Monday, 12 November 2018

Arthur Wesley ALLCHURCH

Arthur Wesley ALLCHURCH was born in Hampshire in 1891 the son of Elisha and Emma ALLCHURCH.  His father was a Corporal with the Somerset Light Infantry and in November 1891 was posted to Gibraltar.  Arthur and a younger sister were both baptised in Gibraltar.  On return to the UK in 1895 the family were based in Dover where Elisha attended the School of Musketry.  In 1900 he was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant and in July 1905 was discharged from the army.  It was noted that he was a good clerk with special knowledge of musketry clerical duties.  The family settled in Hounslow where Elisha died in 1910. 

At the age of 20 his son Arthur joined the Metropolitan Police, was issued with warrant number 100320 and posted to L Division as PC76.  Towards the end of 1913 he volunteered for duty with the Hong Kong Police and resigned from the Metropolitan Police on 22 December.  Five days later he left UK aboard P&Os “Nile” bound for Hong Kong.

On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and our boys in Hong Kong wanted to play their part, however, it was to be a whole year before permission was granted for them to volunteer.  The first group of 12 departed in July 1915.  In November a larger group, including Arthur, was ready to leave. 

A farewell dinner was held at the Astor House Hotel.  Mr. T.H. King A.S.P. proposed the toast and wished the men “God speed”.

The men who were going Home would have lots of adventures but he (Mr King) could not say it would be a holiday.  But whatever happened they had their most sincere wishes and he said most heartily on behalf of the force that the good wishes of them all went with them.  Wherever they were he was sure they would maintain the traditions and name of the Hong Kong Police Force (cheers) and they would make those Germans run (renewed cheers).”

The following day the men, wearing their Hong Kong Police uniforms and carrying their guns, marched from Central Police Station to Blake Pier accompanied by the pipe and brass bands of the 74th. Punjab Regiment.  Many hundreds turned out to cheer them on with greetings being waved from balconies all along the route.  The band gave a selection of music on the pier and played “Auld Lang Syne” as the tender cast off to the accompaniment of rousing cheers.

The recruits sailed in the ss Nallore from Hong Kong to Colombo where they transferred to ss Mongolia for the voyage to Plymouth. 

Their arrival in UK deserved special mention in the newspapers:

 A picturesque group of recruits arrived in Whitehall yesterday having travelled 12,000 miles to take part in the defence of the Empire. 

In neat blue uniforms with white facings and large helmets the men were a centre of interest to the public.  They comprised 21 police officers, 5 warders and 5 members of the HK Royal Naval Dockyard Police – also a sanitary inspector and a railway guard.

The majority had not made up their minds what regiments they should join.  They were not fastidious about it – infantry, artillery, anything would do.  “We did not come here to twiddle our thumbs” remarked one stalwart recruit.  The Scotsmen found no difficulty in deciding what they should do.  Their anxiety was whether they should be able to join a Highland regiment in London.  “Nothing but the kilt for me” said a brawny lad whose home is Dundee.  “I’m joining the Black Watch”.

The recruits are to be allowed a fortnight’s leave to allow them to visit their homes before joining the colours”

Arthur joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps as Private R/17759.  Six months later on 1 July 1916 Arthur died in action - he is remembered on the Arras Memorial. 

The register of soldiers effects shows that his mother received £3.  

Sunday, 11 November 2018

World War 1

"When we get some more Hong Kong Policemen here
life will be an adventurous holiday"
from a letter written by
Sergeant McNab Wilson
"somewhere in France" 
November 1915


Thursday, 1 November 2018

George GANE - another of those Bristol Bobbies

George Christopher was born in East Pennard, Somerset and baptised at All Saints on 24 November 1856 under the name of George Christopher COOK, the son of 19 year old Henrietta Jemima Rebecca COOK.  Five months previously banns of marriage between George GANE and Henrietta COOK had been published in East Pennard but for some reason the marriage had not taken place - perhaps her parents were not willing to give permission.  Two years later on 5 May 1858 George was granted a licence and the couple married in East Pennard the following day.  It appears that after the marriage George Christopher took on the surname of GANE. 

Over the next ten years George and Henrietta had another five children.  George was 33 years older than Henrietta and when he died on 17 July 1871 she was left to raise the children on her own.  She moved to Bristol where in 1874 she married the widower John BERRIDGE.  Henrietta died two years later a few months after the birth of a son.  By 1881 most of her elder children were in employment but Selina, her youngest daughter by George GANE, was a “Blue Maid Orphan” in the Asylum for Poor Orphan Girls at Ashley Hill in Bristol.  No doubt one or more of Selina’s elder sisters had also spent time in the orphanage prior to finding employment in domestic service.


George Christopher GANE joined the Bristol Constabulary on 17 July 1878 becoming Constable 108A.  On recruitment his previous employment was shown as “Labourer” and he was recorded as being 5ft. 9¼ inches in height.  The 1881 census shows George serving at Bridewell Police Station in the city centre.  He resigned a few days after the census on 20 April 1881 and married within a year.  His bride was Pamela Alma BROMFIELD.

Example of Bristol Police Uniform
A couple of months after George's marriage, Mr. HOGGE, the Recruiting Officer of the Hong Kong and Straits Settlement Police visited Bristol on a recruiting campaign.  The Hong Kong Police had been established some 38 years earlier when an Inspector and 2 Sergeants from London’s Metropolitan Police volunteered for duty in the very new Colony.  Every few years recruiting campaigns were held in the UK in order to build up a core of experienced officers and these came from London’s Metropolitan Police; Scottish Constabularies; the Royal Irish Constabulary; as well as from Borough Forces throughout England.  This was the first time that the south-west of England had been targetted and it proved a rich picking ground.  The Crown Agents had instructed Mr. Hogge to contact various Chief Constables prior to visiting but he failed to do this and the press reported that he had privately solicited officers with tempting offers and that as a result their Force was to be decimated. 

The Deputy Captain Superintendent of the Hong Kong Police was on leave in the UK at this time and would have had the final say on which recruits were acceptable.  He required them to have at least 12 months service and be of good physique.  They were to receive a bounty of £20 for volunteering; the pay in Hong Kong would be 30 - 35 shillings a week and after 10 years service the recruits would be eligible for a pension.

Word spread quickly around the Bristol Constabulary and even reached former colleagues.  This was too good an opportunity to be missed.  As a result 10 serving officers were recruited together with 3 former officers – one of whom was George GANE.  George signed the Hong Kong Articles of Agreement on 27 May 1882 in the presence of Revd. George P. Grantham, Mission Priest of Holy Cross, Bedminster.

The Bristol recruits travelled to London in July where they met up with other recruits from Plymouth, Gloucestershire and Liverpool.  They sailed on the ss Pembrokeshire on 22 July arriving in Hong Kong 6 ½ weeks later.  The voyage was anything but pleasant as the ship encountered strong monsoon winds across the Indian Ocean.  Added to that it was reported that during the voyage one of their number had fallen 25ft. down a hold and had been lucky to escape with his life.  To make matters even worse the food onboard was described as having been disgusting.  It was with some relief that they set foot ashore. 

The Press reported :

Upon arrival at the Central Station their comrades feted the new comers right royally, and the sounds of jollification and harmony – in the quiet police style as becomes men who devote their lives to the preservation of order – could be heard emanating from the police quarters.  There seems to be a considerable amount of esprit de corps amongst our gallant peace and property preservers.
Central Police Station 1880s/1890s
Thereafter their lives took very different paths.  A couple were to die and others lost family members to fevers and plague.  A few became entangled in a corruption scandal which rocked the Colony in the 1890s; and a handful had long and very successful careers before returning to the UK.

George and Pamela experienced the sadness of losing a child less than a year after arrival in Hong Kong.  Jessie had been born in November/December 1882 but died at the age of 9 months and 14 days.  She was buried in the Colonial Cemetery on 23 August 1883 in grave 4660 – her address was given as 18 Old Bailey Street, just around the corner from Central Police Station.   Records showing the location of her grave do not survive but it could well have been in the Children's Section:

Children's Section

Pamela’s second child arrived in 1885 – Frederick George was born on 24 May and baptised at St. John’s Cathedral on 15 July 1885.  A second daughter, again named Jessie, was born on 29 May 1887 and baptised at St. Johns on 23 June.

George’s first tour of duty lasted 5 years during which time he took on the additional duties of Assistant Engine Driver with the Fire Brigade.  As a constable he earned $480 per annum whilst the brigade duties brought in an additional $96 per annum.

The Police held their annual sports day in the spring and the 1886 event saw many of the “Bristol Bobbies” participating.  The press reported

“After their Sports being deferred by the weather on Saturday the Police were exceedingly fortunate yesterday in the state of that most important element.  The day could not have been improved upon for the purpose, the rain having cleared off and there being just enough cloud to temper the heat of the sun with the occasional gleams of sunshine.  The ground was a trifle heavy which was against the making of fast times.  A more interesting and enjoyable athletic meeting has seldom been held in Hong Kong, a number of novel sports being introduced”

From the looks of things George was no sportsman, however, he was not about to let his fellow Bristolians down so entered for two events – those referred to above as “novel sports”!

The Egg and Spoon Race was run over 100 yards with 15 competitors:  Inspectors Quincey and Cradock, PCs McGarry, Hannah, Niven, Dickinson, McDonald, Ford, Hadden, Ehlers, Ross, McIver, McDougall, Gane and APS McDonald.  The event caused a great deal of laughter with most of the men losing their eggs within a few feet of setting off. 

Inspector Cradock held out for some time but an unfortunate lurch sent his frail cargo overboard.  The first to reach the goal without accident was A. Niven, after him coming J. McGarry and then McDougall.  Hadden came in among the first but unfortunately dropped his egg just before reaching the goal.  The second man, McGarry, it is said managed to keep his egg steady by keeping his thumb on it.”

The last event of the day was advertised as being the “Fully Equipped Race over 100 yards”.  This involved the participants wearing full winter uniform plus cap, belt and truncheon in case, lamp and regulation boots. 

“A good deal of curiosity was evinced as to this race and it is a great pity that not more of the Force in full uniform exhibited their capabilities of making chase after a prisoner.  As it was only four fully equipped defenders of the peace competed:  John McDougall, H.G.Baker, G. Gane and Moran.  McDougall was the best runner of the quartette and although his heavy boots nearly brought him down at one time he managed to steady himself and came in two or three yards in front of Baker who was second and who was closely followed by Gane.  Time 14 seconds”

Later in the year our lads were on display again this time for the Hongkong Fire Brigades Annual Inspection and Drill Competitions.

“Yesterday was quite a gala day for the members of the Government and Volunteer Fire Brigades in this colony.  It has been usual for the Governor of the colony to hold an annual inspection of the brigades but this year the inspection has been made something of a great deal more importance than it has hitherto been.  Mr. J.S. Brewer (Government Marine Surveyor) who has held charge of the Government Brigade since the departure of the Superintendent Mr. H.E. Wodehouse CMG for England has worked in a manner in this line of work which shows that his heart is thoroughly in it.  During the whole time he has held charge of the brigade he has been introducing improvements in the machinery and appliances, the modes of using them, and the organisation of the men, and the step he took in turning the annual inspection into something more than a mere parade is not one of the least of the good things he has done in this direction.  Competitions of the kind to be found below tend above all other things to perfect the men in the handling of their fire extinguishing appliances and the smartness they will thus acquire will doubtless be turned to good account whenever the men are called out for active service.  We are now at the beginning of the fire season and anything likely to tend to the quicker and more effective grappling with the devouring element is a decided public benefit.  The work done yesterday shows that the men are well up to their work and that when the occasion demands there is a large body of men ready to turn out at a moment’s notice to arrest the havoc to property by the flames that may have broken from control.”

George was part of PC J. Johnstone’s team which also included Constables J. MacDougall, W. Robertson and H. Wood.  The main event which they took part in was “Get Manual all ready for work with dam and one length of suction and two delivery with branch pipe”.  The teams received penalties of 2 seconds for a twist in the hose or slack joints or if any gear was not efficient.  There would be a prize of $25.  Five teams entered and PC Johnstone’s team was the winner coming in at 48.1. seconds with no penalties.

The last event of the afternoon saw individual steam engines being brought up to steam in the quickest possible time. 

“This was a very interesting event the competitors being Nos 2,3 and 4 Government Steamers and the Hongkong Fire Insurance Steamer.  The want of a wind prevented a good draught for the furnaces and water was not got into play so quickly as would otherwise have been the case.  No. 3 Government engine was the first to get up steam, take water and spout it, the latter being done in 9m 23sec from start.  This was under charge of PS Campbell.  It had steam enough to blow its whistle in eight minutes.  In nine minutes she drew water and in 9.23 was playing it.  The Volunteer engine worked by Mr. Ramsay, the Acting Engineer, and worked by volunteer firemen was soon after in full swing, very closely followed by No. 4 Government steamer worked by PC James, No 2 under PC Gane being only a second or two behind.”

At the close of the drill HE The Governor inspected and thanked the men.  Being the winner in the main event PC Johnstone’s team was lined up to the front of the Government Brigades.  Mr. Brewer explained to His Excellency that he had devised medals as the rewards of the winners of this event as he considered it the most important.  The men had completed the work in 48 seconds which was a most creditable performance and compared favourably with that done in England.  His Excellency presented the medals to the men.

In 1887, having completed 5 years service, George was entitled to Home Leave.  On 9 September 1887 the GANE family boarded P&O ss Peshawur for their homeward voyage to London.  

P&O Peshawur

The ship reached Singapore on 15 September, Penang on 17th. , Colombo on 22nd., Aden on 29th, ,  Suez Oct 4th. , Marseilles Oct 12th., Plymouth at 4am on 19 October before leaving at 7.15am for the Royal Albert Docks in London.

George enjoyed 6 months Home Leave before returning on P&O ss Nepaul which left London on 3 May 1888 arriving in Hong Kong on 11 June.   

Joining George on his return journey were 4 of his colleagues:  Hadden, Paull, Miners and Ford.   There is every likelihood that Pamela remained in the UK for a while because a son, Victor Archibald was baptised on 12 December 1888 at St. Matthews in Moorfield, Bristol.

During George’s second tour of duty he again took on additional duties with the Fire Brigade being advanced to Engine Driver.  In his police role he became Acting Police Sergeant for a couple of years earning $510 per annum. 

By 1891 Pamela had returned to Hong Kong and she gave birth to a daughter named Florence on 24 February.  Florence was baptised at St. Johns Cathedral on 1st. April 1891. 

George completed his 10 year period of service on 26 January 1893 and having earned his pension retired back to England. On the morning of their departure members of the Police Force assembled at Central Police Station to bid their comrades farewell.  Messrs. Gane, Paull and Miners were each presented with a gold watch chain and pendant bearing a suitable inscription.  

Mr & Mrs GANE and 4 children are shown as passengers on the Ancona leaving Hong Kong on 1 February 1893.  At Colombo they transferred to P&Os Australia arriving back in England on 10 March 1893.  Pamela had been pregnant throughout the voyage and gave birth to a son a few weeks after arrival.  Ernest was baptised on 9 July 1893 at St. Matthews, Moorfield in Bristol but he only survived a few months and was buried at Avonview Cemetery towards the end of the year.  Little Florence died a few weeks later and was also buried at Avonview.

Pamela’s childbearing days were far from over.  Herbert Walter was baptised on 5 April 1895; George was baptised on 9 May 1897 (and was buried at Avonview towards the end of 1898); Annie was baptised on 10 July 1898 and Christopher Kitchener baptised on 29 November 1901.  The youngest member of the family, Lily Rose was born in Chipping Sodbury district in 1905.

The 1901 census shows the family living in Church Road, Moorfields with George earning his living as a Grocer and Dairy Shop Keeper.  His Hong Kong pension was not as much as he had been expecting – in fact as soon as he arrived back in England in 1893 he and a colleague had been forced to employ a solicitor to enquire as to why their pensions had been reduced.  The reply from Hong Kong was to the effect that as neither’s constables service had been “uniformly good” the pensions had been reduced accordingly.  George’s pension came in at $50 pa and this amount remained unchanged for the rest of his life.

Milk cart from early 190ss

Life back in the UK was not without its problems.  In 1899 “The Milk Mystery” case hit the headlines and George found himself up in court on the charge of selling milk adulterated with 14% of added water. 

“The defendant gave evidence on his own behalf and said that he had a general shop and a small milk round amounting to about 14 gallons a day.  He had been in business about 6 years and for about 5 years had had his milk from Frank Didham.  He had a verbal arrangement with him and expected to get pure milk.  During the 5 years he had his milk taken several times by the Gloucestershire police and once by Mr. Simpson (the Inspector), but he heard nothing more of the matter. On Feb. 5th he bought his milk from Didham having 6 gallons in his 2 cans.  He sold the milk just as he received it.  He was in the Bristol Police Force for 3 years and then went to Hong Kong and entered the police force there, remaining for 10 years.

Cross examined – He knew Didham had been summoned but he did not examine the milk and did not get a guarantee to protect himself.  Re-examined – There was nothing in the appearance of the milk to show it was good or bad.  He had been thinking about changing his dealer.

The defendant’s son having given evidence Mr. Taylor urged that it was a technical offence only.  No doubt water had been at one time or another added to the milk but he submitted he had shown that Gane had not been guilty of fraud or of adulterating the milk.”

The magistrates decided to convict but reserved sentencing until they had heard the case against Didham.

Having presented the case Didham’s solicitor also urged that the offence was a technical one. 

“There was no intention to defraud anyone and no cream was taken from the milk with the idea of rendering it inferior.  The mere fact of dipping to serve the first customers tended to take the cream which had risen to the top. They served customers till there was only a gallon and a half left when the inspector met them and the milk so left was not of course as good as that which had been on top.”

The magistrates felt that the public must be protected and pointed out that the sellers of milk must be very careful.  They fined Gage £2 and costs or one month’s imprisonment.  Didham was fined £3 and costs or one month’s imprisonment.

The electoral rolls for 1907 show George living at Hares Pit in Westerleigh, Gloucestershire. As the birth of Lily Rose had been registered in Chipping Sodbury District in 1905 it is likely that Westerleigh was their place of residence at the time.  Later in the year George and his eldest son, Frederick George, sailed for Canada – the rest of the family joined them in 1910.

To encourage settlement in Western Canada the Dominion Government offered a grant for a free homestead of 160 acres for a $10 registration fee to those families who were prepared to live and cultivate land during a qualifying period of time.  The Homestead process began with entry, which was a term used to describe the act of physically going to the Dominion Lands office and filing for a claim to a particular parcel of land.  By 1908 the applicant had to be a British Subject.

The following details relate to George’s application for Homestead land.  Full details are available from the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.

File Number
Gane, George
Gane, George
Gane, George

The 1911, 1916 and 1922 census returns list George and his family in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  The Hong Kong Pension Register show that George died on 9 February 1932 at the age of 74.  The Saskatchewan Burial Index confirms that George C. GANE was buried in Prince Albert in 1932.

If anyone should have any additional information on George GANE I would love to hear from you