Leonard POLLITT
Rank: Private
Number: 43769
Unit: 11th Battalion ESSEX Regiment
Date of Death: 1 June 1918
Age: 34
Cemetery: Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, Nord, France

Leonard was born in Manchester in about 1884 and was later adopted by James and Amy Wood, 79 Queen Street, Portwood, Stockport. In 1901, when a national census was taken, the couple also had three children of their own - Mary (12), William (9) and George (7). Leonard was working as a bicycle enameller at the time but later followed in the footsteps of his adoptive father and became a painter and decorator, employed by Mr C Dawson of Reddish.

In 1907, he married Frances Ellen Barnes at St Elizabeth's Church, Reddish. They would have one child together. After the War, Frances was living at 3 Tabley Grove in the Broadstone Road area of Reddish. It's not known if this is the home she shared with Leonard. Although they married in an Anglican church, this was not Leonard's regular place of worship. Since the age of about 14, he had been a regular attender at Crescent Road Hall - a Christian evangelical church.

Leonard enlisted shortly after war was declared in 1914, joining the Welsh Regiment (service number 2665 and, later, 290713). The service numbers indicate that he was almost certainly a member of the 1/7th Battalion, which was a Territorial cyclist unit that never left Britain. The latter number was not issued until after the beginning of 1917, when all Territorial soldiers were allocated six-digit numbers. Leonard's on-line medal entitlement records, at the National Archives, show he served abroad with that number so must have been transferred to one of the other Battalions of the Welsh Regiment. Several of these were disbanded in February 1918 and it is probable that this is when Leonard was transferred to the Essex Regiment.

Leonard was wounded and died at an army surgical field hospital. It cannot be said with absolute certainty when the injuries were received but an examination of the Battalion's War Diary suggests that it was the same day. The Battalion was in reserve at "Cat Farm" near the Belgian village of Vlamertinghe. The men were taking the opportunity to relax and were bathing at the nearby Hop Factory when a shell landed amongst the group actually bathing at the time, killing three outright and wounding another four. All were member of "C" Company. Leonard would have received attention from the Battalion's own Medical Officer who would have done little more than administer first aid and dress the wounds. Leonard would then have been evacuated to Esquelbecq just over border into France. It's a journey of some 35 kilometres on today's roads. Two mobile hospitals - 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station and 3rd Australian CCS were based there at the time and military surgeons would have done all they could to save Leonard's life but without success.

   
           
   
     
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