were Gunners 99376 and 99377 respectively and it is safe to assume they enlisted at the same time, although it is very unlikely that following their training they remained together. William said he lived at 74, Neal Street, Watford, he was 22 years old, his trade was a Malt Maker but for the last eight months he had served in the Police Force. He was not married and had never previously served in the Military.

He gave his next of kin as his father William John Medcalf of 50, Thornton Street, The Folly, Hertford.

He was medical examined and the following recorded. He stated he had been born at Redbourn, Herts. his age was 22 years and his trade was a Malt Maker. His height was 5 feet 9 inches, weight 144 lbs and his chest was maximum 39 ½ inches with a 2 inch expansion.

On the 6th April 1915 William joined at Woolwich and on the 23rd April, he was posted to R Battery Royal Horse Artillery.

On the 23rd September 1915 he was posted to Expeditionary Force Royal Horse Artillery in France at No. 2G Base Depot. Three days later he landed in France.

On the 2nd November 1915 he was posted to No. 23 Anti-Aircraft Section which became No. 21 Anti-Aircraft Battery under re-organisation on the 23rd November. On the 25th June to the 2nd July 1916 he was granted leave to England.

His unit became ‘P’ Anti-Aircraft Battery again on re-organisation. Then on the 1st January 1917 he was posted to ‘U’ Anti-Aircraft Battery. On the 3rd April 1917 he was granted Class 2 Proficiency Pay and then on the 1st July 1917 he was Classified for Proficiency Pay to Class one.


He was granted leave to the UK between the 27th October and the 10th November 1917. On the 1st January 1918 he was compulsorily transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery and given a new service number 191687. On the 30th July 1918 he was appointed paid Acting Lance Bombardier.

He was again granted leave to the UK between the 24th October and the 10th November 1918. On the 7th January 1919 he returned to England to a Dispersal Centre.

On the 1st February 1919 he underwent a Medical Examination in the ‘Field’ which recorded: Bombardier 191687 William John Medcalf ‘U’ Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. Address: 50, Thornton Street, The Folly, Hertford. Enlisted: 3rd April 1915 at Watford. Medical category on enlistment: ‘A1’.
William signed the following declaration: I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my Military Service.

On the 10th February 1919 he was issued Army Form ZII. Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity which contained the following information:
Name: Medcalf. William John. Regimental Number: 191687. Rank: Gunner. Record Office: Dover. Unit: U Anti-Aircraft Battery. Regiment: Royal Garrison Artillery Signed: I have received an advance of £2. Address for pay: 50, Thornton Street, The Folly, Hertford. Theatre of War: 1. Born in Year: 1893. Medical Category: A1. Place of re-joining in case of emergency: Shoreham. Specialist Military Qualification: Gunner Anti-Aircraft.
The above-named soldier is granted 28 days furlough from the date stamped hereon pending final demobilisation (as far as can be ascertained) which will date from the last day of furlough after which date uniform will not be worn except upon occasions authorised by Army Orders.

On the 9th March 1919 William was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on Demobilisation. Place: Dover. Address: 50, Thornton Street, The Folly, Hertford.

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory medals.

Every soldier would have been granted 28 days leave when they were demobilised. Ernest would have used this time to rearrange his re-joining of the Police. Part of that process would have involved him undergoing a medical examination with the Force Surgeon to determine whether he was still fit enough for Police duties. The end of his leave period would have coincided with the date of his re-Appointment.

Re-joining The Police.

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 195 Medcalf W.J. posted to C Division at Watford on the 21st February 1919 on £2/7/0 per week. 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.

Something of note in this Order is the change in his Warrant or Collar Number from 308 to 195. Prior to the outbreak of war, it was fairly common to issue the same Warrant Number to more than one individual providing they were posted to different Divisions so that the Divisional letter would differentiate between them. No record of an Order instructing that this should end and that Warrant Numbers should become unique has been found, but it was obviously issued simply by the fact of the number of returning Constables who were not given their old number, as someone else was already using it, and were issued with a new one.

William’s Army Service Record contained a letter dated the 8th March 1919 from George Knight Superintendent and Chief Clerk, County of Hertford Constabulary Headquarters, Hatfield to the Officer in Charge R.G.A. Records Dover.

No. 191687 Bombardier Medcalf W.J. 21 Anti-Aircraft Battery R.G.A.
Sir, I am directed by the Chief Constable of Herts to inform you that prior to his enlistment in H.M. Army for the purpose of the present war, the above named soldier was a member of this Force. Since his demobilisation he has been re-appointed to the Force provisionally. In order that he his re-appointment may be confirmed, the Chief Constable will be much obliged if you kindly forward to him at your earliest convenience a copy of the Soldier’s record of Army Character. I am, sir, your obedient servant.

The response has not survived but as there were no disciplinary matters recorded on his Military Conduct Sheet and William continued as a Constable then clearly it was satisfactory.

General Order 182 of the 20th August 1919 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £3/18/0 to £4/0/0 per week from the 10th August 1919.

The Electoral Rolls of 1919 to 1921 list William as lodging at 74, Neal Street, Watford with the Dudley family.


William married Maud Jane Miles in 1921 at Watford. They had five children:
1. Joan Phyllis born in 1921 at Watford.
2. Kenneth Gordon born in 1925 at Harpenden died on the 27th September 1944 in Holland whilst serving as Private 14655883 Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
3. Marjorie E. born in 1928 at Hertford.
4. Gerald Brian born in 1935 at Hertford.
5. Ronald Graham born in 1938 at Hertford.

General Order 153 of the 31st August 1921 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/2/0 to £4/4/0 per week from the 10th August 1921.

Contained in his Army Service Record and dated the 27th February 1922 is Army Form W.5132 (medal) reply form which William had returned to acknowledge receipt of his 1914-15 Star: PC 195 Medcalf King Street Police Station, Watford, Herts. Signed: William Medcalf. Rank: Gunner. Regimental Number: 191687. Regiment: R.G.A.


General Order 39 of the 18th March 1922 instructed William that from the 31st March 1922 he was being transferred from C Division at Watford to D Division at Harpenden and to occupy a house at Coleswood Road, Harpenden. The Electoral Rolls of 1922 to 1924 list William as living at 76, Coleswood Road, Harpenden.

General Order 113 of the 24th August 1922 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/4/0 to £4/6//0 per week from the 10th August 1922.


General Order 142 of the 2nd November 1922 announced that William had been commended: The actions of Constable William John Medcalf 195 D Division in effecting the arrest of Alexander and Eva Carson at Harpenden at 6.45 a.m. on July 8th,1922 on a charge of stealing a horse and cart at Northampton has been brought to the notice of the Chief Constable. The reports in this case show that the Constable was observant and that he displayed intelligence and initiative in exercising his powers of arrest on reasonable suspicion of a felony having been committed. The action of the Constable resulted in the prisoners being connected with a further charge of horse stealing and the man Carson was convicted at Northampton Quarter Sessions on 12th October 1922. The Chief Constable hereby commends Constable Medcalf and directs that an appropriate entry shall be made in his record of service.

A Minor Blemish.

On the 20th December 1923 William was admonished by the Chief Constable for omitting to attend his 3 a.m. Conference Point at Townsend Lane, Harpenden on the night of the 30th November – 1st December 1923.

General Order 149 of the 1st September 1924 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/8/0 to £4/10/0 per week from the 10th August 1924.

Another Blemish.

On the 3rd December 1924 William was cautioned by the Chief Constable for borrowing the sum of £5 on the 26th January 1921 and £2 on the 27th January 1921 from a Constable Burgess at Watford.


General Order 73 of the 4th May 1925 announced that William had resigned his Appointment as a Constable. The reason for this was that whilst he was at Harpenden, he had incurred debts which he was unable to repay which included, and this was considered to be the most serious matter, that he had placed himself in a pecuniary obligation to Harry Dench the Licensee of The Plough Harrow P.H. in Harpenden. The Chief Constable stated, that in view of the Constable’s war service, his resignation would be accepted in lieu of dismissal from the Force. William was paid up to the 13th May 1925 inclusive and then his name was struck off the establishment of the Force the same day.

In the 1939 Register William, who was shown as being employed as a Maltster, and family are listed as living at 18A, Castle Street, Hertford.

William John Medcalf died in 1953 at Hertford.

This page was added on 09/04/2020.

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