Service Number 1480
Regiment Military Provost Staff Corps
Harry Tooke was the only child of Robert and Sarah Tooke. He was born in 1873 in Headingley, Leeds and on census day 1881, Harry was aged 7 and was at school. The family, Robert, aged 29, a joiner from Thirsk and his wife, Sarah, aged 27, from Fife in Scotland, were living at 6 Chapel Street in Headingley. Ten years later, at the 1891 census, the family had moved a few streets in Headingley, and were living at 6 Granby Place. Robert was still working as a joiner, and Harry had now left school and at 18 was listed as a gardener. On the 15th October 1894, Harry, now aged 21 years and 5 months, joined the army. He gave his profession at that time as a groom, and he joined the Royal Artillery.
Harry Tooke enlisted in Leeds on the 15th October 1894, and joined the army in Scarborough. His service number was 6347. He served in the Royal Artillery joining No. 2 company of the West Riding Royal Artillery. Harry underwent his training and served in the UK from his enlistment until the 16th September 1895 when he was posted to India. On the 1st January 1902, his unit became 45 Company of the Royal Garrison Artillery, and Harry served in this unit from the 18th January 1902 until the 19th November 1903 in Aden.
Harry returned to India on the 20th November 1903 and was posted to No. 89 Company RGA. We think this company provided coastal defence at Madras. Harry stayed in India until the 6th April 1906, and from the 16th March 1906 he was posted to the home establishment and served from the 7th April 1906 to the 10th October 1914 in the UK. On the 25th August 1906 Harry was posted to No. 1 Depot of the Royal Garrison Artillery, in Newhaven. Not long after his return to the UK, Harry married Sarah Knight on the 22nd April 1907 in Dover, and their first child, Robert Henry Tooke, was born in Dover on the 7th March 1908. Harry remained serving in the South East and his second child, Kathleen Mary Tooke was born in Newhaven on the 24th May 1909. Just after this, on the 10th June 1909, Harry reverted to the rank of Gunner at his own request - we do not know why. Harry and Sarah's third child, Margery (Marjorie on some records), was born on the 10th July 1910, again in Newhaven.
On the 12th November 1910, Harry left the artillery but remained in the army, transferring as a Lance Corporal into the Military Provost Staff Corps. This unit worked alongside the Military Police, but was responsible for staffing the military prisons.
At the time of the 1911 census, Harry was stationed at the Military Prison in Woking, and his family lived in the married quarters at the barracks. Harry was promoted in this unit becoming a full corporal with service number 1480, on the 10th September 1912, not long after his fourth child, John William Tooke, was born in Aldershot on the 11th July 1912.
As a serving soldier, Harry was one of the first to be sent to France on outbreak of the First World War, serving in France from the 11th October 1914 to the 26th March 1915. On the 17th June that same year, Harry was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Harry returned from France to serve in the UK on the 26th March 1915. The army was conscious now of Harry's age, but on the 18th October 1916, he was permitted to continue in the service in the same unit for the duration of the war. It is likely that this service brought him north, as on the 1st May 1916 his next child, Edward George Tooke, was born in York. 1918 saw a further promotion, to Staff Sergeant, but at the end of the war Harry was discharged on the 4th December 1918.
Between 1918 and 1921, Harry and family moved and settled in Collingham, appearing on the 1921 census living at Elmwood Terrace. One of his sons, Robert Henry Tooke, served in the second World War and his story is told here.
Harry Tooke died in 1936 in the Wetherby District.
Biography last updated 23 May 2023 18:07:47.
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
Pension Record Cards and Ledgers. Case number 4/M T/3235
If you have any photographs or further details about this person we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org