Egerton was the son of William and Emily Leigh and had been born in the Cheetham area of Manchester. William is thought to have been a successful businesman. When the census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 27 Glen Elden Road, St Annes on Sea. 17 year old Egerton’s occupation was listed as merchant’s apprentice and, years later, when War broke out, he was a partner in the family business of Leigh & Co, Palace Square, Manchester. This may be the firm of the same name that had a factory in Salford producing mineral water for pubs.
In 1911, Egerton married Alice Horsfall at Ascension Church in Salford. The couple lived at 25 Ashburn Road, Heaton Norris. It’s not known when Egerton joined the army but it is, perhaps, no surprise that he was a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. In spite of its name, it was predominantly an infantry regiment which, pre-War, was comprised solely of territorial soldiers, many of whom came from solid middle class backgrounds. Egerton is known to have enlisted at the Regiment’s headquarters at Armoury House which might suggest that he was also a prewar member.
The Regiment raised two battalions for overseas service during the War. The 2/1st went overseas on 3 October 1916 and Egerton was almost certainly amongst its original members. It has not been possible to find the Battalion’s War Diary at the National Archives nor has any information been discovered which would indicate the unit’s activities on the day Egerton was killed. The Cemetery where he is buried is between the French towns of Arras and Bapaume and there does not appear to have been any major attacks underway from either side on this day in the sector. It is probable, therefore, that he was killed by the explosion of a shell during one of the frequent artillery bombardments.
In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Alice had moved to Blackpool and was living at 10 Station Road, South Shore.