About a week after this I was clamouring to get out of hospital, but of course doctor would not hear of this. However I did get out a fortnight earlier than arranged and went home on sick furlough for 6 weeks, every day of which I enjoyed – It nearly broke my heart to have to return to the realities of army life again and this time with a new Corps too. I had been transferred whilst on sick furlough to the Royal Engineers as a Telegraphist and only got the confirmation of my transfer a couple of Days before I was due to rejoin the Irish Guards at Warley Barracks, Essex. Instead rejoined the RE at Aldershot
And so we come to the end of Leo’s diary. It is difficult to be sure of his movements after this as the records of the Royal Engineers were largely destroyed during the second world war. There is however a clue. In a pocket at the back of the diary are two newspaper cuttings (shown below). Both show the disposition of troops on the Somme in 1916 so it could well be that he saw service there.
Did he survive the war ? Yes, but sadly, only just. In March 1919 he died of blood poisoning having pricked his thumb on a rose. This information was given to me by his family and is borne out by the death certificate. Since documents in the possesion of his family show that he visited his wife and children who were “seriously ill with flu” in hospital it is quite possible that the “Spanish Flu” was a contributory factor. Having survived so much it seem so sad that he should have died in this way. He lies in a military grave in Bedford Cemetery (picture below)
I would like to express my thank to all of you who have followed Leo’s journey with me. It has taken a hundred years, but he has at least been heard. ) This site has now recieved over 5000 visits from 48 countries)
Rest in Peace Leo along with the countless friends you lost and thank you for sharing at least a part of your journey with us.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
It is my hope that we can find out more about Leo’s war. we have seen that he was re enlisted in the Royal Engineers as a signaller ( service number 33982) If we could find out which unit he was attached to then we could learn more about where he served. If anyone has any ideas which would help us to build a more complete picture I would be most grateful for your comments. I intend to keep this web page active for the indefinate future and will check regularly and post any further developments. Thank you.