Remembrance - The Yorkshire Regiment, First World War
Captain Leonard James YORKE. MC.
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Captain Leonard James YORKE, MC.
Leonard James Yorke was born in Church Fenton, near Tadcaster (North Yorkshire),
in Q4 1889.
He was the son of James and Agnes York, and in the 1901 Census had 2 brothers (Roland and Gerald) and a sister (Agnes). His father was a Stationmaster on the North East Railway.
In the 1911 Census, Leonard Yorke was an Electrical Engineer living in Plumstead, S E London.
He married Marion Ruth Huckell in Hastings in Q2 1918. (Her address at this time would appear to have been "Cornwallis House", Cornwallis Gardens, Hastings, - ref. Leonard Yorke's Medal Rolls Index Card).
Leonard Yorke was Gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 4th Battalion the
Yorkshire Regiment on 12 February 1915.
On 11 May 1915, 2nd Lieutenant Yorke, together with 4 other Officers, joined the 4th Battalion in the reserve trenches at Brandhoek. The 4th Battalion had only recently been involved in the Battle of St. Julien, where they had suffered heavy losses.
On 24th and 25th May the 4th Battalion were involved in heavy fighting, during which they were subject to a gas attack.The War Diaries describe the effects of the gas, in which many Officers and men were incapacitated.
The next mention of Leonard Yorke in the 4th Battalion War Diary is that on 25 August 1915 he returned to Base, together with a Sergeant and a Corporal, on one month's rest duty.
However, there is no further mention of him in the 4th Battalion War Diaries.
His promotion to Lieutenant is noted in the Green Howards Gazette of January 1917 (Vol XXIV, No 286, p 138), and his promtion to Captain in the Green Howards Gazette of June 1917 (Vol XXV, No 291, p 24).
Yvonne Fenter has posted the following significant information relation to Captain Leonard Yorke in "Lives of the First World War";-
1. Citation for the Military Cross from The London Gazette - 1st February 1919 (Publication date: 31 January 1919; Supplement: 31158; Page: 1704.)
"War Office, 1st February, 1919. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the following awards to the undermentioned Officers and Warrant Officers in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field: — ... AWARDED THE MILITARY CROSS. ... Capt. Leonard James Yorke, 4th Bn., York. R., T.F., attd. 10th Bn., E. York. R. At Bois de Ploegsteert on 28th September, 1918, this officer displayed great courage in the leading of his platoon at a time of exceptional difficulty and danger. It was largely owing to his example that good progress was made by the company on the left of the battalion line. He was seriously wounded during the action."
2. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - 11th October 1918, Page 6.
"CAPT. LEONARD JAMES YORKE, Yorkshire Regiment, son of Mr. James Yorke, 19 South End Avenue, Darlington, has been wounded, and is in hospital abroad."
Although eligible for the Silver War Badge, as a consequence of being wounded, Leonard Yorke rejected the award of the SWB. (ref. Medal Rolls Index Card).
3. The "Gloucester Citizen" 6th May 1929
DEPRESSED WITH WAR WOUNDS.
Gassed and Shell shocked.
The inquest on Capt. Leonard James Yorke (39), of Shotfield-avenue, East Sheen, who was found shot on Hampstead Heath on May 2nd, was opened at Hampstead Coroner's Court to-day.
Capt. Yorke was an inspector of the London Electric Railway, and while serving in France during the war was wounded, gassed, and shell-shocked.
Wilfred Yorke, a brother, of Spondon, Derby, said Capt. Yorke had been very moody and temperamental since his demobilisation from the Army. He joined up early in the war, and saw active service on the western front. He was badly gassed at Hill 60 in the first gas attack of the war, and subsequently was seriously wounded.
IN HOSPITAL FOR TWO YEARS.
The widow said that after the war her husband was in hospital for two years, and was then invalided out of the Army. In January last he slipped and broke his ankle, and he was laid up for eight weeks. This depressed him very much, because he loved his work. He also frequently had great pain from his wounds, especially during the cold weather. He was of a very sympathetic nature, and little things upset him.
On Friday, April 26th, he received news that his father, who was in Yorkshire, was dying. He was very upset and decided to go and see him. After doing certain business in Birmingham, he left home on Monday, April 29th, and she received a letter from him from Manchester next day. The next letter she received was on Thursday, May 2nd, and it was posted from Hammersmith. Her husband had no financial worries, but he took and exaggerated view of small matters.
LETTER TO WIFE.
From the letter received by Mrs. Yorke from Hammersmith, the Coroner (Sir Walter Schroder) quoted the following:-
"I have failed you completely, and this evening I am afraid I must take the arm of a coward and walk across Hampstead Heath and go out for good."
Later in the letter he wrote:-
"I don't think I can say anything else. I expect the dear old temporary insanity will come up again. As a matter of fact a lot of it was temporary madness."
The Coroner said that the letter also stated that Yorke's banking account was three or four pounds overdrawn, but Mrs. Yorke said that she knew nothing of is affairs, and he certainly had not failed her.
William S. G. Baker, of Cherry Hill, Higher Denham, Nottinghamshire, assistant engineer to the London Electric Railway, said that Yorke's affairs in connection with the company were quite in order, and there was no fear of him losing his job.
A verdict of suicide while of unsound mind was returned; the jury added a rider that they thought Yorke was a victim of the war.
4. From the National Probate Calendar, 1929.
Leonard James Yorke of 18 Shotfield Avenue, East Sheen, Surrey...... Probate London 5 June to Marion Ruth Yorke, widow. Effects £356.
The photo of Captain Yorke has been kindly provided by the Green Howards Museum.
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