25th County of London Cyclist Battalion
The London Regiment

Ernest Andrew TOOKE

Ernest was born in 1899 in Southwold, Suffolk, England, the son of Alfred William Tooke, a fisherman, and Mary Elizabeth Deal.

In the 1911 census Ernest is still living with his parents at 13 Church St, Southwold, a school student.

Ernest Andrew Tooke, of 13, Church Street, Southwold, attested for the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment, a Territorial Force Battalion, on the 21st September 1914 at Saxmundham. He stated that he was previously in the Boy's Brigade. He was accepted and posted to “D” Company, with Regimental Number 1994. He is described as being aged 19 years and one month, 5’ 8½” tall, with good vision and physical development. Ernest’s medical Category on enlistment was A.1. His date of birth is later recorded as the 5th February 1895, and where recorded his age is consistently overstated by 4 years. However birth, marriage, and census records confirm he was born in 1899, hence he was only 15 when he enlisted.

On the 23rd November 1915 he was transferred to the 1/25th London Regiment, also a Cyclist Battalion, with regimental Number 3123 (which became 741370 when the Regiment was re- numbered), and on the 24th Ernest signed form E624, subjecting himself to liability to serve in any place outside the United Kingdom in the event of National Emergency.

In February of the following year Ernest went with the Battalion to India.

On the 27th May 1917 Ernest was “compulsorily transferred in the interest on the service” to the Wessex Divisional Signal Coy (TF) and posted to Inland Water Transportation, Royal Engineers. He mustered as a Sapper, and was allotted Corps Number 505751, later becoming WR309148. He embarked on the troopship Elephanta on the 27th May 1917 and disembarked at Basra on the 5th June [the year here is shown as 1918, surely an error]. Ernest, a Fisherman by occupation, was tested as a Seaman, and classified as such. His classification was raised from Proficient to Skilled in November 1917

Ernest spent from the 17th December 1917 until the 28th December in the 31st British Stationary Hospital, Baghdad, with “debility”, and had another spell there from the 31st January 1918 until the 6th February. On the 2nd August 1918 Ernest was admitted to the 40th British General Hospital at Basra and discharged on the 10th with the abbreviation S.FF “A”, probably meaning sand- fly fever (see below). On the 16th he “proceeded to the fighting forces in France per [troopship] Ekma”, and was struck off the strength of the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force.

There is no record in his papers of his actually landing in France, and he is shown at “Home” from the 27th October 1918.

On the 5th November Ernest was admitted to Bermondsey Military Hospital, where he was diagnosed with Sand- fly Fever, contracted in Afghanistan, which left him “much debilitated”. He was discharged from the hospital on the 15th, when he was granted 10 days furlough and posted to the Depot at Richborough, considered “Fit for Duty”.

Ernest did not make any claim of disability due to his service. His occupation prior to joining the Army was Fisherman, his last employer being [his father] Mr A. Tooke, of 13, Church Street, Southwold.

On the 24th December 1918 Ernest was posted to the Dispersal Centre at Purfleet and granted 28 days furlough. His medical Category was then B III.

On the 21st January 1919 Ernest was disembodied on demobilisation.

On the 15 July 1920 he married Annie Frances Yerrell at St. Anne's Church, Wandsworth. :-
     Ernest Andrew Tooke, age 21, batchelor, fireman, of 40 St. Annes Hill, father Alfred a fisherman &
     Annie Frances Yerrell, age 18, spinster, same address, father Frederick John Yerrell a labourer.

Annie died in 1926. Ernest re-married in 1928 to Edith Emma Vaughan.

Station Officer ERNEST ANDREW TOOKE of the London Fire Brigade died of his wounds due to enemy action at Church Down School, Downham on 8 October 1940.

He is remembered on the Roll of Honour at the church of St John the Baptist, South End.
Ernest Andrew, age 41; Station Officer, London Fire Brigade; of 388 Bromley Road. Son of the late Alfred and Elizabeth Tooke, of Southwold, Suffolk; husband of Edith Emma Tooke. 8 Oct 1940, at Churchdown Fire Station.
[Source - Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Civilian War Dead in the United Kingdom, 1939–1945. 7 volumes. 1954-1957. London, United Kingdom: Peter Singlehurst.]

Probate - Tooke, Andrew Ernest of 388 Bromley Road, Catford, London S.E.6 died 8 Oct 1940 at Church Downs School Downham Bromley Kent. Administration Llandudno 12 Feb to Edith Emma Tooke widow. Effects £797 9s 6d.
Photo courtesy of Bradley Hackwell

India - Ernest on the left.

Ernest as a fireman in WW2

[Photos courtesy of Gareth Sanger & Jane Elizabeth Tooke]

More on Sandfly fever that Ernest contracted in Afghanistan in 1918 :-
Sandfly fever or Pappataci fever. This disease is carried chiefly by Phlebotomus papatasii, and is found in many parts of northern and wetsern India extending from Karachi across to the northern part of the United Provinces and to Bihar. The mortality rates are especially high in north-west India, where, among British Army troops stationed at Peshawar in the North West Frontier province, the total yearly rate was 179.7 per 1,000 per annum in 1937, and for all Indi the rate was 24.6. It occurs more commonly during the summer and early autumn. Sandfly fever rarely causes death, but like dengue fever, is the cause of high morbidity rates.
[Global Epidemiology V.1 - by Simon etc. London 1944]

[My thanks to John Andrew for the summary of Ernest's WWI service records.]

The Local History and Archives Centre, Lewisham - Archives A/18/26 for photographs of First World War Service, Second World War Fire Service and Grave in Bromley.

Ernest A Tooke in St. John the Baptist Church Memorial Book, South End.

Roll of Civilian War Dead 1939-1945 - Westminster Abbey



  Photos courtesy of Westminster Abbey and Jane Elizabeth Tooke.

Copyright © Simon Parker-Galbreath - Please acknowledge these web pages, & the original source, or email me for permission to reproduce items (normally given) :-