Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
16 Jan 1918
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
Soldier or Civilian
James Gwilym Tooth was a boy of 14 years when he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a trumpeter, following his father's footsteps into Army life.
He was born in Woolwich, Kent in 1891.
In 1901 the family are living at Shoeburyness barracks in Essex. His father James is 38 years old & a Staff Sergeant in the R.G.A, his mother Emily is 34 & at home looking after 10 year old James, Irene 8, Gwendoline 7 & 2 year old Dorothy.
James was 5ft 1inch tall, had a shallow complexion & hazel eyes when he joined the R.G.A on 19th November 1904 & already had a scar from a hernia operation & also a scar on his right elbow.
On 26th November 1907 he was posted to Simonstown, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa with his unit the 84th Company Royal Garrison Artillery. The Cape was a British Colony in Africa taken from the Dutch in 1804. It was a very good place for ships to stop for provisions as it was on the trade routes from Europe to the East. In June 1911 he had risen in the ranks to Bombardier when he joined the 97th Company in South Africa.
Whilst James was overseas, in 1911 his sister Gwendoline was living at 53 Conway Road Luton, a live-in domestic servant for Thomas Holton, company secretary for a motor company. Dorothy was living at 92a Crawley Road with their widowed mother Emily & Irene was in Leicestershire living with her grandmother & uncle & working in a corset factory.
On the outbreak of WW1 he had been promoted to Sergeant & was posted to France, serving in the 15th Siege Battery. He fought on the front line where he was given orders to destroy enemy artillery, supply routes, railways and stores using the heavy Howitzer guns.
He married Lillian Gertrude Windrew on 14th June 1916 in Prittlewell, Essex.
The Roll of Honour tell us that he was wounded in November 1917 & suffered from shell shock, unfortunately only a pension record survives for James but this does not give any details about his wounds or the treatment he received & where. Sadly James died on 16th January 1918 in Colchester (possibly the military hospital there). He is buried in Crawley Green Cemetery.