Researched and written by Anne Wright
Major H A Leggett
Sherwood Foresters, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment
Harold Acworth Leggett’s teaching career was interrupted by the First World War. He was a Mathematics graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge; he graduated in 1895. Harold had gone up to Cambridge from Shrewsbury School in 1892. He was born in Manchester on 11 September 1873 to Robert Aufrere and Barbara (nee Baker) Leggett. His parents were both born in Madras, India in the 1830s and married in Wokingham in Berkshire in 1863. Robert had been in the army, rising to the rank of Captain, but by the time of Harold’s birth he was the Governor of Strangeways Prison. Harold was the fourth of seven children: Percival, Cicely Mary, Geoffrey, Harold, Robert, Oliver and Leigh. He was baptised on 22 October 1873 in Manchester Cathedral. By 1881 the Leggett family was living in Worcester where Robert Snr. was Governor of the local prison.
Harold first experienced active military service in 1900 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Artillery Volunteers in the Boer War. He then embarked on his teaching career which took him to Malvern Link School in 1901, where he appears to have met his future wife, Nora Florence Thomson who he married at Upton on Severn, Worcestershire in 1904. Ten years later he was an assistant master at Nottingham High School. Harold re-joined the army in 1914; from October until December he was a Captain in the 11th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, becoming a Major at the latter date. He later transferred to the 13th and then the 14th Sherwood Foresters. Harold took his role as a senior officer very seriously as the following extract from a letter he wrote on 17 July 1916 to the father of Lt W H B Nelson, who had died of his wounds a week earlier shows:
No young subaltern ever identified himself so closely with his men; he knew them all, their records, their characters, even their homes and families, and no one ever did their duty more conscientiously. It is very easy to say these things for they are abundantly true.
He carried out this painful task compassionately and openly.
Harold went to France in April 1917 but two months later he was wounded and invalided home in July. He was unable to return to France and subsequently became Commandant of the Officers’ School, Minor Tactics at Ripon, Yorkshire. He died on 3 March 1920 at Iron Acton, Gloucestershire, of the effects of trench fever. Harold’s parents had retired to Weybridge and at the time of his death his widowed mother lived at Wargrave in Curzon Road. She remained in Weybridge until her death at the age of 97 on 23 December 1933. Harold was buried in St James the Less Churchyard in Iron Acton 1920. He is also remembered on the Roll of Honour at Pembroke College and on Nottingham Boys’ High School War Memorial. His widow, Nora, went on to earn her own living; in 1923 she was manageress of Trinity College Kitchen, Cambridge. She did not remarry and died on 14 March 1943 in Corsham, Wiltshire. Four days later she was buried with her husband.
Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriages Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995, www.ancestry.co.uk
Nottinghamshire Roll of Honour, www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/
Pembroke College Archives, University of Cambridge
Copy of letter written by H A Leggett, 17 July 1916, to Mr P Nelson, printed in S Ronan’s School Magazine (West Worthing), September, 1916
Announcement of Death: H A Leggett, The Times, (London, England), Sat., March 6, 1920; pg. 1; Issue 42352