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A Living Memorial?  The Role of Great War Veterans in the Toc H Movement

Independent scholar

I am an author and independent scholar who completed a PhD at Birmingham University in the Department of Modern History 2013.

Publications Include:

The Whole Armour of God - Anglican Army Chaplains in the Great War (Helion, 2009)

Chapter  “Shell Shocked Prophets” in The Clergy in Khaki- New Perspectives  on British Army Chaplaincy in The First World War (Ashgate 2013).pp.169-183.

Shell Shocked Prophets, Former Anglican Army Chaplains in the Inter-War Years (Helion, March 1915)

A Fool for thy Feast, The life and Times of Tubby Clayton (Helion, November 2105).

In previous years, I have presented papers at Birmingham University, Wolverhampton University, at the ICMH conference, Beijing in 2015, at CUNY New York and at the Mid and West conferences on British History in Detroit and Calgary.

The Revd Tubby Clayton set up what was described as “A Haven in Hell” in Poperinghe in 1915. Talbot House, or “Everyman’s Club”, was a rest centre where the spirit of friendship and equality were paramount. Above Tubby’s study door was the sign “All rank abandon ye who enter here.”

Tubby had collected the names of many of the men who used Talbot House, and after the war set up The Toc H Movement to continue the spirit of equality and friendship that had existed in Talbot House. Toc H became in the inter war years a national and international movement in which veterans played a large part.

 This paper will examine the role played by veterans, of all ranks, in the development of the movement. The desire to remember the sacrifices of the fallen and the continuation of war time comradeship   was held in tension with the aims of the movement   to look to the future and help create a fairer society around its principles: Service, Friendship, Fair mindedness and Reconciliation. Tubby summarised the aims: “The perpetuation of the active service atmosphere of fellowship, the extension of this tradition to the younger generation, and the continuation of the Talbot House tradition of service, thought and conduct.”  The paper will examine whether the movement became the “Living Memorial” Tubby envisaged. 

Sources used will include the private papers of Tubby Clayton, the Toc H archive at Birmingham University and the contemporary church and national press."