Joseph Maunders

4297 Private Joseph Benjamin Maunders, 3rd & 1st Battalions Hertfordshire Regiment, later 39632 Gloucestershire Regiment

Born on 26th March 1877 at Ringshall
Died on 14th January 1962 at Gaddesden Row

Family and Home 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Joseph Benjamin Maunders was born in Ringshall, Buckinghamshire, the second of the 4 children of Joseph Maunders (Snr) and his second wife Emma née Ward. Joseph Maunders (Jnr) was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 20th September 1877. His father was a Farm Herdsman.

His brothers were:

Joseph’s father’s first wife was Emma née Ing, who died aged 31 in June 1872. They had one daughter, Ellen, who was born in 1870 (1st Quarter) but died aged 1 year in July 1871. Both Ellen and Emma were buried in Edlesborough.

In the 1881 Census, the family’s address was recorded as Ringshall Top Row. Four year old Joseph was living at home with his parents, his 5 year old brother Walter, a Scholar and his 1 year old brother William Maunders.

Education 3, 7

Joseph is designated a Scholar in the 1881 Census, taken on 3rd April that year; he attended Little Gaddesden School. However, according to the School Log Book, he did not start at Little Gaddesden school until 16th May that year.

Death of his Mother 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9

Joseph’s mother Emma née Ward died aged 45 in June 1887; she is buried in the old churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden.

Joseph’s father then married Sarah Willmore. They had 4 children, who were Joseph’s half-siblings:

  • Ethel, born 30th October 1888
  • Maude Ellen, born 24th June 1890
  • Sidney Ernest, born 11th October 1891
  • Arthur Thomas Maunders, born 7th August 1894

Education (continued) 7

On April 11th 1888, the entry on the Little Gaddesden School Log Book notes that Joseph had obtained his Certificate of Proficiency, which entitled him to leave school and go to work. However, work was not always available full time and, on 1st May 1888, Joseph was re-admitted to school. He then finally left school on 16th July that year when he was 11 years 4 months old.

Employment 2, 3

The 1891 Census shows Joseph, a 13 year old Agricultural Labourer, living at 15 Ringshall Road, with his father and his step-mother Sarah. Also living at home were his brothers Walter, 15, a Domestic Coachman, William Maunders, (age recorded 10, but actually 11) and Alfred, 6, Scholars and his half-sisters Ethel (age recorded 6 but actually 3) and Maud, 9 months. 15 Ringshall may well be the cottage referred to only as “Ringshall Top Row” ten years earlier.

Military Service 10

On 14th May 1896, Joseph Maunders, a Farm Labourer aged 19 years 1 month, attested for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Bedford; he was already a volunteer in the 4th Bedfordshire Militia Battalion. He was then 5 feet 59/10 inches tall, weighed 124 pounds and had a 33 inch chest. Further details show that he had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.

Serving as a Private, Service Number 5704, Joseph was initially posted to the Depot for training. However, on 16th October 1896, he transferred to the 2nd Battalion.

Service in the East Indies 10

Joseph’s Service Record shows that, between 29th December 1897 and 29th January 1904, he served with the Bedfordshire Regiment in the East Indies. On 25th April 1899 he passed classes of instruction in Mounted Infantry and on 3rd April 1900 he obtained his 3rd Class Certificate of Education.

The Maunders Family in 1901 3

In the 1901 Census, while Joseph was serving in the East Indies, his family lived at 21 Ringshall, previously numbered 15 Ringshall Road. The 1901 Census shows Joseph, 61, Sarah, 54 and six of Joseph’s children living at home. William Maunders, 21, was a Bricklayer and Alfred, 16 a General Agricultural Labourer.  Ethel, 12, Maud, 10, Sidney, 9 and Arthur Maunders (recorded as 7 but actually 6) were at school.

Transfer to the Reserve 10

On 1st February 1904 Joseph transferred to the Reserve. Then, on 13th May 1908, he was discharged from the Army on the termination of his first period of engagement.

Joseph has not been found in the 1911 Census, so we do not know where he lived or what he did on discharge from the Army. By 1911 his father Joseph, step-mother Sarah and half-siblings Ethel, 22 and Sidney, 18, a Farm Labourer had moved to 18 Ringshall. 16 year old Arthur Thos. Manders, born in Ringshall, was a patient at the Hertfordshire Convalescent Home for Adults at St Leonard’s-on-Sea, Sussex. Joseph’s brother William Maunders and his wife Ada then lived in the former family home, 21 Ringshall.

War Service 11, 12

By the start of the War in August 1914, 37 year old Joseph had been discharged from the Army for 6 years. Few records of his First World War service have survived but the original Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour gives his unit as 3rd Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment. That battalion was formed at Hertford in December 1914; it would almost certainly have been the unit in which he first served. However, his Medal Roll Index Card shows that he landed in France on 18th April 1915 and his Medal and Award Roll shows that he then served with the 1/1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.

Wounded in Action during the Battle of Festubert 13, 14, 15

On 18th and 19th May 1915, the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment was involved in the Battle of Festubert. Joseph was one of 91 NCOs and men of the Regiment wounded in action during those two days. His Soldiers’ Medical Record entry shows that he was wounded in action at Richburg (Richebourg) on 19th May. Then, two days later, 38 year old Private Joseph Maunders, 1st Herts, Service Number 4297, was admitted from the Sick Convoy to the 18th General Hospital at Camiers near Etaples. He had been with the Field Force for 1 month and suffered a gunshot wound to the right arm. The record classifies his wound as “slight”. However, on 24th May, he was transferred to a Hospital Ship at Boulogne, which suggests he needed to return to England for further treatment.

Transfer to the Gloucestershire Regiment 11, 12

Joseph subsequently transferred to the 8th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, serving as a Private, Service Number 39632. For his War Service he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

Marriage 1, 4, 16

On 23rd March 1918, 41 year old Joseph Benjamin Maunders married 34 year old Ethel Mary Lee in Flamstead. Ethel was the daughter of Arthur James Lee; her son, Percy John Lee, born 24th January 1911, became Joseph’s step-son.

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

Joseph Maunders 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 unit is given as 3rd Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, almost certainly the battalion in which he first served. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. His brother William Maunders and his half-brother Arthur Maunders are also named on both Rolls.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

To Flamstead 1, 3, 4

Joseph and Ethel’s son Ernest Gilbert Maunders was born on 11th May 1920. By June 1921, the family lived at Britannia, Flamstead and Joseph worked as Chauffeur to Mrs Woods at The Hoo, Great Gaddesden.

Moving to Gaddesden Row 17

Electoral Registers from 1922 show Joseph and Ethel at Widmore, Gaddesden Row, later recorded more formally as 3 Widmore Cottages, Gaddesden Row. Their daughter Eileen was born there in 1924.

Later Life 4, 18, 19

The 1939 Register records Joseph and his family still living at 3 Widmore Cottages, Gaddesden Row. Joseph was working as the Odd Man (only male servant) on a Private Estate. Ethel had “Unpaid Domestic Duties” and Ernest was a Farm Labourer. The entry believed to be Eileen’s is still redacted.

After the Second World War, Joseph and Ethel remained at 3 Widmore Cottages but Ethel died, aged 66, in the final Quarter of 1949.

Joseph, aged 84, died at 4 West Dene, Gaddesden Row, on 14th January 1962. His National Probate Calendar entry gives his home address as 3 Widmore Cottages, Gaddesden Row.

Postscript: Sister Maud’s War Service 20

Between 12th October 1917 and 26th November 1919, Arthur’s sister Maud Ellen Maunders served with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, later re-named Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She worked as an Army Baker in Dieppe and Boulogne and reached the ‘rank’ of Forewoman. Her War Certificate of Employment noted that Forewoman Maud Maunders had completed a “thorough course of Army Bakery” and had been an exemplary worker. In September 1919 she opted to extend her service in Q.M.A.A.C. and was willing to serve until 30th April 1920. However, her services were only required until late November 1919.


1. England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947

3. 1881 – 1921 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions 

4. The 1939 Register

5. Buckinghamshire Marriage Index, Edlesborough, Buckinghamshire

6. England Deaths & Burials 1538-1931 Edlesborough, Buckinghamshire

7. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906

8. Little Gaddesden Burial Register

9. England & Wales marriages 1837-2005 Transcriptions

10. British Army Service Records 1896

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

12. UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920

13. British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records



16. England and Wales Marriages, 1538–1988

17. Electoral Registers 1832 – 1932

18. England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007

19. National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858 – 1995

20. British Army, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps 1917-1920 Transcription

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