Sapper Henry Leaman

Service Army Service No. 498299
Rank Sapper
Regiment:South Midland Engineers
Date of Birth: 1885
Born Dawlish
Date of Death: 21/12/1916
Memorial: Dawlish Memorial Inscription LEAMAN H. SPR. S.MID. R.E.

Service History

Henry Leaman enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Bristol and has a service record number of 498299. There is a further service record number of 3477 used in the Medal Roll index, and this is also given in Register of Soldiers' Effects.

It is quite common that servicemen transferred from one unit to another and it appears that Henry was first attached to the 1st/3rd Field Company and then to the 2/1st South Midland Field Company of Royal Engineers which included contingents from Gloucestershire.
The Royal Engineers attachments to Divisions provided a range of support functions such as transport by horse, lorry or train, and telephone and other communications.
Henry had been a groom and a railway engine stoker and found a natural place among the R.E.

On 13 March the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began a week later.
Divisional HQ, the Gloucester & Worcester and South Midlland Brigades went via Folkestone-Boulogne while all other units went from Southampton to Le Havre. By 3 April the Division had concentrated near Cassel.
The Division then remained in France and Flanders until late 1917 and took part in the following engagements:
The Battle of Albert* The Division held the line between the 56th (London) and the 31st Divisions, both of which were heavily engaged at Gommecourt and Serre respectively on 1 July 1916. Two of the Warwickshire battalions of the Division attacked on that day and suffered heavy casualties in assaulting the Quadrilateral (Heidenkopf)).
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge* in which the Division captured Ovillers
The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*
The Battle of the Ancre Heights*
The Battle of the Ancre*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916 which continued until November 18th, 1916 with lesser engagements in the weeks following.

Henry Leaman is shown to have died of shrapnel wounds on 21st December 1916.

Association with Dawlish

William Leaman (1858-1933) married Ellen Allford (1855-1910) in the June quarter of 1876. She was one of seven children of Job and Susan Allford living at Hele Cottage, St Marychurch in 1861.
William and Ellen moved to Dawlish by 1891 where he was employed as a stoker at the Gas Works.

They had a total of fourteen children of which eleven survived to the 1911 census.
In 1901 the census return lists Louisa (1881- ), Charles (1883- ), Mary E (1884- ), Henry (1885-1916), Steven (1887-1918 -see separate WW1 record), Evelyn (1890- ), Floria (1893- ), Edith (1895- ), Frederick (1896- ), and Herbert (1898- ).

By 1901 William had been promoted to “Gas Works Manager” and Henry aged 15 was a “groom, domestic”.
Henry Leaman married Blanche Irene Jefferies (1884- ) in Bristol in April to June quarter of 1909, and they had a daughter Hilda Blanche Leaman in September quarter of 1910, while living at 10 Golden Street, Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol.

Henry followed a stoking tradition as a “railway engine stoker”.He had worked for the GWR locomotive department at Bristol for about ten years.

A report in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 6 January 1917 says that he left “a widow and three young children”.

Devon Roll of Honour
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site

Next of Kin: widow, Blanche Irene Leaman.
Last Known Address: 10 Golden Street, Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol

Royal Engineers' cap badge

Royal Engineers - South Midland Division

Free Birth Marriage & Death refs

Refs by subscription services:

National Probate Calendar – William Thomas Leaman.

Census records

UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War UK,

Register of Soldiers' Effects

Cox family tree (Ancestry) and Leaman family tree (Ancestry)

Exeter & Plymouth Gazette