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Thomas James Tuck - Essex Regiment - Somme KIA


condronjames
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Good evening all

I’m seeking information about Private Thomas James Tuck, who served with the 2nd Essex and was killed on 1 July 1916. 
 

The reason for my interest in this man is that I have a newspaper record showing that he wrote to the wife of my Great Great Uncle, Herbert Guiver, to inform her of his death on 16 February 1916 (see attached)

Like Herbert, I believe Private Tuck was a Southend man. I suppose it’s possible that they knew each other before the war. Does anyone know if photos exist, or whether he had children?

Struggling to even find birth or census records on ancestry. 

Thanks for your help.

James 

67F0EFBE-6CC1-461D-B921-DBF5F81AD3F7.jpeg

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17 minutes ago, condronjames said:

Private Thomas James Tuck, who served with the 2nd Essex and was killed on 1 July 1916. 

Pte. Thomas James TUCK, 3/1501, 2nd Bn Essex Regt.

A dependant's pension index card at WFA/Fold3 indicates that his mother, Mrs Elizabeth Tuck, of 33 Cobham Road, Westcliff on Sea received a pension of 10/- pw from 3.7.17

Her name and the address might make it possible to better find him on the 1911 Census - perhaps! Or in other newspaper articles - perhaps!

M

Edited by Matlock1418
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Born in Canning Town, resident and enlisted in Southend-on-Sea

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2 minutes ago, jay dubaya said:

Born in Canning Town, resident and enlisted in Southend-on-Sea

Please, always handy to know where this info came from.

M

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52 minutes ago, jay dubaya said:

Born in Canning Town, resident and enlisted in Southend-on-Sea

The birth of a Thomas James Tuck was registered with the civil authorities in the West Ham district of Essex in the October to December quarter, (Q4), of 1895. His mothers' maiden name was Blanford.

On the 1901 Census of England & Wales the 5 year old Thomas Tuck, born Customs House, Essex, was recorded at 53 Rendel Road, West Ham. This was the household of his parents Thomas, (aged 51, a Dock Labourer, born Tooting), and Eliza, (aged 43, born Limehouse, London). As well as Thomas the couple have four other children living with them including an 8 year old Florence, also shown as born Customs House.

On the 1911 Census of England & Wales, taken on the 2nd April, the widow "Elizebth" Tuck, (53, Hotel Charwoman, born Middlesex), her daughter Florence Tuck, (18, Housemaid, born West Ham) and her son Thomas Tuck, (15, unemployed House Boy, born West Ham), were recorded living at 27 St Ann's Road, Southend-On-Sea, Essex.

That appears to be the closest match to the details given in Soldiers Died in the Great War.

The 3rd Battalion of the Essex Regiment, the pre-war home of the Special Reservists, appears to have maintained a separate regimental service number range. According tp Paul Nixon's Army Service number site the Battalion would have issued number 3/1501 at some point between the 24th March 1911, (3/1256) and the 16th May 1912, (3/1614). https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2009/07/essex-regiment-3rd-special-reserve.html

He would have been mobilised on the 5th August 1914, although he didn't actually get to France until the 7th April 1915, probably as part of a replacement draft.

Cheers,
Peter

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Good work Peter. I picked up the West Ham candidate-seems the most likely and the 3 (Special Reserve) Essex from the Paul Nixon site.  My only concerns, which made me put it aside rather than post were:

1)  Why would young Private from Southend be writing to the widow of a Sergeant of much more mature years?   The only reason I could fathom was a Southend connection-The sergeant was a peacetime policeman in Shoeburyness- so there may have been a local connection.

2)  The birth is registered (that is, not necessarily born in) the last quarter of 1895- which makes his Special Reserve enlistment a little light in years-  Paul Nixon's higher number is for May 1912, so Tuck's enlistment must be a tad earlier- but below 16 1/2????    But I agree it does seem to be the right candidate,  so some consideration of the slightly bizarre world of Special Reserve enlistments may be in order.

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10 hours ago, ALAN MCMAHON said:

1)  Why would young Private from Southend be writing to the widow of a Sergeant of much more mature years?   The only reason I could fathom was a Southend connection-The sergeant was a peacetime policeman in Shoeburyness- so there may have been a local connection.

Possible explanations - could have been a father figure, or young Private Tuck could have been the unofficial platoon writer for those less literate or even illiterate and so was writing at the behest of others.

10 hours ago, ALAN MCMAHON said:

2)  The birth is registered (that is, not necessarily born in) the last quarter of 1895- which makes his Special Reserve enlistment a little light in years-  Paul Nixon's higher number is for May 1912, so Tuck's enlistment must be a tad earlier- but below 16 1/2???? 

Legally to be penalty free the birth should be no earlier than the middle of August 1895, allowing for the 42 days after the event to register the birth and the birth being registered on the first day the registrars office was open in Q4 1895. So not even 16 and a half by the end of 1911. In total agreement that' s too young for a Special Reservist and so I too had doubts about posting. However an unemployed Houseboy living in the household of a widowed charwoman and with no likely social security system available to him may well have been desperate to lie about his age and sign up as a Special Reservist with 49 days of bed, board, clean clothing and free medical care, followed by a guaranteed regular income. I doubt if many in his situation cast their eye over geo-political tensions and even those vaguely aware might have thought that it was worth taking a gamble on Britain not going to war in the next six years.  He may even have been using it as the time-honoured path of a taster of Army life before signing up as a Regular, but then may have had a change of fortune in his work life or simply realised full time soldiering wasn't for him.

10 hours ago, ALAN MCMAHON said:

so some consideration of the slightly bizarre world of Special Reserve enlistments may be in order.

Near number searching didn't turn up much  - 3/1490 to 3/1515 before I got bored :)

FMP say they have service records for 1491 H. Beeston, (MiC shows 3/1491), but I suspect thats just his name in a list on the back of a piece of scrap paper found in another mans' records.

And of course if soldiers made the leap into Regular service then they would have been allocated a new service number. Where MiC's do exist but no service records it's does seem an excessively high proportion didn't survive the war. Unfortunately as they joined pre-war their war gratuity will only start from the 5th August 1914 and so giving no route there to roughly calculate date of enlistment.

Sorry I can't be more helpful,

Peter

Edited by PRC
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2 hours ago, PRC said:

Sorry I can't be more helpful,

    Not at all.   Very helpful indeed.   I agree fully with your work and reasoning  for it.   My only comment is that  being a tad young for Special Reserve  is a query but nothing unusual in the rather whacky world of the Special Reserve. My take on it is that very likely indeed to be 16 1/2 in the Special Reserve. Virtually any casualty I have ever dealt with in a Special Reserve has been awkward and I venture to suggest that  the awkwardness is explicable in that a lad could get into a Special Reserve (at 16?  Officially???) whereas they could not get into a Territorial unit  underage.  It seems- on purely anecdotal experience on my part- that the Special Reserve of the Essex Regiment (as with others) was  increasingly used to get round the Territorial rules after 1909 as the Territorial system got underway- I suspect strongly that the controls  on engagement and service of the Territorials were much more rigorous than those of a SR.

     I ran the CWGC for Essex SR numbers for the first part of the war-up to the end of May 1915 (before the new service battalions began to arrive,effectively)  69 casualties- all 1st or 2nd Essex (bar one "home" death still with 3rd.)   Tuck still comes across as very young for SR but it is complicated  by the lack of age at death for many of the casualties.  It does show that the SR was used to "top and tail" both the 1st and 2nd battalions as they went off to France but I will have to access the Burrows volumes on the Essex Regiment to see what they have to say.

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13 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

Please, always handy to know where this info came from.

M

Apologies... not sure why I hadn't cited the source, it is Soldier's Died in the Great War (SDGW)

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2 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

the source, it is Soldier's Died in the Great War (SDGW)

Could probably have been guessed at - but best to make sure - thanks for confirming your source.

M

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The official age for entry into the Special Reserve was seventeen years, the same age for Home Service in the TF (excluding 'boy musicians').  

As K. W. Mitchison observes in “Defending Albion - Britain’s Home Army 1908 -1919”, “in reality (recruits to the SR) many were mere boys of 15 to 16 years old who joined the organisation as an alternative to the workhouse.”  The SR was always under establishment and there was always competition for recruits, even before war was declared and the formation of Kitchener's 'New Army'.  The SR was held in particular disdain as an effective and useful force.

If we can avoid the controversy as to geography, the East End of London seems to have been a fertile recruiting area for the SR of the Essex Regiment with young men enlisting from Shoreditch, Poplar, Stepney and even across the River in Bermondsey and Deptford. Many others came from more easily recognisable parts of Essex such as Chadwell Heath and Leytonstone, and of course as far afield as Colchester.

The youngest declared age on an attestation form in a near number survey was 17 years and 7 months, a rather convenient age as after the six months initial training he would be just over eighteen.  This was Pte. 3/1573 Smith a resident of Bethnal Green, enlisted by Sgt Matthews at Stratford on the 12th April 1912.

It appears that Pte. 3/1501 Tuck enlisted in January 1912.

3/1447 Thomas Friend (19) from Bermondsey enlisted on the 29th December 1911.

3/1521 Drane was from nr. Saffron Walden enlisted on the 30th January 1912.

Presumably Pte Tuck would have attested with a declared age of at least 17 to comply with the Regulations and that would have been his “Army Age”.  He was therefore, according to the Army, well over ’19’ for deployment as a member of a reinforcement draft on active service overseas to the 2nd Battalion in April 1915.

Both men, incidentally are commemorated and named on the “County Borough of Southend Roll of Honour”

https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/22791

Sgt. Guiver is also commemorated on the Southend Constabulary Memorial.  I haven't checked but I guess he was also a reservist having served in South Africa, and entitled to the 1914 Star so mobilised at the outbreak of war.

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2 hours ago, kenf48 said:

The official age for entry into the Special Reserve was seventeen years, the same age for Home Service in the TF (excluding 'boy musicians').  

As K. W. Mitchison observes in “Defending Albion - Britain’s Home Army 1908 -1919”, “in reality (recruits to the SR) many were mere boys of 15 to 16 years old who joined the organisation as an alternative to the workhouse.”  The SR was always under establishment and there was always competition for recruits, even before war was declared and the formation of Kitchener's 'New Army'.  The SR was held in particular disdain as an effective and useful force.

If we can avoid the controversy as to geography, the East End of London seems to have been a fertile recruiting area for the SR of the Essex Regiment with young men enlisting from Shoreditch, Poplar, Stepney and even across the River in Bermondsey and Deptford. Many others came from more easily recognisable parts of Essex such as Chadwell Heath and Leytonstone, and of course as far afield as Colchester.

The youngest declared age on an attestation form in a near number survey was 17 years and 7 months, a rather convenient age as after the six months initial training he would be just over eighteen.  This was Pte. 3/1573 Smith a resident of Bethnal Green, enlisted by Sgt Matthews at Stratford on the 12th April 1912.

It appears that Pte. 3/1501 Tuck enlisted in January 1912.

3/1447 Thomas Friend (19) from Bermondsey enlisted on the 29th December 1911.

3/1521 Drane was from nr. Saffron Walden enlisted on the 30th January 1912.

Presumably Pte Tuck would have attested with a declared age of at least 17 to comply with the Regulations and that would have been his “Army Age”.  He was therefore, according to the Army, well over ’19’ for deployment as a member of a reinforcement draft on active service overseas to the 2nd Battalion in April 1915.

Both men, incidentally are commemorated and named on the “County Borough of Southend Roll of Honour”

https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/22791

Sgt. Guiver is also commemorated on the Southend Constabulary Memorial.  I haven't checked but I guess he was also a reservist having served in South Africa, and entitled to the 1914 Star so mobilised at the outbreak of war.

Thank you so much everyone for your responses. A very interesting thread. You are correct, Herbert Guiver was mobilised at the outbreak of the war. I have his 1914 star. 
 

There are a number of Tucks still in the Southend area so may reach out to see if there is a link. I’ll be at Thiepval next March so will be sure to look up his name. 

Cheers

James

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2 hours ago, kenf48 said:

If we can avoid the controversy as to geography, the East End of London

    You certainly may!!  I haven't stopped chortling.   Yes, I agree about the Special Reserve and everything you say.  My look at SR casualties for  Essex SR  up to May 1915 does not suggest anyone that is underage- on the face of it.  But, of course, I have not checked their true dates of birth  as a comparison to Tuck.   I would assume- I think we would agree on this- that Tuck almost certainly added a year to age to qualify.  And likely one of many.   With the advent of the Territorials, SR battalions became much more of a cinderella and, I believe, usually quite a bit understrength-  But there was effectively no change from the Militia that lads too young to serve on regular terms could get in through the back door by the Militia route -and the SR thereafter.

       A small anomaly seems to  have continued-    Despite the  recruiting areas for the  Territorials, your examples  suggest that  SR could recruit from all over Essex. I wonder if this was the case in other historic "counties" where there were Territorial units in the larger towns and cities?

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