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Person Details
Basford, Nottingham
Leonard was born about 1890 and was the son of Thomas Mountford and Elizabeth Mountford (nee Butcher). His parents had probably married in the Basford registration district in 1872 (registered O/N/D). Thomas was a coal miner as were most of his sons. By the time of the 1911 census Thomas and Elizabeth had been married for 38 years and had had 14 children born alive of whom only nine were still living. Eleven children were named on the census between 1881 and 1911; the dates in brackets are the census dates when the children are recorded in their father's household: Elizabeth Mountford (1881/1891), Thomas Mountford (1881/1891), Rose Ann Mountford (1881), Samuel Mountford (1881/1891/1901), William Mountford (1891/1901), Mabel Mountford (1891/1901), Leonard Mountford (1891/1901), Violetta Mountford (1901), Winifred Mountford (1901), Albert Mountford (1901/1911) and Evelyn Mountford (1901/1911). The family lived in Basford; in 1881 the family home was at 6 Southwark Place but the two subsequent census give their address as 134 Park Lane. By 1911, though, they were living at 114 Park Lane, Old Basford, the address given in the notice of Leonard's death in the local paper in 1914. Leonard, who had been a coal miner, joined the army in 1907 and in 1911 was recorded on the military census in Plympton, Devon. A nephew who was named for his uncle, Leonard Aisne Mountford, was also a regular soldier, 5888398 Private, 1/7th Bn The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey). He served in the Second World War and died on 28 June 1944 at a hospital in Blackpool, Lancashire, of head wounds received in action. He was 28 years old. He is buried in Bulwell (Northern) Cemetery Nottingham, grave ref Sec. L/19, grave 18 (‘Sleeping in God’s garden of rest. Free from pain.’)
He was a coal miner when he enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters in 1907.
20 Sep 1914
328567 - CWGC Website
2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Leonard enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters on 18 November 1907 and in 1911 was serving with the 2nd Battalion based at Crownhill Barracks at Crownhill, RSO, Devon. ‘The 2nd Foresters had served in India 1882-1898,’ writes John Cotterill, ‘returning home in 1902 via garrison duty in Aden and Malta. They led a peripatetic life in the UK serving on the Isle of Wight, in Aldershot, in various small garrisons in Ireland, in Plymouth and railway strike breaking in Derby in 1911 before arriving at Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield in 1912. Here they mobilised 4/8/14 as part of 18 Brigade in 6 Division. As with most home based units they were under strength in peacetime so were composed of 40% reservists on mobilisation. Initially only four divisions were sent over the channel with 4th and 6th Divisions held back on coastal defence duties. As the threat of an early German invasion receded these two remaining divisions were deployed with 2nd Foresters, 930 men strong, arrived in St Nazaire on 11 Sept 1914. By this time the retreat from Mons was over and, indeed, on 12 Sept 1914 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) began its advance from the River Marne to battle on the River Aisne.’ 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (71st Bde, 6th Division) mobilised 4/8/1914 and disembarked at St Nazaire on September 11th. Hough was killed during the battalion’s first Great War action in the Aisne valley which the BEF needed to cross before attempting to take the strategically commanding Chemin des Dames high ground. On September 20th, they were in reserve north of Troyon. As other British units fell back, according to John Cotterill, ‘a request for help reached the 2nd Foresters... at 1400.’ first by A and C Coys led by Captains Parkinson and Popham, reinforced by ‘B’ and ‘D’’ Coys with most of the Westphalians fleeing before the Foresters’ bayonets.’ The unit war diary (TNA WO95/1616/3/1) records the dramatic action: ‘the enemy were seen to have taken trenches on the right of the British line on the ridge at the head of the Troyon Valley – the most vital point in the line of defence. The battalion moved out to re-take the trenches. A German column was seen to be marching off prisoners...The advance was met by a very heavy machine gun fire from the front and left flank which caused many casualties, the ground being devoid of cover and very cramped... a general advance was made with great dash and in spite of heavy losses the trenches were re-taken. The battalion then prepared to hold the trenches... This was a most important action as the safety of the British right and the bridge over the R. Aisne at Bourg depended on the maintenance of the trenches. All ranks behaved splendidly.’ The war diary estimated 180 2nd Bn casualties in the action of 20th September 1914. 49 men from the unit, including 24 commemorated on this website, were killed that day (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). 38 of these dead have no known grave and are commemorated on the Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial to the missing and the remaining 11 are divided between cemeteries at Chauny, Sissone and Vendresse. Military Research by David Nunn and John Cotterill Leonard is buried in Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension, Aisne, France (grave ref. 6.c.20) He qualified for the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Nottingham Evening Post, 'Roll of Honour' (abridged), 20 November 1914: 'Private L Mountford, 2nd Sherwood Foresters, 114 Park Lane, Old Basford, killed in action 20th September.' Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Leonard was unmarried and his father, Thomas, was his sole legatee.
Remembered on