The death is announced of Pte. Horrocks William Leech, of the Cheshire Regiment. He was the eldest son of Mr. William Leech, of Caldy-road, being born in Caldy twenty years ago. He was a grand lad, typical of the best the country produces, and had been in France nearly 18 months at the time of his death. He belonged to that fine company of C.L.B. boys who quickly responded on the outbreak of war. They have all been a credit to the district, and to all the officers who gave much time to their tuition. The subject of this notice adds yet another to the list of that organisation who have made the supreme sacrifice. He was beloved by all who knew him, and the sorrow for his loss is general in the district. Another brother is now in England, recovering from wounds.
The following tribute came from one of his comrades:
“Monday. Nov. 27th, 1916.
Dear Mrs. Leech, I hope you will excuse me taking the liberty of writing to you. I would that I could be spared the task as my news is of the saddest. I regret to inform you of the death of your son on November 15th. He was one of my best pals, and also one of the best soldiers. He was killed by a shell, and after he was struck his only concern was his mates, although he was rather badly wounded. He lived about ten minutes, and I can assure you he suffered no pain. I hope you will accept this unworthy token of sympathy from me, in memoriam of a true British hero, in which the whole of the Machine Gun Section join me.
Believe me, yours respectfully,
Lance-Corpl. F Gorst, 12614, 9th Cheshires M.G. Sect., B.E.F. France.
P.S. – I shall be very pleased to answer any inquiries you care to make. Sorry I could not inform you before now.”
Horrocks William Leech was born around 1895, to William and Emma Leech, of White Cottage, Caldy Rd., West Kirby, Birkenhead.
He served in the First World War as a Private in the the Cheshire Regiment’s 9th Battalion, fighting on the Western Front in France and Flanders. It is indicated in the excerpt above that Leech was part of the Machine Gun Section of the Cheshire’s 9th Battalion.
Leech is listed as having been Killed in Action on 16th November, 1916, at the age of 21. He died two days before the ending of the Battle of the Somme, on 18th November, which his unit participated in. He is buried at Stump Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, France.
I have also been able to obtain some information of Frank Gorst, the Lance-Corporal who wrote to Private Leech’s mother following his death in November, 1916.
He was born around 1894 to Charles and Eliza Jane Gorst in Heaton Norris, Cheshire, later living in Stockport, at 119 Higher Hillgate. He too served in France and Flanders during the First World War in the Cheshire Regiment’s 9th Battalion.
On 6th October, 1917, Gorst was listed as Wounded and Missing, having previously been listed only as Wounded on 17th August. As a result of this listing, Gorst was entitled to wear a ‘Wound Stripe.’ He was later listed as having been Killed in Action, with the date of his death being 18th July, 1917. He was 23 years old.
During this period the 9th Battalion was stationed in Belgium, having been engaged in the Battle of Messines Ridge (7th – 14th June) the previous month. Gorst is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres.