William Joseph Bethell

Police Constable 233 Mounted Officer

Paul Watts

William Joseph Bethell 1915

Early Life.

William Joseph Bethell was born on the 27th June 1870 at Southsea, Portsmouth.

His father, also William Joseph Bethell, married his mother, Eliza Rumble, in 1867 at Fareham. They had five children:
1. Margaret or Ellen Eliza born in 1868 at Fareham.
2. William Joseph.
3. Alice Emma born in 1875 at Midhurst.
4. Frank born and died in 1881 at Saffron Walden.
5. Arthur George Beach born in 1884 at Reigate. Served in WW1 at home in the 16th Battalion, London Regiment.

During the 1881 census the family were living at The Cottage, Hempstead, Saffron Walden, Essex. William’s father was employed as a Receiving Officer and Registrar. By the time of the 1891 census they were living at Ladbroke Road, Horley, Reigate, Surrey. His father was still employed as a Receiving Officer and Registrar, but William had left home and had joined the Army.

Early Army Service.

His Army Service Record has survived, and the following was recorded:
He enlisted on 3rd February 1888 at East Grinstead as Private 2893 in the 20th Hussars signing up for short service of seven years in the Colours and five in the Reserve.

He stated he was born in Southsea, Portsmouth Hampshire and gave his age as 18 years 7 months. He said his trade was a saddler, he was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and never previously served in the Military.

He was medically examined at East Grinstead on 3rd February 1888 and the following recorded: Apparent age: 18 years 7 months. Height: 5 feet 6 3/8 inches. Weight: 129 lbs. Chest: 34 inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Brown. Hair: Dark Brown. Distinctive marks: None. He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was father was William Joseph Bethell of Lawn Villa, Horley, Surrey.

He joined the regiment at Woolwich on the 5th February 1888. On the 29th November 1888 he was injured on duty by a horse kick causing a wound to the third finger of his left hand. On the 3rd February 1890 he was granted his 1st Good Conduct Pay.

During the 1891 census Private William Bethell was listed as living at the West Cavalry Barracks, Aldershot with the 20th Hussars.

On the 15th August 1891 was appointed Acting Corporal. Then in November 1891 he received his 3rd Class Certificate of Education.

On the 21st November 1892 was promoted Corporal. On the 22nd November 1892 he was granted his 2nd Class Certificate of Education. Then on the 6th December 1893 he was transferred to the Army Reserve. His character on being passed to the reserve was rated as very good.

Marriage.

William married Louisa Olivia Clark on the 10th October 1895 at Brighton. They had six children:
1. William Frederick Arthur born in 1896 at Hoddesdon. He Joined 5th Dragoon Guards on the 21st January 1914. Gave his next of kin as parents living at Police Station Colney Heath and later Glencoe Villa, Ware Road, Hertford. Served throughout WW1 until discharged on 18th April 1918 due to suffering Trench Feet. Awarded a Silver War Badge.
2. Harold John born in 1898 at Hoddesdon. Served with the Herts and Beds Regiments in WW1.
3. Alfred born and died in 1900 at Hertford.
4. Louisa Olivia Elizabeth born in 1901 at Hertford.
5. Winifred Ilene born in 1903 at Hertford.
6. Leslie George Birch born in 1911 at Ware.

The baptism records of William and Louisa’s sons, William in 1896 and Harold in 1898, show that the family are living in Hoddesdon and William is employed as a Groom. Another source suggests he was employed as a Coachman.

Recalled To The Army – Boer War.

On the 18th January 1900 William was recalled to the Army Service under the special Army Order of 20th December 1899. He was Posted as Corporal 4401 in the 10th Hussars.

On the 11th March 1900 he arrived in South Africa. After serving there for 299 days he arrived Home on the 4th January 1901. On the 5th February 1901 he was Discharged as a Corporal on the termination of his First Period of Engagement. He was awarded The Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen and Cape Colony.

He was discharged at Woolwich and his character was rated as being very good. He gave his address on discharge as the Police Station, Hertford.

He would undoubtedly have been granted leave on his return from South Africa and before his Discharge. He has used this time to apply to join the Hertford County Constabulary.

Police Service.

William’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know the following.

General Order 11 of the 19th February 1901 announced that the undermentioned Transfers are ordered and will take place on Thursday next:
PC Bethell (married recruit) to join at Hertford as Constable Groom, vice Kirby.

So, having been successful in being accepted as a Constable he began his Probationer training on Thursday the 21st February 1901 at F Division at Hertford. All training was carried out on Divisions at this time.

During the 1901 census William’s parents and sister Alice were living at Ladbroke Road, Horley, Reigate, Surrey. His father was a Receiving Officer. William himself was shown as a Police Constable, living at 1, Queens Road, Hertford with his wife Louisa and sons William and Harold.

Having finished his training William was Appointed as Constable 233 on the 1st April 1901 and remained at Hertford as a mounted officer.

Mutual Aid To Essex.

General Order 17 of the 4th April 1901 gave instructions to a Sergeant and four Mounted Constables to assist the Essex Police at the Essex Hunt Steeple Chases at High Roothing Bury on the 11th April 1901. William was one of the Constables detailed to attend riding a horse called Chance Shot. He was told to take his Mounted cloak rolled on his saddle and wear his black sword belt and brown gloves. He was instructed to leave Ware at 11 a.m. and ride to Hatfield Town. Stabling and lodgings had been arranged at the Kings Arms P.H. Hatfield Town, Essex for the nights of the 10th and 11th and he was to parade on the Course at 11.30 a.m. on the 11th 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 a horse called Chance Shot.

PC Bethell on Chance Shot

On Saturday 25th May 1901 William performed duties at the Harpenden Race Meeting on his horse Chance Shot.

General Order 28 of the 21st June 1901 gave instructions to William and five other officers 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 38 of 24th September 1901 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 23/11 to 25/8 per week from the 5th September 1901.

General Order 46 of the 7th November 1901 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford 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.

The Electoral Rolls of 1902 to 1904 record William as still living at 1, Queens Road, Hertford.

General Order 4 of the 2nd February 1902 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford 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.

On Wednesday 11th June 1902, William performed Mounted duty at Hertford on the occasion of the return of the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment from South Africa.

General Order 26 of the 19th June 1902 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford on Tuesday 1st July 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.

General Order 20 of the 8th October 1902 was entitled Mounted Police and set out specific details of how they would be managed.
The undermentioned officers and men comprise the ordinary Mounted Police Force of this County:
Supt. Duke, Insp. Reed, PC Stevens 61, PC Field 179, PC Huggins 148, PC Chisman 212, PC Briden 199, PC Bethell 233, PC Hair 167, PC Hughes 116, PC Warren 55 and PC Moles 137. PC Moles will wear Acting Sergeant stripes on his mounted tunic and cloak and will act as Sergeant when mounted.
2 Sergeants and 10 Constables will form a Mounted Police Reserve of this Force. They will be utilised as Mounted Police on horses which will be provided for them when necessary. They will be provided with a complete mounted kit which they will keep by them and will parade in mounted order once in every month before the Superintendent who will report their kit as complete and in good repair.
Their saddlery will be kept at their Divisional Superintendents Station and the Superintendent’s Groom will be responsible for it being kept clean and in good order when not in use. It will be cleaned and stowed away by the Mounted Reserve man after use. Superintendents will submit the names of Sergeants and Constables fit for this duty, preference to Cavalry, Horse Artillery and Mounted Infantry men.

General Order 47 of the 8th November 1902 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford on Tuesday 18th November 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 7 of the 3rd February 1903 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford on Tuesday 10th February 1903. 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 18 of April 1903 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 25/8 to 26/10 per week from the 19th March 1903.

General Order 13 of the 11th May 1903 instructed William to be one of nine Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Saturday the 23rd May 1903. A PC Bolden was instructed to ride the Ware horse into Headquarters on the Friday afternoon and was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

Commendation.

General Order 15 of the 2nd June 1903 announced that during May 1903 William was commended by the Chief Constable after he stopped some runaway horses at Hertford at great personal risk.

General Order 26 of the 20th June 1903 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties as Judges Escort at the Assizes being held at Hertford on Saturday 27th June 1903. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn.

Transferred.

General Order 43 of the 31st October 1903 instructed William that he was being transferred from F Division at Hertford to B Division for ordinary duty, and placed on the Mounted Reserve, at his own expense. Then General Order 48 of 12th December 1903 amended Order 43 by instructing William that he was now to be transferred on Thursday 17th December to B Division at Eastwick, at his own expense, and also transferred to the Mounted Reserve. Normally all the costs incurred by an officer transferring would be covered by the Constabulary. Sometimes Officers were told it was at their own expense when they asked to be moved or as part of a punishment following a disciplinary matter. There is no record of why William had to pay himself.

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 horse called Walnut. 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.

General Order 17 of the 5th May 1904 instructed William to be one of ten Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Saturday the 21st May 1904. A PC Bolden was instructed to ride the Ware horse into Headquarters on the Friday afternoon and was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races. Unusually William was told proceed to Headquarters by rail on the Friday evening in mounted dress, everyone else had to march there.

Transferred Again.

General Order 1 of the 2nd January 1905 ordered William that he would be transferred at once from B Division at Eastwick to A Division at Ware again at his own expense. He moved on the 10th January 1905.

Parliamentary Elections 1906.

In General Order 1 of 1st January 1906 instructions are given to dozens of Police officers in connection with the General Election of January 1906. Voting was carried out over several days and schedules were drawn up detailing where and when officers would perform duty. The following excerpts refer to William who rode a horse owned by a Mr. Royd for the whole period of the elections.

On Wednesday the 17th January William was one of 14 Mounted Officers on duty in St. Albans. The following day he was one of 19 Mounted Officers on duty in St. Albans. On Friday 19th January he was one of 19 Mounted Officers on duty in Hertford.

On Monday the 22nd the whole mounted Police Force in Hertford marched from Hertford to Watford or Hemel Hempstead as ordered. On Tuesday 23rd January he was one of 19 Mounted Officers on duty in Watford.

On the morning of the 25th, the whole of the Mounted Police were told to proceed from Watford to Hitchin by rail with horse boxes being arranged. He was one of the Mounted Officers on duty in Hitchin or elsewhere in the Division on the 26th January.

General Order 11 of the 2nd May 1906 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 26/10 to 28/- per week from the 12th April 1906.

General Order 14 of the 19th May 1906 instructed William to be one of nine Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Saturday the 26th May 1906. A PC Bolden was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

General Order 8 of the 15th May 1907 instructed William to be one of eight Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Monday the 27th May 1907 and he was also told to proceed to Hatfield by rail on the Sunday evening. A PC Bolden was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

General Order 5 of the 24th April 1908 instructed William to be one of eight Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Thursday 14th May 1908 and he was also told to proceed to Hatfield by rail on the Wednesday evening 13th May. A PC Bolden was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

General Order 31 of the 22nd October 1908 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties and parade at the Dimsdale Hotel at Hertford at 10 a.m. on Thursday 3rd November 1908 for Judges Escort. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn, cloth jackets, winter helmets and buff gloves.

General Order 8 of the 19th April 1909 instructed William to be one of eight Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Thursday 6th May 1909 and he was also told to proceed to Hatfield by rail on the Wednesday morning 5th May. A PC Bolden was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

General Order 17 of the 23rd May 1909 gave instructions to William and five other officers to perform Mounted duties and parade at the Dimsdale Hotel at Hertford at 10 a.m. on Wednesday 2nd June 1909 for Judges Escort. They were required each day until the conclusion of the Assizes and were ordered to wear their swords with white belts but not drawn, serge Jackets and helmets and white gloves.

General Order 21 of the 24th June 1909 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 28/- to 29/2 per week from the 3rd June 1909.

General Order 16 of the 20th April 1910 instructed William to be one of eight Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Thursday 5th May 1910 and he was also told to proceed to Hatfield by rail on the Thursday morning 5th May. A PC Bolden was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

During the 1911 census Police Constable William Joseph Bethell, his wife Louisa, and children William, Harold, Louisa and Winifred are listed as living at 4, Park Road, Ware.

General Order 11 of the 13th April 1911 instructed William to be one of eight Mounted Officers to be on duty for the Harpenden Race Meeting being held on Thursday 4th May 1911 and he was also told to proceed to Hatfield by rail on the Thursday morning 4th May. A PC 179 Field was detailed for duty in plain clothes at the stables of the Cock Inn to look after the Constabulary Horse and stables generally during the day of the Races.

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 Hertford 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.

Transferred Again.

On the 6th September 1911 William was transferred from A Division at Ware to G Division at Colney Heath. The Electoral Roll of 1915 lists William Joseph Bethell as living at Park Lane, Colney Heath.

The following letter is contained in the Army Service Record of PC 162 Daniel Gallen. Dated the 29th October 1914 it was from the War Office, London S.W.
To: The Chief Constable of Herts, Constabulary Headquarters, Hatfield.
Sir, With reference to your letter No.5508/1914, dated October 1914, forwarding a list of Police Constables who have previous military service, I am directed to inform you that, PC. D. Gallen may be considered as possessing qualifications to enable him to gain the benefit of the Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 and may be accepted for enlistment in the Royal Engineers. In the case of the four police constables named in the margin, (PC D.E. Cattermole, PC H. Cody, PC A. Burns, PC W.J. Bethell) a further communication regarding these men will be sent to you in due course. The remaining constables mentioned in your list cannot be considered as possessing qualifications not possessed by ordinary recruits.
I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant, (signed) B.J. Curling, Captain, for Director of Recruiting.

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 233 Bethell W.J. G Division who enlisted in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry on 13th November 1914.

Army Service During The War.

William’s Army Service Record for the period of the war has survived and shows that he enlisted on the 13th November 1914 at Hertford for short service of three years in the colours in the Cavalry. The following was recorded:
He stated he was born in Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire and he was 44 years 5 months old. His trade was Police Constable, he was married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had previously served in the 10th Hussars being discharged on the 5th February 1901.

He was medically examined at Hertford on the 9th November 1914 and the following recorded: Apparent Age: 44 years 5 months. Height: 5 Feet 9 inches. Weight: 162 lbs. Chest: 38 inches expansion 3 inches. Complexion: Fresh. Eyes: Hazel. Hair: Dar. Distinctive marks: Scar back of left arm, small scar above left eye. He said his religion was Church of England and gave details of his next of kin as his wife Louisa Olivia Bethell of Park Lane, Colney Heath near St. Albans. Details of his marriage and the births of Louisa, Winifred and Leslie were also recorded.

On the 13th November 1914 he joined at Scarborough and was Posted to Hussars Depot as a Private 23450 then two days later he was posted to the 13th Regiment Cavalry Reserve as Corporal.

Seventeen Cavalry Reserve Regiments were formed by the British Army on the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914. These were affiliated with one or more active cavalry regiments, their purpose being to train replacement drafts for the active regiments. In 1915, the 3rd Line regiments of the Yeomanry were also affiliated with the Cavalry Reserve

On the 1st March 1915 he was appointed paid Acting Lance Sergeant in the 13th Regiment.

The 13th Regiment were affiliated with the 14th Hussars, the 20th Hussars, the 3/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry and 3/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry and were based in Colchester. Although there is no record to substantiate this it is, however, highly likely that William played a significant role in recruiting volunteers from the Hertford County Constabulary. This may explain why it resulted in it being the regiment with the highest single contingent of Hertfordshire Police Officers.

William was one of 23 Hertfordshire Police Officers who joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry who posed for a photograph in 1915 believed at Colchester. The officers were:
1. PC 308 F. Clarke
2. PC 93. F. Potton
3. PC 189 J.W. Clark
4. PC 312 D.E. Cattermole
5. PC 285 G.H. Sirett
6. PC 105 H.M. Armitage
7. PC 313 H.H. Quarrie
8. PC 120 A.T. Day
9. PC 315 W.J. Thurley
10. PC 10 E.A.V. Elkins
11. PC 35 A.W. Reid
12. PS 20 H. Wright
13. PC 233 W.J. Bethell
14. PC 121 F.W.E. Perry
15. PC 274 H. Rowlingson
16. PC 19 H.W. Carder
17. PC 217 O.V. Lake
18. PC 316 A.S. Brown
19. PC 305 G. Archer
20. PC 301 G.A. Allen
21. PC 7 A.G. Capon
22. PC 321 N.J. Reid
23. PC 314 A.W. Corne
The photo included a regular Army Sergeant Jeffrey Arthur Riches who was an instructor.

With the Hertfordshire Yeomanry trained and posted overseas on the 11th February 1917 William was posted to the 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment as Corporal.

On the 11th May 1917 he transferred to Labour Corps as Lance Sergeant 345688 and joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. The following day he was posted to the 22nd Company Chinese Labour Corps.

On the 7th June 1917 he was appointed paid Acting Company Sergeant Major and, on the 8th February 1918, he was promoted to Warrant Officer 2nd Class with his appointment as Company Sergeant Major being backdated to the 7th June.

He was granted a furlough to the UK from the 28th June 1918 until 12th July 1918.

On the 27th January 1919 he returned Home and was posted Clerk Labour Corps Office as Company Sergeant Major. On the 14th May 1919 he was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on demobilisation. He gave his home address as Glencoe Villa, Ware Road, Hertford. He was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

Like every other soldier William would have been granted 28 days leave when he was demobilised. He would have used this time to arrange his re-joining of the Police. This would have involved a Medical Examination to ensure he was still fit enough for the duties of a Constable.

Re-joining The Police.

General Order 140 of the 29th June 1919 pronounced: The Chief Constable regrets to announce that on demobilisation from H.M. Army, the undermentioned Police Officers have been certified by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon to be unfit for further Police Services:
1. PC 233 Bethell W.J. G Division Medical Examination 11/05/1919
2. PC 321 Reid N.J. G Division Medical Examination 10/04/1919
3. PC 98 Rowlingson H. G Division Medical Examination 28/04/1919

No explanation has survived as to what made any of these Officers unfit for duty but, co-incidentally, all three men had originally enlisted in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry.

General Order 141 of the 29th June 1919 announced the award of Disablement Pensions: Subject to any Pensions granted from Army Funds, Disablement Pensions have been awarded to the undermentioned Police Constables:
1. PC 233 Bethell W.J. 18 Years’ Service. £75/18/4 yearly from 12/05/1919
2. PC 321 Reid N.J. 4 Years’ Service. £49/0/3 yearly from 11/04/1919
3. PC 98 Rowlingson H. 4 Years’ Service. £49/0/3 yearly from 26/06/1919

The Electoral Rolls of 1919 to 1930 list William and Louisa Bethell as living at Glencoe Villa, 210, Ware Road, Hertford. The 1939 Register also records them at the same address and shows William as a retired Policeman and Army.

William Joseph Bethell died on the 21st February 1951 at Hertford.

This page was added on 05/04/2020.

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