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On 14th September 1914 Leonard Elkins attested into the Army at Blackburn, signing up for the duration of the War. At the time of his enlistment he gave his address as 10 Wick Lane, Christchurch, Hants. He was 29 years and had been working as a blacksmith. When asked for his next of kin he wrote ‘Nil’, then later added the name Edwin Strand from Marlborough, Wiltshire.

Leonard joined the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 20730 and began his training for service overseas.

Having been in training for nearly a year and less than a fortnight before his Battalion sailed to France, Leonard allegedly deserted. On Friday 27th August 1915 the following article appeared in the Western Gazette.

A DESERTER – On Friday, before Mr H. C. Galton, Private Leonard Elkins was charged with being a deserter from D Company, 8th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, now stationed at Aldershot. P.C. Gould proved the arrest, and prisoner was ordered to await an escort.

On 6th September 1915 the 8th Battalion sailed to France without Leonard. Whether he was acquitted or not is not known but  Leonard joined his Battalion in France later that month, 25th September 1915.

Now back with his Battalion he was still getting in trouble. He was awarded 10 days Field Punishment No 2 in October 1915, and a further 14 days F.P No 2 in the December.

Private Leonard Elkins later performed an act of bravery in the field. He was awarded the Military Medal which was gazetted on 8th August 1916. 


On 15th July 1916 Leonard was returned to the UK. He spent the next few months being posted between the 3rd and 11th Reserve Battalion of the North Lancs, the 2nd (Garriston) Battalion of Suffolks and the 2/6th Battalion Scottish Rifles – these transfers were probably just for administrative purposes. Leonard was then transferred to 447th (Agric) Company of the Labour Corps and served with their Irish contingent in Dublin.

He was discharged as being no longer physically fit for military service on 28th January 1919. His 20% disability was due to a gunshot wound to his left thumb, and rheumatism. Throughout his service his character was assessed as being ‘fair’. At the time of his discharge he was living at 46 Weldale Street, Reading. He was 43 years old and was awarded a weekly war pension of 5/6.

In addition to the Military Medal, Leonard was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Paul McCormick
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