Sutton-1915 - The Tubbs - online

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 served throughout 1915 in the Artists Rifles but was wounded and returned to Blighty to convalesce

At the Front.


There is some mystery about this. The online histories of the regiment report that it split into two battalions around the beginning of the war. The popularity of the Artists with public school men may have influenced its selection as an Officer Training unit, which it became again in WW2 before disappearing and then emerging again to form part of the SAS. One remained based in Romford and the other became an Officer Training organisation based in Bailleul France. According to those sources the Artists did not fight at the Front until November 1917 and was then part of 190th Brigade, 63rd Division, by which time the two battalions had merged back into one. Monk definitely went out to France and was definitely still attached to the Artists as a private soldier, so at least part of the Artists served at the front in 1915. The normal army structure at the time was: 3 battalions (each under a Lieutenant Colonel) formed a brigade (under a Brigadier General), three brigades a division (under a Major General), three divisions a Corps (under a Lieutenant General) and two or more corps an Army (under a General). A regiment (with a Colonel as c/o) might consist of any number of battalions but these were not usually brigaded together. 7th May 1915. Monk’s brother Will wrote to an unnamed officer in Monk’s Battalion enquiring after his health. “Having been fast on your right I realize what a time you have been having. If my brother is all right would you very kindly let him know that I am yours “ etc Capt Som LI 11th Bde. Will was in 1st Battalion as he had been for many years. The letter is written on the back of a Messages and Signals form. According to the history of the SLI 11th Brigade was out of the line from 4th-8th May. On its return to the line it took part in the battle of Frezenberg Ridge at Vlamertinge, part of 2nd Ypres. The Somersets’ history records that “by the middle of May 1915 the Ypres Salient had acquired that evil reputation which clung to it throughout the war”. Will’s concerns were not imaginary. Frezenberg is just North of the Ypes-Roulers Railway, no more than a couple of miles from where Seymour Tubbs would lose his life two years and much fighting later, so probably Monk was even nearer to the site of his future brother-in-law’s death, though neither of them would live to enjoy that status. The correspondence is far from complete for 1915 but it is evident that Monk received some form of wound, a Blighty One, from which he gradually recovered over the next months and once back on light duties his time was divided between the Artists’ headquarters in London and their depot at Romford. He was quickly bored with administrative work on the men’s pay and badly wanted to get a commission and be back on active service.

28 September 1915. Furlough until 7/10/15 permitting Monk to proceed from Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, via Cosham Station to Dunstable. This is signed by Lieut-Colonel ?Evans? RAMC).

7th November, Hammersmith, postcard. Just starting for HQ so no news yet.

23 November 1915. YMCA Postcard, England, Stamp Removed. I have been hanging about HQ the last day or so. I came down to Romford today. I think I shall either get some more leave or a job in the QMS.

24th November 1915. London. On a postcard from which the stamp has been cut out so that part of the message is missing Monk writes “ ? found me a job at ? all right, but the doctor had a good look at me and gave me a fortnight more. I shall be down by the 2-3 tomorrow I suspect.”

9th December 1915. Postcard Hammersmith. I have got furlough up to Jan 3 1916. I left my kitbag at Gidea Park .. so I don’t know when I shall come down.

So far there have been no surprises, but in 1916 things turn out very differently.