Alfred Leonard, Private 7344, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 21st October 1914 in France, aged 29
Alfred Leonard was born on 22nd June 1885, in Macclesfield, and baptised at St George’s Church, Sutton, Macclesfield, on 3rd October 1886. He was the son of Sarah and Alfred Leonard (snr), a silk dyer of 50 North Street, Sutton, Macclesfield, and had an older sister Annie, and younger siblings Ada, Frederick, Robert, Hannah and William. In 1891 the family was living in Windmill Street, and by 1901 they had moved to 19 Pool Street where Alfred (jnr), then 15 years of age, was working as a silk weaver.
In January 1904 Alfred enlisted into the Army in Macclesfield, joining the Cheshire Regiment for three years’ service. He was described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 110 pounds, with a maximum chest expansion of 34 inches, and had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and light hair.
At about 8.30pm on Christmas Day in 1905, Alfred was found drunk in the Company’s store room and punished by being ‘Confined to Barracks’ for seven days.
His service records confirm that he transferred to the Army Reserve in January 1907, on completion of his three years service.
Alfred married Lillian Naden on October 6th 1907 at St George’s Church in Macclesfield, when living at 12 West Street, and the couple had 4 daughters in the following years: Sarah Elizabeth (born 1908), Evelyn (1910), Elsie (1913), with the last, Doris, being born in early 1915 after Alfred’s death. In 1911 the family lived at 4 Higginbotham Green, and Alfred was employed as a silk weaver.
While Alfred was serving in WW1, the family lived at Water Street in Macclesfield. Lillian remarried in October 1917 and the family settled in Ardwick, Manchester with her new husband, Joseph Foden.
As a reservist, Alfred was mobilised on 5th August 1914 and posted to the 1st Battalion the following day. The Battalion was stationed in Ireland before the War and landed in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 16th August. It was soon deployed in action against the Germans to cover the withdrawal of British troops from Mons. By 17th October the 1st Cheshires had advanced south-east from Bethune and taken the village of Volaines, where defensive positions were hastily dug. Despite being shelled by German artillery, the Battalion made several attempts to advance further towards La Bassée. At 9.30 am on 21st October the Battalion again attacked La Bassée, but without success, and came under heavy shell fire. Captain Fred Mahoney, who had been in command of the 1st Cheshires for the previous week, was wounded and died the following day, 6 other men were wounded and 3 were killed – including Alfred Leonard.
Private Alfred Leonard has no known grave, and his name is listed on Panel 13 of the Le Touret Memorial in Pas de Calais, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Alfred Leonard, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “In loving remembrance of our dear daddy, Private A. Leonard.”