Geoffrey Alfred Sutton
Known in the family as Monk, he was not related to Tubbs in his lifetime, but his sister Irene later married Cecil Burnell Tubbs.
Monk was in uniform from the first day of the war until his death in November 1917. Much of his correspondence and some ephemera survive
His father was a Church of England Clergyman, then in charge of the parish of Eaton Bray in Bedfordshire
His great grandfather was the founder of the Suttons Seeds Company in Reading which had become a nationally important provider of disease resistant potatoes and many other bulbs and seeds.
Monk, The Artists Rifles and The London Irish
WE have already raised the possibility that there was something sinister about Monk’s fascination with Irish matters but his known Irish associations in London appear to be entirely innocent. Geoffrey Alfred Sutton was the older brother of Irene E Sutton and therefore would have been CBT’s brother in law, had he survived. Monk’s two brothers both served in the WWI. Will was a regular soldier, commissioned in the Somersets. Basil was a motor engineer, and served with the Army Service Corps which was responsible for the army’s transport. GAS was a member of London Irish in the 1913-14 Season. It was a rule that all playing members and officials be of Irish birth or parentage. I am not sure that Monk could easily demonstrate that. Both his parents were born in Reading. The Suttons had been in Reading for generations; the Moxhays arrived in Reading from Exeter. It is hardly surprising that GAS was a keen Rugby man. Haileybury is a rugby school and there is a fixture list of the Haileybury Wanderers Football Club for 1908-9 Season. Their ground was at Ponders End, whither the railway line wanders via Enfield to Hertford, home to Haileybury School. His membership card for London Irish reports that the club was founded in 1898 and that the Ist XV played at Heathfield, Wandsworth Common and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th teams played at Catford, one of many sports clubs having land in the Catford and Beckenham area. One suspects that word went round in the city that it was time to grab land before it was built on. Various illuminati were Vice Presidents including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In other words there is nothing to suggest, then as now, that there is anything suspicious about being a member of London Irish. One VP was Stephen Gwynn MP. He was a Protestant Irish Nationalist representing Galway City on behalf of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Gwynn later fought in Connaught Rangers during the War. Presidents have included architects, peers and Air Commodores but at the time it was the Rev JR James, who resumed the presidency after the war – all Protestants one supposes. Monk has written in the results of all the fixtures for the season. I am not sure if he observes the custom of reporting Home team first, so I have not analysed the results so far. The London Irish held social events at the Irish Club, 28 Charing Cross Road. For example there was a Cinderella Dance on Shrove Tuesday, 4th February 1913, a whist drive on February 8th and the annual dinner on Saturday February 22nd, tickets 4/-. There is a ticket for the Ireland v Scotland match at Lansdowne Road on Saturday 28th February 1914. Admit to touch line seats (Reserved). 1/-. The ticket does not admit to ground. Don’t follow that, but I suppose that the arrangement is similar to a modern reserved railway journey where the seat and the travel fare are on different tickets, at least until the newly announced ticketing arrangements come into effect.. Kensington Rowing Club
We have already mentioned Monk’s membership of the Kensington Rowing Club and his famous victory just a few weeks before the outbreak of war. The entire membership list is printed in the Rules and Fixture list for each season. He was a member in 1914 but his name is not printed in his copy for 1913. It is reasonable to guess that he joined during the season. Another new member in 1914 is JD Nolan. I think Nolan is the link to the Irish Community. There is a card for Nolan giving his address as 4 Castleton Mansions, SW, with a telephone number of Putney 121. Nolan’s family had a house furnisher and decorator’s business on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. The Gaelic League of London, 35 Lamb’s Conduit Street. This is another organisation with distinguished leadership. The president was an Hon. and JP Boland MP was a vice president. The League was an organisation for the preservation of the Irish Language and Traditions. All of Irish Birth or Descent (Capitals sic) are eligible for membership. Minimum subscription 2/6. There is a letter of 8th July 1914 from the Hon Secretary of the League (though not the same Hon Sec as printed on the letterhead) which is seeking financial donations from the London Irish. The letter is addressed direct to Monk at his address at Belvedere Road, Crystal Palace, though it was later forwarded. This was a circular letter where “a mutual friend has very kindly furnished us with the names and addresses of members of the London Irish Rugby Club”. This was slightly before the Data Protection Act. The Artists’ Rifles.
Territorial units as they were in the first world war dated only from the 1907 Haldane reforms, where volunteer units became territorial battalions within regiments whose 1st and possibly other battalions were regular. Territorial companies had existed in other forms for centuries and the Artists’ Rifles was formed in 1859 and always enjoyed the patronage of artists. The assumption was that Territorials would not be required to serve overseas, but there does not seem to have been any outright restriction, particularly if they volunteered. In 1910 “when asked to nominate for Imperial Service overseas in the event of mobilisation, less than 10% of the Force chose to do so. In August 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, territorial units were given the option of serving in France and, by 25 August, in excess of seventy battalions had volunteered. This question over the availability of territorial divisions for overseas service was one of Lord Kitchener's motivations for raising the New Army separately.”(Wikipedia). The “Artists’ “ Rifles Mobilization Instructions were issued in April 1910, printed on a single sheet. Kit Bags not to be relied on. All essential articles should be carried on the man. Carefully cut toe nails. Get Hair cut short, and other useful advice is given by way of being an order. These orders should be hung up, ready for instant reference, in the bedroom of every Member of the Corps, over a box containing the articles to be carried by him above referred to. It appears that Monk joined the Artists soon after coming to London. 5th August 1914
Army Form E635 in green envelope Form D419 is sent to Monk, and all other territorials, one supposes. It is entitled “Embodiment” No 47. Pte GA Sutton A/1209
Whereas the Army Council, in pursuance of His Majesty’s Proclamation, have directed that the 28th (County of London) Battalion The London Regiment is embodied on the fifth day of August 1914 You are hereby required to attend at Headquarters not later than 12 noon o’clock that day. Should you not present yourself as ordered you will be liable to be proceeded against. This is signed by one Blackwood Capt, Adjutant. Headquarters at the time was the splendid building on Duke’s Road, St Pancras, which has already featured here. I don’t know where they drilled in London. The Regiment also acquired barracks in Romford, possibly only after the war began. December 8th 1914. Monk received a pass (No 15) from the Artists’ Rifles lasting to 9.15 pm on 3rd January 1915 allowing him to proceed from Hare Hall Camp, Romford to Dunstable. This is signed by Capt JH NPadfield, on 8th December.
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