Bernard Halsey

170875 Private William Bernhard (Bernard) Halsey, 2nd Battalion Sussex Yeomanry

Born on 27th February 1899 in Frithsden, Herts
Died on 19th January 1973 in Hemel Hempstead

Family and Home 1, 2, 3

William Bernhard Halsey (always called Bernard) was born in Frithsden, Herts, the second of the three children of Arthur Henry (Harry) Halsey and Bertha née Temple.

His brother Arthur Sydney Halsey was born on 28th September 1897 and his sister Sylvia Temple Halsey on 21st July 1910.

In the 1901 Census, the family lived at 12 Frithsden and Bernard’s father was a Plumber and Glazier. In 1904 the family moved to Little Gaddesden; the 1911 Census shows them living at 41 Little Gaddesden and states that Bernard’s father was a Plumber working on the Ashridge Estate.

Education 4

Bernard and Arthur Halsey, Infants, spent time at Little Gaddesden School during visits starting on May 15th 1902 and September 8th 1903. On 18th January 1904 the Headmaster wrote:

Readmitted Arthur and Bernard Halsey (Infants). These little boys have now come to live in the village; they were visitors when they came to school before.

Bernard remained at Little Gaddesden School until he was 14; he left from Standard 7 on 3rd March 1913.

Joining the Little Gaddesden Scouts 5

Bernard Halsey joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop at its start, October 26th 1911. He was a member of the Wolf Patrol, Patrol Leader Francis (Frank) Whitman. His brother Arthur Halsey was a member of the Peewit Patrol, whose Patrol Leader Arthur Whitman was killed at St Julien on 31st July 1917. The Scouts first met in the Reading Room at John o’Gaddesden’s House but meetings soon moved to the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple, who was assisted by 17 year old Bernard Phillips. Miss Bridget Talbot was the Scouts’ President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer. Harry Temple, the Scout Master, was also Bernard and Arthur Halsey’s uncle, the older brother of their mother Bertha.

Other members of the Lion Patrol who subsequently served in the First World War were: Percy Hobbs and Archie Wells.

Scouts in the other Patrols who served were: Stanley Austin, Albert Basford, Sidney Bellamy, Edward Bunn, Philip Collier, Kenneth Edge, Donald Goodman, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Frank (Henry F.) Johnson, Arthur Pinnock, George Pinnock and Jim Whitman.

Boy Scouts’ Cook’s Badge – First skin your Rabbit 5

The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary records that, in Autumn 1912:

14 boys of the LG Troop were examined in the Park at Ashridge for their cook’s badges. Lord Brownlow presented a rabbit apiece to each boy. Fourteen fires were then lit, made up on some bricks + each boy proceeded to skin and boil his rabbit, adding vegetables + dumplings into his stew. The judges on this occasion were Lord Brownlow, Mrs Temple, Mrs Bridle, Mrs Flowers + Mr Jim Rodgers. Mr J Parsons presented 3 prizes for the best 3 saucepans of rabbit stew. Arthur Pinnock won the 1st prize.

We do not know who won 2nd and 3rd prizes, but the diary records that Bernard was one of the 14 boys awarded his Cook’s Badge. Other Scout Cooks included Albert Basford, Edward Bunn, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Percy Hobbs, Frank Johnson and Archie Wells.

From the Little Gaddesden Scout Diary – August 1914 5

War between England & Germany was declared on Aug 4. The L.G. troop are proud to record that their former Asst Scoutmaster (who had left some time ago to join the Royal Navy) Bernard Phillips is now serving his country on board H.M.S. “Implacable”. George Pinnock is also on H.M.S “Powerful” waiting to go to sea. The Chief Scout has called on all Scouts to be ready to help if they are required & the following have volunteered…

14 names are then listed, including Bernard Halsey and his brother Arthur Halsey.

At 28 Little Gaddesden 6

By early 1915 the Halsey family lived at 28 Little Gaddesden, next door to Bertha’s brother Harry Temple at No 27. In her book “The Ashridge Estate and Little Gaddesden 1915-1955”, Doris Fenn, who stayed with her aunt and uncle the Temples in 1915, writes:

Two of Uncle’s sisters lived at No 28. Elizabeth, a spinster, older than Uncle, and Bertha, younger than Uncle, with her husband Harry Halsey. They had two sons, Arthur and Bernard, and a much younger daughter, called Sylvia. They never came into No 27 and Auntie never went into No 28, but conversations could be made through the larder window of Auntie’s house. A knock on this window would attract attention. Gossip was frequent, and when referring to husbands, the affectionate reference was always ‘My Harry’ or ‘Your Harry’.

Military Service 7, 8

Bernard would have been called up once he was 18, at the end of February 1917. However, he could not have served overseas until he was 19 and, as he has no medal records, he must have served in the United Kingdom. Details found on 1918 and 1919 Absent Voters’ Lists support this, giving his unit as the 2nd Battalion, Sussex Yeomanry. In March 1917 that was a “second line” training battalion based in Suffolk, which also provided men for the 1st Battalion. The Battalion remained in Suffolk until April 1918 when it moved to Ireland, first to Dublin, then at Clandeboye outside Belfast and then, from September 1918, to Boyle, Roscommon.

An addition to the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour 9

The original, pre-Second World War, wording on the left hand panel of the Little Gaddesden War Memorial on the village green read:

This memorial is erected in honour of the one hundred and thirty six men who went from the villages of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall and served in the war of 1914 = 1918. The names of those who gave their lives for their country are cut on the stones here. The names of those who returned to England are preserved in the Church.

However, the Church Roll of Honour lists only 119 men; one of those omitted is Bernard Halsey, possibly because he was not called up until 1917 and did not serve overseas. His name has been added to the 2018 Centenary Revision of the Roll of Honour. Bernard’s brother Arthur Halsey is named on both Rolls, as are three men to whom Bernard was later related by marriage: his wife’s brother Ernest Janes, her brother in law Alban Stanbridge and her uncle by marriage Edward Saunders.

Photo of 2018 revised roll of honour
Photo: Michael Carver

Returning to Little Gaddesden 2, 10

After his War Service, Bernard returned to his parents’ address, 28 Little Gaddesden, where he lived until at least 1924. In 1921 he was working as a Ploughman for George Stanbridge at Church Farm, Little Gaddesden.

Marriage 11

On 7th April 1926 at St Peter and St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden Bernard, a 27 year old Motor Driver, married Edith Emily Janes. Edith, 26, was the daughter of Fred Janes the Butcher, of Hudnall and the sister of Ernest Janes, who had died of peritonitis in 1923.

Photo of Bernard Halsey's wedding showing Arthur, Bernard and Sylvia
Bernard’s wedding to Edith Janes, 7th April 1926. L to R Sylvia Halsey, Arthur Halsey, Bernard Halsey, Edith née Janes, Edith’s father Fred Janes, Edith’s sister Marjorie (Madge) Janes. Courtesy of Wendy Forster.

Moving to Water End 1, 10, 11

Bernard and Edith moved to Water End Moor near Hemel Hempstead, where their daughter Doreen Edith was born in 1927. She was then baptised at St John the Baptist’s Church, Great Gaddesden on 28th August that year. Their son Joseph Bernard Halsey was then born in 1932; he was baptised in Great Gaddesden on 31st January 1932.

Death of his Wife Edith 12, 13

Bernard’s wife Edith died, aged 36, on 25th November 1935. Her funeral then took place at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 29th November 1935 and she is buried in the old churchyard with other members of the Janes family.

Later Life 3, 12, 14

in the 4th Quarter of 1937, two years after Edith’s death, William married Annie Doris Lewis, previously Merriden; the marriage was registered in Hemel Hempstead. By September 1939, William and Annie lived at 43 Astley Road, Hemel Hempstead; Bernard was a Grocery and Provisions Delivery Van Driver and Annie had “Unpaid Domestic Duties”. However, Bernard later became an Ambulance Supervisor.

On 19th January 1973, Bernard Halsey died aged 73 at 43 Astley Road, Hemel Hempstead. However, his usual address was then recorded as “Cannings”, Gade View Road, Hemel Hempstead. The cause of his death was a coronary thrombosis.


1. England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. 1901 – 1921 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions 

3. The 1939 Register

4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934

5. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922, HALS, Hertford, Acc 3131

6. Fenn, Doris, 1996, The Ashridge Estate and Little Gaddesden 1915 – 1955, Mike Kearney DeskTop Publishing

7. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden


9. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge

10. Electoral Registers 1832 – 1932

11. England & Wales, Christening Index, 1530-1980

12. England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007 and copy of Bernard Halsey’s Death Certificate

13. Little Gaddesden Burial Register

14. England & Wales marriages 1837-2005 Transcriptions

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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson