Beds, Herts & Bucks

Family of Bedford policeman 'gobsmacked' by WW1 past

Sidney Hall Image copyright Bedfordshre Police
Image caption Newspaper reports from 1919 said Sidney Hall was the first man to be demobilised after World War One and he was given the number A/4 - 000,001

The family of a policeman, believed to be the first British soldier to be demobilised after World War One, were "gobsmacked" to learn of his past.

Sidney Hall served in the Household Cavalry before becoming a policeman for 30 years.

His family found out after his story was published in an article by the Bedfordshire Police Museum.

His grandson, Nick Hall, said it was "mind-blowing" as he had no idea his grandfather had served during the war.

The museum's research found that Sidney Hall, from Bedford, originally joined the Army in 1902, aged 17.

A letter he wrote to his wife just after the war started, which was published in a local newspaper, described how almost an entire troop had been killed while fighting on the Western Front, and how the experience was too horrible to write about.

'Piqued my interest'

Researcher Kevin Parry, who discovered the letter in local archives, said it talked about how 77 men from one squadron had been lost in a day and how a horse was killed by a shell 10 yards in front of him.

Mr Parry said: "The mention of PC Hall being the very first man to be demobbed after WW1 piqued my interest".

His research found PC Hall left the Army in 1910 to transfer to the Reserves, after joining the police force.

He rejoined the Army during WW1 and was given the number A/4 - 000,001 when he was demobilised in 1918. He then resumed his police career.

Image copyright Nick Hall
Image caption David Hall, Nick Hall, Pauline I'ons, Geoff and Tony Hall, with their mother Vera Hall (front), taken on her 90th birthday in June 2004

According to an article in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent, PC Hall was injured on duty in Bedford in 1928 while trying to catch a bullock.

After grabbing its reins, he was swung under the wheels of a lorry and suffered broken bones and facial injuries.

Sidney's granddaughter Pauline I'ons, from Luton, who was 14 when her grandfather died in 1950, said his Army past came as a complete surprise.

"I was left gobsmacked," she said. "I nearly fell out of my chair when I found out. I never had a clue."

Nick Hall said he had followed in Sidney Hall's footsteps, as had his own father, by serving with Bedfordshire Police.

Image copyright The Montifraulo Collection/Getty
Image caption Sidney Hall signed up to be a member of the Household Cavalry - pictured in London in 1912

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