This blog post was prepared by volunteer, Frank Lockley.
Alfred Tonks was born in Barnsley in 1894. In the 1901 census he is shown as living in Cannock Road Wolverhampton with his grandmother Phoebe and family. In 1911 he is living at 20 Frederick Road, and working as an apprentice plumber.
He joined the 6th Territorial Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment in 1911, and his service records show that he attended training camps of 2 weeks each in 1911, 1912 and 1913.
He was promoted to Lance Corporal in July 1914, then Corporal in Feb 1915. He served in France 5 March 1915 to 9 June 1915, and discharged on 4 Feb 1916 due to the “termination of the period of engagement”. As he had suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and was hospitalised in London for 5 days from 10 June 1915, he did not sign up again. Following his discharge Alfred was awarded a pension of 12 shillings a week for 12 months from 27 Dec 1917. The award sheet for a disablement pension shows that he was assessed as “this man’s incapacity in the general labour market is lessened by 40% for 12 months”
Alfred married Elsie Ricketts on 3 June 1918 at Holy Trinity. They had a son, Arthur, in October of that year but Alfred died on 31st October 1918 and was buried on 4 November in a family grave, together with his son Arthur aged just 16 days. Their address is given as Graisley Lane, Wednesfield.
It is possible that both Alfred and Arthur were victims of the flu epidemic. The following week, the Express & Star reported that there had been 40 deaths from flu in the town that week, a figure that indicated the epidemic was on the point of subsiding and had reached its peak. However, Elsie’s son from her second marriage, Ken, believed that Alfred was shot in the head by a stray bullet while he was peeling potatoes. The suggestion is that it may have been “friendly fire”, but we cannot be certain of this.