LEACH, Thomas Arthur Pte. 15274

Thomas Leach

Thomas Leach

Thomas Leach was born in Chorley on the 10th April 1896, the son of Arthur and Mary Leach. He was educated at Hawksyard and Ushaw College in County Durham, intending to become a Priest. However, upon enlisting at Chorley on the 19th September 1914 he was working for his father in the family furniture and piano business.

When the Chorley Pals marched to the railway station on the morning of the 23rd February 1915, Thomas would have gone past the shop. During his training with the Pals, he became a crack shot gaining his marksman’s badge and was posted to the machine gun section.

Thomas kept a diary of his time in the Army, summarising the main places under the heading “Places & Chief Events of my Soldiering” – the first part records his time with the Chorley Pals. During his time in Egypt in early 1916 he records being at El Ferdan, Kanatra Lagi Lig, Cairo and 108 Rail Head (the latter adjacent to the Suez Canal). He went in to the trenches on the Somme on the 26th March 1916 where he was wounded in the leg at Serre on the 1st July 1916 (the wound that never really healed during the rest of days). He was shipped back to England via Rouen, arriving in Southampton on the 4th July. Thomas was treated at a hospital in Huddersfield until the 31st of the month, spending time convalescing until the 5th September.

He was then posted to the 6th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment and shipped out to the Middle East on the 14th September. The voyage went the long way around, arriving at Cape Town in South Africa on the 2nd November and to the Persian Gulf on the 23rd. A day later, his diary entry simply says “Arrived Mesopotamia” (now Iraq). Over the next few months, and into 1917, he saw places such as Pesara and Amara, being wounded in the trenches at Kut el Amara on the 25th February whilst fighting the Turks. Periods of convalescing behind the lines and at bases in Bombay, India saw him contract malaria – yet still the Army did not send him home.

He spent the next two years or so working with Army Chaplains close to the front line in Mesopotamia or in various Battalion Offices in bases there or in India. At sometime during that period he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers as Private 64056, although he does not record the move in his diary. He was shipped back to England at the start of 1919, only to suffer another bout of malaria on the journey home (he records his temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit). His only regret, according to his diary, was going through the Suez Canal at night and being unable to see the trenches he dug there whilst with the Chorley Pals in early 1916.

He returned to Chorley – the 1918 Electoral Roll had him as an absent voter from 9 Windsor Road. He married Sarah Miller in the town during 1922, eventually having seven sons and four daughters.

Between the wars he lived in Preston for some 14 years and served there with the Royal Army Pay Corps during the Second World War. Upon his return to Chorley, he played an active part in the community being Chairman of Chorley British Legion, a committee member of Chorley Central Conservative Club and was a regular spectator at Chorley Cricket Club matches. In 1952, the Leach brothers split the family business – John set up John Leach & Sons in Chorley whilst Thomas set up T.A. Leach (House Furnishers) Ltd., with shops at Lee Lane in Horwich and Chapel Brow in Leyland.

Thomas Leach died on the 30th October 1957 at Boarbank Hall Nursing Home in Grange-over-Sands, aged 61 years.

Other Information: John ‘Jack’ Leach served as Private S/43150 in the Gordon Highlanders, winning a Military Medal in 1917.