Born on 16th November 1895 at Ilford, son of George (Merchants Clerk) and Lily Hirst. 1901: With his parents at Kings Place Road, Buckhurst Hill. He was educated at Bancroft’s School Woodford Wells. 1911: The family home was at “Monteith” Kings Avenue, Buckhurst Hill. Leonard did not have an occupation, and his father, aged 72, had retired. His father died in 1913. Leonard and his mother then lived at “Woodside” Russell Road, Buckhurst Hill, and this address appears in his Probate. His mother went on to live at 35A The Broadway, Woodford Green, and was associated with St Barnabas Church which accounts for Leonard appearing on their Roll of Honour. In her loss she was greatly supported by Rev. Wheeler the Vicar of St Barnabas Church.
Leonard enlisted on 15th September 1914, initially serving as a Signaler with 16 Middlesex Regiment. He had an interest in wireless, and built a working system at home before the war. His Commissioning into the Royal Engineers Signals Service in France from 1st February 1917 made most use of his talents. In June 1918 he was awarded a Military Cross in the Kings Birthday Honours List.
At 09.30 on 19th October 1918 Driver T. Edmondson of the Engineers was attending to his duties at the chicken run within the Signals Depot at Abbeville. As he looked over he became aware of the body of a man hanging from a tree in the nearby spinney, and he at once informed the Regimental Sergeant Major.
Leonard was taken to one of the Abbeville Military Hospitals, but he was already dead from strangulation. There was a Court of Inquiry, and his Senior Officer expressed certainty that, in the absence of any other factors, Leonard had acted while of unsound mind; the records also indicate there was no doubt that this had been induced by his war service.
His name also appears on the war memorial at St John’s Church Buckhurst Hill.
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
For more information on this individual please see The Old Bancroftian website.