Philip Thomas Tucker

Philip Thomas Tucker was born on 7th May 1899 at Ridge Farm, Hoe Benham, where his parents William and Annie ran a bakery and grocers shop.  He was one of eight children.

The Tucker family lived at Ridge Farm from the 1880s until the 1980s. The property was a smallholding rented from the Sutton Estate, like those of many of their neighbours at Hoe Benham. The bakery was very much a family business, although one of Philip’s uncles, Thomas, was a Sergeant in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.  In the years before the Great War the Tuckers also took on a milking herd, kept by Philip’s brothers William and Eric, and in time gave up the bakery to concentrate on dairy farming.

Philip attended Wickham School from March 1904 until about 1915/16.  The 1911 census shows him as an 11-year-old schoolboy living at home at Hoe Benham, with his father’s occupation given as ‘baker and dairy farmer’.  It is presumed that Philip then helped with the family business until joining the Machine Gun Corps as a Private, service number 137887.

He saw service in France, during which he was invalided back to England suffering from influenza and tonsillitis.  He recovered and left home again in good health around the beginning of April 1919, when his unit was ordered to Egypt, probably as part of the forces sent to help restore order there during the uprisings for independence from the British Protectorate.  At this point he was serving with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps, which acted as a training unit and supplied drafts to the active service battalions.

Philip Tucker died of asphyxiation in Italy, en route for Egypt, on Monday 14th April 1919, at the age of 19.  He is buried in the Communal Cemetery Extension at the town of Arquata Scrivia, about 100km southeast of Turin.  At the time Philip was here, the town was serving as a Lines of Communication Headquarters and Base Supply Depot, and most of the men buried in this cemetery are those who died of disease at one of the stationary hospitals there.

A private inscription has been added to Philip’s headstone, which reads:

I heard the voice of Jesus

Say come unto me and rest

Thy will be done.

Deeply mourned