Pepperday, Leslie John Deacon. Died 13th Aug 1915

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday

The Pepperday Family

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday [1] was born in Rugby in late 1893 and his younger brother, Gerald Alfred George Pepperday, in 1896.

Pepperday L J D Pte 2931_Honourable_Artillery_Company_Rugby_Roll_Of_Honour_Vol_2

Their father was John Hinds Pepperday, born in Rugby in 1849 and a well established bookseller in the High Street.   Their mother was Eliza [Elizabeth] Mary née Deacon Pepperday who was some 13 years younger than her husband and born in Surrey. Their marriage was registered in Camberwell in the third quarter of 1889, and before 1891 they were living at 24 High Street, Rugby, where he was listed as a ‘Bookseller, Stationer, Printer and Bookbinder’. Their eldest child was a daughter, Elsie May Pepperday who was born in 1892 and by 1911 was helping her father in the business. The baby of the family was Lennard Williams Pepperday, who was born in 1904.

24 High Street, Rugby was both the family home and their shop, ‘Pepperday – Bookseller, Stationer and Printer’.   ‘This family firm appears in trade directories from 1850 (William Pepperday) through to 1928 (John Pepperday).’[2]

Among the books that he published was material for Rugby School: for example, the 14 page book of poetry, Book of Words by ‘J. H. E.’ [Juliana Horatia née Gatty Ewing], in 1893 and issued with a programme for an ‘Entertainment to be given in New Big School’ at Rugby. Also   The Phœnix, June 1904, and The Vulture, July 1904 and January and June 1905, which were papers edited by members of Rugby School – and which included some of the first early work by Rupert Brooke. He also published items as diverse as the Polo Players Guide and Almanack, 1905 [… 1910 etc.] by Captain E.D. Miller; and the Amateur’s Guide to Gardening in Cairo, by K. and M. Marsham, 1912. He also produced postcards of Rugby scenes.

John Hinds Pepperday, and his two sisters Emma and Lucy, who lived at 69 Murray Road, Rugby, were Wesleyan Methodists and had each donated a guinea to the Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund between January 1st 1899 and September 1909.[3]

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday, the eldest son, was born in Rugby in late 1893. He attended Lawrence Sheriff School[4] and then moved on to Rugby School in 1907, which was where his father had been in Town House from 1 December 1861, when he was ten, until 1864.[5]

Whilst at Rugby School, he was in Town House and served three years in the Rugby Contingent OTC [Officer Training Corps] and thus already had some basic military training. He left school in 1911, well before WWI, to assist his father in business.

He enlisted in London, as a Private No.2931, in the First ‘Reserve’ Battalion[6] of the Honourable Artillery Company [HAC] at Armoury House on 11 January 1915. He was 21 years and 2 months old, and 5ft 5inches tall, and of fair physical development. Whilst he was sufficiently fit, he was ‘to see a dentist’.[7] His number 2931 fits with other known joining dates,[8] but whilst his Attestation was signed and dated 11 January 1915, his record was later amended to 15 January, and his HAC record card shows that he was on ‘Home Service’ in the 2nd (2/1) Battalion from 13 January 1915. In June 1915 he volunteered for a Draft to the 1st Battalion in Flanders.

The 1st (1/1) Battalion had been formed in August 1914 in Finsbury, London and attached as Army Troops to 1st London Division.   The 1st Battalion had moved to Belhus Park on 12 September 1914 and then on 20 September 1914, had landed at St. Nazaire becoming part of the British Expeditionary Force and fighting in the 1st Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914. On 9 December 1914, they transferred to 7th Brigade of 3rd Division. The 1st Battalion took part in the Winter Operations of 1914-1915 and in late February 1915 they were at Lindenhoek;[9] they were also in the first attack on Bellewaarde [16 June 1915].

He ‘left on July 1st,’ and his Medal Card (below) confirmed that he served in ‘France’ and that his ‘Date of entry therein’ was on 2 July 1915.   The HAC records stated that he was part of the 6th Draft of Reinforcements and joined ‘A’ Company HAC on 1 July 1915, just after Battle of Bellewaarde, but possibly in time for the actions at Hooge [the allies detonated a mine and captured Hooge on about 19 July, but it was lost in counter-attacks when the Germans used flame-throwers for the first time on 30 July 1915]. This was the day before the opening of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

He was in, ‘… the district to the North-East of Ypres. For five days the trenches, in which he was, were under heavy fire, and he was killed by shell on the morning of August 13th, 1915. Age 21. His Captain testified that during the short time he had been at the Front he ‘had earned the affection and respect of all ranks by his soldierly bearing.’[10]

His HAC Record Card (below) noted ‘Pte. 1st Bn. Killed St. Jean August 13th 1915 BEF’. He had served for less than a year, indeed for only 213 days.

Pepperday L J D - HAC 3

St. Jean is now called Sint-Jan, and is a small village on the outskirts of Ypres, lying to the north-east of the city on the N313. There is also a cemetery at St. Jean and the fact that he was buried further behind the lines could suggest that he was wounded and moved to an aid post or hospital further behind the lines. However, having been killed in St. Jean, it may have been in an active zone preventing use of the cemetery, and necessitating a safer burial ground behind the lines.


He was buried in Grave Reference: E.1. at La Brique No.1 Military Cemetery, Ypres (Ieper), West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.

La Brique is a small hamlet named for an old brick works that used to stand nearby before the First World War. This small cemetery is located to the North-East of the town of Ieper. It was begun in May 1915 and used until the following December. It contains 91 First World War burials, four of them unidentified.

La Brique Cemetery No.2, across the road was used until March 1918 and further graves were brought into this cemetery after the Armistice and extended the original plot. The cemeteries were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

A note regarding Lesley’s effects was dated 8 October 1915, and the receipt from his father was dated 13 November 1915. The effects included his hat badge and a pince-nez in case, no doubt to correct his eyesight, which had been considered adequate for service. A pipe, tobacco pouch and a cigarette case suggested that as with many men at that date, he smoked. His father later signed the form regarding relatives and next of kin on 31 March 1919.

possessions Pepperday

Lesley received the Victory Medal; the British War Medal, and the 1914-1915 Star. His father signed receipts for these medals on 6 November 1920 and 10 January 1922, and at the latter date also requested the medals for his second son.

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday is commemorated on a pillar of the War Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby and also on the ‘Old Laurentians’ Memorial and in the Rugby School Remembrance Chapel.


His younger brother, Lance-Corporal Gerald A. G. Pepperday, was in the 19th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers and was also killed in action in WWI on 28 January 1916.




[1]       Courtesy

[2]       From research by Anne Langley, volunteer at Warwick County Record Office and reported in the Rugby Advertiser, ‘Looking Back’, 19 January 2014 on-line edition.

[3]       Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund, Wesleyan Methodist Historic Roll, vol.22. p.330, 1899-1909.

[4]       Lawrence Sheriff School was a lower school for local boys, with Foundation Scholarships to Rugby School. It opened in 1878 on the present site with a curriculum to meet the needs of a commercial education and preparation for Rugby School.

[5]       Rugby School Register: August 1842 to January 1874; also Memorial notes on L J DPepperday.

[6]       There is some confusion in numbering. Whilst the 3rd Battalion was the Reserve Battalion, the Honourable Artillery Company was a reserve [later Territorial] Regiment, so the 1st and 2nd Battalions were also ‘Reserve’. The various documents and his OTC experience would support Leslie having been in the 1st Battalion.

[7]       Twenty-one sheets of Leslie’s Territorial Force Attestation Papers are available, as well as his Medal Card.

[8]       No.2781 joined on 9 December 1914 and No.3016 joined on 25 January 1915.   Leslie Pepperday joined up between these dates as noted on various documents and this agrees with his number.


[9]       As evidenced by a photograph in the IWM collection ‘Men of the 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company in F2 trench at Lindenhoek, 22-26 February 1915’.

[10]     Rugby School Memorial Book.


One thought on “Pepperday, Leslie John Deacon. Died 13th Aug 1915

  1. Pingback: Pepperday, Gerald Alfred George. Died 28th Jan 1916 | Rugby Remembers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s