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Herbert Toft

HERBERT TOFT   Lt.   7th East Lancs. Regiment 16906; 3rd Royal Warwicks. Regiment; 821 Sq. RAF

                                        12 October 1918     aged 22

 

Much of what is known about Herbert Toft comes from three newspaper reports about him published before and after his death.

MONTON OFFICER ACCIDENTALLY KILLED

The death has taken place at Lincoln, as the result of a flying accident, of Lieut. Herbert Toft, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, attached to the Royal Air Force, and second son of Mr. and Mrs. William Toft, 16 Pine Grove, Monton. Lieut. Toft, who was a flying instructor, was in the air as pilot with a pupil on Saturday, when something went wrong with the plane, and the machine nose-dived to earth. He was killed instantly, although his companion escaped almost uninjured. The sad end has created deep regret among a large circle of friends. Lieut. Toft was only 22 years of age, having joined the army in November 1914, before he had reached the military age. He enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment as a private, and in May of the following year crossed to France. He was given his commission abroad in November 1916, being gazetted to the Royal Warwicks. He took past in much of the fighting last year, and on May 4th was wounded at Bullecourt, his services on that day being recognised by mention in Sir Douglas Haig's despatches. On recovering in this country from the wounds he became attached to the Royal Air Force, and in June last year was given his wings. His progress in the new branch of warfare he had entered upon gained for him the appointment of instructor, which, as stated, has ended in his untimely death. He was educated at the Monton Day School, under Mr. Tyson, and before the war was an engineering apprentice at Messrs. Nasmyth, Wilson and Co., Patricroft. He was a playing member of Monton Lacrosse Club, and a patrol leader in the 2nd Worsley troop of Boy Scouts. The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon at Worsley Church, a service having previously been held at the Baptist Church, Parrin lane. Several of his fellow officers from Lincoln were present, and a firing party from Heaton Park attended and paid the last military salute. The Boy Scouts were also represented. Lieut. Toft's elder brother, Lieut. Walter Toft is in the Manchester regiment. He enlisted as a private in the Royal Scots in 1914.

[Local newspaper]

 

A second article speaks with pride of the commissions given to the two local brothers.

 

MONTON BROTHER OFFICERS

 

Two Monton brothers who enlisted in the Army as privates have recently been granted commissions. They are Walter and Herbert Toft, sons of Mr. and Mrs. W. Toft, 16 Pine Grove, Monton. Both enlisted in November 1914. Walter joined the Royal Scots, and after six month's training in Edinburgh, he went with his regiment to the Dardanelles. He landed in Gallipoli in June 1915, and then took part in several stiff engagements with the Turks. After the evacuation of Gallipoli he went to Egypt and returned to England in August 1916, and after passing through the Cadet School at Newmarket, was gazetted second-lieutenant in the Manchester Territorial Reserve Battalion, and is now with that regiment somewhere in France. Herbert enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment early in November 1914, and after six months' training on Salisbury Plain, went out to France. Like his brother, he has seen much fighting in different parts of the line. He had not been in France very long before he was raised to the rank of sergeant, though at the time only 19 years of age. He received his commission in November 1916, and was gazetted scond-lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and is now in France. Both are members of the Monton Lacrosse Club, and were keen on the Boy Scout movement in their boyhood.

[Local newspaper]

 

In the 1901 census, Herbert (aged 3) was living at 90 Parrin Lane, Monton, with his family. His father was William (37), a Tobacconist and Fancy Goods Importer. His wife was Annie (40) and they had two other sons, Walter (6) and William Jnr. (3). By 1911, the family had moved to 16 Pine Grove, Monton. His father was now 48  and his mother 54. The eldest son, Walter, was 16 and at school, and Herbert was 14, an office boy in a Shipping House. William and Annie married in the last quarter of 1893, her maiden name being Dowler.

 

In his will, Herbert was of 16 Pine Grove, Monton. He officially died at Scampton, Lincs.,  on 12 October 1918 - a 1st Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. He left his effects of just over £167 to his father William, a commercial traveller. Probate was granted on 6 November. On 13 April 1918, he had been transferred to the newly formed (on 1 April 1918) Royal Air Force, 821st Squadron, 23rd Wing.

 

He may have been born on 22 May 1896 in the Barton District. Although his family had been non-conformist, he was buried in St.Mark's Churchyard. The funeral service had been held at Winton Baptist Church, on Parrin Lane, at 2.30pm. The official church entry reads:

 

Burial: 16 Oct 1918 St Mark, Worsley, Lancashire, England
Herbert Toft -
Age: 22 years

Abode: Northern General Hospital, Lincoln
Grave: 22 N.P.
Notes: Under Burial Laws Amendment Act
Buried by: S.J. Wilson

 

To summarise the information above, Herbert first joined the 7th East Lancashire Regiment with the number 16906. After training, he was posted to France with his regiment, landing there on 18th July 1915. He quickly rose to the rank of acting Sergeant before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to the 3rd Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 11 November 1916. On 13 April 1918, he was transferred to the newly formed Royal Air Force, but sadly died on 12 October 1918 as a result of a flying accident whilst flying with a pupil.

Researched and written by Paul R Speakman

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