Ensor, John Leslie. Died 12th Jul 1917

John was the son of John Charles and Florence (nee Smith) Ensor, born in Rugby in 1896, and baptised at St Andrews Church on 28 August. The family were living at 29 Charlotte Street, his father was a joiner.   His parents were both born in Rugby and married in Rugby district in 1893, but not in the parish church.

The family continued to live at 29 Charlotte Street in 1901 and 1911. They had four children, Claude Moore born 1894, John Leslie (named as Leslie in 1901), Doris Eileen b 1900 and Horace William b 1902. By 1911 Claude was a builder’s clerk and Leslie an errand boy, the other two children were at school.

The grave register of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he enlisted at Nottingham in September 1914 and was twice wounded, and that his parents were of St Ann’s Street, Nottingham.   It seems as if the family moved to Nottingham before the outbreak of war. Leslie was wounded twice during his service.

Leslie enlisted at Nottingham in September 1914 and joined the 11th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) as Rifleman number R/3748, later being moved to the 2nd Battalion, probably on being sent to the war zone. He embarked to France on 21 July 1915, and the War Diary on Ancestry.com records that the new draft of 58 men and a corporal arrived on 2 August to join the 2nd Battalion at Vermelles near Loos. There was a strong assault on the German lines on 25 September which included the use of gas, but the wind changed direction and blew the gas back into the soldiers badly affecting them. However they reached their objective and the Germans there surrendered at a cost to the KRRC of 81 killed, 193 wounded, 149 missing and 75 gassed.

The war diary also reports that upon inspection of the German defences after the surrender, they were found to be mostly bluff, although the trenches were clean and in good order. “The wire along the communications trenches was made of thistles planted in two rows which at a short distance looked like strong wire”.

During 1916 the KRRC was involved on the Somme in the Battles of Albert, Bazentin, Pozieres,Fleur Courcelette and Morval.

British units returned to the Nieuport sector of the Western Front in June 1917, when the 32nd Division relieved French troops stationed there in preparation for planned Allied landings on German-held territory along the Belgian coast. German marines launched a pre-emptive attack against the British forces on the river Yser in July and the landings, codenamed ‘Operation Hush’, never took place. Over 260 men commemorated on the Nieuport Memorial, which include Leslie Ensor, were killed or mortally wounded during heavy fighting with units of the German Marine-Korps Flandern on 10 July 1917.

Nieuport Memorial

Leslie was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star.



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