3313 Corporal HARRY LEEKS.

1/4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment.

Killed in action, aged 21, on the 11th January 1917.

Born North Skelton and enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland.

Son of William and Emma Leeks of 12 Vaughan St, North Skelton, N Yorkshire.

Warlencourt British Cemetery. 5km SW of Bapaume.

Harry Leeks.

1901. Harry, aged 5, was living at 57 Wharton St and had been born in North Skelton, N Yorks.
His father, William A, aged 40, was an Ironstone miner below ground. He had been born in Bradley, Suffolk.
His mother, Emma J, aged 38, was born in Elm, Cambs. By 1911 she has had 11 children and 8 are still living.
He had two brothers, Joseph and Leonard, aged 13 and 14, both already working in the Ironstone Mine as "tub cleaners".
He had a third brother Sydney, aged 8, and two of them, possibly all three fought in the war.
Harry also had younger sisters, Edith 3 and 11mth old twins Alice and Clara.

1911. The family have moved to 12 Vaughan St. Harry, now aged 15, was working underground in the Ironstone Mine as a "Rapping Lad".
Young lads, with just a candle, which they had to ration in the pitch black, opened the ventilation doors to allow the horse-hauled tubs of iron ore to pass from the face to the pit bottom and back. They were warned when to do this by a metal "rapper"
William, the father, is working above ground, "trucking" ironstone.
Joseph is a "Bank rider", Leonard a "Tipper" and Sidney, a Labourer, all in the Ironstone Mine.
Another son has arrived, John, aged 4.

The 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment were part of the 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.
Harry's Medal Card shows that he was an early Volunteer for service in the War. He first joined the 4th Yorks abroad on the 2nd September 1915 and must have fought with them through all their trials at Ypres in the Winter of 1915/16 and then in the trenches at Kemmel, before they were ordered South to take part in the struggle on the Somme.
The following is an extract from the Diary of the 4th Bn for the period 31st December 1916 to 7th January 1917.:-
Battalion in Site 3 (Nissan huts).
Night (7/1) - (8/1) moved to Flers reserve in relief of 7th Northumberland Fus.
Flers reserve very wet, a series of gun positions connected by trenches into a miniature Hampton Court maze.
Several thousand rounds left as legacy of battery which formerly occupied position, a quiet four days (7/1/17) - (11/1/17).
Thence moved to left front-line subsection in relief of 5 Durham Light Inf
Front line a series of isolated posts;
Dispositions:- Two half Coys in outposts: Half Coy in deep dugouts: Half right coy Hexham Road. One Coy Eaucourt l' Abbaye: One Coy Bazentin railhead under canvas.
Four prisoners came in during this tour, and there was one case of trench foot.
Work done in wiring support and improving revetting advanced posts.
Patrol reported no Bosche posts forward of Bosche wire.
Battalion walked into barrage on night 11/12 at Hexham Road.

Harry was killed in this barrage.
Full details based on the Battalion Diary can be read here.

It was only after the War that the Imperial War Graves Commission could create the still well maintained cemeteries
The dead were buried quickly with just a wooden cross and families could send for a photograph as Harry's Dad did for this one.

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