Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Archibald, Francis and Ernest Todman

a 33’’ inch chest, with a fair complexion, black hair and dark blue eyes.  He had a small scar at the inner end of his left collar bone.  His religion was Church of England. and he couldn’t swim. His occupation was porter.  His next of kin was originally given as his father at the family address, but changed to his mother at 44 Bohemia Rd at a later (illegible) date.

He initially served with the Collingwood Battalion, ‘B’ Co. 2nd Platoon from 4/2/1915 to 8/6/1915, then transferred to the Anson Battalion on 11/7/1915, presumably in Gallipoli, as his memorial refers to service here.  He remained there until 30th October that year when he went down with enteric fever and was invalided back to the UK at the end of December.  On his recovery he was drafted to the British Expeditionary Force as a Stokes Gunner on 10/7/1916.  He was posted back to the Anson Battalion from the base depot at Etaples on 21/8/1916 and fought with them until his death at Passchendaele in November 1917.

He is commemorated on a brass plaque in St Paul’s Church in St Leonards.  It recalls the sacrifice of those who died ‘from this community and parish’.

The gravestone also commemorates Francis Theodore Todman M.T.A.S.G., who it says served in France from 1916-1919 and who died on 11th June 1920 at the age of 27.

Francis Theodore Todman was born in July 1893 in Hastings. He is not listed with his family in the 1911 Census but when he volunteered for the Army on 4th September 1915 he gave his address as 25 Capely Hill, Gravelly Hill, Erdington, Birmingham and his occupation as turner.

He was single and his father George was listed as next of kin.  He joined the Army Service Corps.  His records have survived and tell the story that must have been common to many soldiers – a Good Conduct badge, a minor punishment for being AWOL for 24 hours whilst on active service (he came back of his own accord – he probably missed the train) acting promotion and demotion.  He served at home from enlistment until 14th November 1916 when he went to France with the 5th Mobile Repair Unit.

He returned to Britain in May 1919 and remained in service until discharged as no longer physically fit for war service on 12th April 1920. He had 100% disability because of Pulmonary TB attributable to active service and was awarded a pension of 40s. a week.  He died two months later.

The initials after his surname have proved difficult to trace but may be something to do with membership of a technical guild.

Another brother Ernest also died young on 11th September 1925 at the age of 25.

An Ernest E. W. Todman served in the British Army in the war, firstly as a private in the Bedfordshire Regiment and then as a private in N Staff Corps but insufficient records are left to link this service to the Ernest mentioned on the memorial.

However the report of his funeral in the Hastings Observer September 19th 1925 was headed ‘Death from War Service’ and it states that ‘he had suffered considerably as a result of being gassed during the war.’  He had presumably worked for the local bus company since his return from the war as it also says that ‘five chums from the Maidstone and District Motor Service Co. (Hastings Depot) acted as bearers.’