10 September 2016

S-28524 Pte Leonard Thomas Bouchard, Rifle Brigade

Leonard Thomas Bouchard's First World War campaign medals are unremarkable. Like many men, he probably had an unremarkable war too. Nevertheless, that British War Medal and inter-allied Victory Medal are evidence that he served overseas or, to use a phrase current at the time, "did his bit" for King and Country.  Having bought his medals on eBay recently, the least I could do was to find out a bit more about him. This then, is his unremarkable story.

Leonard Bouchard was born in Bethnal Green, east London on the on the 9th September 1896 (in other words, one hundred and twenty years ago, yesterday). He was the son of William and Florence Bouchard and the younger brother of William Robert Bouchard (born . Another brother, Richard Thomas Bouchard, would be born in 1901.

William Bouchard senior was a french polisher by trade, and when the 1901 census was taken, the family was living at 30 Burgoyne Road, Bethnal Green. Ten years later, however, the family had moved on and was living at 20 Kingsley Road, Walthamstow. That's the house on the left in the image - courtesy of Google - below.  

Leonard's regimental number, S-28524, dates to the end of June 1916. It is possible that he had attested under the Derby Scheme in 1915 and been called up in in June 1916 although I think, given his age in 1916, that this is unlikely. Had he attested under the Derby Scheme, as a single man he would have been place in Group 2, and this group was mobilised in January 1916. I think it more likely that Leonard was conscripted and that he probably remained in the UK until December 1916 before sailing for France.

Leonard served overseas with the 2nd Battalion and later with the 12th Battalion. It's possible that the posting from one battalion to another was a result of wounding with the 2nd Battalion, recuperation and then posting to the 12th Battalion. In the absence of a surviving service or pension record, however, this must remain conjecture.

The 2nd Battalion was a regular battalion which formed part of the 25th Brigade in the 8th Division. The 12th (Service) Battalion was a new army battalion which formed part of the 60th Brigade in the 20th (Light) Division; the same division in which my grandfather's brother, Sidney Herbert Nixon, also served.

Leonard survived the war and married Mary Heatley in 1920. The couple went on to have two daughters: Iris F Bouchard born in 1923, and Jeanne M Bouchard born in 1929. Leonard and Mary's marriage and their daughters' births were all registered in West Ham district.

By the time the 1939 Register was taken, Leonard and his family were living in Liverpool Road, Islington, with Leonard's trade recorded as "Omnibus Conductor". He died in 1974, his death registered at Waltham Forest in the third quarter of that year,

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