|A not uncommon memorial post card for "P C Stephens" veteran of the Anglo-Zulu War and 22 year veteran of the
Leicester Police Force who died on 4 April, 1908.
While at first appearances it would seem that "P C" were his initials this is not the case. These first two letters stood
for "Police Constable". This heaviest of constables - at 24 stone or 336 lbs. - was John William Stephens (or Stevens
depending on the individual record) who was born around 1857 at Attleborough, Warwickshire to Joseph and Sarah
According to the card, he was a veteran of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 the campaign medal for which he can be seen
wearing in the photograph though no mention is given to which regiment or service he may have belonged to.
Stephens attestation papers reveal that he enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Portsmouth on 15 December 1877 being 20
years, 6 months old that the time. He was described as being 5 feet, 8 1/4 inches tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes,
and brown hair. Unfortunately, this description does not include his weight at the time of his enlistment.
2661/26682 Gunner John William Stephens was assigned to the No 10 Battery, 7th Brigade, Royal Artillery. His
Home: 15 December 1877 - 30 July 1878
Mauritius: 31 July 1878 - 12 March 1879
Natal: 13 March 1879 - 15 October 1879
Mauritius: 16 October 1879 - 14 September 1880
Cape Colony: 15 September 1880 - 5 January 1886
Home: 6 January 1886 - 14 December 1889
During the Anglo-Zulu War Stephens with his section of 10/7 R.A., served with Evelyn Wood's Flying Column. The
battery was armed with 2 7-pounder guns but converted over to Gatling Guns before going into the field with the second
invasion and was the first Gatling armed battery in the British Army.
As noted above Stephens returned to South Africa from 1880 until 1886 and during that time in addition to getting
married, he was stationed in Zululand itself in August 1884, as well as at Rorke's Drift in October of that same year.
He was granted Good Conduct Pay three times: 15 December 1879, 23 April 1882 and 23 April 1884.
Stephens mustered out of service on 14 December 1889 at Fort Rowen, Gosport with 12 years of service.
His wife Sarah Ann Cooke was born in Cape Colony, South Africa around 1858. They were married in Cape Town,
South Africa on 16 January 1883. Two children, Edith Sarah and William Thomas were born in South Africa in 1883 and
1885 respectively. In the 1891 census of Leicester, they are shown having two additional sons, Joseph and Charles.
In 1901 they are shown having a second daughter, Florence.
He must have been very well liked and respected by the people of Leicester as thousands lined the streets to watch his
According to Victorian and Edwardian Leicestershire from old photographs By Iona Cruickshank and Gilbert Allen
Chinnery, the apparently jovial Stephens was affectionately nicknamed "Tubby" by the people of Leicester.
Lithographed Post Card