The PERRY family – Sergeant Leonard George Walter PERRY 1890-1916 and Sapper PERRY, Cecil Herbert Francis (1897-1936)

George Henry Perry (1864-1928) and Mary Ann Hind (c1861-1928) married at St Martin’s on 28th October 1889.  George was a travelling salesman and both lived in Southgate Street.  They had children Leonard George Walter (1890-1916), Evelyn Violet (1891-1980), Cecil Herbert Francis (1897-1936) and Grace Lilian (1900-1958).  Soon George Henry began work as a shoe clicker.

Leonard George Walter was baptised at St Martin’s on 25th May 1890.  The family gave their address as South Wigston.  By April 1891 the family had moved to four rooms at 4 Bakehouse Lane and by 9th April 1892 when Evelyn was baptised at St Martin’s, they lived at 37 Redcross Street.  By the time of Cecil’s baptism on 18th April 1897 they had moved to 5 White Street – George was an “agent” – moving in 1900 to 42 Little Holme Street.  They lived in the parish of St Martin’s at 6 Chancery Street, occupying five rooms, between c1907 and 1912.  Between 1914 and 1918 they lived at 17 Celt Street but had moved away before 1919, to 85 Clipstone Street.  George Henry and Mary Ann both died in 1928 at the home of their son Cecil.

Leonard George Walter Perry worked as a printer’s machine minder in 1911, still living at home with his family.  He married Annie Tilley (1892-1918) at St Andrew’s Jarrom Street on 26th June 1915.  Leonard was a soldier and Annie worked as a stationery hand.  Leonard gave his address as 17 Celt Street.  Leonard had perhaps met Annie through work before the war – in 1911 she was a printer’s folder and book sewer, living with her parents at 21 New Bridge Street.  Leonard and Annie seem to have had no children.

Leonard joined the 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment (no 40386) as a private and rose to the rank of acting Sergeant.  He was presumed killed in action on 25 September 1916 at the opening of the Battle of Morval during the Battle of the Somme.  Leonard’s last few days were described in the Battalion war diary.  Before the 25th September the Battalion was in reserve.  Working parties and carrying parties were found for the troops who were holding the line and consolidating the positions they had won.  While the Battalion were in bivouacs they had 7 casualties “owing to the accidental exploding of a bomb.”  At about 7pm on the night of the 24th the Battalion marched up to take a position prior to making an attack the next day.  Before they reached the position “the enemy heavily shelled [the] men, several casualties resulting.”  The attack on the German line – about 1000 yards from the trench where from which the attack was launched – was made in ‘waves’ each platoon forming a wave and 2 waves going over at a time.  Before they reached the village of Guedecourt, the Germans responded with a tremendous artillery barrage, and the whole of the night of the 24th was spent in hand to hand combat in the village itself.  In the morning the 8th Battalion returned to the second line of trenches but by this time Leonard was already dead.

Leonard is commemorated at Thiepval and at the Church of the Martyrs, Leicester.  Leonard’s effects of £3 17s were sent to his widow Annie on 22nd August 1917.  She had returned to live with her family at 19 ½ New Bridge Street.  Annie died at The Sanatorium Isolation Hospital, Gilroes, on 5th November 1918, of pneumonia caused by influenza – another Spanish Flu victim.  She was 26.  In December 1919 Leonard’s war gratuity of £9 was awarded to his father in law Alfred Tilley, a furniture shop assistant.

Cecil Herbert Francis Perry was baptised at St Martin’s on 18th April 1897.  Aged 14 in 1911, he worked as a baker’s van boy.  During the war Cecil served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, service number 152390.  His service record does not survive.  Cecil was still on active service at the end of the war and still living with his parents at 17 Celt Street and returned to live with them at 85 Clipstone Street in 1919.  He found work as a printer.

After the war Cecil married Grace Ida Gwendoline Reynolds (1899-1983) at Broughton Astley parish church on 14th October 1922. Cecil and Grace had a daughter, Violet Kathleen (1923-2004), who was born in Leicester.  Cecil worked as a journeyman printer and a printer’s machine minder.  After their marriage Grace and Cecil lived at 11 Morledge Street.  Between 1924 and 1928 they were joined by Cecil’s parents and a lodger.  His parents both died in 1928.

Cecil died on 6th January 1936 of heart failure following acute influenzal pneumonia, probably falling dead in the street at Humberstone Road.  This may have been due to damage caused by exposure to poison gas during the war.  He was 38 years old.  A post mortem was held but no inquest.  Cecil was buried with his parents at Gilroes Cemetery on 11th January. He left £239 to Grace, who lived on at 11 Morledge Street until at least 1960, but moved house before 1963.  Grace’s remains were buried with Cecil in 1983.

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