Pratt, Leonard

Leonard Pratt was born in the June quarter of 1916, (Flintshire (Mold) FLNT/53/54) the son of John Ernest Eric and Mary E. Pratt (nee Shaw), who had married on the 7th of September 1909 at St Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay.    John, 24, a bachelor and Sailor gave his address as 60, High Street, Connah’s Quay and his father Ernest Ellis Pratt as of independent means.    His bride, Mary Elizabeth Shaw, 21, and a spinster gave her address as Park Hill and her father as Thomas Shaw, Master Mariner.    Their witnesses were Thomas John HOOSON & Eliza Ellen ADAMS.

The 1911 census shows the young family living at 5, Spring Street, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire with 4 rooms.   John Ernest Eric Pratt, 25, tells us that he is a Pryler? in the Sheet Mill and had been born in the U.S.A. and was a Resident and a British Subject by Parents.    Mary Elizabeth, 20, and John tell us that they had been married 1 and ½ years and 1 child had been born and was still living.   Mary Elizabeth’s parents were living with them, or at least spending the census night with them – Thomas Shaw – Father-in-Law, age 60 and a Dock Labourer, her mother – Susannah Shaw, Mother -in-Law, 65, (tells us they had been married 24 years and 3 children born, sadly 2 had died.)  There was an uncle, Thomas Jones, age 67 single and a Gas Stoker.   John & Mary’s new baby, Thomas E. Pratt, age 10 months was also in the household.   All, bar John E.E. Pratt, had been born in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire and they all spoke only English.

Leonard Pratt was born on the 18th of April 1916 according to the Pratt Family Tree on Ancestry- PRATT FAMILY TREE (annturner60)  and it’s this source that tells us that he had 5 brothers and 5 sisters.

Leonard was baptised on the 10th of May 1916 – Leonard s/o John Ernest Eric & Mary Elizabeth PRATT, 55, Church Street. Pte. Soldier.   This tells us that John Ernest Eric was in the Great War, although I cannot find him on the Flintshire WW1 Index, but he was an Acting /Corporal according to his Medal Roll, a Private on his Medal Card that I found, please see below.

The 1921 census gives us a glimpse of the family, living at 59, Church Street, Connah’s Quay and we see Ernest Eric Pratt, age 34 years and 8 months old, he is an Electric Crane Driver at John Summers Ltd., Hawarden Bridge Steelworks but was ‘Out of Work.’   Mary E. Pratt, his wife, is now 31 years and 2 months old, their children Thomas E.E. Pratt was 11 years old*, John E. Pratt was 9 years and 7 months old*, Evelyn Pratt was 7 years and 7 months old and Leonard Pratt was 5 years and 2 months old, they all were all going to St. Mark’s School.   The remaining children were Vera W. Pratt 2 years and 6 months old, and Mary G. Pratt, 4 months old, all the children had been born in Connah’s Quay.

*The Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register tell us that one of the 2 boys went to the school, but there was some mystery which one, as the clerk/teacher had written down John E. Pratt then crossed out John and written Thomas, then the date of birth was a bit of a mixture of the two dates of birth – John was born on the 16th of November 1911 and Thomas was born on the 11th of June 1910 [- they had written 11th of November 1911!  (See below).


927 (1341) PRATT, Thomas Ernest Date of birth – 11th (16th) of June 1910. 59, Church Street, Connah’s Quay.  Father Motor Driver, date entered school – 17th of September 1923 – Previous school – St. Mark’s School.  Date of leaving – 24th of July 1925 – Summers Off.

988 (1441) PRATT, John (Thomas) date of birth 11th of November 1911 59, Church Street, Connah’s Quay.  Father Motor Driver, date entered school – 16th of September 1924 – Previous school – St. Mark’s School.  Date of leaving – 23rd of December 1929 – Ironworks.

2880 PRATT, Kenneth Graham date of birth 15th October 1925 Fairview House, Sealand Road, Queensferry.  Father (Decd.) Motor (Crane) Driver. Previous school -Sealand Cl. Date of leaving  28th of March 1941 – Works Lab.

We do know from the Hawarden Parish Registers – Burials, that Leonard’s father, John Ernest Eric PRATT, was to die and was buried on the 8th of January 1934 age 45 years, his address then was “Fairview”, Chester Road, Sealand.  Curiously the Official BMD – Deaths, gives his age as 48 years. (see below).

The next time the family are seen, is on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th of September 1939.  There are 11 people on the Register, living at “Fair View”, Manor Lane, Sealand Road, Hawarden, Mary E. Pratt, was a widow and her date of birth was given as the 2nd of April 1890 and like all married/widowed women on this register, with no job, was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”  Thomas E.E. Pratt, born 11th of June 1910 is single and a Clerk Engineer Storekeeper, John E. Pratt , born the 16th of November 1911 is single and  a Steelworks Roughing Roller, Evelyn E Pratt, born 22nd of November 1913, is single and doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties (Unemployed), Leonard Pratt, Single, born 18th of April 1916 and a Labourer, Electricians, Vera W Pratt (Beresford) (Roberts), born 25th of January 1919 was also doing ”Unpaid Domestic Duties” and was also single.  Jean E Pratt (Nelson), born 28th September 1928 and Kathleen Pratt (Carter) born the 25th of April 1933, were both at school.   There were 3 redacted or closed records because of the 75- or 100-year rule.    (The bracketed names are the names of the gentlemen that the Pratt girls eventually married.   These were written next to the Maiden name of the girls as can be seen below.)

I do not know any of Leonard’s early childhood or teenage years, but at some point he must have gone into Vickers-Armstrongs at Broughton or the R.A.F. to be an apprentice because he became an Engineer/Fitter/Airman as described on his CWGC Citation, any information would be gratefully received.

Taken from :-

The aircraft factory at Broughton was established early in the Second World War as a shadow factory for Vickers-Armstrongs Limited. The factory produced 5,540 Vickers Wellingtons and 235 Avro Lancasters. PA474 is one of only two Lancaster aircraft remaining in airworthy condition out of the 7,377 that were built. PA474 rolled off the production line at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory at Hawarden Airfield on 31 May 1945, just after the war in Europe came to an end, so she was prepared for use against the Japanese as part of the ‘Tiger Force’. PA474 is now part of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Post-war the factory was used by Vickers to build 28,000 aluminium prefab bungalows.

The RAF’s No. 48 Maintenance Unit was formed at Hawarden on 1 September 1939 and until 1 July 1957 stored, maintained and scrapped military aircraft, including the Handley Page Halifax, Wellingtons, Horsa gliders and de Havilland Mosquitoes. It was located on the northwest portion of the airfield.

No. 3 Ferry Pilots Pool/Ferry Pool, Air Transport Auxiliary, was based at Hawarden between 5 November 1940 and 30 November 1945. Its pilots ferried thousands of military aircraft from the factories and maintenance facilities at Hawarden and elsewhere to and from RAF and Naval squadrons throughout the UK.

However, fate had him being sent with 10 other men from B.O.A.C. (British Overseas Airways Corporation).   BOAC had large bases at Durban, Asmara, Alexandria and a pilots’ school at Soroti, Uganda.  –

British Overseas Airways Corporation From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I had trouble trying to find out what Leonard would be doing going to South Africa, but the WW2 talk Forum came up aces again, putting me on the right path.  Tim, Kyle and TD on talk  set me on the right path with the fact that Leonard was one of are 9 BOAC Engineer/Fitter/Airmen, 1 Civilian/Airman and 1 Storekeeper all killed on 07/12/42 on the Ceramic and commemorated on the Alamein Memorial*

* The Alamein Memorial forms the entrance to El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt

Leonard’s Ticket No. was 391 and he was en route to Durban , his name is on Column 268.

Leonard was one of 5 people from Deeside, Connah’s Quay, Hawarden & Mancot Royal who died on the S.S. Ceramic, please click on their names to read their stories and also get a fuller picture of what happened.   They were Elizabeth Elsie Pickering (nee Coppack,) John Harold Pickering, Joyce Lucy William (nee Hall) and David George Williams.

There was a surprise ending with the release of a Prisoner of War in 1945, who could tell what happened on that fateful night, but also the book written by Clare Hardy, “S.S. Ceramic,The Untold Story*” with the assistance of Eric Munday, the released Prisoner of War and Frank McCormick.

Clare Hardy, whose grandfather, Trevor Winser, also died, investigated the circumstances of that night and it is a wonderful book that is so comprehensive, covering 1912 – 1942.   Many thanks to Clare for allowing me to add some of her information and without whose dedication the story would not have been told.    *(ISBN 9781479369713).

The other 2 couples are remembered in St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey – Location: England, London – “Of the many civilians of the Commonwealth whose deaths were due to enemy action in the 1939-1945 War, the names of more than 67,000 are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.”

Leonard ‘s name was put forward for the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial and is listed there, but for some unknown reason he wasn’t put forward for the Connah’s Quay & Shotton WW2 War Memorial, so I think that he should, as he was born in Connah’s Quay, be added to any future WW2 Memorial as well.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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