King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Tongue, John William Collis

Captain ▪ 10th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment

John William Collis Tongue, born on 1st February 1892, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1908, having transferred from George Dixon Secondary School. He lived with his mother, Sarah, his father, John, an engraver, and his older sister, Violet, at 402, Nechells Park Road.

John was a pupil of the Modern School, studying a primarily scientific, rather than classical, curriculum. He was an average performer in his class, and was taught by AS Langley, later, Commander Langley, who would go on to pioneer smokescreen technology for the British Army.

John attended the University of Birmingham, where he obtained his BSc and was a member of the Officer Training Corps for three years. He was a supply teacher at the outbreak of war, immediately obtaining his commission as a Second Lieutenant on 12th September with the 10th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. John landed at Le Havre with his battalion during the early hours of 9th August 1915. He was promoted to Captain on 3rd September, but on 25th September, while attacking over 400 yards of ‘No Man’s Land’ and battling through German wire entanglements, he was killed by sweeping enfilade fire from enemy positions at Bois-Carre.

John was initially buried in a battlefield grave near Bois-Carre with a number of other officers. After the war, his body was most probably moved to the St Mary’s ADS (Advanced Dressing Station) Cemetery, Haisnes; the uncertainty is due to the fact that the original cemetery had been severely damaged by artillery shell fire. He is commemorated on the Birmingham University War Memorial and on the grave of his parents in Yardley Cemetery, Birmingham. John left his estate of £199 to his mother, Sarah.