FENN, Leonard

No. 9806, Corporal, Leonard William FENN
Aged 21
2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Killed in Action on Sunday 8th November, 1914

An Old Contemptible

Born in Exning in Q3-1893 (Newmarket 3b:498), the eldest son of William Alfred Leonard and Annie FENN (née MUSK) of King's Yard, Exning.

1901 census...At King's Yard, Exning were Leonard [7], his father William [31] builders labourer, his mother Annie [29], and his brothers Albert [3], and Alec [9 months] and his sister Annie [4]. Whole family were Exning born.

1911 census...At Oxford Street were Leonard[17] a labourer, his parents, brother Albert[13] a farm labourer, Alec Redvers [10], Cecil Bertie [8], Percy Charles [6] and Stanley George [5]. Sister Annie was a servant in Burwell. There were 9 children but two had died before this census

Leonard was an elder brother of Albert FENN , ( killed on 26th September 1916).

Leonard's entry in "Our Exning Heroes" reads as follows:

Fenn, L.   Private in the 2nd Bedfords
Leonard Fenn, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fenn living in King's Yard, was the first of two brothers to lay down his life for his country. He enlisted in 1912, and spent a year and seven months in South Africa, where he was stationed when the war broke out. He was sent home at once and went straight to Zeebrugge, and after landing there nothing definite was heard of him again. He was reported missing in December, 1914, and is believed to have been killed instantaneously by a shell at Ypres, but no traces of him were ever found. About a year after, the War Office wrote stating that he must have been killed. He was 22 when he died. Before joining the Army he worked at the Foundry.

From his number, he would have enlisted July or August 1912 and he was serving in South Africa before the war.

From www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk we have:
"The 2nd Battalion were at Roberts Heights near Pretoria (South Africa) at the outbreak of war and were immediately recalled to England, landing at Southampton on 19 September 1914 and forming part of the 'Immortal' 7th Division. Having refitted for European warfare, the division left Southampton at 8 a.m. on 5 October 1914, on board the S.S. Winifredian and after a brief stop at Dover for supplies, landed in Zeebrugge at 6.30 a.m. on 7 October 1914. The division moved almost 40 miles south to meet the rest of the army and on 18 October 1914, around the 10km marker stone on the Ypres-Menin road, they met the German Army for the first time in a brief skirmish. The following day saw the division attack Menin and the battalion were joined in a European battle for the first time."
"8 Nov 1914 - Chateau Rossignol, Ploegsteert Refitting. At 2.5 p.m. marched out to PLOEGSTEERT & were in Reserve to Colonel Butler. Occupied dugouts near Chateau ROSSIGNOL."
25 of the battalion were killed on 8th despite being in reserve. Only 5 have identified graves, the rest are named on the Ploegsteert memorial. This early in the war the CWGC was just an idea and recording of graves had hardly begun.

© Commonwealth War Graves Commission

No Known Grave
Leonard is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium Ref: panel 4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details