Private 9319 Isaac Tonks

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 4th November 1914, age 19.
Commemorated on Panel 35 and 37 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 22nd Brigade of 7th Division.

Son of Isaac Tonks, of 24, Broad St., Wallbrook, Coseley, Bilston, Staffs.
Born: Coseley, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Coseley.

First landed France & Flanders, 4th October 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1626700/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
3 Edge Street, Coseley, Staffs.
Isaac Tonks (34, Puddler, born Coseley), his wife Catherine (31, born Bloxwich), and their 5 children: Thomas (9, born Coseley), Lily (8, born Coseley), Isaac (6, born Coseley), Benjamin (4, born Coseley), Arthur (1, born Coseley).

1911 Census
24 Broad Street, Wallbrook, Coseley, Staffs.
Isaac Tonks (44, Coal Miner, born Coseley), his wife Catherine (42, born Bloxwich), and their 9 children: Thomas (19, Coal Miner, born Coseley), Lily (18, born Coseley), Isaac (16 Box Filler at Blast Furnace, born Coseley), Benjamin (14, Moulder at Foundry, born Coseley), Arthur (11, School, born Coseley), Frederick (9, School, born Coseley), Joseph (7, School, born Coseley), John (5, School, born Coseley), and Samuel (1, born Coseley).

Personal Data

Isaac Tonks was born and lived in Coseley, he is recorded here as he is commemorated on St. John's Memorial; he is not really a Tipton man.
Isaac's brother, Benjamin Tonks, was killed on 11th June 1916 whilst serving with the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers.

Action resulting in his death

In August 1914 the 1st Battalion South Staffs had been in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. They were ordered to return to England, landing in Southampton on 19th September 1914. They were attached to the 22nd Brigade in 7th Division, and moved to Lyndhurst where the Division was being formed. They landed in Belgium on 6th October 1914 to help defend Antwerp, but arriving too late to prevent the city falling to the Germans. Instead, the 7th Division moved to Ypres, being the first British Division to serve in the 'Immortal Salient".

The South Staffs were in the thick of the first Battle of Ypres, in which the British Expeditionary Force suffered 50,000 casualties. Day after day, the British were attacked and day after day they repulsed the Germans. The battle's crisis came on 31st October when the enemy broke through the thin British line at Gheluvelt on the Menin Road and looked set to advance to Ypres. The day was saved by a valiant charge of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, Gheluvelt was recaptured and the British lines were re-established.

There is no 1st South Staffords war diary for this period, it stops on 26th October 1914 as no officer of the battalion was left to write it. On 31st October severe losses forced the creation of composite battalions, the 1st South Staffs and 2nd Royal Warwicks combined under the command of Captain Vallentin.

Wednesday 4th November was seemingly a day of relative quiet, as only one man of the 1st South Staffs was killed - Isaac Tonks. Like the majority of the South Staffs men killed at this time, Isaac has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.

The 1st Battalion was pulled back from the Front just days before the end of the 1st Battle of Ypres. When it had landed in Belgium just a few weeks before it had been a force of 1,100 officers and men. Now only 78 remained. Almost every officer had either been killed or wounded, and only one N.C.O., Company Sergeant Major F. Bytheway, was left to bring the men out of action.

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