2398 Private Herbert Impey, 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, later 200118 West Yorkshire Regiment
Born on 3rd January 1896 in Ringshall
Died on 9th August 1989 in Braintree, Essex
Herbert (Bert) Impey was born in Ringshall, Buckinghamshire, the fifth of the 6 children of Owen Impey and Susan née Cutler. He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on Easter Day, 5th April 1896.
His siblings were:
- Lizzie, born in 1875
- Ernest, born 20th September 1879
- Daisy, born 27th April 1887
- Margaret May, born in 1892
- Sidney Edward, born 18th December 1897
The 1901 Census shows the family living at 25 Ringshall and records that Herbert’s father was a Bricklayer’s Labourer.
Herbert started at Little Gaddesden School on 10th April 1899 when he was only 3 years 3 months old.
On 29th November 1901, the entry in the School Log Book records: “Measles have appeared at Mrs. Impey’s house at Ringshall. Her three children will be kept away in consequence.” The three children would have been May, Herbert and Sidney.
Further illness and absence then followed as, on 6th June 1902, the Headmaster wrote: “Am sorry to say that Impeys & Maylings of Ringshall have Chicken Pox.” The Mayling family lived next door to the Impeys and included 7 year old John Mayling and 6 year old William Mayling.
It was quite usual for children who were going out of the village to attend school elsewhere while they were away. In 1906, this happened to Herbert and Sidney Impey.
12th March 1906:
Herbert and Sidney Impey have gone away for a little time to their Aunt’s. Their mother went this morning to the West Herts Infirmary to undergo an operation. They will attend Eddlesborough School.
2nd April 1906:
Herbert and Sidney Impey at School again. I received a Memorandum from the Head Teacher of Eddlesbro’ saying they had each attended full time i.e. 30 out of 30 times.
Each day then counted as 2 attendances – morning and afternoon.
On 17th May 1909, Herbert Impey and Walter Tearle went to Berkhamsted to take the Labour Certificate Exam, which would have enabled them to leave school and go out to work. However, Herbert did not pass this. He therefore remained at school until 4th January 1910, the day after his 14th Birthday, when he left Little Gaddesden School from Standard 7.
The 1911 Census then shows Herbert as a 15 year old Telegraph Messenger working for the Post Office. He lived at home, 25 Ringshall, with his parents and 13 year old brother Sidney, who was still at school.
Herbert’s Service Medal and Award Roll entry shows that he was a Territorial Volunteer serving in the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment. We know from a Silver War Badge Record that 2397 Richard Hoar attested on 23rd March 1914. As Herbert’s Service Number was 2398, we can assume that he attested the same day.
Men from the Little Gaddesden and Ashridge area served in F Company of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment.
The Outbreak of War 8
The Battalion was at Annual Camp at Ashridge at the start of August 1914. The week was planned to include parades, drills, skirmishes, night exercises, camp sports, inter-company football and boxing and a tattoo with massed bands – not to mention a visit to the Ashridge Flower Show. However, at 5am on Monday 3rd August, the order was received to strike camp. All thoughts of the tattoo, the boxing finals and the football cup match forgotten, the men of F Company returned home to await further orders. These arrived next day, instructing them to report to Company HQ at The Bury in Hemel Hempstead on 5th August.
Training for France 8
From Hemel Hempstead, F Company moved to Hertford to join the rest of the regiment before moving on to Romford and then Bury St Edmunds, where they trained for two months.
It was given to Michael McCaul for the Little Gaddesden Archive by Ernest Ruffett’s son E H Ruffett in 1996/7.
The postcard reads:
F Com. 1st Herts
Dear E I thought you would like one of these. It is a good one. You will know them nearly all. It is very hot here today. Yours H
Arthur Whitman is seated fifth from right and Joe Hing (uncle of the yet-to-be-born Leonard Hing, who was to perish in the Second World War) far left. The group may include Herbert Impey; others who may also be shown are Vernon Batchelor, Harry Cutler, William Fenn and Richard Hoar.
On 5th November 1914, the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment left Bury St Edmunds by train, embarking aboard the “City of Chester” at Southampton, sailing for Le Havre at midnight and arriving in France 6th November 1914. Herbert’s Service Medal and Award Roll and Medal Roll Index Card entries confirm that as his date of arrival in France. Over the next 5 days, they proceeded via St Omer to Ypres, where the regiment saw its first action during the First Battle of Ypres.
Christmas 1914 8
According to Vernon Batchelor from Hudnall, the Battalion spent Christmas 1914
up to our knees in mud and water… They (the Germans) were busy singing at midnight and playing some sort of whistle; of course our side was singing as well. We were only 15 yards away from the Germans in one place, and between two and three hundred yards away in others, so you see we are not very far from the enemy.
Thank you for the Christmas Parcel 8
On 30th January 1915, the Hemel Hempstead Gazette published a letter from 76 men of F Company, Hertfordshire Regiment, to thank the people of Hemel Hempstead and district for the Christmas parcel containing many good things. Among the signatories was Private H Impey. Others included Private V Batchelor, Private H Cutler, Lance Corporal W Finn (sic), Private J Hing, Private R Hoar, Corporal H Ruffitt and Private A Whitman.
Herbert’s Service Medal and Award Roll entry states that he transferred as a Private to the 51st Graduated Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, though the date and reason for that transfer are not known. His service in that unit is then confirmed in his Spring 1919 Absent Voters’ list entry. That Battalion was a training unit based mainly at Clipstone Camp near Mansfield, though it spent some time in Summer 1918 at Thoresby near Worksop before returning to Clipstone that September. Possibly Herbert’s transfer was the result of injury or illness. He served in that unit until he was disembodied (demobilised from the Territorial Force) on 17th March 1919. He then returned to his parents’ home, 25 Ringshall, where he is shown in Electoral Registers from Autumn 1919. For his War Service, Herbert was awarded the 1914 Star with Clasp and Roses, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Herbert Impey is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His entry reads Impey Herbert, 1st Bn. Hertfordshire Regiment, which was the regiment in which he first served. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
In the 2nd Quarter of 1921, 25 year old Herbert Impey married Winifred Lilian Stone, daughter of Dick Stone of the Old Dairy, Ringshall Road, Aldbury. Their son Cecil Richard Impey was born on 25th July 1921 and their son Brian Harry Impey on 12th April 1923. The boys’ births were registered in the Bishop’s Stortford District.
Electoral Registers show Herbert registered to vote at 25 Ringshall until 1926. However, that is believed to be an oversight, as he is also shown at Bury Cottage, Felstead, Essex from 1924 and Winifred, who was eligible to vote from 1928, is also shown at Bury Cottage after that date.
The 1939 Register records that, in September 1939, Herbert was a Domestic Gardener and Winifred a Domestic Servant living at Bury House, Felstead, Essex. Their daughter Diana was born in 1946.
Winifred died, aged 81, in August 1984 and Herbert, aged 93, on 9th August 1989. He died in Braintree Nursing Home following a heart attack. However, his home address was The Bury Cottage, Felstead, Essex.
2. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
8. Reynolds, Bertha & Chris (1995) “The London Gunners Come to Town”, Life and Death in Hemel Hempstead in the Great War, Codil Language Systems Ltd in association with Dacorum Heritage Trust.
11. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson