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Leonard Thackwell Till’s parents were Alfred and Ada Thackwell Till (nee Taylor) and they were married in St. Mary`s Church in Paddington Green in London on the 9th June, 1889. Ada already had a daughter named Laura who was about 4 years old when she married Alfred.

In 1891 Alfred, Ada and Laura were living in Palmer Street in Blackburn. The family also had a general servant, an 18 year old girl called Kate who was from Shropshire. Alfred Till was a tailor by trade and he was working in the family business of clothing outfitters which had been founded in 1865 in Blackburn by his father Joseph Till. In the 1881 Census Joseph Till actually gave details of the number of people he was employing at that time which was 22 men, 4 boys, 12 women and 6 girls.

Alfred and Ada had a son Joseph Allen in 1893 and he was followed by Leonard* who was born on the 1 April, 1896 in Blackburn. In November 1899 the founder of the company business Leonard`s Grandfather Joseph Till passed away leaving almost £23,000 pounds to the family in his will.

By the time of the 1901 Census Leonard had moved house with his parents and his brother Joseph Allen to Park Lodge in Feniscowles near Blackburn. Leonard`s older sisters Laura and Marie were not with the family then but his maternal Grandmother Fanny Taylor had moved in and the family also had a live in servant, a young lady named Annie R. Williams from Wales.

In 1905 Alfred and Ada had twin boys named Alfred Herbert and Clifford and five years later another son Eric Arthur was born.

Leonard was educated first of all at Blackburn Grammar School and was then sent as a boarder to the Grammar School in Hutton. Hutton was a small village not far from Preston and this is where he was living in 1911. His parents meanwhile had moved house again and they were now living at Blackbrook Hall on Gregson Lane in Hoghton which was quite a large property with ten rooms.

On the 4 September, 1914 Leonard went to Bolton to enlist. His family home was still at Blackbrook Hall in Hoghton and it looks as though he had followed in the footsteps of his Grandfather and Father because his occupation was noted as a tailor. He was allocated the number 2436 and posted to the 1/5th Battalion. Leonard had blue eyes and light brown hair and was quite a tall chap, his height being recorded as five feet nine and a half inches.

After their initial training the 1/5th Battalion left Sevenoaks by train on the 12 February, 1915 and proceeded to Southampton where they boarded the S.S. Tintoretto. The ship escorted by three destroyers sailed at 7pm the same day, the men disembarking in Le Havre the following morning.

During the summer of 1915 Leonard was admitted to hospital a couple of times, first of all in July suffering from defective vision and then again in August with some form of jaundice. After recovering from the jaundice he was posted to `A` Company and re-joined the Battalion

In August 1916 Leonard was promoted to paid Lance Corporal and on the 11 October, 1916 he was further promoted to Acting Corporal.

In the early days of October 1916 the Battalion were sent to Ypres to occupy a reserve line on the Yser Canal. Here they were under almost constant shell fire which caused many casualties and a lot of damage to the trenches, the parapets having to be repaired almost on a daily basis.

On the 10 December, 1916 a shell burst on a parapet close to where Leonard was situated and a piece of shrapnel struck him in the chest killing him instantly.

Extract from 1/5th Battalion War Diary 7 – 10th December 1916

7th December – Battalion relieved 1/10th (Scottish) Kings Liverpool Regiment in front line system. “C” and “D” Companies in front line, left and right subsectors respectively. “A” Company in LIVERPOOL TRENCH. “B” Company in ST. JEAN. Casualty 5008 Pte T Wales “C” Coy wounded.

8th December – Casualty 3695 Pte R Edge “A” Coy wounded

9th December – “A” and “B” Coys relieved “C” and “D” Coys respectively in front line trenches. Casualty 4769 Pte J  ? “C” Coy wounded

10th December – Enemy shelled BILGE TRENCH heavily during morning and again in evening. Trench badly knocked about, several casualties suffered by “A” Coy as a result. Divisional shoot arranged for artillery and machine guns commencing at 4.55pm and continuing at intervals until 9.35pm. The fire was directed on enemy communication trenches and approaches to front line. Germans retaliating on our front line.

Casualties; 2539 Lance Corporal A. Oakes and Acting Corporal L Till “A” Coy killed in action. 9 other ranks wounded. 4 at duty, 1 died of wounds.

The following newspaper article with photo was printed later in the Preston Guardian.


Leonard was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his services to his country. He was buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery just outside of Ypres alongside Lance Corporal Oakes who died on the same day.

Leonard is also remembered on the Hutton Grammar School War Memorial which hangs inside the school. His name is also on the Roll of Honour inside All Saints Church and also on the War Memorial outside the church.

thackwell1huttongrammer thackwell2huttongrammer

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 2436
Date of Death: 10/12/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/5th Bn.

Janet Davis
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