Roland Frederick Dunsby

Police Constable 286, Lance Bombardier 819666, 259th Battery, 65th (The Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery

Paul Watts with thanks to Mick Hall

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Paul Watts

Early Life.

Roland Frederick Dunsby was born on the 12th September 1913 at Foleshill, Coventry, Warwickshire and he was baptised at St. Laurence’s Church in Foleshill. At this time, his father, Frederick William Charles Dunsby, was recorded as being a miner and the family were living at 39, Eden’s Yard, Windmill Lane, Foleshill.

His father was born on the 20th June 1893 at Burton upon Trent and he was  baptised on the 12th December 1894 at Holy Trinity Church, Burton upon Trent. During the 1911 census he was employed as a machine hand at a cycle works and lodging with the Phillips family at 1 Court, 6 House, Swanswell Terrace, Coventry.

His mother, Anna Woodhouse Barnett, was born on the 14th December 1893 at Coventry and baptised on the 6th May 1894 at St. Michaels, Coventry. She was known as Hannah. In the 1911 census she was employed as a machinist and living at home with her family at 36, Greyfriars Lane, Coventry. She and Frederick Dunsby married in 1913 at Coventry.

Frederick William Charles Dunsby’s Army Service In The Great War.

Frederick’s Army Service Record has not survived but from his Medal Roll Index Card, Medal Rolls and a newspaper article we know he enlisted under the name Charles Dunsby in the Royal Artillery as Gunner 249. He had been in the Territorial Army, and later became 840193 under reorganisation. He landed in France on the 31st March 1915.

Clearly his marriage was not going well as he had the following published in the Coventry Evening Telegraph on the 27th November 1915: I, Frederick William Charles Dunsby Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery do hereby give notice that on and after this date I will not be responsible for any debts contracted by my wife, Hannah Woodhouse Dunsby of 7 Court, 2 House, Greyfriars Lane, Coventry. Dated this 27th day of November 1915. Gunner C. Dunsby.

Frederick survived the war apparently unscathed and was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War and Victory medals.

Roland was Frederick and Hannah’s only child, but it is unknown whether he stayed with his mother or perhaps his father’s family after they separated. No further record of Hannah has been found and nothing is known about Roland for several years.

Similarly, nothing is known about Frederick’s life immediately post war. However, he and Hannah must have divorced as in 1921 he married Louie Lillian Wormleighton at Marylebone. She was known as Lillian and was born in 1894 at Watford. They had three children:

  1. George Dunsby born in 1922 at Hemel Hempstead.
  2. Cyril Samuel Dunsby born in 1925 at Hemel Hempstead.
  3. Carole E. Dunsby born in 1930 at Hertford.

Frederick joined the Hertford County Constabulary.

Frederick Dunsby’s Police Service.

Frederick’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he was appointed as Constable 231 on the 29th March 1921. He would have undergone his Probationer training at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. The following details have been assembled from Hertford County Constabulary Police General Orders, Electoral Rolls, the 1939 Register, the book “150 Years In Watford District and Hertfordshire County” and newspaper articles.

General Order 110 of the 8th July 1921 announced that Frederick was one of seven new recruit Constable’s taken onto to the Roster and on the 7th July, he had been posted to D Division at Hemel Hempstead. The Electoral Rolls of 1922 to 1926 list Frederick and Lillian as living at 185, London Road, Hemel Hempstead.

Transfer.

General Order 118 of the 1st September 1926 announced that Frederick was being transferred from D Division to C Division at Watford. The Electoral Rolls of 1927 to 1929 show Frederick and Lillian as living at King Street Police Station, Watford.

Commendation.

In 1927 the Chief Constable commended Frederick as follows: The conduct of Police Constable Frederick William Charles Dunsby, 231 C Division, in effecting the arrest at Watford of three men of the tramp class, who were subsequently charged with and found guilty of larceny from the Kensington Gardens Tea Rooms, London has been brought to the notice of the Chief Constable. The reports show that the Constable was observant, attentive to his duties, and exercised the powers of search and arrest upon reasonable suspicion. The Chief Constable commends Constable Dunsby and orders that an appropriate entry shall be made upon his record of service.

Transfer.

The 1930 Electoral Roll show that Frederick and Lillian were living in a council cottage in Bennington which meant that he had been transferred from C Division at Watford to E Division at Bennington.

Frederick Dunsby Police Service. Police Raid.

Published in the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail on Tuesday 11th May 1937 under the headline When The Buzzer Sounded, Story of a Club Raid, Beer Poured Away And Minerals Served: Beer, was stated at Hitchin (Herts) today, to have been poured on the floor and mineral waters served in its place when the police raided a club. Louis Gilbert Regnart (58), of Sun Street, Hitchin, secretary of the Hitchin Social Club, was fined £2O for supplying drink during non-permitted hours and £1O for keeping a common gaming house. Mrs. Alice Nicholls (48), of the same address, was fined £1O and £1 respectively for aiding and abetting. The club was ordered to be struck off the register and Regnart to pay up to £2O costs. PC Dunsby said that when the club was raided by other police officers at 10.50 p.m. on April 24, he was in the bar and heard a buzzer sound behind the bar. Mrs. Nicholls immediately cried out, “Look out here’s the police the cops! Empty your beer and put away your glasses quick! Here’s the cops.” The glasses were quickly collected, some being broken in the rush. The beer was poured on the floor. Mrs. Nicholls then started serving mineral waters as fast she could. She also warned some more men who were playing nap to put their money out of sight.

Frederick Dunsby Police Service. Burglary.

Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 7th July 1939 under the headline Five Men On Shopbreaking Charge, Knebworth Girl’s Ride In Motor Car, Prison Sentences At Quarter Sessions: A Knebworth girl, who accepted a lift in a car with five men, who, it was alleged, were later concerned in breaking into the Knebworth Station Bookstall on May 6, was called to give evidence for the defence of two men who had pleaded not guilty to the charge at the Herts Quarter Sessions at Hertford on Wednesday. The men were Alfred Thomas Turnbull, aged 32, porter; Albert Edward Mead, aged 27, painter; Edwin John Summerbell, aged 24, waiter. The three accused pleaded guilty, and George Stanley Marshall, aged 24, butcher, and Richard Edwin Dalton, aged 23, lorry driver, pleaded not guilty. Prosecuting. Mr. J.C. Llewellyn said that on May 6 Messrs. W.H. Smith & Sons’ bookstall was securely locked up, but in the early hours of the morning a patrolling police officer found the bookstall broken into. That was at 3.15 a.m. and an hour later a police patrol car at Golders Green took under observation a car in which were five young men. The car failed to stop when called upon and the police car forced the car into the pavement. Marshall and Dalton got out, went to the police car and said they were returning from a party at Knebworth. The police, not being satisfied, went to the car and saw a quantity of property, which it was alleged, had been stolen an hour before. The men were taken to the police station, where property missing from the bookstall was found, which included a mackintosh, with Smith’s name in it, and a quantity of cigarettes, etc. The value of the goods missing was nearly £3O. Evidence in support of the charge was given by the bookstall manager, Harold Patcham and PC F. Dunsby.

PC Jack Bousfield, of the Metropolitan Police, said that when he asked the men where they obtained the goods, they made no reply. Mr. R.E. Seaton, defending, submitted there was no evidence of breaking and entering, but His Honour Judge Sturges ruled against the submission. Marshall, whose address was stated to be 57 Barry Road, East Dulwich denied that he had anything to do with the breaking into the bookstall. He hired the car to move some butcher’s equipment from one shop to another. On May 6 he went for a drive and went to a cafe at Welwyn. When about to leave the cafe a girl he now knew by the name of Cynthia asked if they would give her a lift to Knebworth. They went to Knebworth and Dalton got out of the car with the girl and as he was gone a long time he went after Dalton, found him, but he was long time leaving the girl, so he sat down in a field. When he and Dalton returned to the car, they found their three companions in the back of the car. Marshall stated how they were stopped and said he had no idea stolen property was in the back of the car. He denied he said they had been to a party. Richard Henry Dalton, of 5 Grace Street, Euston, agreed that the evidence given by Marshall was substantially correct. He denied breaking into the bookstall.

Speaking of the girl he picked up, Dalton said he was talking to her for about hour and a half. She wrote her name on a piece of paper for future correspondence. Mr. Seaton said he was calling the girl referred to in the case, but she did not wish her name to be made public. The Chairman said he could give no direction, but no doubt, the Press would use their discretion. The girl was of smart appearance, said she had been called at the request of the police. She was picked up in the car by the young men at Welwyn about 12.30. Arriving at Knebworth Dalton left the car with her and they went to Knebworth station to see it her friend had arrived. Later they went home, and they remained talking for about half an hour. She gave Dalton her address, but she had not seen him since that night. Cross-examined, the girl said that she was first asked to give evidence last week. Dalton’s mother went to see her mother a fortnight ago, but she was not present. Dalton left her at about a quarter to two. The jury, after ten minutes retirement, found both men guilty.

Turnbull, it was stated, was married with four children. He had had one previous conviction, Mead had five previous convictions, Marshall had been bound over for a previous offence, Dalton had four previous convictions, the last being in June, when his Borstal licence was revoked; had four previous convictions. All the men with the exception of Mead desired another offence of stealing a cigarette machine from Knebworth to be taken into consideration. Turnbull was placed on probation for two years. Marshall for three years, Mead was sentenced to months’ hard labour, and Dalton and Summerbell to five months’ hard labour.

During the 1939 Register Police Constable Frederick Dunsby and his family were recorded as living at the Police Cottage at Bennington.

Frederick William Charles Dunsby retired as a Constable on the 28th November 1946. Although he had completed his 25 years’ service as the country was at war, he would have been expected to have continued serving, so the fact that he was allowed to retire suggests that there was a medical reason.

Frederick William Charles Dunsby died aged 55 in 1948 at Hertford.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Army Service.

Roland’s Army Service Record is held by the Ministry of Defence, but we know from documents that are publicly available that he enlisted in the Royal Artillery as Gunner 819666 in 1932 and transferred to the Reserve on the 13th July 1938.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service.

Roland’s Police Service Record has not survived and his exact date of appointment to the Hertfordshire Constabulary is not known but it is believed that he joined on leaving the Royal Artillery as Constable 286 at Hertford. The following details have been assembled from the 1939 Register, the minutes of the Hertfordshire Police Standing Joint Committee, publicly available Military Records and newspaper articles.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service. A Drunk And A Beggar.

Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 27th January 1939 under the headline Wayfarers in Court: Two men, both of no fixed abode, were brought before Alderman A.P. Ginn at an occasional court at Hertford, on Monday. One man, James McLachlan, was sentenced to one day’s imprisonment for being drunk and incapable at Hertford, on Saturday, a bottle of methylated spirit was found in his possession. The second man, John Wilson, was sentenced to one day’s imprisonment for begging at Hertford, on Saturday. Evidence was given in both cases by PC Dunsby.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service. Suicide.

(Abridged) Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 26th May 1939 under the headline Hertford Child’s Tragic Discovery, Mother Found Dead In  Scullery, Gas Filled Room, Inquest Story Of Mental Depression: The story was told to the Hertford Coroner, Mr. Philip R. Longmore, at an inquest held at the Shire Hall, Hertford on Tuesday, on Mrs. Grace Ernestine Thomlinson, aged 42, of 12, Tamworth Road, Hertford.

PC R.F. Dunsby said he found Mrs. Thomlinson in a crouching position in front of the open door of the gas oven. The house smelt strongly of gas. In the living room there were two canary’s dead in the cage. He found a note on the table addressed to the husband and a note on the scullery door addressed to the daughter. Dr. William Buckley, Hertford, said that Mrs. Thomlinson had been dead several hours. Death was due to coal gas poisoning. He had seen her on two previous occasions, when he found she was suffering from mental depression. The Coroner said it was a sad and distressing case and he sympathized with the husband and child, who had lost a wife and mother in this very tragic fashion. It appeared that for some little time she had not been well and had suffered from depression. Apparently, she had some sort of financial worry, but had suffered very great depression for some little time. On Friday she apparently thought she could not put up with things any longer and put herself near the gas oven and died in that way. With regard to the state of her mind it was quite clear that the balance of her mind was disturbed. He therefore recorded that she died from gas poisoning whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service. Reckless Cyclist.

Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 28th July 1939 under the headline Fined: For failing to conform to a prescribed route with a pedal bicycle at Hertford, on July 10. Arthur Lovick, a baker, of 13 Murchison Road, Hoddesdon. was fined 5/- at Hertford Borough Sessions yesterday (Thursday). PC Dunsby said that Lovick rode the wrong way along Maidenhead Street. Lovick wrote that he had not known it was a one-way street.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service. Drunk.

Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 8th September 1939 under the headline Drunk and Incapable: At the Hertford Borough Court yesterday (Thursday) George Starkiss, of 53 Sele Road, Hertford, was fined 5/- for being drunk and incapable at Hertford on September 4. PC Dunsby said that he found Starkiss staggering about in Fore Street near the traffic lights and took him into custody.

In the 1939 Register Police Constable Roland F. Dunsby was lodging with the Brittain family at North Lodge, Brickendonbury, Hertford

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service. No Dog Licence.

Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 15th September 1939 under the headline Dog Without Licence: At the Hertford Borough Court yesterday (Thursday) Charles W. Want, of 9 Spinney Street, Hertford, was fined 5/- for keeping a dog without a licence on August 31. PC Dunsby said that he saw Want in the morning when he asked him to return later. On his second visit PC Dunsby said he was shown a licence taken out after his first visit. Want said he thought a licence was only needed for a pure bred dog, and his was a mongrel.

Roland Frederick Dunsby Police Service. Another Drunk.

Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Friday 27 October 1939 under the headline Hertford Woman Remanded In Custody Drunk On Methylated Spirits Asking that she might remain in custody so that I shall not be knocked about. Mrs. Violet Milly Tonks of Warren Terrace, Bengeo, Hertford was remanded by Alderman Ginn at a special court at Hertford Police Station on Monday, for being drunk and disorderly. The woman, who came up in custody, pleaded guilty. PC Dunsby said that on Saturday, October 21, at about 5 p.m., he saw Mrs. Tonks lying on the grass in Warren Road asleep. He roused her but she was unable to get to her feet without assistance. Her breath smelt strongly of drink, and she was incapable of looking after herself. She had two bottles of methylated spirits in her possession, and her breath smelt strongly of this spirit. When charged she said, “I have had too much but did not think I was drunk.” Alderman Ginn said that the woman would be remanded till next Thursday and asked her if she could produce security for her bail. Mrs. Tonks, “I would rather stay in custody. I shall not be knocked about then.” At the Borough Court yesterday (Thursday), Mrs. Tonks pleaded guilty and evidence was given by the husband, who alleged that his wife was habitually drunk. He denied his wife’s allegations that he knocked her about It was decided that Mrs. Tonks should be remanded in custody for a week in order that efforts might be made to find a vacancy in a home for her.

Roland Frederick Dunsby’s Army Service In World War 2.

As an Army Reservist Roland would have been recalled quite soon after the declaration of war on Germany but exactly when is not known.

Marriage.

In 1940 Roland married Olive May Arnold in Coventry clearly showing that he had maintained links with the area throughout his life. Olive was born on the 22nd June 1908 and baptised on the 6th September 1908 at New Bilton, Warwickshire. At the time of her baptism her family lived at 19, Pinfold Street, New Bilton and her father was a labourer. In the 1939 Register Olive is recorded as being a silk sorter and she was shown as living with her family at 14, Teneriffe Road, Coventry.

Roland served as a Lance Bombardier 819666 in the 259th Battery, 65th (The Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery and appeared in Casualty List No.241 dated the 26th June 1940, which reported to the War Office Casualty Section for the 24 hours ending at 09:00, as Missing since the 28th May 1940 whilst serving in France.

Mistakenly he was again reported as being Missing in Casualty List No. 269 dated the 31st July 1940 which was corrected in Casualty List No. 458 of the 10th March 1941.

Roland’s details were circulated through Prisoner of War camps in an attempt to find out where he was. Finally, Casualty List 562 of the 11th July 1941 recorded that Roland, who had been previously been shown on Casualty List No. 241 as Missing, had in fact been Killed in Action on the 26th May 1940.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record shows: “In Memory of Lance Bombardier Roland Frederick Dunsby 819666, 65 (The Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery who died on 26 May 1940 Age 26. Son of Frederick William Charles and Hannah Dunsby, of Hertford; husband of Olive Dunsby. Remembered with Honour.” Roland is buried at the Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, France in Plot 2, Row C, Grave 33. The family requested the following inscription to be placed on his headstone: “Though Gone From Sight Still In Our Memory Ever Dear.”

Merville is a town 15 kilometres north of Bethune and 20 kilometres south-west of Armentieres. The Communal Cemetery is on the north-east side of the town to the north side of the road to Neuf-Berquin. The Extension is now surrounded by the Communal Cemetery.

The circumstances of Roland’s death are unknown, but the river Lys was the southern end of a deep but narrow area held by British forces at the end of May 1940. Merville was part of the territory over which were fought desperate rear-guard actions during the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force to the coast, for evacuation from Dunkirk which began on the 27th May 1940 . Roland is buried alongside Gunner 1489165 J. Brophy also from the 259th Battery.

Book 31, page 165 of the minutes of the Hertfordshire Police Standing Joint Committee recorded his death.

Roland and Olive did not have any children and she married again to a George Westley in 1956.

Roland’s half-brother, George Dunsby, may also have been a Hertfordshire Constable between the 15th May 1941 and the 1st April 1945.

This page was added on 19/08/2020.

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