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Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 08:56 UK
A Reading man shares a treasure trove of photographs
Sgt Jack Rosser and company
See photographs of Berkshire Regiments in World War I

A man whose family have been based in Berkshire for generations has uncovered photographs of his ancestors preparing for World War I in Reading.

Anthony Toms, an ex Navy man, describes himself as Reading "born and bred".

Anthony and his brother Peter have been researching their family tree for decades, discovering an uncle with a military cross from World War I.

Leslie Archibald Powell won fame for fighter pilot exploits before marrying Mr Tom's aunt and settling in Reading.

Lt Powell won the Military Cross for "conspicuous gallery" and "devotion to duty" while attacking enemy aircraft.

Born in Bristol, he moved to Reading after marrying Mr Toms' aunt following the First World War.

But in addition to the famous fighter pilot, Mr Toms and his brother has also discovered many pictures of his ancestors who served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the Berkshire Yeomanry at the time of World War I.

One ancestor, Mr Tom's grandfather, Jason Smith, not only served as a Royal Engineer in Brock Barracks, but also was the first man to introduce the steam lorry to Reading while working in a brick works.

Mr Tom's mother, "Peggy" Toms, was a county runner and fashion model. She took her nickname "Peggy" from her slim figure which was likened to a clothes peg.

Mr Toms and his brother discovered the photographs in the attic of their aunt eight years ago after her house was struck by lightening.

He said: "When my Uncle Trev died, the house got struck by lightening in Woodley.

"The photographs were discovered in the loft. We were researching the family history and these came to be a lot of help to us."

A true Berkshire family, Mr Toms' relatives span five generations across the Royal County.

The Toms family worked as stonemasons in Reading in the early 1900s. William Toms, born in 1854 in Frilsham, established a yard in Forbury Road, Reading.

The stones he used for his work were carried up the River Kennet in Barges and delivered to Blakes Wharf.

The cemetery near Cemetery Junction is filled with the graves made by the family stone masons business, and the Toms brothers have been able to trace much of their family history by looking at graves there.




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