Remembrance 2010: Leonard BOXALL (1884-1916)

12 Nov

This year I am remembering the six members of the BOXALL family recorded on the war memorial in the parish church at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex.

Leonard BOXALL is probably the best documented of all the BOXALLs on the West Dean war memorial. Not only are there entries on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and in Soldiers Died in the Great War but his service record has also survived (albeit in burnt condition) and is available on along with his medal index card.

Leonard, or rather Leonard Arthur BOXALL, is also the closest relation of the six BOXALLs on the war memorial. He was my 2x great-uncle, the son of my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline Emily BOXALL (the parents of 27 children) and brother of my great-grandmother Lilian Mary BOXALL.

He was born in 1884 in West Dean, Sussex and baptised at St. Andrew’s Church in West Dean on the 7th September 1884. He appears to have had various jobs on the farm, and when he enlisted at Croydon, Surrey on the 8th September 1914 he gave his occupation as a farm labourer.

Leonard was only 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighed 119 lbs, had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion when he passed his medical examination. He served as a Private in the 8th (Service) Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), although he may have served briefly with the Royal Sussex Regiment. According to his medal index card he arrived in France on the 31st August 1915, which meant he was entitled to the 1914-15 Star as well as the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

I haven’t followed his battalion through their war diaries, so I don’t know the details of where they fought, but Leonard’s story comes to an end on the 28th March 1916 at No. 17 Casualty Clearing Station when he died of gun shot wounds to his chest and right leg, which he had received on the 19th March.

Within Leonard’s service record is a poignant letter written by his mother, after she had received Leonard’s personal effects:

Colworth Cottages
Nr Chichester

Dear Sir,
I have received the things that you
[have] sent of my Darling Boy L. A Boxall
[and] I return you many thanks he was
[the] best Boy a mother [ever] had he has gone
to a Higher Service I hope and may my
other dear Boys be brought back safely to me
yours respectfully
C. E. Boxall

As well as West Dean war memorial Leonard Arthur BOXALL is remembered at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

3 Responses to “Remembrance 2010: Leonard BOXALL (1884-1916)”

  1. yourhistories November 13, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    Such a sad letter. I am constantly amazed by the slightness of the young men who were sent to war in 1914-18. Many of them were not much bigger than me (and I am a very small woman!). . Private Harry Allen of Clarendon Park, whom I commemorated on Remembrance day, was 5’4″ and 113lbs. Thanks for remembering Leonard Boxall and his Boxall comrades.

    • John Gasson November 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

      I guess we forget that some of them were very young men, still growing up in so many ways.

  2. malc may May 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Leonard was a brother of my grandfather, William b 1890. I can remember back in the “50” we use to go to West Dean to vist an other brother, Lawrence. I also remember going to their sister’s, Dorothry’s house every sunday, i knew her as aunt Dolly. I have an original photo of their mother Caroline Targett & some original old newpaper cutting about her & her husband James Boxall. In my ” Boxall tree” i have over six hundred Boxall names, going back to 1650. Many thank’s for writing about Leonerd. Malc

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