Hopkins, Leonard John. Died 30th Oct 1918

It is unusual for soldiers from Dunchurch to be included on the Rugby War Memorial Gate, so it was uncertain if the correct L. Hopkins had been identified.  However, no other more suitable candidate has been found.  If any information for any other L Hopkins is available, please advise this site, and he can be included.  Meanwhile, a young man, who died aged only 18, is certainly deserving of being Remembered.


Leonard John HOPKINS was born on 16 July 1900 in Dunchurch and registered there in Q3, 1900.  He was baptised St Peter’s Church, Dunchurch on 26 August 1900.  He was the first child of Elphinstone Henry Edward Hopkins, (b.c.1872 in Kilsby, Northamptonshire – d.c.1953 in Rugby), and his wife, Annie Maria, née Norman, Hopkins (b.c.1875, in Dunchurch – d.c.1955, Birmingham).  Their Banns were called on Sundays, 17 and 24 September and 1 October 1899, at Dunchurch, where they married on 11 October 1899, when she was 25 and he was 27.  He was then a ‘hedge carpenter’,[1] and the son of a ‘miller’ and her father was a ‘thatcher’.

In 1901, Leonard was 8 months old, and the family were living in Dunchurch.  Leonard’s father was now a ‘carter for a corn dealer’.

In 1911, when Leonard, was 10, the family was living in a three room house on The Green, at Dunchurch.  The head of the household was Leonard’s 78 year old maternal grandfather, John Norman.  His father was working as a ‘horse driver, waggoner’ for a ‘corn & coal carter’.  Leonard now had a four year old younger brother, Archibald.  It seems that Leonard attended the Dunchurch Boys’ School.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Leonard, and the only information is from a listing in ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’,[2] and information on the CWGC site.

Leonard joined up in Coventry,[3] and he served as a private, No: 81288, in the 4th (Reserve) Battalion (Territorials) of the Devonshire Regiment.

3/4th, 3/5th and 3/6th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment formed at Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple respectively on 25 March 1915.  They moved to Bournemouth in August 1915, and then on 8 April 1916  became Reserve Battalions and the 4th then absorbed the 5th and 6th on 1 September 1916 at Hursley Park near Winchester.  The Battalion remained in England (moving to Bournemouth in October 1916, Sutton Veny in March 1917 and Larkhill in early 1918), until going to Ireland in April 1918.  Thereafter it was stationed at various times at Belfast, Londonderry and Clonmany.[4]

This confirms why Leonard was in Ireland in later 1918.  When he joined up he was probably still too young to go abroad, and the 1st/4th and 2nd/4th Devonshires were already in India, or by 1918, in Egypt or Mesopotamia respectively.  Whilst he was in Ireland, he became ill and died of pneumonia in the Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Ireland.

Leonard’s body was returned to his home village of Dunchurch, for burial.  The family included an expression of gratitude to their friends in the Rugby Advertiser, 9 November 1918,[5]

MR & MRS. HOPKINS would like express their gratitude to all their kind friends who have shown such kindness and sympathy to them in their great sorrow; also for the beautiful Floral Tributes and all those who contributed towards them.

Also in that edition of the Rugby Advertiser was a report on the funeral.

DUNCHURCH – the funeral of Leonard J Hopkins, aged 18 years, son of Mr and Mrs Hopkins of Dunchurch, took place at Dunchurch on Tuesday last.  Deceased, who was a private in the Devon Reserves, died after a short illness in Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Ireland.  Before joining the army he was employed as gardener at Thurlaston Grange, and a bunch of mauve chrysanthemums (his favourite flower) was sent by Mr Appleby, bearing the words, ‘These flowers he tended so carefully during his life are sent as a token of deep sympathy from all at Thurlaston Grange’.  The funeral service was conducted by the Vicar, the Rev E P Rowland, and the coffin was borne by four soldiers staying in the village.  Among the flowers were tributes from Mrs Mallam, Mr and Mrs Appleby, Mr and Mrs Dew, Mrs Borsley, Mr and Mrs Tomlin, and Mrs Busby.  The deceased was very popular with the boys of the village, and in addition to the above were wreaths from ‘His chums’, Pte R Jennings (serving in France), and the Scholars and Staff of Dunchurch Boys’ School.  The people of the village feel the greatest sympathy with Mr and Mrs Hopkins in their bereavement.’[6]

Leonard was buried in Dunchurch churchyard, and has a CWGC gravestone.  The inscription added to his gravestone by his family was, ‘HIS SUN WENT DOWN WHILE IT WAS YET DAY’.  His father’s name, Mr E Hopkins,  is given as the next of kin in the CWGC records.

As Leonard did not serve abroad – Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and counted as a ‘Home’ posting – he was not entitled to any medals and thus there is no Medal Card.

As well as his CWGC gravestone in St Peter’s church churchyard in Dunchurch, where he is remembered as ‘Hopkins L J’, Leonard is also remembered the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby as ‘Hopkins L’ and as ‘Leonard J Hopkins’, on the Dunchurch War Memorial, on the Green opposite Guy Fawkes House, Dunchurch.



– – – – – –


This article on Leonard John HOPKINS was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.

[1]      He may have just been a ‘hedger’, although http://www.grown-furniture.co.uk/history.html notes that ‘the Irish ‘hedge carpenter’ was a recognised craftsman, able to create a variety of useful wooden items.  He was so called for his ability to find many of the shapes he needed for his products – be they tools, farm implements, or furniture – growing naturally.’

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[3]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/devonshire-regiment/.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

2 thoughts on “Hopkins, Leonard John. Died 30th Oct 1918

  1. Hi there, just read the article and may have possibly found another Leonard John Hopkins who died during the first world war from Rugby,

  2. Private, PO/1288 (S) R.M.L.I, 2nd R.M Battalion R.N.D, Born 26/7/87, Rugby, Died 2/2/17, Buried Connaught Cemetery, Theipval, France

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