16th Batt. London Regt. Queen’s Westminster Rifles
Leslie Thomson was the second son of Mr Walter and Mrs Thomson, hairdresser, of High Street, Reading and 18 Lorne St. Reading. He was educated at Kendrick School and Christ’s Hospital (where he was in the Officers’ Training Corps), at the outbreak of the war he was employed in the Army and Navy stores. He at once enlisted, and went with his battalion to Hemel Hemsted. In November the battalion went to France, where they were involved in trench work. On one occasion Leslie had a narrow escape when brining in a wounded comrade.
The Standard Jan 16th 1915 published an extract of a letter from Walter to his father with the headline,
“80 yards from the enemy”
Leslie Thomson was in the firing line with his regiment when they exchanged greetings with the enemy on Christmas day 1914.
“They were a rather weedy lot, although they included some fine American Germans. Not a shot was fired all day. In the morning we had a Communion Service under the most picturesque circumstances.
We have moved into new trenches now and are only about eighty yards from the enemy. We are too near each other to be able to employ artillery, but of course we watch each other very closely”.
He was in action on the 18th March 1915 in the trenches near Houplines when a rifle grenade, fired by the Germans burst just behind him. He died in hospital the following day from his wounds. He was 22 years old.
His mother also received the usual letter informing her of his death:-
I regret that it is my painful duty to have to inform you of your son’s death. He died this morning of wounds received in action yesterday. It is very sad, as he was such a nice boy, and well liked by all, and it is a great loss to his company, as he was so keen; also to the battalion. It may be a little consolation to you to know where his body was placed at rest. His funeral took place today. The Commanding Officer and some of his comrades were present. The Rev. H. M. Webb-Peplow performed the ceremony. The effects found on his person will be forwarded as early as possible.
Believe me to remain in you great loss,
Yours in deepest sympathy,
A. N. Davis, S.A.
Leslie Thomson is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres. Grave location IX.C.17. His funeral was described by Major Tyrwhitt in a letter to his parents.
“Your son was buried by the chaplain to the brigade in the hospital cemetery, and I was fortunate to be able to attended the service with a number of his comrades. His grave will be marked by a simple wooden cross, bearing his name and that of his regiment, and a careful record of its position will be kept at our headquarters. Your son was always a bright, and cheerful man, and such a good soldier that I shall personally much miss him, as will many of his comrades to whom he had endeared himself.”
Forty two of his comrades signed a letter to his mother, each expressing heartfelt sympathy with her in her loss, and stating:
”We shall miss him very much, as he was a good soldier, one who could be relied upon to do his duty in the face of any odds, and he was always very willing to do all he could for the comfort of his fellow men.”
He is commemorated on the family grave with the words:
“He gave his heart to God, his life for his King and Country”.