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Source: Michael Doyle Their Name Liveth For Evermore: The Great War Roll of Honour for Leicestershire and Rutland. He was the son of Frank Henson, a wood labourer, born 21st October 1856 in Thrussington, Leicestershire and baptised on the 15th July 1860 in the Parish Church, Thrussington and his wife Ann Henson (nee Hopkins, married in the 2nd quarter of 1874 in the Loughborough, Leicestershire district), a charwoman, born 1855 in Costock, Nottinghamshire and baptised on the 28th January 1855 in St. Giles’s Church, Costock. Leonard was born 7th August 1890 in Loughborough, Leicestershire and was baptised on the 6th September 1891 in All Saint’s Church, Loughborough, his siblings were, John Joseph, a boiler maker, born 7th January 1875 in Costock and baptised on the 28th March 1875 in St. Giles’s Church, Costock, Edward Stevenson, an iron shaper, born in the 2nd quarter of 1876 in Thrussington and baptised on the 4th June 1876 in the Parish Church, Thrussington, William, an iron shaper, born in the 1st quarter of 1878 in Thorpe Acre, Leicestershire, Harry, a schoolboy, born in the 3rd quarter of 1879 in Burton Bandalls, Leicestershire and George, a schoolboy, born in the 3rd quarter of 1881 in Belgrave, Leicester and baptised on the 16th October 1881 in St. Peter’s Church, Belgrave, in April 1891 the family home was at Cambridge Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire. In March 1901 Leonard was residing as a visitor at 12, Grey Street, Derby, this being the family home of Joseph Frear, a blacksmith’s striker, born 1856 in Loughborough, Leicestershire and his wife Eliza Frear, born 1857 in Derby, also residing with Leonard was his sister Mary, Elizabeth born 21st March 1892 in Loughborough and baptised on the 17th July 1892 in All Saint’s Church, Loughborough. In April 1911 Leonard was a serving soldier and was stationed at Marlborough Lines, Aldershot, Hampshire. Leonard also had a younger sibling, Lilian May, born in the 3rd quarter of 1894 in Loughborough and baptised on the 4th November 1894 in All Saint’s Church, Loughborough.
Leonard was educated at Emmanuel Boys School, Loughborough, Leicestershire enlisting into the Coldstream Guards on the 11th June 1907 and he served for seven years before joining the Leicestershire Constabulary, being stationed at New Swannington, Leicestershire. On the outbreak of war he rejoined his old Regiment and was wounded on the 23rd September 1914 by a shell during the Battle of the Aisne, subsequently dying from his wounds two days later in Claridge’s Hotel in Paris. The doctor wrote that he was brought in on the night of the 23rd September, and that after being, “very brave and patient, he passed away quietly at half-past four on Friday the 25th.” He was buried in the Pantin Cemetery and a Company of French soldiers followed and fired the last shots. Leonard was unmarried.
The Brigade of Guards service records all exist, but were deposited in 2018 with the Ministry of Defence in Glasgow, the exception being the Scots Guards, whose service records are located in Edinburgh. Access to these records is available at the current cost of £30.00 per inquiry (2019). This makes it impractical for researchers who, like myself have in excess of over 400 members of the Brigade of Guards to research, as a consequence all that is known of Leonard from military documents that are available in the public domain is that he enlisted into the Brigade of Guards on the 8th June 1907, and at the completion of his training was posted as a Private to the Coldstream Guards, it is not known on what date he completed his first period of service with the Colours before his transfer to the Army Reserve. On the outbreak of war Leonard was mobilized as a Reservist, allotted the service number 7290 and posted to the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and with this unit he first entered the theatre of war in France on the 12th August 1914. He was wounded on the 18th September 1914 and died from his wounds on the 25th September in Claridges Hospital, Paris. He was awarded the 1914 STAR, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The War Diary records: 18 Sep-14 – SOUPIR. The enemy’s shells caused 2 casualties – Lance Corporal COLES killed and Private HENSON wounded. Situation same as 17th.
On Friday October 9th 1914 The Leicester Journal published the following article under the heading. “THE DEATH OF PRIVATE HENSON.” – The following letter has been received relative to the death of Private L. Henson from Dr. Grace Judge, Women’s Hospital Corps, and is dated September 27. – “I write to tell you of the sad news of the death of your brother, Private L. Henson, No.7290, of the Coldstream Guards. He was brought into this hospital on Wednesday, 23rd September at night, with a shell wound. . . .We did all we could for him, but there was little we could do except keep him comfortable. He was very brave and very patient, and he passed away quietly at half-past four on Friday, the 25th. . . . He was buried this morning; the first part of the service was held in our mortuary chapel. An English clergyman took the service. A company of French soldiers came, and several of the members of the staff of this hospital went to his service. The coffin was covered by the Union Jack, and on it was placed a laurel wreath, and there was another wreath with the words “Un souvenir Francais,” on it, given by some French soldiers. The company of French soldiers followed him to the grave and fired the last shots.
And in the same issue under the heading. “THE ROLL OF HONOUR.” – News has been received in Loughborough of the death in hospital in France of Constable Henson, a reservist of the Coldstream Guards, who was stationed at New Swannington, Coalville, injured by a shell on September 23rd he died two days later, and was buried with full military honours, his funeral being attended by French soldiers.
On Saturday October 10th 1914 The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury published the following article under the heading. “SWANNINGTON POLICE CONSTABLE DIES FROM WOUND.” Information has been received at Whitwick that Police constable Leonard Henson, of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, a native of Loughborough, died in action in France on the 23rd September, and was buried on the 25th. Henson who was a first class Army Reservist, joined the Leicestershire Constabulary about nine months ago. He died from a shell wound, and it is understood that a nurse communicated the circumstances to be conveyed to his fiancée, Miss Ida Stacey, whose mother is the wife of Mr. Waterfield, proprietor of the Duke of Newcastle Inn at Whitwick. Henson was a man of fine physique, and his soldierly bearing was evident in civil life. He was stationed at Swannington.
Source: Leicestershire War Memorials Project. Coalville Times article, Friday 7th August, 1914
COALVILLE POLICEMEN FOR THE WAR
The police force includes several army reserve men, and some of the local constables have been called up. These included P.C. Heggs (Ashby), P.C. Durrands (Coalville) and P.C. Henson (New Swannington) who were all formerly in the Guards, and P.C. Granger of the 17th Leicestershire Regiment. They left for headquarters on Wednesday.
Coalville Times article, Friday October 9th, 1914:
"SWANNINGTON POLICEMAN’S DEATH AT THE FRONT
FRENCH SOLDIER’S SPLENDID TRIBUTE
NURSE’S TOUCHING LETTER
The saddest war news of the week, so far as this district is concerned, is that announcing the death of P.C. Henson, of the Coldstream Guards who was stationed at New Swannington. It was conveyed in a touching letter written by one of the hospital nurses to his brother, Mr John Henson, of 49, Woodgate, Loughborough, and was as follows:
“September 27th, - Dear Sir, I write to tell you the sad news of the death of your brother, Pte. L. Henson, of the Coldstream Guards, who was brought to this hospital on Wednesday September 23rd at night, with a shell wound. The piece of shell had passed through the lower part of his body and out through the lower part of his back. We did all we could for him, but there was little we could do, except keep him comfortable. He was very brave and patient, and passed away quietly at half past four on Friday, September 25th. He was conscious part of the time and told me you were the only near relation he had, and he was very pleased when we said we would let you know how he got on. He was buried this morning. The first part of the service was in our mortuary chapel. An English clergyman took the service and a company of French soldiers came and several of the members of staff of this hospital went to the service. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack and on it was placed a laurel wreath and there was another wreath with the words, “Les souvenir Francais,” given by some French soldiers. A company of French soldiers followed him to the grave and fired the last shots. It was a beautiful and impressive military funeral. If there is anything further that you wish to know or anything I can do for you, please write and ask me and I will do what I can.”
P.C. Henson, who was a first-class army reservist, joined the Leicestershire Constabulary about nine months ago and he was the first policeman to be stationed at New Swannington, where he came in May last. By the painstaking and courteous and efficient manner in which he discharged his duties he had won the highest respect of the inhabitants in that short period and there is genuine and wide-spread regret that the war should have claimed him as one of its victims. He was a fine specimen of manhood, a total abstainer and of splendid physique, his military bearing being very apparent, and he bore an excellent character. He was a native of Loughborough. The deceased soldier was engaged to Miss Ida Stacey, whose mother is the wife of Mr Waterfield of the Duke of Newcastle Inn, Whitwick, and much sympathy is felt for the young lady in this sad occurrence."
Coalville Times article, Friday November 6th, 1914.
CHIEF’S GENEROUS TRIBUTE
TO LEICESTERSHIRE CONSTABLES FALLEN AND INJURED
The “Police Chronicle” of October 30th, says: We have received the following letter, the fine spirit of which will be admired by all, from Mr Edward Holmes, the Chief Constable of Leicestershire.
“With respect to your letter of the 20th inst., I very gladly testify to the excellent qualities of my late Constable Leonard Henson, who, to the deep regret of all of us, lost his life in the discharge of his duty as a soldier in the early part of the war. He had only been with me five months, but showed every promise of being a comrade whom it would have been a constant pleasure to have amongst us. At the very last Bench he attended I complimented him on the fair spirit he manifested when giving evidence.
P.C. Heggs, who is wounded, and has recently been removed from Lincoln Hospital to a hospital at a private house near Grantham, will I sincerely hope, come back to us at the end of the war. Happily, none of the injuries he has received appear likely to prevent his resumption of police duty. I have, of course written to him and told him how glad we shall all be when he is able to come back. His father is an old sergeant with me, and is very much respected by all.
A third constable of mine, P.C. Durrands, had his arm broken by a shot in the war and is now a prisoner in the hands of the Germans. He was a very smart man, most anxious to make himself acquainted with his police duties, and, judging by the progress he made during the eight months he had been with me, I had every hope that he would become a really useful and valuable member of the Force. Of course, I hope that he will come back when the war is over.”
Coalville Times article - Friday May 7th, 1920
LOCAL CHIT CHAT
There has just been hung up in the office at the Coalville Police Station, and at every Police Station in Leicestershire, a handsomely-designed roll of honour, in oak frame, in connection with the war services of the Leicestershire County Constabulary. At the time war broke out, there were 202 men on the Force in the county and of these, no less than 70 joined the Colours. Ten made the supreme sacrifice, and two were totally incapacitated by wounds. Splendid portraits of the ten men who fell are given in the picture and it is noteworthy that three of them went from the Coalville district. They were P.C. L. Henson, who was stationed at New Swannington, and P.C.’s Clifford Page and T. Grainger, both of Coalville. Another of the killed was P.C. Prew, the son of a former Hugglescote constable. The names of all the men who served in the war appear on the Roll of Honour. Many of the men won war decorations and promotions. The members of the Force have defrayed the cost of the Roll of Honour by voluntary contributions.
Research undertaken and submitted (with photograph from the Coalville Times) by Andy Murby.
- Conflict - World War I
- Cause of death - DIED OF WOUNDS
- Burial Place - 6 21 28, City Of Paris Cemetery, Pantin
- Birth Place - All Saints, Leicester
- Other Memorials - Loughborough Carillon, War Memorial Bell Tower
- Unit - Coldstream Guards
- Cause of death - DIED OF WOUNDS
- Burial Commemoration - City of Paris Cem., Pantin, France
- Born - Loughborough, Leicestershire
- Enlisted - 08/06/1907 in Leicester
- Place of Residence - Swannington, Leicestershire, England
- Memorial - CARILLON TOWER MEM., LOUGHBOROUGH, LEICS
- Memorial - EMMANUEL CHURCH, LOUGHBOROUGH, LEICS
- Memorial - ST. PETER'S CHURCH, LOUGHBOROUGH, LEICS
- Memorial - ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CHYRD. MEM., WHITWICK, LEICS
- Memorial - LEICESTERSHIRE CONSTABULARY MEM., ENDERBY, LEICS