Fletcher, Leslie

According to the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register and the 1939 National Register, Leslie Fletcher was born on the 22nd June 1920, although I believe that his birth may have not been registered until the September quarter of 1920.  (Wrexham County Borough (Wrexham) WM/164/60).  He was the son of Samuel (Jnr)& Elizabeth Fletcher (nee Hughes) who married in the Hawarden Registration District in a Civil Ceremony in 1919. (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/06/71).

His father Samuel Fletcher (Jnr.) is sighted on the 1911 census living at 4, Anchor Row, Saltney, Nr. Chester.   Head of the household was Samuel (Snr.), 58, a Smith in the Wagon Works who had been born in Liverpool, Lancashire.    This source tells us that Samuel had written down that his first marriage had produced 11 children, 9 of whom sadly died, although there are 3 children on this census.     Also his wife Eliza Marie?, 54, who had been born in Worcestershire states that they had been married 6 years and no children had been born to them.   As you can see the figures had been entered in the possibly wrong column, in which case then perhaps 11 children had been born and 9 were still living.   Any help to correct this would be gratefully received.    The 1911 census was the first one that the householder filled in themselves.   The rest of the household, who were all born in Saltney, Flintshire, was made up with a son, Samuel Fletcher (Jnr.), 17 and single, a Wagon Repairer (Railway), daughters Minnie Fletcher, 14 and Jesse, 12, both at School.   There were 2 boarders, Thomas Foxall, 22, single and a Striker in the Iron Works and Joseph Foxall, 17, single and a Sheet Repairer (Railway).

Leslie’s father Samuel was a member of the National Union of Railwaymen in 1919, please see the Register below.

We first see Leslie on the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10: –

1615/2260 FLETCHER, Leslie Date of Birth 22nd June 1920, 33, Spon Green, Buckley, Wagon Repairer, Date of Entry – 13th September 1932, St. Mathew’s Buckley, Sch. £3. Trav £3.10 Bks.  Date of Leaving – 10th June 1936 Clerk.

Then again on the 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939) where he is living with his widowed father Samuel, whose birth is given as the 3rd December 1893 and he is a Motor Lorry Repairer, Heavy Worker.   Leslie Fletcher ‘s date of birth is shown as the 22nd June 1920 and he is a Shipping Clerk In the Works (John Summers and Sons) and his brother John S. Fletcher, who was a Junior Clerk in the Steelworks gives his birth date as the 17th March 1923.   There are 2 closed or redacted Records*.

*For individual people, records remain closed for a century after their birth (the 100-year rule), unless it can be proven that they passed away before this milestone.

I do not know anything about Leslie’s early or teen age years and I do not know if he enlisted or was conscripted, but he was on the 1939 National Register so it would have been after 29th September  that year, when he did join the army.

I was contacted by Steve Williams from Mold, who told me that Leslie was his Uncle and his mother Vera (Leslie’s sister) was deeply affected by his loss, and did not want to know any details of Leslie’s ordeal, it was too raw.

Steve told me a sad but lovely story about Leslie and his fiance Mavis.   Leslie had bought her a ring before he went abroad and when he was Killed in Action she treasured the ring.   When she met her future husband Joseph E. Lewis, he was also in the Army (R.W.F.), and was a Prisoner of War of the Japanese for two years.   So Mavis suffered a great deal, but the lovely part of the story is, Joe allowed her to wear her ring after he marriage.   I thought that showed his character.

Steve sent me a Screen Shot of comments on the  where Joe’s son, Peter Lewis, told the story of Joe’s ordeal while a prisoner of war with the Japanese.  This was on the website:-

Pte. 4199413 J. E. Lewis was captured with Sergeant Gunn and Private Blease; he survived Rangoon and was liberated in early May 1945. He passed away in 2004. Pte. Lewis was part of a Vickers machine gun team in the Support platoon.

Many thanks to Steve Williams and family for getting in touch and adding to Leslie’s story.

He was to find himself in Malaya in 1942 in Singapore and be involved, sadly, in the worst British defeat in the Pacific .   Please read :-

Fall of Singapore: An Unprecedented Defeat of the British Empire in the Pacific.

And:- Remembering the Fall of Singapore –

So Leslie was listed on the Casualty List (Page 30) as Missing on the 15th February 1942.  However the Casualty List (Page 2) tells us that he died on or shortly after the 13th February 1942, most certainly in the midst of the fighting, 2 days before the fall of Singapore and as his body was not found he is remembered on the Singapore Memorial.

The Prisoner of War List (Page 30) confirms he died in Singapore and Prisoner o War List (Page 18) tells us that he was Missing but Killed (M b K). : –

Extract taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission  History Information on the Singapore Memorial: –

Before 1939 the Kranji area was a military camp and at the time of the Japanese invasion of Malaya, it was the site of a large ammunition magazine. On 8 February 1942, the Japanese crossed the Johore Straits in strength, landing at the mouth of the Kranji River within two miles of the place where the war cemetery now stands. On the evening of 9 February, they launched an attack between the river and the causeway. During the next few days fierce fighting ensued, in many cases hand to hand, until their greatly superior numbers and air strength necessitated a withdrawal.

After the fall of the island, the Japanese established a prisoner of war camp at Kranji and eventually a hospital was organised nearby at Woodlands.

After the reoccupation of Singapore, Kranji War Cemetery was developed from a small cemetery started by the prisoners at Kranji, by the Army Graves Service.

Within Kranji War Cemetery stands the SINGAPORE MEMORIAL, bearing the names of over 24,000 casualties of the Commonwealth land and air forces who have no known grave. Many of these have no known date of death and are accorded within our records the date or period from when they were known to be missing or captured. The land forces commemorated by the memorial died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in subsequent captivity, many of them during the construction of the Burma-Thailand railway, or at sea while being transported into imprisonment elsewhere. The memorial also commemorates airmen who died during operations over the whole of southern and eastern Asia and the surrounding seas and oceans.

I believe that his father Samuel died in the 2nd Quarter of 1952 (Hawarden, Flintshire, Vol. 8A, Page 468.   He would have been alive to see his son’s name on the Hawarden Grammar School Roll of Honour and the Dedication and the Remembrance Service.

Leslie was loved, missed and remembered by his family and his old school, so his name will live on in perpetuity.   The Roll of Honour was dedicated at Hawarden Grammar School on the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War.   As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.

*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.

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