A Poppy
A Poppy

Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Ventnor -
- St Catherine's Church -
William Tozer Memorial -


In St Catherine's Church, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38
IWM War Memorials Archive Record

This Memorial is not recorded by the War Memorials Archive
Historic England Listing Status

St Catherine's Church is Listed Grade II. Since the Memorial forms part of the fittings of the Church, it is assumed to be covered by the Listing.

Copper plaque on oak mount. Engraved by Mr. Henry Osborne, of Union Street, Ryde. Funded by the Yarborough Lodge (551) of Freemasons. Unveiled and dedicated 16th May 1918.


William Tozer
click image to enlarge



Further Information

Born 1882, Merthyr Tydfil, the son of Thomas and Emma Tozer of Penydarren, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

Census information :

1891 : Thomas and Emma Tozer, with their children including William aged 8, are at 96 Church Street, Merthyr Tydfil. Thomas Tozer is a Loco Coal Man.

1901 : Thomas and Emma Tozer, with their children including William aged 18, are at 1 Church Street, Merthyr Tydfil. Thomas Tozer is a Gardener; William Tozer is a Solicitor's Clerk.

1911 : William Tozer, aged 28, is a Boarder with Mrs Bessie Lake, at Navarino, St Boniface Road, Ventnor. William Tozer is Town Clerk, Urban District Council. Also a Boarder is Henry Hughes Oakes, Surveyor, Urban District Council.

Service Details :

Lt William Tozer, 4th Hants Howitzer Battery, Royal Field Artillery (TF).

Casualty details :

Died 16 May 1916, aged 34, of disease incurred while a prisoner of war.

Commemorated at Basra Memorial, Iraq.

CWGC record ...

The CWGC record gives a date of death of 5 May 1916. His Medal Index Card gives 5/5/16, later amended to 16/5/16.

Commemorated on these Memorials :

Ventnor War Memorial
1/5th Hants Howitzers Memorial, Freshwater
1/5th Hants Howitzers Memorial, Drill Hall, Newport
County War Memorial, Carisbrooke Castle

Newspaper reports :


Friday, September 4, 1914 Page 1

Lieut. Tozer paid a recruiting mission to the town on Tuesday on behalf of the Hants Howitzer Battery. We understand he had authority to raise 40 recruits. Several business houses were visited, and as a result 11 new men were enrolled. The Battery are hard at work on Salisbury Plain, and their progress towards the highest efficiency has been very satisfactory.

Lieut. Tozer was sent down especially by his General from Salisbury Plain. He has had a busy time, and his task has been by no means a light one. He has not, however, left a single stone unturned, and has been working practically night and day. He raided all the business houses and shops in the town where eligible young men are reported to be working, and has also extended his activities to neighbouring districts. On Wednesday evening he paid a flying visit to Shanklin and attended a public meeting being held there. Colonel Rhodes, who was present, mentioned the fact that Colonel Powell was in urgent need of 50 more men to complete his battery for foreign service. Lieut. Tozer visited Shanklin again yesterday morning in the hope of securing at least a dozen men from this district. He returned to Salisbury Plain to-day (Friday).


Friday, January 15, 1915 Page 1

The council have officially appointed Mr. Hughes Oakes Town Clerk, in the absence of Mr. Tozer.
(not all the report has been transcribed)

Page 3

Ventnor District Council
The Committee reported that they had received a letter from the Board of Trade with reference to the foreshore regulations, intimating that before they can give their formal sanction to such regulations it was necessary that they be signed by the Clerk to the Council. The Committee therefore recommended that Mr. H. Hughes Oakes be appointed Clerk during the absence of Mr. Tozer on Military duty. In moving the adoption of the report, Mr. Brading said this would render many other things easier if the appointment was made. Mr. Leitch seconded and it was carried.


Friday, February 26, 1915 Page 1

We hear that Lieutenant W. Tozer, of the 4th Hants Howitzer Battery, has recovered from a recent attack of illness in India, but that his general health is still far from satisfactory.


Friday, April 23, 1915 Page 5

SINCEREST SYMPATHY will be felt with Lieut. W. Tozer, our esteemed Town Clerk, who is now on military service in India, in the death of his mother, which occurred recently.


Friday, September 17, 1915 Page 1
Lieutenant W. Tozer, of the 4th Hants Howitzer Battery, has been attached to the 5th Hants, and sailed from Karachi on the 29th ult. for active service in the Persian Gulf.


Friday, December 3, 1915 Page 4

Lieut. W. Tozer, of the 4th Hants Howitzer Battery, has been slightly wounded in action, but was able to proceed with the Battery in the advance on Bagdad. The news was received by Mr. Hughes Oakes by cable from Basra.


Friday, December 31, 1915 Page 2

Lieut. Tozer again Wounded
Following a cable last week stating he was well, Lieut. W. Tozer (the Ventnor Town Clerk) cabled to Mr. H. Hughes Oakes on Tuesday of this week stating he had again been wounded, but that there were no complications. It is supposed he was in the action reported in Tuesday's papers as having taken place on Xmas Day.


Friday, April 14, 1916 Page 1

Reassuring news has been received of Lieut. W. Tozer, who has been with General Townsend's beleaguered force at Kut-el-Amara since December last. On Monday Mr. H. Hughes Oakes received the following cable from Lieut. Tozer, which was obviously sent by wireless to Basra: - "Kut-el-Amara, 8th April, 1916, through Basra, Oakes, Ventnor. Well; inform home, - Tozer." We shall all earnestly hope that relief will soon come to our gallant soldiers in this remote theatre of the war.


Friday, March 17, 1916 Page 4

Bombardier W. Thorpe, who formerly worked for Mr. James Knight, writes from Aden to a friend saying : - "The 4th Hants Howitzer Battery has been in action again, but there were no casualties. Captain Clayton [*] (son of the Rev. and Mrs. A.P. Clayton) has left Aden and gone to the Persian Gulf. He is missed very much, as he was a considerate and nice officer. Lieut. Tozer has been wounded again, but only slightly. On the whole, the Battery has been very fortunate as regards illness, although it is not difficult to catch fever where they are. Summer is coming on, and the heat already is intense." The communication is dated February 23rd.

[*] Biography for his brother, Captain E H Clayton


Friday, May 5, 1916 Page 1

The news of the surrender General Townshend at Kut was received in the town on Saturday with the most poignant expressions of regret. It is difficult to precisely ascertain the numbers of Ventnor men who have been with the beleaguered garrison, and any attempt in estimating the actual number would be guess work. The Times on Monday had the following paragraph: General Townshend's force includes the Hants Howitzer Battery, R.F.A., Territorials, under Major H.G. Thomson, of Yarmouth. The battery was formed principally of men belonging to the Newport, Ventnor, and Freshwater districts of the Isle of Wight, where news of the surrender caused a deep impression. The battery had distinguished itself in fighting up to Ctesiphon, having been specially congratulated by the General on its work. Major Thomson recently sent a message home stating he had recovered from wounds and was doing well. Another officer of the battery, Lieutenant R.L. Flux, a solicitor, of Ryde, was recently awarded the Military Cross. His father is serving as captain of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the Western Front. Lieutenant Tozer, of Ventnor, is another island officer with the battery, which left India for Mesopotamia just over 13 months ago.


Friday, May 12, 1916 Page 1

Through the initiative of Dr. Robertson [*] the Council will have a record on the minutes of how much we all sympathise with Lieut. Tozer in his anxieties. To be wounded twice and then taken prisoner has been our Town Clerk's misfortune in the present struggle. We shall all hope that if still ill he will be among the prisoners who are being exchanged.

[*] Dr Robertson was the father of Alan Diarmid Campbell Robertson


Friday, May 12, 1916 Page 3

Ventnor District Council
On the motion of Dr. Robertson, seconded by Mr. Burt, the Council passed a vote of sympathy with Lieut. Tozer who had been shut up at Kut, and his family.
Dr. Robertson said it became them to take some notice of the misfortune which had befallen Lieut. Tozer and express sympathy with him and his family in the added anxiety caused by Lieut. Tozer having first been wounded and being now a prisoner in the hands of the Turks.
The Chairman said he was sure all of the Councillors would like to second that proposition.
They sincerely hoped Lieut. Tozer would come out all right at the finish (hear, hear).
He had had a hard time at Kut, and he (the speaker) was sure his relatives would be only too pleased to hear that expression of the Council's sympathy in the matter.
(not all the report has been transcribed)


Friday, June 9, 1916 Page 2

Ventnor District Council
The following letter was read: -
No. 1, Church Street,
Merthyr Tydvil.
Dear Mr. Oakes, - My father and I desire to thank your Council for their kind sympathy with us in our anxiety regarding my brother, W. Tozer. It has greatly cheered us to know that the Council is taking an interest in his welfare. I feel assured that the affairs at Ventnor are ever in my brother's thoughts, and if he knew of your kind expression of sympathy with us he would undoubtedly be exceedingly thankful to you.
We hope and pray that he is not suffering much, and that some day he will return to be a faithful servant of the Council, also a kind and loving son and brother to us again, as he has always been. Will you please convey this message to your Council and accept our thanks for the papers you so kindly forwarded to us?
I remain yours sincerely,


Friday, June 16, 1916 Page 4

A message has been received by Mr. H. Hughes Oakes [regarding] Lieutenant Tozer who our readers will be glad to hear is well, although a prisoner in the hands of the Turks. The letter is as follows: - "Before leaving Kut I was asked by your friend, W. Tozer, to inform you that he was enjoying good health and was quite cheery despite the fact that he is a prisoner of war. When General Townshend surrendered Kut, the Turks treated the garrison quite well, and it was the general opinion that they were in a good hands. A Turkish officer told us just before we left Kut that all the British officers were being sent to Constantinople. Whether this is true or not I could not say. You may receive a letter from Tozer quite soon after this, but as I was on my way to India it was no trouble for me to acquaint you as to his welfare."


Friday, July 14, 1916 Page 1

The news circulated on Saturday that Lieut. W. Tozer, Town Clerk of Ventnor, had died of disease caused profound sorrow in the town. The only ray of hope is that the information is unofficial. Some time ago reassuring news was received of his recovery from wounds received in action, and when the Kut-el-Amara garrison surrendered after terrible privations satisfaction was expressed that for the time being at least he was safe. On Saturday last, however, Mr. H. Hughes Oakes, the acting Town Clerk and Lieutenant Tozer's closest friend for several years, received a letter (containing the following copy of a communication received from the Exeter Administration Centre) from Miss M. Tozer, sister of the gallant officer: -
Sir, - it is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office as follows: - It has been officially reported that Lieut. W. Tozer, 1/5th Hants Battery, R.F.A., died of disease as prisoner of war (date unknown) on steamer en route to Bagdad. Source of information was semi-official letter from Major General C.J. Mollis to General Sir Percy Lake. Should any further information be received you will at once be notified. - Major, Exeter Administration Centre.
It is significant that Lieut. Tozer has not been officially reported as a prisoner of war, neither has he communicated with his friends since April.
The sad intelligence was referred to at the meeting of the Ventnor District Council on Monday, a report of which appears elsewhere. Lieut. Tozer had been Town Clerk of Ventnor since April 27th, 1908, until the mobilization of his Battery on the outbreak of war. He was 34 years of age. Before coming to Ventnor he was clerk and accountant to the Rothwell (Northants) District Council, and held a commission as Lieutenant in the Northants Volunteer Regiment. At the time of his first appointment, Lieut. Tozer was, we believe, the youngest Town Clerk in England. He performed his duties at Ventnor with characteristic courtesy and great ability. What is more he took an energetic part in the life of the town apart from his official duties, although he never subordinated these for any ulterior object.
He did excellent work for the "Ventnor Week" a few years ago, and was most active in the enterprise for securing the Band of the Royal Fusiliers which played with such favour on the Pier and Cliffs in 1913-14. Just before the outbreak of war his efforts contributed in no small measure to the success of the visit of Foreign Editors to Ventnor. In the carnivals, too, and indeed in everything that tended to bring the town to public notice, Lieut. Tozer spared no effort, and in him the town had a most loyal and conscientious official.
He was the Senior Warden of the Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons, and would have been elected to the highest position at the disposal of the Lodge last year but for his absence on military duty. The members were eagerly anticipating his return home. In private life Lieut. Tozer was much esteemed for his sound qualities and to many he was a staunch and loyal friend.


Friday, July 14, 1916 Page 2

Ventnor District Council
At the commencement of the meeting the Chairman rose and said: Before proceeding to the business of the Council I am very sorry to say that Mr. Oakes has had a communication from Mr. Tozer's sister announcing that she has had an unofficial notice from the War office saying that Mr. Tozer is no more. It is an unofficial notice, and I think it would be the wish of the Council that Mr. Oakes should write to Miss Tozer saying that we all hope for the best and that what is given unofficially will prove untrue.
Dr. Robertson seconded and asked if Lieut. Tozer's name had been published. Mr. Tory said he did not think so, but considering the tone of the letter he was afraid the news might prove only too true. The proposition was carried.
(not all the report has been transcribed)


Friday, July 21, 1916 Page 1

A melancholy interest attaches to the mention on Friday last of Lieut. Tozer's name in the list of those brought to notice by General Townshend in connection with the operations under his command. Major H.G. Thomson's name and that of seven men of the 2nd Wessex Brigade are also mentioned.
A former resident writes to us regretting the news concerning Lieut. Tozer, and adds: - "Few officers could have carried out their work with more courtesy and smoothness than Lieut. Tozer. He was always keen and assiduous in what he undertook, and brought an initiative and energy to his work that must have been of great value to the town. I have been unable to trace his name in the published casualty lists, but I shall look deeper now with the hope of finding a contradiction of the un-official information you gave last week.
A Ventnor tradesman relates an incident which recalls Lieut. Tozer's energy in his military duties. Soon after the outbreak of war he called and said he had important business. The tradesman replied that he supposed he had come to settle up matters in connection with the fund raised locally for entertaining foreign editors in July, 1914. "No," replied Lieut. Tozer, "that can go for the present. I have called on far more important business than that. As a matter of fact, I want your clerk to come with me and enlist." The tradesman readily gave his consent, and the employee referred to soon afterwards left for the operations in Mesopotamia, where he now is. At the time of writing, no further news has been received, nor has anything appeared in the Press, correcting or substantiating the unofficial news of Lieut. Tozer's death.


Friday, August 4, 1916 Page 1

Lieut. W. Tozer was officially reported "missing" and unofficially reported "died as a prisoner" in the casualty lists published on Monday.


Friday, August 4, 1916 Page 2

Ventnor District Council
A letter was read from Miss M. Tozer, thanking the Council for their sympathetic expressions in reference to the reported death of her brother, Lieut. W. Tozer.
(not all the report has been transcribed)


Friday, September 22, 1916 Page 1

At the opening meeting of the Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons on Tuesday, the presentation was made to the Lodge, as a gift from Bro. E.G.H. Wetherick, of a framed portrait of the late Bro. and Lieutenant Wm. Tozer. The photograph was taken from a snap-shot which was obtained while Lieut. Tozer was in India, and it has been faithfully and most beautifully enlarged by Porter and Co. It conveys a life-like impression of our late esteemed Town Clerk. In offering the gift to the Lodge, Bro. Wetherick made an eloquent and moving reference to Lieut. Tozer, during which he referred to his high sense of public duty and his patriotism in coming forward to his offer his life "so that we who are left at home may live." Going on to speak of Lieut. Tozer's personal qualities as a friend and of his connection with Yarborough Lodge, Bro. Wetherick, with feeling emphasis, gave expression to the deep regret which Lieut. Tozer's death has caused to the brethren.

The Worshipful Master, Bro. Victor G. Middleton, accepted the portrait on behalf of the Lodge, and added a few appreciative remarks of Bro. Tozer's life and service. The following is appended to the portrait:

"Brother William Tozer, S.W., Yarborough Lodge, 551, 1915-1917. Volunteered and served as First Lieutenant in the 2nd Wessex (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A. (T.F.), in the Great War, 1914-19 - Three times wounded and died as a prisoner of war on the surrender of the troops under the command of General Townshend at Kut, 1916. Mentioned in despatches. Presented by Brother E.G.H. Wetherick, P.P.J.G.W., September 1916."


Friday, December 1, 1916 Page 5

The Late Lieut. Tozer.
Official information has now been received from the War Office confirming the death of Lieut. W. Tozer, the Ventnor Town Clerk. The sad event occurred after two days' illness on May 16th, 1916, on board the s.s. Jelna, the cause of death being gastro-enteritis. He had previously been wounded three times while with the beleaguered Kut garrison. Lieut. Tozer was buried with military honours on the banks of the Tigris. Several letters written by him just before his death - some of them of a pathetic nature - have been handed to his friend and colleague, Mr. H. Hughes Oakes.


Friday, January 19, 1917 Page 5

Corpl. F. Drake, "A" Battery R.F.A., of Ventnor, writes stating he has been discharged from hospital at Mhow, India. ... "I was sorry to learn from your paper that Francis Hess is dead also Lieut. Tozer. I had served with both of them and I was always thinking how nice it would be to join them when we relieved Kut, for we should have supplemented them had it been accomplished. We were like demented fellows when it was announced."

(not all the letter has been transcribed)


Friday, March 16, 1917 Page 1

Largely through the initiative of Mr. F.C.Y. Smith, the Council have resolved to make arrangements for placing a tablet in the Council Chamber in memory of Lieut. W. Tozer, the late Town Clerk.


Friday, March 16, 1917

Page 3

Ventnor District Council
The Committee recommended the Council to consider the question of placing a tablet in the Council Chamber in memory of the late Lieutenant Tozer.
In moving this Mr. E.W. Vincent said they would like in some way to mark the late Lieut. Tozer's association with the Council. Although it had been suggested to have a roll of honour of all who were serving from Ventnor, Lieut. Tozer was in the unique position of being Clerk of the Council. They appreciated him while he was with them and appreciated his action in going on service (applause). The suggested tablet would not only keep him in their memory, but do honour to the Council in this marking his services to them, the town and to the country. Mr. Smith seconded, and said he had been wondering whether it would not be well to invite the different associations with which the late Lieut. Tozer had worked in a honorary capacity to identify themselves with the memorial fund. Several people had suggested that those societies would be only too glad to join with the Council in the matter. The Chairman said that was a wise suggestion which the Council welcomed. The proposition was unanimously agreed and Dr. Robertson suggested that the matter be referred to a Committee to bring up the form and wording of the memorial. In the meantime the different societies to which Mr. Smith had referred could be communicated with.
(not all the report has been transcribed)


Friday, January 18, 1918 Page 1

The Council decided to defer the question of a memorial to the late Town Clerk, Lieut. Tozer, till the larger question of a memorial to all from Ventnor who have fallen is settled. We are somewhat surprised at the decision. Lieut. Tozer was immediately identified with the work of the Council and of the Town, and most people will agree with Mr. Smith's remarks at Monday's meeting that instead of waiting till after the war such a memorial should at once be erected in the Council Chamber and be independent of any general memorial to local men who have fallen. The expense would amount to a few pounds only. So deep and marked is the respect for our departed Town Clerk in local circles that we have no doubt the money would be subscribed in a few hours. We ourselves would guarantee to raise it in a week. It is possible private means may be sought of perpetuating the honoured memory of Lieut. Tozer, irrespective of any action the Council may take in the matter.

Friday, January 18, 1918 Page 2

Ventnor District Council.
The Committee reported that they had considered the question of a memorial to the late Town Clerk and had resolved that the matter stand over until after the war, when a proposed memorial to all those townsmen who had fallen will be considered.
Mr. Smith said he was sorry to see that this was left over till the question of a general memorial came up. Lieut. Tozer was particularly connected with that Council, and the memorial would be one from the Council and the other public bodies with which their late Town Clerk was associated. His (the speaker's) idea was that a tablet should be erected in the Council chamber to his memory and he would like to see it proceeded with at once. Lieut. Tozer went through a terrible amount of suffering almost directly he set foot in the Persian Gulf, but he hardly laid up at all. He moved that the report of the committee be referred back with a view to the memorial being carried out at once.
The motion found no seconder and the committee's recommendation was adopted.
(not all the report has been transcribed)


Friday, February 1, 1918 Page 1

The suggested memorial to Lieut. W. Tozer, formerly Town Clerk of Ventnor, is taking definite form. It has been inaugurated by the Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons, of which Lieut. Tozer was one of the most esteemed members. During the year previous to the war, he filled the Senior Warden's Chair, and would have been appointed to fill the highest office at the bestowal of the lodge on his return. The members feel that sufficient time has elapsed since his death for immediate action to be taken to perpetuate his honoured memory, and they think that further postponement is undesirable. It is proposed that the memorial shall take the form of a engraved tablet, to be erected in St. Catherine's Parish Church. The subscription list is being readily supported and we have no doubt that sufficient money will be contributed to erect a lasting tribute to the personal worth of our late Town Clerk, together with a record of his self-sacrifice in the interests of his country.


Friday, March 22, 1918 Page 1

A vestry meeting was held at the Parish Church on Wednesday, when it was decided to apply for a faculty for the erection of a memorial to the late Lieut. W. Tozer, formerly Town Clerk, who died on active service. The memorial will take the form of an engraved copper tablet and the cost has already been defrayed by donations among the Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons on the initiative of Wor. Bro. E.G.H. Wetherick. The late Bro. Tozer was Senior Warden of the Lodge at the time of his death. Permission to place a memorial in the church for Lieut. Eric Watkins, South Bank, who also died on active service, will be included in the faculty to be applied for.


Friday, May 3, 1918 Page 1

The memorial for Lieut. W. Tozer, formerly Town Clerk, of Ventnor, will be unveiled at the Parish Church on Thursday afternoon May 16th. A special service is being arranged for, under the auspices of the Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons (551), through whose efforts the tablet has been provided. A large attendance of members of the craft throughout the Island and of the general public is expected.


Friday, May 17, 1918 Page 2

Ventnor District Council.
The Chairman referred to the memorial service for the late Lieut. W. Tozer, and invited members to attend ...
(not all the report has been transcribed)

Friday, May 17, 1918 Page 3

The late Lieut. W. Tozer.
Considerable public interest was shown yesterday (Thursday) in the service arranged at the Parish Church of St. Catherine by the Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons in memory of the late Lieut. Wm. Tozer, formerly Town Clerk of Ventnor, who died while on active service in Mesopotamia. Lieut. Tozer held the office of Senior Warden of the Lodge when he was called up for active service, and the members have shown their recognition of his many personal qualities and of the warm place he held in their esteem by placing a memorial in the Church. The dedication of the tablet was the chief feature of yesterday's service, the ceremony being performed by Wor. Bro. H.G. Giles, P.G.D., Provincial Grand Secretary. The Volunteers paid a last tribute of respect to one, who although not actually their comrade in arms, took an active interest in local volunteer matters. Lieut. W. Tozer was granted a commission in the Howitzer Battery of the Western Brigade and served for some time under the late Major J.J. Malcolmson. The Volunteers assembled at their Drill Hall under Lieut. W.H. Lawler, and marched to the Church. Those of the company who are Freemasons fell out at the Masonic Hall, and joined their colleagues in the procession to the Church. White gloves were worn. There was a large attendance of members of Yarborough Lodge, and the following Isle of Wight Lodges were also represented - Albany, Chine and Sandown.
There were several members of the District Council and other public officials in the Church.
The choir, with Mr. Higgs at the organ, led the impressive singing of "O God our help," "Fight the Good Fight," and the special psalm (lvi). The opening sentences were read by Rev. Bro. W.H. Mackinnon (Newport), the prayers by the Vicar (Rev. R.W. Colquhoun), and the lesson by Rev. Bro. J. Seaver, B.D. (Rector of Bonchurch).
In the course of a well-expressed and eloquent address characterised by plain and sympathetic utterance, Bro. Giles said they were assembled to commemorate the sad loss of a brother whose memory they cherished and who took a part in the life of the town. Freemasons at large showed the highest respect to their departed brother. A great compliment had been paid him (the speaker) by the brethren of the Lodge in inviting him to dedicate that memorial. The compliment was due to the fact that he was initiated into Yarborough Lodge 41 years ago, and looking up the records he found that only one other brother stood before him, and he only by four months. Perhaps also the compliment was paid him because he was a member of a family who had been residents in the district for many years from whatever cause, he did indeed consider it a high compliment. The late Bro. Tozer came to Ventnor in 1908. He was a greatly esteemed citizen and entered into everything which had for its object the welfare of the town. He took a prominent part in the work of the Ventnor Advancement Association, the Regatta and Carnival Committees and the Ventnor Week. In all these respects he exhibited a strong desire to bring forth the best that was in him for the benefit of his neighbours. In spite of all, he never neglected his public work. As a Freemason, he was initiated in 1908. He was for two years Secretary of the Lodge, one year Junior Warden, and Senior Warden when war broke out. These services showed how keen a Mason he became. He was also a member of the East Medina Chapter. Had war not occurred he would have been elected Worshipful Master. As to his military career, he held a commission in the Artists Rifles and on coming to Ventnor was transferred to the 4th Hants Howitzer Battery in 1914. He was sent to India and there transferred to the 1st Hants Howitzer Battery. He was wounded four times and went through the siege of Kut-el-Amara. It was a coincidence that his (the speaker's) younger son was sent to fill a vacancy in the same battery. He went up with the relieving force, but did not reach Kut before it fell. Bro. Giles then gave a short account of the hardships endured by the men in this campaign. They were short of rations and had a very large number of Arabs to feed. All this added to the troubles of those in charge and the gallant General Townshend. It was not until every man was beyond work and practically starving that the gallant General capitulated, namely, on April 29th, two years ago. They could not help feeling that the brother whose memory they mourned that day was one of the thousands who had equally made the last great sacrifice. Bro. Tozer was never a robust nature. He died on the way from Kut to Baghdad. He was taken prisoner and succumbed on a steamer while going up the river. They could only picture his comrades burying him on the banks of the Tigris - a brave man who laid down his life for King and country. Wherever he lies may the soil lie lightly, and may his memory be ever green. Concluding Bro. Giles said he desired on behalf of Yarborough Lodge to thank the Vicar and Clergy who had assisted at the ceremony. They asked the vicar of that Church to accept the memorial as a sacred trust.
The tablet having been unveiled, Bro. Giles then dedicated it, using the following impressively rendered prayer: - "To the Glory of God, the Great Architect of the Universe, and in memory of Bro. William Tozer, I dedicate this memorial, in the name of the brethren of Yarborough Lodge, No. 551, on the register of the Grand Lodge of England. May the Grand Architect of the Universe by His mercy bring peace and relief in their sorrow to all those who mourn the loss of our good brother, who laid down his life for his country and his King."
The tablet is of copper mounted on oak. The engraved inscription is as follows:
To the Memory of
Lieutenant William Tozer, R.F.A.,
Town Clerk of Ventnor, 1908-1916,
Died at Kut-el-Amara,
Whilst a Prisoner of War,
May 16, 1916.
This tablet is erected by the Brethren of the
Yarborough Lodge of Freemasons, No. 551, Ventnor

after the singing of the last hymn "Fight the good Fight," the solemn tones of the ever impressive "Last Post" reverberated through the Church. It was sounded by Messrs. G. Dennes and L. Hess. Then the singing of the National Anthem closed the service, which throughout was singularly solemn and impressive.
Mr. James Tozer, the late Lieut. Tozer's brother, occupied a seat in the Church.
The organist played "O rest in the Lord," while the congregation assembled, and funeral music afterwards.
The tablet was supplied by Mr. Henry Osborne, of Union Street, Ryde, and is a tribute to his craftsmanship and taste.
On adjourning to the Masonic Hall, a large body of Masons supported the proposition of the Worshipful Master, Bro. G.H. White, in a warm expression of thanks to Wor. Bro. Giles for his visit. - This was supported in felicitous terms by Wor. Bro. E.G.H. Wetherick and heartily adopted.
The smooth working of everything associated with the ceremony was in large measure due to the careful arrangements made by Bro. Wetherick, on whose initiative the memorial was originated.


Friday, May 17, 1918 Page 1

The dedication of the tablet and memorial service for the late Lieut. W. Tozer yesterday at the Parish Church provided an impressive and solemn occasion. Apart from the local Freemasons, under whose auspices the memorial was provided, and Island members of the Craft, there was a good attendance of the general public. The late Lieut. Tozer, by his courteous and unobtrusive personality, won the deepest affection of all classes, and among Masons especially his memory will always be reverenced. His charming kindness of heart, natural and unselfish generosity and sincere and consoling sympathy for anyone in trouble were strong characteristics which always appeared to the brethren of Yarborough Lodge, in which he held high office at the time of his death.


Friday, July 26, 1918 Page 1

Sergt. Francis Drake, R.F.A., is home on a month's leave after three years' continuous service in Mesopotamia and India. While in the neighbourhood he visited the burying place of Lieut. W. Tozer and Gunner Francis Hess, both of whom died in the Kut campaign. Another Ventnorian, Mr. A.S. Moorman, is home after service in East Africa.


Friday, October 18, 1918 Page 2

"COMRADES OF THE GREAT WAR." - Through the instrumentality of Dr. Reginald Roberts a meeting in support of this organisation was held at the Soldiers' Institute last (Thursday) night and was attended by about twenty discharged soldiers, who in some cases were accompanied by their wives. - Dr. R.J. Roberts filled the chair and having briefly opened the meeting, Major Richardson from Headquarters gave an explanatory address on the objects of the Society. He said he had learned that the late Lieut. Tozer was associated with Ventnor, and it would interest them to know that he (the speaker) was on the same boat when Lieut. Tozer died on the way to Kut-el-Amara. He could have put out his hand and touched him as he lay on the boat. He was a high-minded and generous man. Major Thomson, who was in charge of the Howitzer Battery, was also known to the speaker. Major Richardson proceeded to give a very interesting address which we hope to refer to next week.


Friday, April 25, 1941 Page 1

News has been received by cable of the death at Regina, Canada, on Easter Sunday, of Mrs. Bessie Mary Lake, wife of Mr. Ernest Edward Lake, at the age of 78 years. Many of our readers will remember Mrs. Lake, whose husband was for a number of years in business as a baker and confectioner at 105 High Street, Ventnor. After leaving this business, Mr. and Mrs. Lake removed to "Navarino," St Boniface Road, and it may be of interest to recall that the late Mr. William Tozer, who was at the time the esteemed Town Clerk at Ventnor, and who died at Kut in the Great War of 1914-18, and also the late Mr. H. Hughes Oakes, the Town Surveyor for many years, both made their home with Mrs. Lake.
(not all the report has been transcribed)

Further information :

Battle of Ctesiphon (Wikipedia article)

Masonic Great War Project entry for Lt. W. Tozer

Artist Rifles (Wikipedia article)

Acknowledgments :

Janet Griffin for newspaper research

Page last updated : 24 July 2014 (added further newspaper report)


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