This archive is from the Newcastle Branch of Toc H.
About Toc H
Toc H (TH) is an international Christian movement. The name is an abbreviation for Talbot House, "Toc" signifying the letter T in the signals spelling alphabet used by the British Army in World War I. A soldiers' rest and recreation centre named Talbot House was founded in December 1915 at Poperinghe, Belgium. It aimed to promote Christianity and was named in memory of Gilbert Talbot, son of Edward Talbot, then Bishop of Winchester, who had been killed at Hooge in July 1915. The founders were Gilbert's elder brother Neville Talbot, then a senior army chaplain, and the Reverend Philip Thomas Byard (Tubby) Clayton. Talbot House was styled as an "Every Man's Club", where all soldiers were welcome, regardless of rank. It was "an alternative for the 'debauched' recreational life of the town".
Foundation in World War I
Headstone of Gilbert Talbot at Sanctuary Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery
At the outbreak of World War I Neville Talbot, a senior Church of England chaplain in the British Army, sought to recruit chaplains who would minister to the battalions on the front lines. One of his recruits was the Reverend Phillip Byard Clayton, who was assigned to the East Kent and Bedfordshire regiments. In 1915 Clayton was sent to France and then on to the town of Poperinge in Belgium.
Sitting a few miles back from the trenches around Ypres (nowadays known by its Flemish name Ieper), Poperinge (or "Pops", as the soldiers called it) was a busy transfer station where troops on their way to and from the battlefields of Flanders were billeted. Clayton, universally known as "Tubby", was instructed by Neville Talbot to set up some sort of rest house for the troops.
Clayton chose the Coevoet house – temporarily vacated by its owner, a wealthy local hop merchant – to use as his base, paying rent of 150 francs a month. The house had received significant damage from shellfire, especially the hop loft and the garden. Repairs were begun in September by the Royal Engineers. It opened on 11 December 1915.
Clayton decided to steer away from the traditional church club and set up an Everyman’s House. It was named Talbot House in honour of Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot (Neville’s brother) who had been killed earlier in the year. Talbot House soon became known by its initials TH, and then, in the radio signalers’ phonetic alphabet of the day as Toc Aitch.
Source: Toc H (Wikipedia)
The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) seated, 4 gentlement kneeling around a plinth holding the TOC H Lamp of Maintenance.
Source: Australian War Memorial