Captain, 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
Killed in action 13th May 1916, age 28.
Buried in Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Former student of commerce.
© IWM (HU 124857)
Leonard, born at Rochdale in 1887, was the youngest son of Isaac and Eliza Renshaw. He was privately schooled and entered Manchester University in 1909 to study commerce and may have returned to study dentistry. A member of Hollingworth Rowing Club he was considered one of the best oarsmen in the North of England and competed in regatta’s all over the country winning 20 cups.
At the outbreak of war Leonard joined the University Officer Training Corps and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Manchester Regiment in October 1914. In January 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant. He excelled in musketry whilst training at Altcar and was appointed as musketry officer to the battalion. Following a special course at Camberley Staff College in August 1915, he returned to his unit, which was training on Sailsbury Plain, and became temporary Brigade Musketry Officer. He was promoted to Captain on 8th November 1915 and proceeded to the Western Front where his superior officers reported that he did excellent work holding an important position in the firing line.
During March and April 1916 Leonard was the Training and Inspecting Officer for Reinforcements at Infantry Base Depot. A few days after returning to his battalion he met his death. On the night of 13th May the enemy bombarded the trenches. When there came a pause in the attack Leonard and two other officers entered a dugout, presumably for some rest or to make plans, but a couple of minutes later the dugout was struck by three large calibre shells. Being only splinter proof the dugout could not withstand the explosions and the roof collapsed killing Leonard instantaneously. Under heavy shellfire officers and men of the battalion extracted the casualties from the debris. Leonard was buried in a small military cemetery behind the front line and a wreath of blossoms was placed on his grave by his men.
One officer who had served with Leonard wrote: “I cannot tell you how grieved we all are to get this terrible and sad news, as we all thought so highly of him. Had he been spared he had such a brilliant future before him, being so thorough in all his duties. I realise yours is the cruelest blow that can dall on any woman, and more especially when it comes, as in this instance, during the full vigour of life.” A Major from the same battalion said that Leonard was the most popular officer in the regiment on account of his knowledge of his work and his “unvarying cheerfulness on all occasions” while a Captain mourned him as “one of my greatest friends”.
Leonard married Beatrice Clegg in October 1915. He left effects worth £88 to his wife and Elvyn Renshaw, an American dentist.