We Who Are Left Grow Old

Not all those men who went to war between 1914 and 1918 were killed – in fact the majority came home. Of the 33 connected with Tyndale who served during the war, 22 survived. Here are the stories of some of them.

Probably the two who had the most distinguished professional careers were the Sargent brothers, especially the older one. They were the sons of Edward Sargent, who had been a Tyndale deacon since 1895. Both were medical doctors who served in the Medical Corps (the RAMC). Eric, the younger brother, had become a member of Tyndale in 1909 and was working at St Thomas Hospital in London before the war. He served in the rank of Captain in the Middle- and Far-East. After the war he resumed his medical career and lived to the age of 84, dying in 1974 in London. His older brother, Percy, a Tyndale member since 1886, was already a distinguished doctor before the war with a practice in Harley Street in London. Starting the war as a Major, he was promoted to Colonel and became the Consulting Surgeon to the British Armies in France. He was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) and the CMG (Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George). After the war he was the Senior Surgeon at St Thomas Hospital in London and Professor of Surgery and Pathology. He was knighted in 1928. However, Sir Percy Sargent died at the age of 59 in 1933.

While three Robinson brothers were killed, their two cousins survived. Percy and Harold were the sons of Edward Robinson, the church treasurer for many years, and also treasurer of the Baptist College and of the B.M.S. Percy was already in the army when the war began, a Captain in the Royal Field Artillery. He was seconded to the Indian Army and then promoted to the rank of Major, serving as a staff officer before returning to the front in 1916. He too was awarded the DSO and was “Mentioned in Despatches” (almost equivalent to a gallantry medal) on two occasions. In 1917 he served in another staff post as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General to the 2nd Army Corps with the rank of Colonel. After the war he returned to Bristol and, after his father’s death, lived in the old family home – “The Towers”, in Sneyd Park. His younger brother, Harold, also served as a staff officer and returned to Bristol after the war where he died in 1954.

A Military Cross was won by Captain Kenneth Parsons in 1918. He led a successful raid on a machine gun post and carried a wounded soldier back to British lines after the raid. He was also wounded himself – in the elbow – and ended the war back in England, in Exeter, recovering from his wound. His brother, Arthur, served as a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards and subsequently in South Wales Borderers and the Welsh Fusiliers. After the war he went to Canada, where he married, but returned to Bristol before moving to Cornwall where he died in 1974 at the age of 78.

Another family of brothers, a family recently arrived at Tyndale, consisted of Lloyd, Dick and Joe Timmins. Lloyd was one of at least four Tyndale men to serve in India. This was probably because sick and wounded men from the Middle East were sent there to recover. Dick had been an apprentice before the war, attending evening classes at the University. He served in the RAMC in Mesopotamia and wrote an interesting description of that country for the Tyndale children. Like his brother, he too was sent to India, where he served as a hospital orderly. Joe was in the Navy, serving on HMS New Zealand in the North Sea. In 1917 he was discharged on health grounds, his ill health brought on by the rigours of the North Sea in winter.

Also in the Navy was Thomas Dixon, another doctor. He had been born in China, but became a Tyndale member in 1910, the year before he married Bessie Lane. While practising in Bristol, he was in the Royal Naval Reserve and was sent to sea on board HMS Kent. Amongst other places his ship called in to Cape Town, where he met up with his wife’s brother! His own brother, Charles, had a commission in the Somerset Light Infantry.

Another of those who went to India – twice – was William Cuff. He was in the army before the war, in the East Lancs Regiment in India. Later he served with the Somerset Light Infantry in France and then in Salonika (northern Greece). From there he went to Mesopotamia where he was wounded and sent to Bombay in India. After the war he also returned to Bristol, where he died, aged 72, in 1962.

While some were sent to India, Frank Fox had been born there. Before the war he had been a civil engineering student and a member of Bristol University’s Training Corps, which led to his commission first as a Lieutenant and then Captain in the Worcestershire Regiment. He appears to have seen out the war in England, serving at a Depot in Hampshire. After the war he returned to Bristol, married twice and died in London in 1980 at the age of 89.

These are just some of those who survived the war, and about whom I have been able to unearth some details. The other survivors from Tyndale that I know of were: William Pitt, Clifford Porteous, Stanley Robinson, Albert Rossiter, William Stewart, James Turner and Alan Whitewright.

On Remembrance Sunday, quite rightly, we remember those who were killed. But we should also not forget those who returned. At the very least they interrupted their careers and missed out on several years of family life. Some never fully recovered from their experiences. When we say “we will remember them” let us also include these men.

David T. Roberts