TOSSWILL, John ‘Jack’ Speare
72726 Corporal, Northern Signal Service Training Centre, Royal Engineers
Died UK September 28, 1915 Age 25
Remembered with honour at Eastbourne (Ocklynge) Cemetery Grave UA250
‘Jack’ Tosswill was born in Eastbourne in 1890. His footballing career started at Eastbourne Borough before moving on to nearby Hastings and St. Leonards, next was Aberdare Athletic, Tunbridge Wells Rangers and then Maidstone Utd. Bigger clubs then followed and he joined QPR (Played 3, scored 1) before moving to Liverpool where he only managed 11 games and scored one goal for the reds. It was from Liverpool that Southend acquired him in 1913 with who he stayed for one season before moving on to Coventry City before the war ended the footballing calendar.
He enlisted in his home town of Eastbourne and for at least some of his time with the military he served with the Royal Engineers Signal Depot based at Dunstable. The signal training services taught the ever improving art of communications, something that had been found to be woefully lacking in the early days of the war. As a training centre they would have taught all forms of signal work such as semaphore, lamps, telephone line laying and the newly utilised wireless. Tosswill was taken ill whilst the unit was based at Southampton, possibly awaiting to be shipped overseas, he was forced to have an operation but unfortunately later succumbed to its effects. He was buried close to the convalescent home in his native Eastbourne.
THE ORIGINAL BLUE ARMY
by Steve Newman
Deaf footballer dies from operation
Saturday, October 2 – 1915
A likeable fellow, somewhat eccentric, deaf, and a good-class footballer. That is how one might sum up Corporal J.S. Tosswill, whose death is announced this morning. His ear deficiency used to cause some curious happenings in football matches, for he was not able to hear the referee’s signal, and oftimes was seen to proceed to score goals what time the crowd and other players were waiting to take a free kick! Poor Tosswill (writes “Bee”) was a bit of a wag, and his letters to me were always novel and interesting. He was with Liverpool but for a short time, afterwards proceeding to Coventry City. He was brought from Queen’s Park Rangers, and learnt his game with Tunbridge Wells Rangers. On the outbreak of war he joined the R.E. section, and was soon made a corporal.
A capital cricketer, he played for a time with Stanley.
His death took place this morning as a result of an operation at Eastbourne.
(Liverpool Echo, 02-10-1915)