Clarence George Fentum, Northumberland Fusiliers

1896 Jun 19. Born Tottenham, London

1901 census at 72, Summerhill Road, Tottenham


1911 census at 15 Beaufort Road, Horfield ,Bristol

1911 Sep 18. He attended Bishops Road School where he played cricket for the School XI. The Western Daily Press (Bristol) on 18th September 1911 reported that Fentum ‘batted consistently’ throughout the season.

Around this time his father moved to Tunbridge Wells and Clarence Fentum attended the Strand School. This school was originally located in the basement of King’s College, London but in 1913 it moved to Elm Park in South London. Fentum’s tutor from this school provided a reference in 1916. He stated that he had known Fentum for approx. 4 years (so he probably moved around 1912)

1915 Oct 11.Fentum working as a shipping clerk and boarding at 33 Grafton Road, Kentish Town. On enlistment he called himself a ‘merchant shipper’. Enlisted in 28th London Regiment (Artists Rifles) given a number in the 3rd Battalion (4700). Joined at Dukes Road, London WC. He was aged 19 years and 4 months.

1915 Dec. Already known to have applied for a commission and accepted by the CO of the 32nd Reserve Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers

1916 Mar 4. Attends The 2nd Artist Rifles OTC who were located at Hare Hall Camp, Gidea Hall, Romford.

1916 May 8. Commandant of Cadet School Major Shaw recommends Fentum for commission. Signed by the C.O. W Shirley.

1916 May 26. Commissioned and posted to 32nd Reserve Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers – he was 5’ 11 ½” tall and weighed 11 stone 6 lbs. (The 32nd Battalion was based in Harrogate at this time). The Yorkshire Post 3rd June 1916 reports Fentum as posted Artists Rifles OTC to be 2nd Lt Local reserve, Northumberland Fusiliers C G

June 1916 Jun . His Medals Index Card reports that he entered France in June 1916. It seems that he did not join his Battalion until early August 1916 (War Diary  WO95/2463/1 refers). Fentum served with 22nd Battalion (3rd Tyneside Scottish) Northumberland Fusiliers. After their terrible losses on 1st July 1916 between the 3rd to 7th August 1916 the 22nd received 153 OR’s and 7 officers (including Fentum)

1916 Aug. 7th to 14th August – The battalion took over trenches at SOUCHEZ

1916 Aug 14. – On being relieved by the Scottish Rifles, Battalion marched to billets at ESTREE CAUCHEZ.

1916 Aug 14. to 22nd Aug – Refitting and training at ESTREE CAUCHEZ

1916 Aug 20. Fentum is reported in his service papers has having left the 22nd Battalion as sick with trench fever, pleurisy and bronchitis. He had been with the Battalion less than 3 weeks. He boarded the hospital ship ‘Dieppe’ on 31st August 1916 at Boulogne. (The Battalion War Diary states he left them on 5th September 1916 by which time he was back at home)

1916 Oct 24. Fentum joined the 3rd Reserve Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers on light duties. (Battalion based at East Bolden, near Sunderland as part of Tyne Garrison. East Bolden was a small mining village)

1917 Jan 1. Declared fit for service, it is uncertain when he left for France and rejoined the 22nd Battalion as his arrival not mentioned in the War Diary

1917 Apr 9. Wounded serving as Lieut. 22nd Battalion. Shrapnel splinter neck and a wound in left hip (believed bullet wound in centre of left buttock). Fentum was wounded during the attack at Roclincourt (Roclincourt Valley). Roclincourt is a village to the east of the road from Arras to Lens. It was just within the Allied lines before the Battle of Arras and it was from here the 34th and 51st (Highland) Divisions advanced on Monday 9th April 1917. By the night of the 9th April the 22nd had lost three officers, and 44 ORs and seven officers and 167 ORs wounded and 60 missing.

1917 Apr 11. – Fentum left Calais and arrived Dover same day.

1917 Apr 17. declared unfit for General Service for at least 2 ½ months (requiring hospital treatment) – medical board held at Caxton Hall, London SW. Known to be a patient at Astley Hospital, Dorchester House, Park Lane at this time.

1917 Jul 6. From Northumberland Fusiliers to Labour Corps as 2nd Lt

1917 Jul 12. Had military board in Sunderland on 12th July, 23rd October and 23rd November 1917

1917 Nov 23. Declared fit – the Board was held at ‘Bede Tower’, Burdon Road, Sunderland. Built as a luxury mansion for the mayor of Sunderland. Became a school in 1890 and a hospital in the Great War.

1917 Nov 26. Promoted Lieut. Labour Corps

1918 Jan 12. Tem Lt C G Fentum from Labour Corps to 3rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (with seniority 26th Nov 1917)

1918 Feb 27. to 51st Battalion (Graduated), Northumberland Fusiliers (in early 1918 this battalion went to Middlesborough and later to Guisborough where in remained until the end of the war. It was a Training Reserve battalion. A graduated Battalion was organised into three companies by age, three monthly steps between 18 to 19 years. As a result, every three months, batches of newly trained soldiers were ready for drafting to France. The battalion was converted to a service battalion on 8th February 1919. (The 51st (Service) Battalion). Most surviving 50’s battalions from the Training reserve (51st, 52nd and 53rd) were in February 1919 converted into service battalions.

Lieut. Fentum is known to have served with this battalion in Germany post war. The first British Army of the Rhine was created in March 1919 to control troops in the British occupation zone along the Rhine. The 51st (S) Battalion formed part of the Northern Brigade joining the Brigade in March 1919 and leaving in October 1919. The 51st (S) Battalion were then assigned to the Rhine Brigade as part of the newly established ‘Garrison Troops, Rhine Garrison. They left the Rhine Brigade in February 1920 when the Rhine Garrison was run-down and six regular battalions were sent to BAOR. The 51st (S) Battalion was officially disbanded on 28th March 1920

It is known that Fentum was based in Cologne on demobilisation. On 8th December 1919 he made an application for a regular commission – one must assume this was turned down.

Although not mentioned in his service record a ‘cloud’ over his discharge appears. At the House of Commons 24th March 1920 Mr. C. PALMER (member for the Wrekin Division [Shropshire] a journalist and newspaper editor) asked the Secretary of State for War “whether his attention has been called to the circumstances in which Lieutenant C. Fentum and Lieutenant Oswald, 51st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, were demobilised from the Army of Occupation at Cologne; whether these ex-officers make the definite charge that they were turned out of the Army because they laid information against a watchmaker, Otto Primadesi, of Hoho Strasse, Cologne, for insolence to Lieutenant Fentum and refusing to produce his pass; whether both these ex-officers possess fine military records; and whether, having particular regard to the need for maintaining the authority of the Army of Occupation and checking insults to the King's uniform, he will cause a full inquiry to be made into their case?” The outcome of the investigation is unknown

1920 Jan 31. Temp Lt C G Fentum relinquishes his commission on completion of service and retains the rank of Lt. (North Fus). His occupation on discharge was noted as ‘independent’

1920 Feb 26. Fentum wrote to the War Office and made it very clear he did not want to be discharged as a member of the Labour Corps. Originally Gazetted Labour Corps on discharge 5th March 1920 this was cancelled and subsequently gazetted Northumberland Fusiliers on 21st May 1920

 1920 Aug 24. Joined ADRIC with service no 252. Posted to D Coy (see MIC)

1921 Jul 16 to 30 Jul on Leave

1922 Jan 20. Discharged on demobilisation of ADRIC

1922 Mar 28. Joined the British Gendarmerie section of the Palestine Police as a Constable

1926 May 21. Leaves UK for Mombassa. Crown Agents.

1933 May 12. Arrives UK from Mombassa. He is serving with Kenyan Police, and UK address is Wilman Rd, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Travels alone and 2nd Class

1933 Nov 17. Leaves UK for Mombassa. Crown Agents. Now travels 1st class

1941 Jan 24. Fentum was a senior officer involved in the Lord Erroll murder investigations. Lord Erroll was found shot dead in his Buick at a crossroads on the Nairobi-Ngong road on 24 January 1941. Sir Jock Delves Broughton, Bt was accused of the murder, arrested on 10 March and stood trial from 26 May. There were no eyewitnesses to the killing; the evidence against him proffered in court was weak; and his barber was also foreman of the jury. Because of these factors, Sir Jock was acquitted on 1 July. He committed suicide in England a year later.

Two pistols were reported by Broughton to have been stolen from study prior to Erroll's murder. Fentum attended this 'break-in' and was criticised for not investigating throughly (no finger-prints). The ballistics of these weapons were later central to the defence.

Fentum was the third person on the scene of Eroll's murder (thought originally to have been a car accident) and was one of a group of police whose approach ultimately destroyed foot and tyre prints. In view of his length of service it was felt he (Fentum) should have known better. The pathologist much later expressed his regret at moving Erroll's body from the car thus the opportunity was again lost for detailed examination. The hire car was washed and cleaned shortly after. The pathologist stated Fentum ordered him to move the body out of the car against his better judgment, Fentum states it to be the other way round!

Despite not being the senior officer at the scene the question as to why Fentum did this has been raised as the police would have been in charge of the incident and would ultimately have the final say in moving the body. Chief Inspector Poppy was, it is reported, a very competent policeman and lays the blame for poor police investigation with Fentum, why he blamed Fentum is unclear as Fentum was not in charge.

Colin Imray, a senior policeman in the late 1940's / 50's, who as a junior met and worked under Fentum felt the same. Imray also alludes to 'dark forces' at work and in his memoirs felt that Fentum may have known more of this. The involvement of SIS is central to a more recent book on the subject. Fentum was the first to visit Broughton and his wife after the murder. He saw Diana on the stairs but she would not be interviewed by him. Fentum recovered the burnt threads from the sock / stocking in Broughton's garden - a sock he was said to be wearing on the day.It didn't ruin his career, and yet Poppy felt his own career was damaged. For an officer deemed as so incompetent, why did Fentum's career not falter?

1941 Sep 11. Awarded Long Service medal in Kenya Police. Inspector C G Fentum

1946 Jan 1. Kenya. Chief Inspector of Police, to be Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police

1949 Aug 4. Clarence George Fentum, Assistant Superintendent of Police, to act as Senior Superintendent of Police

1950 Jun 13. Colonial Police Medal for meritorious service.

1951 Jul 5. Appointed a public prosecutor in Nairobi

1967 Aug 11. Appointed a 1st class District Magistrate in Nairobi.

1971 Jul 1. His appointment as District Magistrate is cancelled.

1977 Jul 16 His wife Kathleen Alice died in Cape Town, South Africa

1988 Jul 30 Died in South Africa

2015 Feb 25. His Colonial Police Medal sold for £700, Colonial Police Medal, G.VI.R., 2nd issue, for Meritorious Service (Asst. Supt. Clarence G. Fentum, Kenya Police) good very fine