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Fred Tuke

Bombardier Fred Tuke, 853939, Royal Artillery.

Fred Tuke was born in Ossett on the 14th February 1912, the son of rag dyer's labourer Rufus Tuke and his wife Emma, nee Sippets, who had married in Ossett in 1899. Fred had three older siblings: Frank Tuke, born in 1910, Jack Roper Tuke born in 1908, Annie Tuke, born in 1900 and a half sister, Elizabeth Sippets, born 1897, a daughter to Fred's mother Emma. In 1911, the Tukes were living on Westfield Street, off Headlands in three-roomed house.

Fred Tuke joined the Royal Artillery as a regular soldier in 1936, but was captured, most probably at the Battle of Mersa Matruhin, Egypt in late June 1942, as a prelude to the 1st Battle of El Alamein. On the 28th June at Tuka in Egypt, Axis forces captured more than 6,000 prisoners, in addition to 40 tanks and an enormous quantity of supplies.

The "Ossett Observer" had this report in 1943:

"In Permanent Prison Camp - Bombardier Fred Tuke, 853939, Royal Artillery, P.G. 68, P.M. 3300 Italia, Hut 32, is now in a standing prison camp. He was taken prisoner on the 28th June last year, but has been moved from one place to another, and letters have not been reaching him. He now writes to say that he has arrived at a permanent camp and will probably remain there until the end of the war. He says his health is satisfactory, and asks his people not to worry. He would be glad, however, to receive a parcel.

He is the son of Mr. Rufus Tuke, 5, Westfield Street, Ossett, and is still not aware of his mother's death in September 1942. Formerly employed at Harrison's Farm, Wesley Street, he enlisted in 1936, and went abroad the following year. He has served in India and the Middle East where he was wounded."

Fred Tuke did make it back from the Italian PoW camp and in 1945 he married Annie Richardson in Horbury, but there were no children. The couple lived at "Glenayr", Windyridge Street, Horbury in the late 1940s. Fred Tuke died on the 26th May 1984 and at that time he was living at Parker Road in Horbury. Probate was granted in Leeds on the 3rd August 1984 for a sum not exceeding £40,000.

References:

1. "Ossett Observer"