Reginald Purton, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment
Born on 12th March 1892 in Little Gaddesden
Died on 15th March 1966 in Little Gaddesden
Reginald Purton was born in Little Gaddesden, the third of the 6 children of Heber Purton and Elizabeth née Purton.
His siblings were:
- Ellen, born in 1888
- Edwin Arthur Purton, born 6th December 1889
- Frederick William Purton, born 23rd March 1895
- Daisy Agnes, born 25th September 1897
- Lizzie or Elizabeth, born in July 1900
In the 1891 Census, his family lived at Home Farm, almost certainly in one of the Home Farm Cottages. His father was then an Agricultural Labourer at Home Farm. However, they later moved to 5 Hudnall but the date of their move is unknown. However it was after Frederick Purton’s birth in March 1895.
On 22nd April 1895, Reginald started at Little Gaddesden School as an infant aged 3. William Nicholes started the same day.
By 31st March 1901, the Census shows the family living at 5 Hudnall. Reginald’s father then worked as a Domestic Coachman and his mother and his sister Ellen, 13, were at home. Edwin Purton, 11, Reginald, 9, Frederick Purton, 6 and Daisy, 3, were at school and Lizzie was a baby aged 8 months. They lived next door to Reginald’s uncle and aunt James and Sarah Purton, and his cousins Ernest Purton, 18, a Carpenter’s Apprentice, Bertie Purton, 15, a Domestic Garden Labourer’s Boy, Violet, 9, at school and James, 10 months.
On 3rd March 1902, the Little Gaddesden School Log Book records that “The Rector came in at 10.45 and gave away the following Prizes for attendance during the past year“. 10 children are then named and including Reginald Purton, who was awarded 2 shillings and 6 pence. William Wells, Walter Bunn and Horace Ruffett were similarly rewarded; Sidney Hart and Godfrey Bunn were each awarded 1 shilling and 6 pence.
On February 1st 1905, Reginald was one of ten children examined for their Labour Certificate which, if they passed, enabled them to leave school and go out to work. He passed, as did 7 others including Albert Bierton, Sidney Hart, Walter Bunn and Ernest Rogers. On 12th February 1905, Reginald therefore left school from Standard 5. He was then aged nearly 13.
The 1911 Census shows 19 year old Reginald living at home with his parents and 4 siblings at 5 Hudnall, and working as a Bricklayer’s Labourer on the Ashridge Estate. His 21 year old brother Edwin Purton was a Butcher, Frederick Purton, 16, a Farm Dairy Lad while Daisy, 13 and Elizabeth, 10, who were both at school. Their cousins still lived next door at 6 Hudnall.
Brother Frederick Died of Accidental Injuries in France 5
Edwin’s younger brother Frederick Purton served in the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment before transferring to the Royal Engineers. On 25th April 1916, Pioneer Frederick William Purton, 147225 Special Brigade, 5th (Mortar) Battalion, Royal Engineers died of accidental injuries, having suffered burns and shock from an explosion at Audruicq. He was recorded dead on admission to No 35 Lahore British General Hospital at Calais. He is buried in Calais Southern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Military Service 6
The only information we have on Reginald’s War Service is his entry on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour, which shows him serving in the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment. However, no medal records have been found for him and he is not listed on the Autumn 1918 Absent Voters’ list for Little Gaddesden. He is named on the Spring 1919 Electoral Register with his parents at 5 Hudnall, with no indication of absence on military service. It is therefore possible that he was engaged in Home Service. It is also possible that he transferred to another regiment. For example, a Reginald Purton served in the North Staffordshire (Prince of Wales’s) Regiment.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Reginald Purton is named on the original 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. He is shown in the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment and is similarly recorded on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Also named on both Rolls are his two brothers Edwin Purton, who is recorded as Edward on the original Roll, and Frederick Purton, R.I.P. Their cousin Ernest Purton is also named on both Rolls and the name of Ernest’s brother Bertie Purton has been added to the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
On 16th July 1919, Reginald, aged 27, married Kate Baker, aged 21, in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden. The address recorded for them both was just “Hudnall”. Kate was born on 17th September 1897 and, at her marriage, her father’s name was recorded as Charles. It may be coincidence, but the 1911 Census for Reginald’s sister-in-law Ada, his brother Edwin Purton’s wife, shows a Kate Baker of the right age as a granddaughter in the household of Ada’s parents Charles and Mary Ann. It has not been possible to find any Census records for Kate with her parents.
Electoral Registers between 1920 and 1930 show Reginald at 12 Little Gaddesden; from 1929, Kate is named too, as she was then eligible to vote. Reginald and Kate had two sons: Gordon Frederick, born 30th September 1922 and Maurice, born in 1925.
The Second World War 3
The 1939 Register shows Reginald, Kate and their family living at 9 Council Cottages, Hudnall, now 9 Chapel Close. Reginald was a jobbing gardener and “A.R.P. Demolition Party”, Kate was a part time laundry hand, probably at Jim Whitman’s laundry in Hudnall Lane (on the site now occupied by housing in The Lye) and Gordon a Private Gardener. Maurice’s entry, however, remains closed.
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 Reginald Purton is named in Capt. Alan St H Brock’s book, “7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard, a History of the Battalion 1940-44”. He is included in the 1944 photograph shown below.
Little Gaddesden First World War veterans also identified on this photo are:
- Back Row, L to R: 4. John (Jack) Mayling; 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; 7. Horace Halsey; 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.
Younger members of the Home Guard, most of whom were subsequently called up for military service included: Reginald’s sons Gordon and Maurice Purton; George Halsey, son of Horace Halsey; 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 and Arthur Whitman son of James Whitman and named after his uncle Arthur Whitman.
Reginald’s wife Kate died aged 57 in July 1955. By that time they lived at 5 Chapel Close. She was buried in the old churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 7th July 1955.
Reginald lived at 5 Chapel Close until his death, aged 74, on 15th March 1966. His funeral service took place at St Peter and St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden and a note was added in the Burial Register by the Rector: “Certified under the Burial Laws Amendment Act by B Holiday, Methodist Minister.”
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
7. Little Gaddesden Marriage Register 1919
8. ed. Brock, Capt. Alan St H, (1945?) 7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44
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. Police Constable Parker’s list of Little Gaddesden’s Local Defence Volunteers, compiled in May 1940
12. Little Gaddesden Burial Register, 1955, 1966
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