Leonard, Frederick

No.36911, Private, Frederick LEONARD
Aged 26

1st/4th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
formerly No.1682, Army Service Corps
Died of his Wounds on Sunday, 14th April 1918

Frederick Leonard was born in Bramley, W.Yorks, on 14th March 1892 (Bramley Q2-1892 9b; 356), baptised in Soham on 21st January 1898, son of Thomas and Emma LEONARD (née WELLS) of the Cotes, Soham.

1901 census... Aged 9, he was at The Cotes, Soham with his father Thomas LEONARD [29] horsekeeper born Isleham; his mother Emma [29] born Soham; sisters Martha [10] born Soham, Kate [3] born Kirkstall, Yorkshire and Alice [4 months] born Soham. There is a variation between the 1901 and 1911 census as to place of birth. In 1901 it is Kate, in 1911 it is Frederick ("Soldiers Died" has Frederick born in Leeds). Kirstall or Bramley being neighbouring suburbs of Leeds.

1911 census...Aged 19, a farm labourer, he was at Qua Fen Common, Soham with his parents; sisters Kate, Alice, Eva [8] and Elsie [6]; brother Reginald [2]. The new siblings were all born in Soham.

He married Alice PEACOCK in qtr 1 1915 who, on the pension card, was at c/o Mrs Peacock, Hasse Road, Soham.

Enlisted in Newmarket.
With no Army records found it cannot be stated where or when Frederick was wounded
The main activity just before his death was on the 11th April when the battalion prepared to enter the firing line at Wulverghem where, because of the rapid movement of the enemy, the British were falling back from Messines. One platoon of the 1st/4th KOYLI went forward to assess the situation discovering Brigade Headquarters were being established at North Midland Farm and the Royal Engineers had blown the road through Wulverghem to delay the enemy. The KOYLIs found themselves having to dig temporary trenches forward of the Army line. The 1st/4th KOYLI found themselves in the middle of the newly defended line at Wulverghem, with the 2nd Worcester Regiment on their right and the 1st/4th York and Lancaster Regiment on their left. Two companies of the KOYLI were in the firing line and two in support. The KOYLI's temporary night-time trench became the new British front line. The morning of the 12th April saw the temporary line being held, but throughout the day the enemy shelled the new position. At 4.30 p.m. the enemy laid down a heavy artillery bombardment under cover of which they attacked on the right of the Brigade's front. The British repelled the attack with rifle and machine-gun fire, but the KOYLIs moved their battalion headquarters back into cellars of a house at Neuve Eglise at the head of the Kemmel Road. At 9.30 p.m. on the 12th the enemy attacked again, under cover of darkness without breaking the surprise with a preparatory artillery bombardment. The enemy advanced firing rifles and machine guns. Despite putting up a harrowing fire from their temporary trench, the KOYLIs were driven back to the old trenches to their rear. The enemy shelled this position through the night and it too became untenable. The next morning the enemy entered the village, but were pushed back only temporarily, by a hasty counter-attack.

The above may well be the scenario when Frederick was wounded.

Local press report:-
Pte. Fred Leonard, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, of Clay Street, Soham, has died of wounds received in action in France on April 14th. His widow, who is left with a little son, has received a letter from the Matron of a hospital stating he was admitted at night very dangerously wounded and passed away next morning at 9:50, and that he was unconscious, so could leave no message.

Despite his inclusion on the medal rolls (above), his medal index card has not been found

photo; Pierre Vandervelden www.inmemories.com

Frederick Leonard is buried in Haringhe (Bandaghem) Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 2:B:14

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