Teresa Maxwell came into the museum to tell us about her grandfather, Percival Charles du Sautoy Leather.
Captain Leather was born at Cramond near Edinburgh on 28th March 1867. He graduated from New College, Oxford in 1886. He worked as a Tea Planter and Stock Broker.
Captain Leather original saw service as a Captain with the 3rd Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers but was transferred to the 4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment on 5th September 1914 and he joined his new Battalion in France on 8th May 1915. It was not long before he was in action and he suffered the effects of a gas attack on 23rd May 1915 and was wounded again at Sanctuary Wood in June 1916. His wounds ended his military service and he relinquished his Commission on account of ill health stemming from his wounds and was granted the honorary rank of Captain from 15th November 1918.
After the war Percival lived at Maison Dieu in Richmond where he died on 4th October 1944.
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Wilfred was born in March 1896 in Marske by the Sea near Redcar on the East coast. When he was young his family moved to Middlesbrough where his father worked in the steelworks. Wilfred was training as a draughtsman when war broke out. Wilfred was just 5’ 2’’ tall, an inch shorter that the regulation height. But due to the great manpower losses he eventually got his chance in early 1915 when recruitment standards were somewhat relaxed. He enlisted in the 4th Battalion. It was in November of 1916 in the latter stages of the Somme offensive that the work party that Wilfred had volunteered for came under fire. On his way back to his own lines he was caught by a shell explosion. He was taken to a hospital at Abbeville where his left arm was amputated. Back in England Wilfred had to adjust to life without a limb. He was classed as ‘incurably unemployable’ and found it impossible to get a job. He used his time to study employment law and became a ceaseless campaigner for better conditions of his fellow jobless war wounded. He would continue to do so even when after he eventually gained employment. He was instrumental in establishing one of the first branches of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association) in Teesside. He married Elsie and his daughter Sylvia was born in 1932. However, his fifty cigarettes a day habit for most of his life would take their toll. He died of lung cancer in…
Horace Stoney was born on 7th December 1897. He was baptised in February 1898 at the Free Methodist Chapel, in Leeds close to where they were living at the time. At the age of 13 he was working as an office boy for an engineer and living at home with his parents in Leeds. On 10th December 1915, three days after he turned 18 Horace went to Leeds, joined the Royal Army Service Corp (RASC) and was posted to the Army Reserve. His service record includes the statement: “Transferred to Learners’ Section” on 10th October 1916. A contract survives, signed by Horace the day previous, declaring that he joined the RASC with a view to be trained as a Motor Transport Driver. Success would guarantee him an additional 1 shilling per day in pay, and provide him with a skill to use after the war. The RASC ensured that ammunition, food and equipment was delivered forming a complex supply network. Horace survived the war, although he contracted malaria, and was discharged in 1919. The 1939 Register lists him as living with his parents, John and Sarah, and his aunt Harriet, at his childhood home in Leeds. He was working as a Clerk Store Highway Constable and although he is listed married, his wife is not mentioned on the record.
When canvassing the local businesses for information about characters from the time of the First World War for our Ribbon of Remembrance, a major surprise came from Wendy, shop manager at the Castle Hill Bookshop. “You know what my name is?!” was her reply to the enquiry. Wendy Patch is the granddaughter of Harry Patch, the ‘Last Fighting Tommy’. Henry John Patch died on 25th July 2009, aged 111 years, having attained a level of celebrity that he can never have imagined at the time when he was No 2 on a Lewis gun team in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Harry was an apprentice plumber before he was conscripted into the army at the age of 18. He saw action at the Third Battle of Ypres, though his war came to an end on 22nd September 1917 following a German shell burst which killed three of his fellow Lewis gunners. Harry’s wound saw him hospitalised for 12 months. The Armistice came about while he was convalescing on the Isle of Wight. Following the war, Harry married Ada Billington, had two sons Denis and Roy and returned to work as a plumber. Harry only spoke about the war in the latter part of his life and when he did it was without any animosity towards the Germans who faced him across No-man’s Land. As one of the few Great War veterans who survived into the 21st century, Harry was invited to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. He was…