In May 1916 Farnham witnessed what was likely the first ever Two Minute Silence held in remembrance of the injured and the dead, and for those who were fighting. One hundred years on the Two Minute Silence forms part of our annual Remembrance Day traditions, and is an instantly recognisable sign of respect and solidarity.
From Tue 01 March the Museum is hosting Farnham Remembers: Two Minutes of Silence, an exhibition which explores the background and significance of the original event through stories of men and women in Farnham who died or served in the First World War. Over the next few months we would like to share with you some of these stories.
In the build-up to the exhibition we will be sharing some of these stories from local men and women in special newsletter features. Firstly, we remember the story of Sergeant Thomas Hollingsworth Tovey who lived on West Street in Farnham and fought at the Passchendaele.
The exhibition will also look back over the last one hundred years to investigate the legacy of the First World War in the formation of our national Remembrance traditions and what these mean to us today. If you have a memory in relation to Remembrance we would like you to share these with us for our archive. If you have a story you would like to share please complete the online form, Remembrance.
Sergeant Thomas Hollingsworth Tovey
Sergeant Thomas H. Tovey was the only son of Thomas and Kate Tovey, who lived in West Street, Farnham.
Thomas spent his whole life in Farnham, attending Farnham Grammar School where he was remembered for being a bright boy who became a senior patrol leader of the Third Farnham Scouts. He joined the Queens, which was the local Regiment, at the start of the war and by the age of 19 he had been promoted to sergeant. He was later transferred to the 2nd company Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), where he was put in charge of a gun.
Thomas’ Corp was present at the battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres), and Thomas was posted at the front line. On 5th August 1917, Thomas was stationed at his gun when it was shelled – he was killed, most likely instantaneously, at the age of 21. His section officer wrote of him ‘A cheerful fellow…and proved himself a capable sergeant.’ Sergeant Dwyer recalls seeing the aftermath of the shell and finding Thomas’ body. ‘It was plain that he was killed instantaneously by a shell and that he died a brave death, as he was found in the front line we had just taken up. While observing our front line, I noticed a soldier lying out 50 yards in No Man’s Land. At nightfall I went out with a small party and recognised your son, and took charge of the personal belongings I found on him. He was laid to rest in a soldier’s grave.’
Thomas is commemorated on the Farnham Grammar School ‘Roll of Honour’, as well as on Menin Gate memorial in Ypres, Belgium.