John Leslie Tosen
Corporal, Bedfordshire Regiment
Age 13, Class IIID: ‘Satisfactory. Of a lively disposition’
John Leslie Tosen was born on 6th November 1898, the son of John James Tosen a Stock broker, who was the first to break away from the family tradition of clock making. John Leslie attended Alleyn’s between 1909 and 1914, where he achieved success in Athletics. He won two School Athletics medals, which are still preserved by his descendants in their brown leather cases.
The family lived at 79 Beckwith Road, Herne Hill, and John Leslie had to leave School prematurely after the unexpected death of his father. He took up work as a hospital clerk at Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill, presumably to support his mother and sister.
Family memories of John Leslie are that he was a very mild mannered, level-headed and responsible man, who joined the war effort as part of the Bedfordshire Regiment. It is likely that he joined the 6th Battalion, which saw active duty at the Somme in 1916, and Ypres (Passchendaele) in 1917, which aligns with family memories. Following several injuries, John Leslie spent time at the 3rd battalion’s Landguard Fort Barracks headquarters in Felixstowe in September 1918, having been assigned training duties, before being posted back to France until the end of the war.
Following the war John Leslie became a bank manager with Lloyds Bank. During WW2 he was an ARP post warden in Purley alongside his work in the bank. He married twice, was widowed once, had two sons and died on 11 March 1958.
The Edward Alleyn Magazine reports two other sets of war details for J.L Tosen, which conflict with the information in this biography. There is only one J.L Tosen however in the Admissions Register, and his key dates tally with the man described here.
With thanks to John Leslie's grandson, Christopher John Tosen, for much of this information