Leonard George Francis (who was known by is middle name) was born in October 1895. He was one of fourteen children to Jonas and Eleanor (or Ellenora) Francis, and his father worked on the railways as a plate layer or ganger.
George followed his father into manual labour, and, by the time of the 1911 census, aged 15, he was already listed as a mason.
He seems to have enlisted fairly early on in the war, and by January 1915 had joined his troop – the 2nd Wessex Field Company of the Royal Engineers – on the front line.
Sadly, Sapper Francis’ time in the army was to be brief. He was caught up in the fighting at Ypres, and he was injured at Hill 60 on 27th April. He was moved to a local hospital for treatment.
It seems that messages crossed in the communication with George’s family. They received a letter confirming that he was recovering in hospital after receiving a wound to the body, but not to worry. A day or so later his postcard confirming his arrival in France was received, but by this time he had been shipped back to England for treatment.
His parents received a telegram to confirm this, and his father and brother set out to visit him. By the time they had reached the hospital, however, he had sadly passed from a tetanus infection. In his pocket was a piece of shell; a sad souvenir of his frontline action.
Leonard George Francis died at Netley Hospital 3rd May 1915. He was just 19 years old.
He lies at rest in the cemetery of his home town, Shepton Mallet in Somerset.