Unit: 6th Lincolnshire Regiment
Commemorated: Thiepval Memorial France
Not a native of Woodhall Spa, order James William Leach was born in Houghton, sickness Huntingdon. He was married and his wife resided in Prospect Street, physician Horncastle. He is probably the brother of Maurice Leach, who is also commemorated on the Memorial. Since his wife resided in Horncastle, it is likely James’s parents were resident in the Spa, hence his inclusion on the Memorial. He was mentioned in dispatches 3 times for bravery; twice in the Dardanelles and once in France and Flanders. He was also awarded the Military Medal for his bravery, but was killed in action before he received it. His wife collected the medal from H.M. The King, at a ceremony in Hull, in June 1917.
After enlisting at Horncastle, James found himself drafted to the 6th Battalion of the Lincolns. A Kitchener’s battalion,the 6th Lincolns formed part of the 11th (Northern) Division which was raised in late August 1914. At the beginning of April 1915, the Division began to concentrate for training at Witely and Frensham. On the 12th June 1915, the Division received orders to make ready for service in the Dardanelles. Embarkation began on the 30th June, when the bulk of the Division left Liverpool aboard the Empress of Britain and the Aquitania. On the 6th August the Division boarded motor lighters and took part in the landings at Suvla Bay. Here, James was wounded in the neck. In November James was again wounded, this time in the thigh, but he seems to have recovered from both incidents. After 4 months on the peninsula, where a stalemate now existed, it was decided to evacuate the area around Suvla. This was carried out on the night of the 19th – 20th December 1915, the Division then moving to Egypt where it remained until June 1916. By early July 1916, we find the Division, and particularly James’s battalion, concentrated around the village of Flers on the western front. The Somme offensive had started some two weeks earlier, on the 1st July. For the next few weeks, a period of training ensued, in which troops accustomed themselves to war conditions on the front. It was not until September the Division became involved in any major fighting. James continued to fight, with his battalion, in the battle of the Somme, finally being killed in action in November 1916. He was acting as a guide to a party of men who were going out on outpost duty. He was not aware of the granting of his medal and may also not have been aware of his being mentioned in despatches 3 times.