William Percy Cripps was born on the 6th March 1893 at Hemel Hempstead and baptised there on the 4th September 1893.
His father, Adam a furnace man in an iron foundry, married his mother, Clara Ivory, in 1892 in Hemel Hempstead. They had six children, all born in Hemel Hempstead, one of whom sadly died before the 1911 census:
- William Percy.
- Florence Lizzie born in 1894.
- Sidney born in 1896 possibly served as Private 266538 1st/1st Bn., Hertfordshire Regiment.
- Reginald born in 1897 served as Private 266124, 1st/1st Bn., Hertfordshire Regiment died of wounds in 1917.
- Teddy born in 1899 and died aged 3 days.
- Ivory Hilda born in 1905.
During the 1901 and 1911 census returns the family were living at 38, Bury Road, Hemel Hempstead. In 1911 William was employed in a paper mill in the printing trade.
Little is known about the following three years until William applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.
William’s Police Service Record has not survived but it is believed that he was Appointed as Constable 266 on the 12th October 1914. This is based on the anniversary date of his pay increases and the rate of pay he received in 1915.
He would have undertaken his Probationer training at R Division at Headquarters at Hatfield earning £1/4/6 per week. At the conclusion of his training he would have been Attested and taken onto the Roster.
General Order 14 of the 21st January 1915 announced that 22 Recruit Constables had brought onto the Roster for duty and transferred from Headquarters for duty. William was posted to E Division at Hitchin from the 22nd January 1915.
General Order 41 of the 17th March 1915 instructed William that he would be transferred from E Division at Hitchin to E Division at Baldock on the 19th March 1915.
General Order 175 of the 7th November 1915 and General Order 126 of the 26th November 1916 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £1/4/6 to £1/5/8 per week from the 12th October 1915 and from £1/5/8 to £1/6/10 per week from the 12th October 1916, respectively.
General Order 5 of the 22nd January 1917 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 Enlistment in H.M. Forces: Consequent upon the demand for men of military age for service in H.M. Army the Standing Joint Committee have reconsidered the strength at which it is necessary to maintain the force and have authorised that a further 20 members shall be released for Army Service. Five of these have been accepted provisionally by the Army Council for service in the Military Mounted Police. Further instructions with regard to these men will be issued as soon as received.
In accordance with the resolution of the Standing Committee dated 5th January 1917 the Deputy Chief Constable hereby gives the necessary consent as required by the above Acts to a further fifteen Constables for the purpose of enlisting in H.M. Army. William was included in this group. The Constables enumerated will be released from the Police Service as from Thursday 1st February 1917 inclusive and will be paid up to and including the 31st January 1917. General Order 8 of the 25th January 1917 referred to Order 5/1917 and announced that the same fifteen Constables who were being released for military service were being granted leave of absence on 30th and 31st January 1917.
Army Service During The War.
William’s Army Service Record has survived and from this and his Medal Index Roll Card and Medal Roll we know the following:
He 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 C/O of Mrs. Roberts, Royston Road, Baldock, that he was 22 years 9 months old and his trade was Police Constable in the Herts Constabulary. He said he was not married and had never served in Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent Age: 22 years 9 months. Height: 5 feet 9 ½ inches. Chest: 36 ½ inches expansion 2 ½ inches. Distinctive marks: 4 vaccinations left. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Clara Cripps, 38, Bury Road, Hemel Hempstead.
William was mobilised on the 2nd February 1917 and the following day posted as Gunner 205983 to the Royal Horse Artillery Depot at Woolwich. Of the fifteen men who were mobilised at the same time as William one joined the Grenadier Guards and two others joined the Military Foot Police. The remaining twelve became artillery men. They were 205951 Harry Wallman, 205952 William Hussey, 205953 Joseph Wallen, 205954 Arthur Mansfield, 205956 Wilfred Darton, 205981 Stephen Burch, 205982 Thomas Kempthorne, 205985 Alban Freeman, 205986 Herbert Trussell, 205987 Albert Emery and 205988 Henry Camp. Other than during their initial training there is nothing to say that they went on to serve together.
On the 16th February 1917 he was posted to ‘R’ Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.
William married Margaret Alma Woodrow on the 22nd March 1917 at St. Mary The Virgin Church, Baldock.
In March 1917 during their training there was an outbreak of Rubella at the Woolwich Depot. Of the twelve men who were mobilised the Army Service Records of ten of them have survived. Of these records two, belonging to Darton and Kempthorne, show they were hospitalised for two weeks with the disease. Additionally, Alban Freeman died of fever on the 7th March which was almost certainly due to the same cause.
On the 30th May 1917 William was posted as part of the British Expeditionary Force to France. On the 26th July 1917 he was posted to L Battery, Royal Horse Artillery. On the 7th February 1918 he was posted to Base. On the 16th July 1918 he was posted to O Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.
On the 3rd August 1917, his wife notified a change of address to Morden Croft, Norton Way, Letchworth, Herts. On the 5th September 1918 he left France. On the 13th November 1918 he was posted to Royal Artillery and Tank Corps Command Depot at Catterick.
A letter dated 30th November 1918 from the Ministry of Pensions, Westminster House, Millbank, London S.W.1. to the Officer In Charge of Royal Horse Artillery Records, Woolwich Dockyard SE 18, stated: Sir, I am directed by the Special Grants Committee to inform you that no further issue of Separation Allowance will be made to Mrs Cripps of Back Lane, Preston, Herts the wife of No. 205983 Gunner Cripps Royal Horse Artillery on account of her misconduct. The allowance of the Ordinary Rate will be issued for any children legitimately on pay to her. I am to request that the above information may be communicated confidentially through his Commanding Officer, to the soldier, who, unless he is under compulsory stoppages under Section 145 of the Army Act by reason of their being an Order of Court against him, should no longer be required to make an allotment to his wife. I am Sir your obedient servant. Signed unreadable.
Another letter dated 10th December 1918 on Army Form F.S.A. 6 from the Royal Artillery and Tank Corps Command Depot at Catterick to the Officer in Charge, Royal Horse Artillery Records, Woolwich Dock Yard stated: Reference your letter dated 5th December 1918 forwarding copy of letter from Ministry of Pensions re no further issue of separation allowance to wife of No. 205983 Gunner Cripps. This Gunner has been informed the contents of this letter and states he has no desire to make any further allotment to his wife, and that he is under no compulsory stoppages under Section 145 Army Act, there being no children of the marriage. Capt. and Adjt. For Lieut. Col. Commanding R.A. & Tank Corps Command Depot, Hipswell Camp Catterick.
On the 30th December 1918 William was at the Dispersal Unit at Catterick. On the 27th January 1919 he was transferred to Army Reserve Class Z at Woolwich.
His Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity recorded: Name: William P. Cripps. Regt. No.: 205983. Rank: Gunner. Record Office: Woolwich Dock Yard. Unit: C Battery. Regt.: Royal Horse Artillery. Pay Office: Blackheath. Address for Pay: 38, Bury Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. Theatre of War: Northern. Year born: 1893. Medical Category A. Place of re-joining in case of emergency: Charlton Park. Granted 28 day furlough. Issued: 30th December 1918 at Caterham.
William was awarded the British War and Victory 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. However, he failed to pass this.
Re-joining The Police.
General Order 54 of the 26th February 1919 stated that 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 Service. PC 266 Cripps W.P. E Division. Examined 13th January 1919. PC 162 Gallen D. A Division. Examined 24th January 1919. PC 88 Gray H.W. A Division. Examined 22nd January 1919.
General Order 83 of the 1st April 1919 announced the Award of Disablement Pensions:
Subject for any Pensions awarded from Army funds the following Disablement Pensions have been awarded to Police Constables Demobilised from H.M. Army and subsequently found to be unfit for further police service, viz: PC 162 Gallen D. Completed 18 years of approved service £75/18/4 per annum from 22nd January 1919. PC 88 Gray H.W. Completed 13 years of approved service £66/9/7 per annum from 9th February 1919. PC 266 Cripps W. P. Completed 4 years of approved service £49/0/0 per annum from 27th January 1919.
A letter dated 30th July 1919 sent to the Officer In Charge, Records Royal Horse Artillery, Woolwich from the Ministry of Pensions, Burton Court, Kings Road, London S.W.3 stated: Sir, I am directed by the Minister of Pensions to inform you of the undermentioned decision in the case of a man whose discharge documents have been recently received with a view to having the claim to pension considered. Your obedient servant William Sayer Controller Soldiers’ Awards Branch. Rank: Gunner. Regt No.: 205983. Name: Cripps William Percy. Regiment: Royal Horse Artillery. Date of Transfer: 27th January 1919. Age on transfer: 25. Married: Single. Address on discharge: 38, Bury Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. Disabilities: VDH (Valvular Disease of the Heart). Sate whether attributable aggravated or non-attributable: Due to. Degree of disablement: 60 %. Weekly pension or allowance: 16/6 from 28th January 1919 to be reviewed in 37 weeks. Nature of award: Conditional
William Percy Cripps died in 1925 at Hemel Hempstead.