2nd Lieutenant Robert Huntriss Tolson
Born. 6th November 1884, Kirkheaton, Huddersfield.
Killed In Action. 1st July 1916, Aged 31.
Robert Huntriss Tolson, named after his Grandfather, a waistcoat Manufacturer, was one of 6 sons and daughters of Mr Whiteley and Mrs Jessy Tolson (nee Huntriss - died in 1904) of Oaklands, Dalton, Huddersfield. He was educated at Aysgarth, and King Williams School Isle of Man. When war broke out was living with his wife Zoe at 78 Holly Bank, Leeds, and working at Beckett’s Bank Leeds.
He enlisted into the Public Schools battalion, as a Private. But because of his education was soon given a Commission into the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. In September 1915, he was transferred to the “Pals” whilst they were at Ripon. He immediately became commander of 2 Platoon, 'A' company where his Commanding Officer was Captain Phillip Horace Leyland Mellor. He served with the “Pals” at Ripon, Egypt and France.
Robert Huntriss-Tolson lead No 2 platoon of A Company in the attack on Serre over the top on the 1st July 1916, at the Battle of the Somme.
His family must have gone through a very traumatic time as they were being given conflicting information:
Yorkshire Evening Post July 10th 1916. ........Robert Huntriss-Tolson is posted as missing.
Yorkshire Evening Post July 11th 1916 ........“It now appears that 2nd Lt R.H.Tolson is no longer missing, but is wounded and in hospital. A telegram to that effect has been received, from the War Office, by his Father”
Yorkshire Evening Post July 12th 1916. ......“We stated yesterday, through a misunderstanding, that Mr. Whiteley Tolson, of Dalton, Huddersfield, had heard. From the War Office, that his son, 2/LT R.H.Tolson, of the Leeds Pals Battalion is wounded and in hospital. All the news at present, received on Lt R.H.Tolson, is that he was wounded on the 1st July, and this is confirmed by a letter from the battalion chaplain (Reverend Claude Chappell), to Lt Tolsons’ wife, but his father has no news of his whereabouts, and is very anxious.
Robert Huntriss -Tolson had in fact been killed on the 1st July 1916. He was later buried in Serre Road, No 1 Cemetery.
The story of the Tolson family loss does not finish there...... on the 20th October 1918, the youngest Tolson sibling, James Martin Tolson, at the age of 20, was killed in action. James was a 2nd Lt in “A” Battery, 74th Brigade the Royal Field Artillery.
He was burried in Quievy Communal Cemetery Extension, Cambrai.
In 1919, Legh Tolson, the brother of Whiteley Tolson, who was living at “Ravensnowle Hall”, made a gift of his house to the Huddersfield Corporation as a tribute and lasting memorial to his two nephews. This later become the“ Tolson Museum”. The family home of “Oaklands” in Dalton was sold to Huddersfield Corporation in 1944 and used as an old peoples' home for the next 50 years. It is now an office for the Social Services.
A plaque to the two brothers, is displayed at the Museum, it reads: