John Mayling

14532 Private John Edward Mayling, 10th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, later 35557 Northamptonshire Regiment and 85525 Labour Corps

Born on 10th October 1894 in Berkhamsted
Died on 16th September 1978 in Ringshall

Family and Home 1, 2, 3, 4

John Edward (Jack) Mayling was born in Berkhamsted, the second of the 4 children of Frank Mayling and Sarah Ann née Newell. He was baptised at St Peter’s Church Berkhamsted on 7th November 1894. His father was a Woodman.

His older sister Harriet Ellen was born on 20th October 1890, his younger brother William Mayling on 3rd April 1896 and his younger sister Doris on 19th April 1899.

In the 1891 Census, his parents and older sister Harriet lived in George Street, Berkhamsted but, by 25th April 1898 when John started school, they lived in Ringshall. The 1901 Census then shows the family living at 26 Ringshall. Their father was working as a Woodman on the Ashridge estate; Harriet, 10, John, 6 and William Mayling, 4 were all at school and Doris was a 1 year old infant.

Education 5

John Edward Mayling of Ringshall started at Little Gaddesden School on 25th April 1898 when he was 3 years 6 months old.

Little Gaddesden School had an annual Diocesan Inspection, during which the children were examined in Religious Knowledge. The children who distinguished themselves in this examination in January 1901 and January 1903 included John Mayling.

On 6th June 1902, the Headmaster wrote in the Little Gaddesden School Log Book: “Am sorry to say that Impeys & Maylings of Ringshall have Chicken Pox.”  The Impey family at 25 Ringshall, next door to the Maylings, included six year old Herbert Impey.

An entry in the Little Gaddesden School Log Book for 5th March 1908 records that John Mayling was at school after a long absence and an operation at the Infirmary. It added “He is a very delicate boy and will have to be taken care of at school.” However, on 12th October 1908 he left the school, two days after his 14th Birthday.

Employment 4

By 1911, the Mayling family lived at 24 Ringshall. 16 year old John was a Farm Dairy Boy, 15 year old William Mayling a Domestic Gardener’s Boy and 10 year old Doris at school. Harriet, however, had left home and was a 20 year old Parlour Maid in the household of Henry Greenwood Tetley, a Silk Manufacturer, at 19 Avenue Road, St Marylebone, London N.W.

Harriet’s Marriage 6

On 19th August 1913, John’s sister Harriet Mayling married Fred Brazier in Berkhamsted; 17 years later in 1930, John Mayling married Fred’s sister Nellie Brazier.

Military Service 7, 8

John volunteered very early in the War. On 3rd September 1914, he attested for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hertford. He was then a Farm Labourer aged 19 years 10 months. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighed 112 pounds and had a 33½ inch chest.

John Mayling 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 then 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.

On 4th September 1914, John was posted to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, a training unit initially based at Bedford, then at Felixstowe, for duty with the Harwich Garrison. Harold Catt, Victor Collier, Arthur Maunders and Edward Saunders were posted to the same battalion.

On 31st October 1914 John transferred to the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at Dovercourt, Harwich. This was formed as a Service Battalion, part of Kitchener’s Army, and moved to White City in January 1915. However, in April 1915 it was converted into a Reserve Battalion, moving to Colchester in May 1915.

A Medical Report 7

On 18th August 1915, a medical report noted that John suffered from Nystagmus, a condition causing rapid and involuntary eye movements and affecting how clearly the sufferer can see. A note is added “Congenital … He states that he has always had weak eyesight.”  John was then considered fit for light garrison duties.

In March 1916, the 10th (Reserve) Battalion returned to Dovercourt and, on 1st September 1916, it became the 27th Training Reserve Battalion in the 6th Training Reserve Brigade, in which John served until 14th March 1917.

Death of his brother William 9

John’s brother 4829 Private William Mayling, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, died in the Third Southern General Hospital, Oxford on 3rd September 1916 aged 20. The cause of his death is not stated. He was buried in the old churchyard of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 7th September 1916.

Service Overseas 7, 10, 12

On 15th March 1917, John was transferred from the Training Reserve to the 5th Infantry Labour Company, Northamptonshire Regiment, in which he served as a Private, Service Number 35557. Then, on 26th March 1917, he sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne for service in France.

On 14th May 1917, his unit was re-named 143 Company, Labour Corps; 85525 Private John Mayling served with that Company in France until 5th January 1919. He was then posted to 126 Company, Labour Corps. However, on 20th February 1919, he sailed from Boulogne to the Purfleet Dispersal Station for demobilisation, which took place on 22nd March 1919.

Return to Ringshall 4, 7, 11

Thus, John served for a full 4½ years between September 1914 and March 1919. For his War Service, he was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. On demobilisation he was assigned to Class Z Reserve and returned to his family home, 24 Ringshall, where he lived for the rest of his life. On his return, he worked initially as a Farm Labourer at Home Farm, Little Gaddesden.

Men who have answered their Country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”

John Mayling 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. On the original Roll his unit is recorded as 10th Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment, in which he served until the end of August 1916. He is similarly recorded on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Next to him on the Rolls is his brother William Mayling R.I.P, listed as 3rd Bn. Hertfordshire Regiment but in the 1st Battalion by the time of his death. Also listed are his cousins Frederick Cutler, Mechanical Transport, Harry Cutler, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment and John Cutler, Army Veterinary Corps. John’s Mayling’s brother-in-law Fred Brazier, Army Service Corps Remounts Service, has been added to the Centenary Revision of the Roll.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

Marriage and Children 1, 6, 13

In the 3rd Quarter of 1930, John Edward Mayling married Nellie Brazier in Hungerford. She was the younger sister of Fred Brazier, who had married John’s sister Harriet in 1913. They returned to live at 24 Ringshall where their older son Francis William John (Frank) was born on 21st September 1931 and their younger son George Edward Mayling on 8th July 1933. Both sons were baptised in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and John’s occupation is recorded as an Agricultural Tractor Driver.

The Second World War 3

In the 1939 Register, John and Nellie are at 24 Ringshall. It is probable that their sons are there too, but their entries are still closed. John was a Wood Sawyer.

In the Home Guard 14, 15, 16

In mid-May 1940, John Mayling volunteered for the Local Defence Force, which later became the Home Guard. He is named (though as Wm. Ed. Mayling of 24 Ringshall) on PC Parker’s original list of volunteers, which shows the group divided into four sections. He was in No 1 Section, based in Ringshall. 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. Private John Edward Mayling is named in Capt. Alan St H Brock’s book, “7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard, a History of the Battalion 1940-44” and is included in the 1944 photograph shown below.

Photo of the Home Guard taken in 1942
No 5 Platoon, B Company, 7th Hertfordshire Battalion, Home Guard.  John Mayling is standing 4th from left on the back row. Courtesy of Wendy Forster.

Others in the Home Guard 14, 15, 16

Little Gaddesden First World War veterans also identified on this photo are:

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.

Younger members of the Home Guard, most of whom were subsequently called up for military service included: George Halsey, son of Horace HalseyLeonard 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.

With his scythe over his shoulder… 17

John Mayling was school caretaker, Rectory gardener and churchyard gardener. He kept the churchyard in immaculate condition for many years, without the use of powered tools, and could be seen cycling through the village to Church with his scythe over his shoulder. He continued as churchyard gardener until 1973, when he retired at the age of 79.

Death 18, 19

On 16th September 1978, 83 year old John Edward Mayling died at 24 Ringshall. He was buried in the new churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 25th September 1978. His widow Nellie Mayling remained at 24 Ringshall until her death on 23rd July 1980. She was buried in the churchyard, in the same plot as John, on 30th July 1980.


1. England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. Hertfordshire Baptisms, St Peter’s Berkhamsted, 1894

3. The 1939 Register

4. 1881 – 1911 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions 

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

6. England & Wales marriages 1837-2005

7. British Army Service Records




11.  British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920

12. Electoral Registers 1832 – 1932

13. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947

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

15. Police Constable Parker’s list of Little Gaddesden’s Local Defence Force Volunteers, compiled in May 1940

16. ed. Brock, Capt. Alan St H, (1945?) 7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44

17. Senar, H (1983), Little Gaddesden and Ashridge, Phillimore & Co. Ltd.

18. England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007

19. Little Gaddesden Burial Register

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

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