Leonard FIRTH
Rank: Private
Number: 31615
Date of Death: 19 August 1916
Age: 25
Cemetery: Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France

Leonard was born in the Heaton Norris area of Stockport and is thought to have lived all his life there until he enlisted into the army in September 1915.

His parents were Abraham, a cashier, and Sarah and when the 1901 Census was taken the family was living at 92 Lloyd Street (and later at Norris Avenue). Leonard was the youngest of the four children. He had a sister, Jessie, and two brothers, Harry and Cyril. Harry worked as a school attendance officer and Cyril as a clerk for one of the railway companies. Leonard attended school locally and furthered his education at the Lancashire Hill Sunday School. Like his brothers, he also had a “white collar” job, working for the Royal Insurance Co, Exchange Street, Manchester. In his spare time, Leonard played for the Heaton Norris Lacrosse Club.

When he joined up at Manchester, he was assigned to the Royal Fusiliers but was quickly transferred to the Durham Light Infantry for most of his training. Reporting his death, the local newspapers indicated he was still with the Durhams when he died, but an examination of his medal records at the National Archives shows that he transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers before he went overseas on active service in June 1916.

The 21st Battalion had been in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July and suffered very heavy casualties. Leonard will have joined as one of many new troops drafted in as replacements. He died whilst in one of the military hospitals which were around the French town of Bailleul in 1916 having been wounded in action. Throughout August, the Battalion had undertaken tours of duty in the front line but had not been involved in further major attacks. Their last tour ended on the night of 15/16th and it is unlikely that Leonard was wounded after that, but it is not possible to indicate when he was injured.

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