1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Cecil Robert Tolcher - Morse

Contributed by: Tana Burdon nee Shackell, on 2008-11-23

No portrait available
Rank
First Name Cecil Robert
Surname Tolcher - Morse
Year of Birth 1897
Year of Death 1917
Regiment London Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence

Cecil Robert's Story

Rifleman Cecil Robert Tolcher was my great uncle he was Riflleman No 5045 in the 9th Battalion London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles).

He served on the Western Front from 5th November 1914 until he was killed in action on Tuesday 23rd January 1917 at Merville France, where he is buried in a War Grave : No II A 30 in Merville Communal Cemetery.

Cecil's sacrifice is also commemorated in Salcombe Devon on a granite memorial cross which stands overlooking the Salcombe estuary (Frederick William Tolcher his father came originally from Salcombe Devon).

Cecil saw action in the 2nd Battle of Ypres where gas was used for the first time and later in the Battle's of Neuve Chapelle in 1916 and the opening of the Somme Offensive in a divisionary attack which was effectively to divert the attention of the German troops from the Somme Battle fields this action took place at Gommercourt Wood a German held position, which involved trench warfare and the use of concrete bunkers.

By the time the QVRs reached the Battles at Arras and Passchendaele Cecil was no longer in their ranks.

On the day Cecil perished his Battalion was in trenches near Lavente which were very heavily shelled, the garrisons had lost a considerable number of men. The troops were not only fighting in a quagmire of mud and filth but also had to contensd with bitter winter conditions with night time temperatures of -2 c and heavy frost plumetting to -14 c by the following week causing severe frost. They were suffering from exposure, trench foot and frost bite which rapidly turned to gangrene, despite these harrowing conditions the troops continued their offensive, holding out against the German front line, with constant raids and artillary duels.

Cecil was a victim of one of these raids. His mother was later sent his medals and other mementos of his heroic sacrifice but she was so disgusted by the entire episode that she returned themm to the War Ministry.

The family have no photo's of Cecil, however his memory is never forgotten and the brave sacrifice made by him and thousands of others is a poignant reminder to us today to strive to live in peace with each other.

Cecil also had a Brother Alexander ( Sandy ) James Tolcher who survived the War - James served in a Berkshire Regiment.

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