A. G. Tuffrey
Service no. 93886
Gunner, Royal Field Artillery (3rd Prov Battery)
Died age 35 on 17 December 1917
Information from Mike Tuffrey (no relation to Arthur George Tuffrey)
Arthur George Tuffrey (1881-1917) enlisted 29 November 1915 and served as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery. He was discharged in April 1917 as permanently unfit to serve due to tuberculosis and bronchitis on both lungs. A widower when he volunteered, Tuffrey left two young sons, then aged 8 and 6.
Arthur George Tuffrey was born on 16 Dec 1881 to John Tuffrey and Mary (née Parnham), in Brompton London, and grew up in and around Chelsea, where his father was a coachman. Before the war he worked as a bank messenger.
He and Madeline Ruth Barnes were married at St Barnabas, Pimlico on 8 August 1908. Madeline’s father, John Barnes, was a coachman, originally from Walsingham, Norfolk.
Madeline and Arthur moved to Stockwell and lodged at 49 Thorne Road. Two sons followed – Alec Arthur John, born 12 April 1909, and Mervyn Harry, born on 12 November 1911. However Madeline died just days after Mervyn’s birth, presumably due to complications, leaving Arthur with two small children.
The family moved in with Tuffrey’s parents at 30 Edithna Street, off Landor Road, Stockwell. Also in the neighbourhood was his older brother William Frank, a postman, living at 43 Tradescant Road with his wife, Ellen.
Under these circumstances, it is all the more remarkable he decided to enlist. Perhaps the answer lies in him having previously served, before the war started, four years in the 2nd Middlesex Artillery Volunteers. After signing up in November 1915 he was mobilised in June 1916. The records are silent about his service during his short period; not overseas, apparently. They do however tell us he was of fair complexion, with grey eyes and light hair, standing 5 feet 9 inches tall. His military character was ‘good’, described as steady and sober.
Illness cut short his service, albeit assessed as not the result of ordinary military service but aggravated by it, resulting in total disablement and entitling him to a pension.
He was discharged from Norfolk War Hospital, Norwich on 26 April 1917, as permanently unfit to serve. He did not recover and died at Greenwich on 17 December 1917, aged 35.
Just a few months before that, Arthur’s younger brother Harry had died, aged 33 in May 1917, also of illness aggravated by active service. He had served in the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) and was buried in Herne Bay cemetery, leaving a widow and two young children.
John Tuffrey continued living at Edithna Street, after the wartime death of two sons and then of his wife Mary in 1919. He died in 1924, aged 73. His son William, the postman, stayed in the neighbourhood, moving to Coronation Buildings on South Lambeth Road with his wife and children. He lived through the second war, dying in 1946.
And what of Arthur George Tuffrey’s orphaned sons, Alec and Mervyn? They moved to Oxfordshire, to be cared for by Hannah Turner, a cousin, who received the widow’s pension. The 1921 census finds them in Ambrosden, Bicester, with Hannah and her father, James – Arthur George’s uncle and brother-in-law to John Tuffrey, having married his sister, Eliza. Alec and Mervyn were described as nephews and presumably regarded Hannah as aunt, or surrogate mother. Both later married, had their own families and lived until 1978 and 1986 respectively.
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
British Army World War I Pension Records 1914-1920