Captain GEOFFREY ARNOLD TUGWELL
Remembrance - The Yorkshire Regiment, First World War
Captain Geoffrey Arnold TUGWELL
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Captain GEOFFREY ARNOLD TUGWELL

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Captain Geoffrey Arnold TUGWELL

4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Son of Frank and Louisa A. Tugwell, of 40, Esplanade, Scarborough. Previously wounded. Killed 23 April 1917. Aged 24. Commemorated Bay 5, Arras memorial.

The photo of Captain Tugwell, and the information from the Roll of Lancing College, have been provided by John Hamblin (<jc.hamblin@btopenworld.com>).

From the Roll of Lancing College, where he went to school and where he was in Olds House from 1906 to 1909;-
"Son of F. A. Tugwell of Scarborough. Mentioned in despatches. Twice wounded at Ypres and on the Somme. Killed in action in France on the 23rd of April 1917".

A very full biography of Captain Tugwell is provided by John Lee-Smith (<j_lee-smith@sky.com>), Hon. Secretary of the South West of England MedalsClub, and this is given below;-

Geoffrey Arnold Tugwell was born at Scarborough on the 25th of November 1892 the second son of Frank Alfred Tugwell, an architect, and Louisa Annie (nee Backhouse) Tugwell of 40 Esplanade, Scarborough in Yorkshire.

He was educated at Eastman's School at Southsea and at Lancing College where he won an Exhibition and was in Olds House from September 1906 to December 1909. While at school he developed a passion for classics and poetry and was a member of the Officer Training Corps for three years, attending two annual camps at Aldershot. On leaving school he travelled in France and Germany to study languages there He worked as a designer of Scotch tweed.

Following the outbreak of war he applied for a commission in the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment on the 23rd of August 1914 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the battalion on the 5th of September 1914. At a medical examination it was recorded that he was five feet seven inches tall.

He embarked with his battalion from Folkestone on the 17th of April 1915 and landed at Boulogne at 2am the following morning. They moved first to Cassel by train and then marched to billets at Godwaersvelde. They arrived at Vlamertinghe near Ypres at 5pm on the 22nd of April. On the 23rd of April they marched out at 10pm and moved to positions on the western bank of the canal at Ypres near St Julien where they were moving up to help prevent a German breakthrough following their gas attack of the 22nd of April. While they were there they came under intermittent shell fire during the morning of the 24th of April which wounded Geoffrey Tugwell in the lower leg and also wounded four or five other men. He was evacuated to the rear and was then loaded on board the Hospital Ship "Valdivia" at Boulogne on the 26th of April and landed at Southampton the following day.

He was taken from Southampton to Highclere Castle Hospital at Newbury where the shrapnel was removed from his leg. He remained there until the 27th of July 1915. A Medical Board which sat at Edinburgh concluded: -

“The Board find that he sustained a gunshot wound of the right leg. The bullet was extracted at Highclere Castle Hospital, Newbury on the 7th May. The wound was septic and failing to heal was opened and scraped two months later. The wound is still unhealed but is looking fairly healthy.”

He was sent on sick leave until the 21st of September 1915 and underwent further treatment at York Military Hospital before a Medical Board, held at the same venue on the 6th of January 1916, concluded that he was "fit for general service".

He returned to the front when he took part in the fighting for the "Bluff" at Ypres in February 1916 and in the fighting on the Somme between High Wood and Martinpuich later that year. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 27th of March 1916 with precedence from the 1st of August 1915.
On the 26th of September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment was ordered to attack the German trench known as "Crescent Alley" near Martinpuich on the Somme at 11pm and to bomb their way up it. In the event, the Division which was supposed to attack on their flank did not and, although the Yorkshires managed to get into the German trench, they were forced back to "Starfish Trench" to reform having suffered casualties of two officers killed with five wounded and around one hundred other ranks killed wounded or missing. Geoffrey Tugwell was dangerously wounded in the leg during the attack and was evacuated to the rear. He was loaded on board the SS "Western Australia" at Rouen on the 4th of October 1916 and landed at Southampton the following day.

He was mentioned in Sir Doulas Haig’s despatches of the 13th of November 1916.

On the 15th of November a Medical Board was convened at Caxton Hall to consider his case: -

"He was hit by a bullet, as above, on the outer aspect of the right thigh about the middle. It passed through causing a compound fracture of the right femur and escaped on the positive aspect. Present state - wounds are healed. He is getting about on crutches. There is slight shortening."

He attended a further Medical Board at the Military Hospital at York on the 1st of February 1917 which noted: -

"There is one inch shortening of the right leg - he walks without a limp. He wears a spring in his boot."

He returned to France and was promoted to Captain while in command of a Company on the 11th of March 1917. In April 1917 50th Division, of which the 1/4th Yorkshires were part, was ordered to attack on a front of about nine miles from Croiselles to Gavrelle to the west of Cherisy as part of the ongoing Battle of Arras.

At 4.15am on the morning of the 23rd of April 1917 the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment reported that they were in position for the attack and at 4.40am two tanks which had been attached to the Division began to roll slowly forward. At 4.45am 84 eighteen pounder guns and 30 howitzers began firing on the German positions which immediately caused the defenders there to fire flares in the air to signal to their artillery that an attack had begun. 40 seconds later the German counter fire came down on the attackers. About one hundred yards from their own trench the 4th Battalion ran into their own barrage and suffered a few casualties. W Company on the right of the attack came under fierce rifle and machine gun fire and were forced to take cover in shell holes 50 yards from the German front line. When the tank caught up with, and went ahead of them, they managed to rush the trench which was heavily defended but the defenders were overcome in a brief but bloody fight. In the centre of the attack X Company met less opposition and took the enemy trench with about 30 casualties from artillery and machine gun fire. At 5.25 am the surviving men of the two companies then set out for the German support trench which was found to be filled with dead Germans. At 6.05am they began to dig in on a line 100 to 200 yards to the west of their first objective. By this time there was only one officer remaining from the original attack but he was soon wounded and then killed. At 7am the Germans counterattacked and by 8.10am the Yorkshires were back in their own front line where they had started some three and half hours before. Casualties were eleven officers and three hundred and fifty two other ranks killed wounded and missing.

His Colonel, F.F Deakin, wrote:-

"I regret to tell you that your son, Captain Tugwell, was killed in action on 23rd April. He was killed instantaneously and did not suffer at all. On behalf of all ranks I beg to send you our most sincere sympathy. He was a gallant and promising officer, I had the very highest opinion of him-and his men would follow him anywhere-at the time of his death he was leading his men most gallantly in a very successful attack. You can be very proud of him--as we all are. Once more I send you our very sincere sympathy, and anything we can do, if you let me know, I will see it is done."

Another officer wrote:-

"How much he was loved; how sadly he will be missed--he was one of our finest officers."

Another wrote:-

"I need not tell you what we thought of Geoffrey. He was friend to everyone-officers and men alike. His men worshipped him and would follow him anywhere. We all knew his sterling worth on the Somme in September and I don't think his men will ever forget him."

One of his NCOs wrote:-

"To know him was to love him."

One of his men who was on sick leave in England wrote:-

"We're losing one of our finest young officers today, going back to France, tho' mind you he ought not to go (his broken thigh was not perfectly healed), but he's that keen. When asked which officer he was referring to he said "Oh! we always call him "Our Tuggy"."

His father, having received his son’s effects, wrote to the War Office on the 5th of June 1917: -
Dear Sir,
With reference to yours of the 25 May. I have now received my son’s kit as well as what was supposed to be in his pocket. There was only a small stamp book, whereas we know that with him were a gold cased watch, a wristlet watch, silver, another with luminous figures, to say nothing of his revolver, prismatic compass etc. I merely raise these points as to me there is something terrible that an Englishman should be found mean enough to rob a dead officer. There is no excuse as the attack was purely local and successful; my son fell just outside his own trench. I am Sir, Yours Faithfully F.A. Tugwell

His brother applied for his medals in February 1922.

A photo of the Officers of the 4th Battalion in April 1915, which includes Captain Tugwell, can be seen on
www.ww1-yorkshires.org.uk/html-files/photos-officers4thbn1915.htm

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