Leonard MOTTERSHEAD
Rank: Private
Number: 46477
Unit: 23rd Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 16 April 1917
Age: 28
Cemetery: St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France

The Mottershead family had lived at 28 Derby Road, Heaton Moor for many years. Joseph Mottershead was a baker by trade and was married to Maria. The 1901 Census shows they had five children living at home - Joseph, Alice, Ernest, Leonard and Harold.

Some time after War was declared in August 1914, Leonard joined the army at Manchester. Whether it was his choice or just the "luck of the draw" but he found himself in the Duke of Lancaster's Yeomanry. This was the cavalry arm of the Territorial Force and he was given the service number of 3818. He never served abroad with the Yeomanry and will have been to the Manchesters at the end of 1916.

The 23rd Battalion had been formed in the autumn of 1914 as a "Bantam Battalion" - its original members all being men of short stature previously rejected by the army as not meeting the minimum height requirement of 5' 3". It fought through the Battle of the Somme in the summer and early autumn of 1916 and many of its physically fit men had become casualties. Too often, their replacements were short men who did not have the physical stamina to cope with the rigours of trench warfare. By the end of 1916, a decision was taken to stop maintaining all-Bantam units. A considerable number of men were removed as being unfit and most of their replacements were men of taller stature already recruited into the Yeomanry.

At the beginning of March 1917, Leonard and his comrades had been in reserve at Camp de Ballons but on the 6th took over a section of the front line, at the Somme village of Chilly, from the 16th Cheshires. The times of "reliefs" on both sides were often known to the troops on the other side of No Man's Land. It was a favourite time for artillery shelling in the hope of catching troops away from the protection of the trench system and its dug-outs. Leonard is presumed to have become one of the casualties of shelling on that day. He was evacuated from the front line to a field hospital some miles away. There military surgeons will have stabilised his condition to allow for his further transfer to the full hospital facilities at Rouen. His condition must have remained in a critical condition as, if it had been possible, he would have returned to a hospital in the UK. He died some five weeks later still at the military hospital.

   
           
   
     
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