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Remembered Today:

Household Battalion

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Hi, good morning.


I can not find out much written about the Household Battalion but I am aware of a book "The Diary of the Forgotten Battalion" - The Household Battalion in the First World War 1914-18, published about 2004. Written by Gerald William Harvey.


I am tracing Metropolitan Police (MP) Officers (London)  who served and were killed during WW1.


I know a  batch of MP Officers (not sure of the exact amount ) joined the Household Battalion around the 12th January 1917 .


I have identified about 12 of them so far , and at least 7 were killed, 6 on one day on 12th October 1917.


I have the war diary for the Household Battalion and the 12th/13th October is a horrendous day for them.


I was wondering if anyone has a copy of the book and could look up to see if there is any mention of them joining .


There is also a photograph (allegedly of Household Battalion consisting of Police Offciers? ) in the book?


I can provide details of the fallen officers and the Household Battalion S/Numbers if someone has a copy of the book.


Is it still available to purchase ?


I can see there are second hand copies for about £40-£45 £ which is a bit out of my price range.


Thank you





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   There is an older thread by Your Humble  on the cavalry seeming to recruit  from slightly more respectable men and of more sober background earlier in the war-  I had noticed a number of bank clerks locally who went into the Household (eg Harold Laver Woodhouse). I recall that there was an example of a group of police,all from one station, who went into the Household together from a station in outer south London somewhere. Would these be some of your men?

    Most slightly older men who went into cavalry seem, if you scratch, to have connection with horses. Are your men perhaps mounted police?  (As in West Ham,white horse,FA Cup,etc).

Conscription had come in in early 1916, so those who joined in January 1917 should have had no real say in where they were allocated. It suggests that some local arrangement was in play.


2) As a retired bookseller,alas, the Harvey book seems to be out of print- the publisher seems to have gone as well.  If all else fails, then it should be available through your local public library via Inter Library Loan. 


3)  I have one local casualty who was a policeman- Francis William Coward. You are welcome to my write up on him when done.


4)  As an aside, I have several local casualties who were sons of policemen-  they seem quite keen to volunteer in 1914 or so- and there seems to be a hint that there was more than a soupcon of underage enlistment between them.

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Good morning, Thank you for your prompt response.


I did search on the topic but a lot of posts about the Household battalion appear to be archived.


I'm new to the forum and finding my way around so was not aware if once they are archived you can see the posts?



1.The Batch I have identified so far the majority were from were from B Division (Chelsea/Kensington, S.W London). One from X Division ( Paddington)


On the 12/13th January 1917 another  500 Metropolitan Police Officers joined the Services not sure how many others may have joined the Household Battalion from this batch.


2. Shame about the book, hopefully someone has a copy and will spare sometime to look up.


3. Yes always happy to receive the information. Thank you.


4.  Yes, lots of sons of Police men joined up (and were killed) , a lot of their fathers had been in the Boer war etc before joining the Police.


Kind regards 










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Hi, I know he was killed /DoW and have some information - marriage, Army Pension card etc but I have not researched him in depth, so glad to receive anything once you have writen him up.


Francis William Coward served on J Division ( East London)  left the MPS to join up 6th March 1917.


I have his collar number and warrant number (If you are not aware the warrant number is  unique to Officers throughout their service, whilst collar numbers change if they move Division.



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9 minutes ago, Toontraveller said:

I'm new to the forum and finding my way around so was not aware if once they are archived you can see the posts?


   Yes- Just search  at the top right-  GWF lets Mr. Google do the work.  Archived topics are all available-all the posts are there but just closed to new entries.


    May I pick your brains a little?  I am not strong on police history as a whole but the 500 recruitment figure suggests an arrangement with the Met.  Is there any literature on this you could point me at?  My "local" was 38, ex-army anyway-  and seems to have gone into the army at about the right time for the 500  (Killed with London Scottish) -  His age suggests he should have been in the army a while before he was -by his age category- so he may have been "culled" as part of what seems like an admin. arrangement.




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Mike, thanks for the advice I will explore the GWF this morning.


There is no literature as such about arrangements on how they joined  that I am aware of ,it would have been under the Class system, but sure the Metropolitan Police were  in discussion with Government( as were a lot of Forces ) about the amount of Officers who could be released to serve and when they could be released.


I know they had to register like everyone else under the Derby scheme.


The Government were pleased with the amount of Metropolitan Police Officers  and other Officers the country who volunteered or who wanted to volunteer  but were refused permission in case they depleted the Police Force too much.  


The Metropolitan Police had over 4,500 Officers join the services with about 365 and 20 Police Staff members being killed during WW1.


I know Liverpool and Manchester for example also lost a lot of Officers.


At the outset of the War a large draft of Metropolitan Police Officers were Reservists and were recalled back to their Regiment or to the Royal Navy. Again over 500 Officers in early August 1914. 


Hope this helps.



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Thanks Barry-  Very much so.  What you say about reservists rings true- a colleague locally has done the former Borough of Woodford and I recollect that two of his early casualties were policemen who were navy reservists and went down with the loss of Aboukir,Hogue and Cressy.


   I will have a poke-around for stuff on arranged blocks of enlistments from the Met.-should be some stuff out there somewhere.   If you get stuck on finding past threads and posts, then contact the Mods. As Mods. they have state-of-the-art Tasers that even the Met. would envy but they are pretty helpful 

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Thanks Mike, really appreciate your advice.


During the first the lockdown I refreshed  my memory on The Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy.


HMS Good Hope is another one, 12 Metropolitan Police Officers were  lost on that ship. 


Cheers  Barry 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a quick update on my post from 10th November 2020 in case members of the Forum are  interested in the Household Battalion and my request regarding Metropolitan Police Officers who joined the Battalion.


Thank you to LLT for information on the formation of the Household Battalion and the armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com 

 which helped to narrow down my search parameters . 


My research to date has identified 20 Metropolitan Police Officers (MPS) who joined around 11/12th January 1917..


7 of this group were killed during their service in the Household Battalion , quite a few also received GSW/Shrapnel wounds.


3 were killed on the same day 12th October 1917, 2 killed together on the 17th October 1917 , one received the MM but was later killed in a live firing training accident in December 1917.


Possibly there are more who joined but can not be 100% confident so have not included them in the numbers so far. 


The book " The Diary of the Forgotten Battalion" - The Household Battalion in the First World War 1914-18, published about 2004. Written by Gerald William Harvey, is part based on the diary of William Sydney Harvey whom I believe to be PC 222 B Division William Sydney Harvey W/N 103937 (S/N 2956 Household Battalion) who was part of the draft of MPS Police Officers who joined together 11/12th  January 1917 .


A kind member of the Forum is looking up some references for me from the above book.


If anyone has additional information regarding  Metropolitan Police Officers who joined the Household Battalion please let me know, I would be extremely grateful. 


Thank you.

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Can you "reverse engineer" this problem- ie Take the lowest and highest service numbers of the Met. men you have traced-and zap the numbers in between to see who they were??

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Hi, Thanks for your post.

I have to a degree, but the data to start with was limited.


As a start point I originally worked ( Using it as a Pivot point) from one Police Officer  I was 100% confident of (I had previously researched him) and had linked his Household Battalion service number and Metroplitan Police Service.

I reviewed a total of 150 Household Battalion service numbers information obtained From their MIC on either  side of my Police Officer I was 100% sure of and cross referenced to the data of the MPS Officers who left to join the Armed Services on 1 1/12 th January  1917.


The only information I had of the Police Officers was surname and warrant numbers, divisions  attached, no first names, dates of birth  or links to Regiments. They were not in warrant number order 


I used other data from Ancestry , CWGC and TNA to check / cross reference and positively identify them . 


I don’t know if other MPS  Police Officers  joined The Household Battalion in later drafts as Police Officers were still joining the Armed Services at various stages of 1917/18 . 

I still have a few more possible individuals to research, so there may be more.

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  I note, when messing around on CWGC on other matters, that there are 26 entries coming up for keywords "Metropolitan Police" in the search option "Additional Information"- Now,some seem to be the dead sons of Met officers but some really are. Hope you have them all covered.

   Years ago I noticed that Household seemed to take slightly older men with more serious backgrounds (eg Bank clerks-as said before). But I noted also during the war that the Brigade of Guards also seemed to take older steadier men- and that 2 of the Met casualties on CWGC are both from 3 Coldstream Guards-   Sevice numbers are well aprt but there might also be some mileage in a clump of Met officers going into the Guards (over and above the older officer recruited as drill sergeants, eg with the DCLI)

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Good afternoon, thank you for your interest and advice.


I’m aware of the CWGC data I have previously over time widened the CWGC search parameters as sometimes there is reference to just Police Officer, London Police etc.lot of the results  also  link to street names with Police in them.

I was Also very interested in seeing the MPS Officers who had also served and survived the War From the Household Battalion and so far I have been able to do that, including when the Household Battalion was disbanded In February 1918 and the Officers transferred to Coldstreams , Guards Machine Gun  Regiment,s etc.

I totally agree there are MPS and Police Officers from other Police Forces that served in  Coldstream Guards and other Guards Regiments that were killed or served during the War. 


The reverse is also true as a lots of men from the Guards joined the Police before the War as they would have had excellent training and discipline . A lot  were still reservists in the Army and Navy when they joined the Police Force.

The first 500 Metropolitan Police Officers ( Reservists) were recalled to the Army and Navy at the start on the 4th August 1914 and involved in the fighting In France very quickly or in Sea Battles.




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I imagine the enlistment would be in Police Orders.  Whilst they can be viewed at TNA they have not been digitised and therefore not available at present.


In the meantime the register of leavers, which has been digitised and is a free download is annotated with 'killed in action' etc.  Certain entries are struck through (as leavers) and marked 'cancelled' with the date which looks suspiciously like rejoining i.e. early February/March 1919.



A bit labourious but a couple of examples:-


Frederick William Packman Wt No 103772 Date of Joining  13.4.14. Date of Removal 20.2.1917. 'Died of wounds received in action'

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/519945/FREDERICK WILLIAM PACKMAN/

February 1917 was at the height of the 'manpower crisis' which led to the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Act 1917, granted Royal Assent in April 1917.


J.H.G. Reynolds Wt No 101254 Date of Joining 29.4.1912. Date of Removal 2.12.1916. 'Died from wound received in action'

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/2751247/J H G REYNOLDS/

This poses another question as his date of removal post dates his death were men posted to the Guards in a separate category and retained on the M.P. establishment?  The medal rolls (recorded as J.H.) show he landed in France November 1915.

The affinity of the Metropolitan Police with the Brigade of Guards is quite well known, their service records would be held by the Guards Museum.


I couldn't resist Frederick Robert Cobble Wt No 103392 'killed in European War'

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/524593/FREDERICK ROBERT COBBLE/

He is another whose death post dates his leaving - this is becoming more intriguing




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kenf48 Good evening.


Thank you for the guidance and advice , there are some real experts on this forum .


I am enjoying reading on how quickly people can help and answer what appear to be impossible questions.


I am aware of the TNA data and have it downloaded, yes your examples are Intriguing.

I  am in the middle of some work Tonight  but will look in more detail over the weekend to see if I can think of an explanation.

The Police Orders as you know give you limited information  and you are not by this information alone able to link then to a Soldiers War record without additional research, even more so when they have survived the War and you can’t use data such as from the CWGC

I am working my way through the list of fallen MPS Officers to add more “meat to the bones “ so there is more than just a name and regiment, where possible finding out what happened to them , tell their story and if possible a photograph.(I wish🤞)


I will look at the Guards next and see what I can find, Ive never really looked at any of the Guards regiments before so should be interesting .

Thank you.










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