13724 Lance Corporal Horace Halsey, 7th & 1st Battalions Bedfordshire Regiment
Born on 7th July 1886 in Frithsden, Hertfordshire
Died on 11th December 1967 in St Paul’s Hospital, Hemel Hempstead
Horace Halsey was born in Frithsden, Hertfordshire, the third of the 8 children of David Daniel Halsey and Mary Ann née Chennells.
His siblings were:
- Frederick, born in 1880
- James, born in 1885
- Arthur Stephen, born 21st September 1888
- Amy, who died as an infant, born in 1893
- Bertram, born 28th January 1894
- Elizabeth, who died as an infant, born in 1897
- Emily Kate, born 10th April 1899
Horace grew up in Frithsden, where his father was a Garden Labourer.
In the 1901 Census, 14 year old Horace and his older brother 16 year old James are both shown as Garden Labourers. They lived at home, 3 Frithsden, with their parents and siblings Stephen, 12, Bertram 7 and Emily Kate, 1. At that time their father was a Gardener – Journeyman.
On 23rd May 1909, Horace married Lydia Barker in Berkhamsted (recorded as Great Berkhampstead). Their son Horace George (always called George) was born on 28th March 1910. The 1911 Census then records them living at 6 Frithsden, where Horace was a General Labourer.
Horace was one of 17 men on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour who volunteered for the Bedfordshire Regiment in the first month of the War.
12473 William Wells volunteered on 26th August followed by 12589 William Grant, 12591 George Cash and almost certainly 12593 Charles Batchelor on the 27th. 13330 Frank Dove R.I.P. and 13724 Horace Halsey joined on or before 3rd September 1914 and a further 11 men attested on 3rd September. These were 13785 Edward Saunders, 14374 Harold Catt, 14452 Herbert Jacobs, 14532 John Mayling, 14553 Victor Collier, 14546 Frederick Purton R.I.P., 14557 Ernest Bearton, 14575 Arthur Maunders, 17221 Bertie Purton, 17231 Herbert Fenn and 3/8219 Jesse Holland.
Horace served first as a Private in the 7th Battalion, which formed at Bedford in September 1914. Following their training, the Battalion moved overseas, arriving in France on 26th July 1915.
Later in the War, Horace transferred to the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was promoted to Lance Corporal. On 17th April 1918 he suffered gunshot wounds to the head and right arm while serving in the 1st Battalion at the Battle of Hazebrouk, part of the Battle of Lys in the German Spring Offensive. After initial treatment at 14th Field Ambulance, he transferred to No 39 Stationary Hospital at Aire, Pas-de-Calais, France. Further details of his treatment are unknown, but Horace recovered from his wounds. For his War Service, Horace was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
During the First World War, Horace’s wife Lydia and son George moved to Little Gaddesden and Horace is shown as an Absent Voter of Cromer End (Cromer Cottages) in 1919. He was demobilised during 1919 and, by Autumn that year, lived at Cromer End with Lydia. Electoral Registers then show them at Cromer End throughout the 1920s.
An addition to the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour 11
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 Horace Halsey, possibly because he and his family moved to Little Gaddesden during the First World War.
Horace’s eldest brother Frederick joined the Bedfordshire Regiment as a young man, serving as a Private in the 2nd Battalion during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War; his Service Number was 6756. Then, at the outbreak of the First World War he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving on 16th August 1914 and serving as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant in the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. However, on 24th July 1917, Frederick was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, serving in the 7th Battalion.
Then, less than three weeks later, on 10th August 1917, 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Halsey, aged 37, was killed in action in the assault on Glencourse Wood, 6km East of Ypres, during the Third Battle of Ypres. Initially posted as missing, he was found and first buried at Trench Map Reference 28.J.13.b.9.9.
Here is the same location shown on Google Maps today:
He was subsequently re-buried in the Hooge Crater Cemetery, 4 km East of Ypres. His grave reference there is V.B.3. He left a wife and four small children aged 6, 5, 3 and 1.
The Second World War 3
The 1939 Register shows Horace and Lydia living at Cromer Cottages, Little Gaddesden. Horace then worked as a Pump Attendant and Main Water Layer and was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service; Lydia had “Unpaid Domestic Duties”. Their son George and his wife Nellie lived nearby at 6 Ashridge Cottages. At that time, George had the same job as his father and was also in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
In mid-May 1940, both Horace and his son George joined the Local Defence Volunteers, which later became the Home Guard. They are named on PC Parker’s original list of volunteers and were assigned to No 2 Section, based in the Hudnall and Four Ways Garage area. Men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall, Hudnall and Great Gaddesden all served in No 5 Platoon, part of the Berkhamsted Company (No 7, later B Company) of the 7th Hertfordshire Battalion. Sergeant Horace Halsey is included in the 1944 photograph shown below. He was still a member of the Home Guard when the 7th Battalion was stood down on 3rd December 1944 and was awarded a Certificate of Good Service for his work in the Home Guard.
Little Gaddesden First World War veterans also identified on this photo are:
- Back Row, L to R: 4. John (Jack) Mayling; 5. Reginald Purton; 6. Don Goodman
- 3rd Row: L to R: 2. Harry Hucklesby
- 2nd Row: L to R: 6. James Gray, Platoon Commander and father of Duncan Gray; 8. Walter Bunn; 9. Joe Hing.
- Front Row: 12. Arthur Maunders
Other veterans known to have served in the Home Guard were: Albert Boarder, Sidney (Jubal) Jones, William Newman (father of Billy Newman), Edwin Purton, Frank Rogers and Edward Saunders. The Battalion’s Adjutant and Quartermaster in 1941 was William O’Kelly.
In addition to Horace’s son George Halsey, younger members of the Home Guard, most of whom were subsequently called up for military service included: Leonard Hing son of Lewis Hing; Raymond Hing, son of Joe Hing; Fred Hucklesby, son of Harry Hucklesby; Fred Liberty, son of George Liberty; John Oakins son of Steve Oakins; Gordon and Maurice Purton, sons of Reginald Purton, and Arthur Whitman, son of James Whitman and named after his uncle Arthur Whitman.
81 year old Horace Halsey, a retired Water Works Attendant, died in St Paul’s Hospital, Hemel Hempstead on 11th December 1967. The cause of his death was congestive heart failure combined with a coronary thrombosis. At the time of his death, Horace’s home address was still 6 Ashridge Cottages.
9. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden
11. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
17. Police Constable Parker’s list of Little Gaddesden’s Local Defence Volunteers, compiled in May 1940
18. ed. Brock, Capt. Alan St H, (1945?) 7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson