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William Leyland was born at Albert Terrace in Farington near Lostock Hall on the 4th March 1896 to William and Mary Elizabeth Leyland (nee Crompton). William Leyland Snr. was originally from Bamber Bridge and Mary Elizabeth was a Blackburn girl, the couple married in St. Paul`s Church in Farington in 1888. At the time of her marriage Mary Elizabeth already had a son Albert Edward who had been born in Preston in 1882. William Jnr. had three more siblings only two of whom survived; Mary (1890-1894), Robert Sumner (1891) and Richard Sumner (1902).

After his parents married their home was in Albert Terrace in Farington but by 1901 the family had moved to Preston to live at 130 Adelphi Street where William`s father had a job as an `overlooker` in one of the mills. His mother had her `own account` as a draper and his half-brother Albert Edward was a platelayer on the railways. By 1911 the family had moved again, this time to 61 Waterloo Road in Ashton on Ribble, Preston. William`s father was still an overlooker but his mother Mary Elizabeth was no longer working. William had gone into mill work as a weaver while his brother Robert was a fitter`s apprentice.

William enlisted on the 31st August 1914 at Preston and was posted to the 6th (Service) Battalion LNL with the service number 12630. He stated his age at the time as 19 years and 5 months but was actually 18 years and 5 months old. He confirmed that he was single and had recently been working as a weaver at Leigh`s Brookfield Mill in Preston. William was not quite 5`4” tall and he had blue eyes and brown hair. He named his mother Mary Elizabeth as his legal next of kin.

Despite his young age William was obviously well thought of by his superiors and by the 30th November 1914 he had been made Lance Corporal (unpaid).

William embarked at Avonmouth on the 15th June 1915 and sailed to Gallipoli with the 6th Battalion, coming under the Command of 38th Brigade of 13th (Western) Division.

William survived the fierce fighting at Chunuk Bair in August 1915 where the Battalion`s casualties had been heavy and shortly afterwards on the 21st August 1915 William`s promotion to Corporal was confirmed. On the 31st August 1915 the 13th Division was sent to Suvla Bay and then a week later they moved to the 31st Brigade H.Q. just west of Chocolate Hill to take over the trenches near Green Hill where they would remain for a number of weeks.

William was wounded at some point but unfortunately his service papers do not give any additional information. Sadly, he succumbed to his wounds, his date of death given as 1st November 1915. He was later buried at Hill 10 Cemetery, Suvla.

After his family had been informed they notified the local paper who printed the following article;

His service papers note that William`s mother received a bag containing her sons` personal effects, unfortunately there are no details of what the personal items were. After the war his mother also took receipt of William`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals that he was entitled to and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

When the people of Preston were asked to submit names and details of their loved ones for inclusion on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum in Preston Mrs. Leyland proudly completed one for her son; 

Remarks; “From Mrs. Leyland, mother of deceased who joined at the outbreak of war at the age of eighteen was a bright and good boy and never gave me any trouble. I shall be proud to have his name on your Roll of Honour. His father is serving in the R.D.C., another brother in the Navy and one working at the Torpedo factory, Greenock and my youngest and the only one at home is in the Sea Scouts, 11 years of age and I have no girls so you see we have done our duty”.

Below is William`s name as it appears on the Preston Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library;

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 12630
Date of Death: 01/11/1915
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn.
Cemetery: HILL 10 CEMETERY

Janet Davis
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