In 2018, at one of the Friday drop-in sessions we held at Longcauseway Church, we were visited by a gentleman who brought some artwork and a sketchbook which his elderly neighbour had given him, saying that she had been in possession of them for many years, but she was not related to the artist.
To our surprise and great joy the signatures on these works were those of Luke Clegg Leadbeater, whom we recognised instantly as one of the men whom we had researched and who sadly died in World War 1.
Luke Clegg Leadbeater
1898 – 1917
Luke was born at 10, Alexander Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 10th August 1898. His father was also Luke Leadbeater, a Dyer and later a Template Maker at Elswick Ordnance Works born in Gomersal in 1864 and died in 1899. His mother was Sarah Elizabeth (nee Clegg) born in Staincliffe, Batley in 1864 and died in 1917. They were married in 1885.
Their other children, all born in Newcastle were; William Henry, born in 1887 and died in 1901, Ann, born in 1891, Olive, born in 1893 and died in 1916 and Lily, born in 1896 and died in 1910.
Sarah was remarried in Newcastle in 1901 to Fred Rowbottom (born in Kirkheaton in 1875 and died in 1953) they had a daughter Elizabeth, born in 1901 and died in 1902.
On the 1901 Census the family lived at 10, George Road, Elswick, Newcastle, in 1901 at 15, Elswick Road, Newcastle and in 1911 at Back Fern Royd, Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury.
Luke was a single man but had a fiancée, Miss Jessie Wood. He attended Ravensthorpe United Methodist Church and Sunday school and was employed by Messrs Jas Smith and Sons as a Glazer. He was also a very talented artist and attended Dewsbury School of Art where his works were featured in exhibitions and received merit awards.
He enlisted on 14th February 1917 serving as Private 26576 in the 1st/5th Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding Regiment) and was sent to the Western Front on 11th October 1917. He was killed in action on 22nd November 1917 at Zonnebeke near Ypres during the aftermath of the Battle of Passchendaele and was buried in the field. In 1919 his remains were reburied in Aeroplane Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Luke was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
His lifelong friend Private George Ledgard was killed at Cambrai the following day. They had both attended the same Church, Sunday school and both had worked at Jas Smiths. Lance Corporal Arthur Sheard wrote to Luke’s fiancée Jessie giving the details of his death; he had been sheltering in a dug-out in the trenches when a shell came over killing him and another soldier. When his mother Sarah received the news on 4th December she died of a stroke six days later.
Aeroplane Cemetery is located 3.5 kilometres north east of Ieper (Ypres) town centre on the road connecting Ieper to Zonnebeke. The site of the cemetery was in No Man’s Land before 31st July 1917 and the cemetery was begun the following month (under the name of the New Cemetery, Frezenberg) by the 15th and 16th (Irish) Divisions, but by October it had acquired its present name from the wreck of an aeroplane which lay near the present position of the Cross of Sacrifice. It was used by fighting units until March 1918, and again, after a period of occupation by the Germans, in September 1918. Graves were brought after the Armistice from small burial grounds and the surrounding battlefields. There are now 1,105 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 636 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate eight casualties known or believed to be buried among them.
Luke is commemorated on the Dewsbury Cenotaph in Crow Nest Park and in the Dewsbury Roll of Honour kept in Dewsbury Central Library and on the Ravensthorpe War Memorial in St. Saviours Church and on the Memorial Plaque in the porch of the now closed St. Matthew’s Church, Westtown.
Headstone photograph by courtesy of Ms. Danielle Roubroeks, Antwerp, Belgium.
Below is a photograph of Jessie Wood supplied by courtesy of her grandson Paul Tyler. She died in 2001 aged 100 and at her request her ashes were placed on Luke’s grave in Aeroplane Cemetery.