Leonard Frank Hayes
|South Staffordshire Regiment|
|Died 29th April 1918|
Leonard Hayes' Parents
Leonard Hayes was the son of Henry Hayes and Jane (née Danniels).
Henry Theodore Hayes grew up in Midsomer Norton, the son of a painter and the youngest of four children. The family’s address in 1871 was ‘Stoney Crop’; it would be interesting to find out where this was.
At the age of 15, in 1881, Henry was a carpenter’s apprentice, setting out on the trade in which he remained all his life. At the age of 25, the 1891 census lists Henry as a joiner living in the household of his brother-in-law at 5 Caroline Buildings, which is off Lansdown Road, near the top of Hedgemead Park.
The case of Leonard’s mother, Jane, is an excellent demonstration of how ‘fluid’ the spelling of names could be, right up until the end of the 19th century (depending partly on levels of literacy) and this is the main reason that so many alternate spellings of surnames exist. Often, families with different spellings are closer than one may think; it may only be 3-4 generations ago that these diverged. In Jane Danniels’ case, the various alternative spellings included Daniels and Danniells. We will assume the spelling used by her family in 1861 & 1871 census returns, but registrations of Leonard’s siblings’ births in Bath gave various spellings for the mother’s maiden name.Jane herself came from further afield, having been born in Nether Cerne in Dorset, a tiny hamlet five miles north of Dorchester.
Nether Cerne, Dorset
The main part of Jane’s childhood was however spent a dozen or so miles from her birthplace, in Bere Regis, where her father was a groom. This is deepest ‘Hardy country’ and we can get a sense of what Jane’s life would have been like from the descriptions of places, events and customs in Thomas Hardy’s novels. The ‘Greenhill Fair’, central to the plot of ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, was in fact based on Woodbury Hill Fair, which took place just outside Bere Regis.By 1891, however, Jane had left home and travelled to work in London. The census lists her as a parlour-maid among a retinue of three servants with the Lewes household at 6 Cambridge Terrace, St Pancras. This was a very well-to-do part of London and Cambridge Terrace overlooks the fashionable Regent’s Park; a world away from the rural idyll of Dorset.
Cambridge Terrace, near Regent's Park, London
The Hayes Family
It is not known how or where Henry & Jane met, but they married in 1891 (the same year that the census listed them living 100+ miles apart) at St Andrew’s church in Bloxworth, in Jane’s native Dorset.
The first address for the family in the Bath Directory is in 1894, the year that Leonard was born, when they were living at 37 South Avenue, although we know that Douglas was born in Twerton parish (which covers this part of Oldfield Park) in 1892.
Above: South Avenue around the turn of the 20th century [Image courtesy of Nick Vincent] ;
Below: 37 South Avenue today.
From South Avenue, the family moved around the corner to 28 Maybrick Road in about 1898 and Leonard’s parents continued to live there until 1920. This is the address from which Leonard would have attended South Twerton School in the years 1902-1909. Indeed, he was listed in the local newspaper report of the 1902 school prizegiving as being in Standard I and was the 'principal prize winner' in his class. He also won a Lady Tweedmouth Scripture Prize. Brother Douglas performed equally well in Standard IV and was cited as having the 'best work and perfect attendance'.
28 Maybrick Road
The 1911 census shows that Leonard (age 17) was employed by the Bath Gas Company (headquarters on the Upper Bristol Road, near Victoria Park) as a ‘collector automatic gas meter’, which meant he would have emptied the coins from people’s meters. His elder brother Douglas was employed as an engineer at Stothert & Pitt. His father was absent at this time, listed in lodgings in London, where he was working.
Leonard then went on to work for the Wolverhampton Gas Company.
Leonard Hayes in WW1
1/5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment
Leonard Hayes' service with the South Staffordshire Regiment reflects the geography of his workplace before the war, in Wolverhampton.
With the rank of Captain, Leonard Hayes was the highest-ranking of the 33 South Twertonians on the school memorial.The unit served with 137th (Staffordshire) Brigade, 46th (North Midland) Division.
Leonard Hayes' Death
137th Brigade was in the Lens sector at the time of Leonard Hayes' death on 29th April 1918.
From Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, Saturday 11th May 1918
DEATH OF AN OFFICER WHO ROSE FROM THE RANKS.
Captain Leonard F. Hayes, of the Staffordshire Regiment, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Hayes, of Mayfield Road, Oldfield Park, a gallant young fellow who joined up soon after the outbreak of war, was killed in action on April 29th. Educated at South Twerton and the Technical School, he entered the service of the Bath Gas Company, and afterwards went to the Gas Works at Wolverhampton, where responded to his country's call, and enlisted in the Staffordshires. He was wounded in October, 1915, and in 1916 was recommended for a commission This, after training, he took up last year. His promotion was rapid, and at the time he was killed he had gained his Captaincy. He was going into the R.A.F., but was kept back owing to the German thrust in France and Flanders, and has now, at the age 23, made the supreme sacrifice. He had been recommended for the Military Cross for gallantry in raiding enemy trenches, but when killed had not been the recipient of this decoration. His elder brother, Douglas, is an artificer in the Navy and is now being transferred to a bigger submarine than that on which he has been serving. Mr. Hayes, their father, is Bath secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners.
|Leonard's grave is at Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension.|
From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
"Beuvry village was largely occupied during the War by Royal Engineers, Supply units and Artillery horse-lines. It remained in British possession even during the German offensive of April, 1918.
The Cemetery Extension was begun in March, 1916, and used by units and field ambulances until October, 1918. After the Armistice graves were concentrated into it from the battlefields of 1914-18, North and East of Bethune. The Extension covers an area of 846 square metres and is enclosed on two sides by a rubble wall.
There are now 206 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-18 war, 32 being unidentified, commemorated here.."
Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension [Image: www.inmemories.com]
grave was visited in 2017 by Mike Sumsion of Bath, who has been several
times to the Western Front to find the graves of fallen soldiers from
Bath. He has kindly supplied the following image of Leonard's final resting place:|
Leonard Hayes would have been posthumously awarded the the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. We do not know whether he also received a Star; this depends on when he entered into a theatre of war.
|British War Medal 1914-18||Allied Victory Medal|
In addition to his commemoration on the South Twerton School memorial, Leonard Hayes is commemorated as follows:
Bath War Memorial
See separate page for details of the Bath War Memorial. Leonard Hayes' inscription:
Ascension Church Memorial
Leonard Hayes' name is inscribed on the oak tablet in the Ascension Church (see separate page for details of the Ascension Church Memorial). As this memorial is ordered by rank and Leonard Hayes was the highest-ranking casualty in the parish, his name appears at the top of the list.
A Well-Known Local Company: Flower & Hayes
In 1921, Henry & Jane Hayes moved to 11 Cynthia Road. At around the same time, Henry set up a building and joinery company called ‘Flower & Hayes’ with a Mr Thomas Flower, who lived in West Avenue. Their workshops were located between Mayfield Road and West Avenue and reached via a lane from Cynthia Road and South Avenue. The building itself was still in existence until comparatively recently, although the company changed hands a long time before. The site of the Flower & Hayes works (in the middle of the photograph below) has now been redeveloped as a new terrace of houses called Mayfield Mews. Older Oldfield Park residents will easily remember the company of Flower & Hayes.
It would be great to hear from any living relatives of Leonard Hayes. We know that elder brother Douglas married in Neath in 1943 and that he served with the Royal Navy, coming out of retirement to serve again in WW2. He died in 1956 but we do not know whether there were any children.
Sister Rita attended the Higher Elementary School (in Lymore Avenue, later West Central and Culverhay Lower School) during WW1, leaving in 1918 at the end of her course. In 1943 she was still living in Bath and she died in 1989, apparently as a spinster.
It is possible that there are no surviving descendants from this family unit.
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