An Idea for a Christmas Present?

On this last Monday evening, the 101st anniversary of Armistice Day, there was a special event at the Blue School to launch a book detailing the lives of the 390 servicemen who died during WW1 and whose names are listed on the Isleworth Memorial. A number of people from church were able to attend, and below is an excerpt from the book about one of the lives remembered with strong links to our parish. The books will be available to view after Sundays services at both St John’s with St Mary’s. For more information about the book and how to purchase a copy please visit isleworthww1.co.uk 

Leslie Joseph Seers (1891 – 1916)

Leslie Joseph was born in Teddington on 28 October 1891 and baptised as Leslie Joseph Henry Seers on 10 January 892 at St Peter and St Paul in Teddington. He was the only child of Joseph Seers and his wife Mary Jane. [After his father died] Mary remarried. Her second husband was Peter Seagrace Kempshall, a bricklayer, and they married at St John the Baptist in Isleworth on 29 February 1896. Leslie remained an only child and adopted his stepfather’s surname of Kempshall… In 1911 [the family] was at 118 St John’s Road. The family may have supplemented their income by taking in foster children.

Leslie joined the Middlesex Regiment, enlisting in Mill Hill, on 8 December 1915, using his middle name of Joseph and giving his occupation as a rubber mixer. He served with the 5th Battalion and 17th Battalion. On 30 March 1917, for official purposes, he was presumed killed on 29th July 1916, during the capture of Delville Wood, at the Battle of the Somme. Leslie’s division’s war diary for that day reads: “At 12pm the enemy counterattacked but we beat them off… held our line and consolidated.” And on the 29 July: “Terrific artillery fire continued all day… Our casualties during our stay in the wood were 35 men killed and 192 wounded. All ranks behaved with gallantry. The devotion to duty was magnificent…”

In 1920, Leslie’s body was reburied in Delville Wood cemetery, Longueval, France. He was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medals. Leslie Joseph is honoured on the war memorial at St John the Baptist church, St John’s Road in Isleworth.