High Wycombe Borough Police was officially formed as a full time police force on 26 May 1849 and was then known as the Chepping Wycombe Borough Police.

Prior to this date the council for the borough Chepping Wycombe had only maintained night watchmen who only worked during the hours of darkness.

In the early 1900s Chepping Wycombe was replaced by the current name of High Wycombe. The borough maintained a separate police force until 1947 when it amalgamated with the Buckinghamshire Constabulary.

The initial establishment of the force was one superintendent and three constables but by 1897 this had risen to one superintendent as head constable, three sergeants and ten constables.

In 1910 the police station was connected to telephone system supplied by The National Telephone Company.

By 1914 the force establishment was one chief constable, one inspector, four sergeants and 15 constables making a total all ranks establishment of 21.

On 4 August 1918 when war was declared four constables were immediately recalled to the Colours.

The increase in workload was applicable to the High Wycombe Borough Police force as it was to all police forces. Although a separate police force under the overall control of the High Wycombe Borough Watch Committee, the force was subject to annual government inspections, and also to nation legislation and government advice covering police forces.

The force had established both a first police reserve of retired police officers retained on an annual payment and also a second police reserve of male occupants of the borough who were willing to assist the borough police force in their duties. From 1914, with the introduction of the Special Constabulary Act 1914, some members of the second police reserve were sworn in as Special Constables, which gave them the full powers of a constable within the borough of High Wycombe and the surrounding area.

With the sudden loss of the four constables recalled to the Colours all rest days and annual leave for the remaining officers were suspended. To compensate for the additional hours and work the Watch Committee granted to each officer an additional ten per cent on their wages as a war bonus.

Although the Special police reserve and Special Constables assisted to cover some of the additional workload of the police, the Watch Committee made a decision to recruit additional full time constables on a temporary basis.

In September 1917, the Chief Constable reported to the Watch Committee that the Special Constables for Chepping Wycombe totalled five section sergeants and 54 men. On a regular basis two beats within the Borough were patrolled by one sergeant and four constables between 8pm and midnight.

During the course of the war, in addition to the four constables recalled to the Colours on the outbreak of war, an additional two sergeants and eight constables volunteered for military service.

By the end of the war, three officers had been killed while serving their country.

The three men who died were:

Alfred Garment was born in 1886 in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire.

He was the eldest of two children of Frederick and Elizabeth Garment. In the 1891 Census (Sunday 5 April 1891) the Garment family were living in Potten End Road, Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire. Alfred was four years old, and his sister Bertha, was two years old. Frederick was employed as an agricultural labourer.

In the 1901 Census (Sunday 31 March 1901) the Garment family are shown living in Nettleden Lodge Gate House, Nettleden, Hertfordshire where Frederick was then the gamekeeper. Alfred was 14 years old, and shown as working as a gardener in a nursery.

Between the 1901 and 1911 Census Alfred joined the Northamptonshire Regiment had had been discharged and placed on Military Reserve, before joining the Northampton Borough Police Force.

In the 1911 Census (Sunday 2 April 1911) Frederick and Elizabeth were still resident in Nettleden Lodge, but both children have left home. Alfred, 23 years old, was recorded as a lodger living in 55 Cowper Street, Northampton, the home of a Mr and Mrs Jones. Alfred was a police constable in the Northampton Borough Police.

Living next door to Mr and Mrs Jones, in 57 Cowper Street, were Thomas and Priscilla Bannister and their five children. The eldest of the children was Priscilla, aged 25, and in the summer of 1913 Alfred Garment and Priscilla Bannister were married in Northampton (registered Northampton 1913 Jul-Sep Volume 3B Page 236).

During 1913 Alfred joined the High Wycombe Borough Police Force, as in the official year book, he is listed as living in 13 The Barracks, High Wycombe.

In 1914 military tension was rising in Europe. On 4 August Germany invaded Belgium as a means of accessing and invading France. Due to Germany’s refusal to retreat from the invasion Britain had no option but to declare war on Germany, and The Great War, later also to be referred to as World War One, commenced.

Due to being on Military Reserve Alfred was recalled to the Colours and by 5 August 1914 was appointed Private 7164 in 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment.

The 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was mobilised for war almost immediately and was part of the British Expeditionary Force, landing in Le Harve, France on 13 August 1914.

At the time of Alfred’s recall to the Colours, Pricilla was expecting their first child, and Alfred F Garment was born in Northampton towards the end of 1914 (registered Northampton Oct-Dec 1914 Volume 3B Page 99).

On 9 May, 1915, the first day of The Battle of Aubers Ridge, Private 7164 Alfred Garment, 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was killed in action. He has no known grave and is remembered with honour on Panel 28 of Le Touret Memorial to The Missing, Pas de Calais, France.

It is not known if Alfred ever saw his son.

Amos Paxton was born in Aston Abbotts, Buckinghamshire, in 1892.

He was one of ten children of Amos and Harriett Paxton. His father, Amos (Snr), was employed as a gardener. In the 1901 Census (Sunday 31 March 1901 the family were living in 9 (Cottage), Aston Abbotts, Buckinghamshire. In the 1911 Census, the family were still living in Aston Abbotts and Amos (Jnr) was 19 years old and employed as a domestic gardener, the same as his father.

Immediately after the 1911 Census Amos (Jnr) enlisted into the Grenadier Guards, where he served for three years, being discharged to the Reserves in April 1914. Upon discharge Amos immediately joined the High Wycombe Borough Police Force.

In 1914 military tension was rising in Europe. On 4 August Germany invaded Belgium as a means of accessing and invading France. Due to Germany’s refusal to retreat from the invasion Britain had no option but to declare war on Germany, and The Great War, later also to be referred to as World War One, commenced.

As Amos, due to his previous military service, was on Reserve to the Grenadier Guards he was immediately recalled to the Colours and rejoined 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards.

On 15 August 1914 the 2nd Battalion were mobilised for war, and landed at Le Harve, and were immediately involved in actions.

On 1 November 1914 Private 15268 Amos Paxton, aged 22, of 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards was killed in action during the First Battle of Ypres. He has no known grave and is remembered with honour on Panels 9 to 11 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Amos was one of three children of Amos and Harriett Paxton to be killed. His elder brother Walter (born 1889) was a Corporal in the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was killed in action aged 28, in the Battle of the Somme on 23 July 1916. His younger brother Edward (born 1897) joined the 1st Battalion, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) on 4 December 1916 at the age of 19. He was killed in action on 25 August 1918.

George Ernest Williams was born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in 1879.

He was the eldest of five children of Alfred and Sarah Williams. Alfred was a chair maker.

In the 1891 Census (Sunday 5 April 1891) the Williams family with three children were living in 51 Albert Terrace, Chipping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. In the 1901 Census (Sunday 31 March 1901) the family were living in 26 Desborough Street, High Wycombe, with four children. However George, then aged 21, had left home and was living in lodgings at 186 Desborough Road, High Wycombe. He was also employed as a chair maker.

Shortly after the 1901 Census, George enlisted in the Grenadier Guards, were he served for two years and 101 days. Upon discharge he was appointed a Police Constable in the Birmingham City Police Force, where he served until 25 July 1903 when he returned to his home town and was appointed a constable in the High Wycombe Borough Police Force.

Between July and September 1907 George married Edith Mary Bellworthy (registered in Windsor Jul-Sep 1907 volume 2A page 1078).

On 13 January 1908 George Williams was promoted to the rank of sergeant in the High Wycombe Borough Police Force.

In 1908 Edith gave birth to their first child; Kathleen Mary Williams (registered in Wycombe 1908 Jul-Sep volume 3A page 958). Their second child, Gwendoline May Williams, was born in 1909 (registered Wycombe 1909 Oct-Dec volume 3A page 919). Their third child, a boy called Mac, was born in 1911 (registered Wycombe 1911 Jan-Mar volume 3A page 942).

In the 1911 Census (Sunday 2 April 1911) the Williams family were living in Riverside, Nutfield Lane, High Wycombe.

George and Edith had another girl, Margaret, in 1913 (registered Wycombe 1913 Jul-Sep volume 3A page 1903).

In 1914 military tension was rising in Europe. On 4 August Germany invaded Belgium as a means of accessing and invading France. Due to Germany’s refusal to retreat from the invasion Britain had no option but to declare war on Germany, and The Great War, later also to be referred to as World War One, commenced.

Although George had previous service with the Grenadier Guards, by 1914 he was no longer on military reserve and was not recalled to the Colours as several of his colleagues in the High Wycombe Police Force were. At the outbreak of the war George was 35 years old and within the age band that were being encouraged to volunteer for military service, which he did. As he was a police officer, he had to be released by his Chief Constable under the provisions of The Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915, which the Chief Constable of High Wycombe did on 1 June 1915 and George was appointed, to his old regiment, the Grenadier Guards, as Private 23990.

In July 1917 George was commissioned and appointed a Second Lieutenant in 6th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

On 20 November 1917 Second Lieutenant George Williams was killed in action in the Battle of Cambrai. He has no known grave and is remembered with honour on Panel 7 of the Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, Nord, France.

At the time of George’s death his wife Edith was expecting their fifth child and at the beginning of 1918 Edith gave birth to Edith I Williams (registered Wycombe 1918 Jan-Mar volume 3A page 1346).

Edith (Jnr) never saw her father. Edith (Snr) was a widow with five young children.

Information on this page found and verified from researching archived police records and newspapers plus from entries on the following websites: Find My Past, Ancestry, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Forces-war-records.