The Daily Telegraph
Tank gunner in the D-day landings who later served in the Salvation Army helping the poor
KENNETH TOUT, who has died aged 98, served in the Second World War as a Sherman tank gunner and commander and devoted the rest of his life to disaster relief work and helping the poor and elderly.
In May 1947, Tout was commissioned as an Officer (Minister of Religion) in the Salvation Army. A number of appointments followed in Manchester, Durham and West Yorkshire and, during this time, he launched one of the first clubs for older people and an experimental youth centre.
In 1954 the Salvation Army posted him to Quilmes Children’s Home, near Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he became involved in rescue work after flooding of the River Plate caused loss of life and the destruction of many homes.
While in South America, he crossed the Andes and lived in Santiago, Chile. In May 1960, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck the south of the country, killing or injuring more than 4,000 people and leaving two million homeless. The president, Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, asked him to co-ordinate relief work in Valdivia, close to the epicentre.
In 1963 the Salvation Army posted him to South Africa, where he was an editor and travelling reporter and a member of the Archbishop of Cape Town’s Racial Affairs Committee and the National Christian Aid Committee. He had an editorial role from 1969 to 1971 in the International Headquarters in London. His final rank in the Salvation Army was that of major.
For the next 28 years he worked with Oxfam, Helpage International and the UN Ageing Unit. In retirement he set up his own consultancy. He was a guest speaker at international conferences and became the first lecturer in transcultural gerontology at the University of Florida.
When advising Pope John Paul II, he took the opportunity to suggest that some of the unused silverware belonging to the Church should be de-consecrated and sold to benefit those in greatest need. His recommendation bore fruit. For services to the elderly, he received a UN citation and in 1994 he was appointed OBE.
Kenneth John Tout was born on January 10 1924 in Hereford. His father, John, served with the Royal Engineers in the First World War before settling in the town, where he established a shoe-repair business. He was the choirmaster of the Salvation Army for 50 years. Young Ken helped in the business, cycling to customers’ homes and delivering shoes. On one occasion he was given a sixpenny tip by Sir Edward Elgar. Educated on a scholarship at Hereford High School, he immersed himself in the musical side of Salvation Army activities, became a junior bandsman, played the euphonium and, aged 17, was appointed junior choirmaster.
He worked for Hereford County Council before being called up in 1942 and trained on tanks with the Royal Armoured Corps at Catterick. After promotion to lancecorporal, he was posted to 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and, on D-day, June 6 1944, landed in Normandy. As a Sherman tank gunner and commander he took part in fierce fighting around Caen and the thrust eastwards to the Netherlands.
In October he was wounded and evacuated to England. Arriving at Hereford railway station at night, he was helped off the train and was delighted to be recognised by the local postmaster, who hurried to his parents’ house and threw pebbles at their bedroom window to wake them up and tell them that their son was safe.
After a spell in Hereford General Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, he returned to Catterick Camp. In 1946 he served in Palestine with the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards and became the regimental education sergeant. After demob he entered the Salvation Army William Booth International Theological College as a student.
Tout was a recognised military historian and wrote many excellent books. Tank, 40 hours of battle, August 1944 is one of the best first-hand accounts of tank warfare in the Second World War. In 1986 he visited the Bergen-hohne training area in West Germany as the guest of the 1st Battalion the Royal Tank Regiment to discuss the crewing of a future main battle tank.
For researching the history of the Polish armed forces in the west in the Second World War, he was awarded a Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic.
He became vice-president of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry Regimental Association as well as organising many return trips to the Normandy battlefield. He was appointed to the Légion d’honneur.
He also wrote a book of war poems, musicals and the history of the Christian Church. He was a doctor of philosophy and an honorary research fellow at Keele University. An accomplished pianist, settled in a village in Sussex, he enjoyed music, and maintained an interest in discussing world events.
Ken Tout married, in 1974, Jai Naylor, who survives him with a son and three daughters.