JENNINGS, Hemel Hempstead, 1885-1917
Thomas Jennings (jenningstwe @t yahoo.co.uk) of Horrabridge, Devon, writes: I am trying to trace a little history about my Grandad Thomas Jennings, born 1885, who I believed served in the Rifle Brigade, 3rd Battalion. He died in France, March 1918 and at some stage received a DCM. Was the Rifle Brigade a Hemel based unit full time/ reserves? Where could I find out more about his army service and how he came to get his DCM? and what else has he done for or in Hemel?
Sergeant T. Jennings is listed on the John Dickinson war memorial at Apsley - see John Dickinson's Paper Works: WW1 casualties. There is more information about him on the Dacorum Heritage Trust web site, which provides the following information::
Jennings, Sergeant Thomas, 3rd Rifle Brigade, of 10 White Lion Street. Killed in action at the Somme on 27. March 1918. Aged 32. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth. Husband of Ellen . Formerly employed at Apsley Mills. Pozieres Memorial. (John Dickinson WM) (St Mary, Apsley WM)
For further information about his war service you will need to consult the records held at the Public Records Office at Kew. There is no special connection between Hemel Hempstead and the 3rd Rifle Brigade and it is not mentioned in my book on Hemel Hempstead in the First World War, The London Gunners come to Town. I also think he is the only John Dickinson casualty to have joined it - which again suggests no local connection.
I assume that your grandfather is the 16 year old paper maker called Thomas Jennings listed in the index of the 1901 census - but you will need to purchase a copy of the entry for full details, possibly including other members of his family.
The following entry from the 1881 census index possibly relates to his parents. Living in one of the Boxmoor cottages were:
|Thomas JENNINGS||Head||30||General Labourer||Hemel Hempstead|
|Elizabeth JENNINGS||Wife||34||Hemel Hempstead|
|Elizabeth SELLS||Il. Daughter||14||Plaitter||Hemel Hempstead|
|Charles JENNINGS||Son||8||Scholar||Hemel Hempstead|
|Edwin JENNINGS||Son||5||Scholar||Hemel Hempstead|
|May J. JENNINGS||Daughter||3||Scholar||Hemel Hempstead|
|Rose E. JENNINGS||Daughter||11m||Hemel Hempstead|
With any luck this information will tie in with the 1901 census, confirming (or otherwise) that this Thomas and Elizabeth Jennings were Sergeant. T. Jennings parents. Elizabeth Sells, who would have plaited straw, was presumably Elizabeth Jennings' daughter, born before the Jennings marriage.
You ask what your Thomas may have done for Hemel Hempstead. Before the First World War the social structure was still quite rigid - as illustrated by the original verses of All Things Bright and Beautiful. The stereotype was that well-to-do lived in nice houses - and occasionally did "charitable acts", while the majority sweated their guts out working long hours for a pretty miserable wage. In fact John Dickinson's had a very active social club (see Apsley Dance for an example), and your Thomas may well have been involved in some of its activities - such as staff outings. He might also have been involved with a local church or chapel. However detailed records of such events rarely survive.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
Page created April 2005