Leonard Whitwam (1887-1917)

This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.


Leonard Whitwam was born in 1888 in Marsh and three years later the family were living 4 Harp Road at the Longwood end of Quarmby Road. Ten years later they had moved up to 46 Quarmby Road.

Joseph Whitwam was born in 1859 in Blackley and worked as a weaver. His wife, Eliza Ann Hanson, was born in Marsh. They had two other children in addition to Leonard: Harry was born in Paddock in 1882, George Ernest in Marsh in 1886. Like, Leonard, they probably all attended Paddock Council School.

By 1901 George, then aged 15, was working as a railway porter; his brother Harry, aged 18, was a working as a worsted warper. Joseph was still working as a weaver and the family was by then living in a four-roomed house on Quarmby Road. Leonard was a "reacher-in" at a woollen mill

Four years later the boys' mother Eliza Ann died at the age of 51. Within nine months Joseph had remarried: he and Adelaide Butterworth were married in the first quarter of 1906.

It was probably about this time that Joseph became landlord of the Royal Oak, a Bentley & Shaws pub on Church Street in Paddock. It was there that Joseph and Adelaide were living at the time of the 1911 census. Joseph eldest son, Harry was still at home; George had married and lived at the pub with his wife of three years, Annie. A servant May Lee, from Liverpool, also lived-in. However, Leonard was at that time boarding with the Iredale family back on Quarmby Road and working as a wool warehouseman.

Why he was not living at home we cannot know: he may have fallen-out with his stepmother, it may have been more convenient for work. By this time he was probably already working at Martin's mill on Plover Road, so the Quarmby Road address would have been nearer than Paddock.

It seems likely he was a friend of the Willie Iredale, who was two years his junior, who may have worked at Martin's.

Before the end of 1911 Adelaide Whitwam died at the age of only 57.

Leonard was deemed to have enlisted in the army on 15 November 1915 but this may have been under the Derby Scheme and he may not have actually been taken in until the following year. His service with the Cameron Highlanders suggests this. He was certainly not with the B.E.F. in 1915.

Within days of Leonard putting his name forward, his widowed father, was married for the third time. Joseph Whitwam married Edith Longford Snowden, originally from Cudworth near Barnsley, at the High Street New Connexion Chapel on 18 November 1915. Edith gave her occupation as domestic servant and her address as the Royal Oak Inn. It seems likely that she had been employed by Joseph.

The 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders had been in France since July 1915, months before Leonard enlisted, so, after training, he must have joined the unit as a replacement.

Leonard was reported missing and later presumed to have died on 28 August 1917. The Battalion was in the Passchendaele and had just taken part in the struggle later known as the Third battle of Ypres.

Having no known grave, Leonard is commemorated on the memorial to the missing in the large Tyne Cot cemetery. He is also remembered in St. Mark's (Longwood), St. Stephen's (Lindley), the memorial in Oakes Baptist Chapel, and in Salendine Nook Baptist graveyard.

None of Leonard's brothers died in the war and his father lived on until 1928.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

WHITWAM, LEONARD. Private. No S/23983. 7th Battalion The Cameron Highlanders. Born Marsh, Huddersfield. Son of the late Joseph and Eliza Ann Whitwam, formerly of the 'Royal Oak Hotel', Paddock. Educated Paddock Council School. Employed as a pattern cutter by Messrs Martin, Sons and Company. Single. Enlisted 15.11.1915. Reported missing, presumed killed, on 24.8.1917 at Passchendaele. Has no known grave. Commemorated TYNE COT MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.
ROH:- Oakes Baptist Church; St. Mark's Parish Church, Longwood; St. Stephen's Church, Lindley; Salendine Nook Chapel yard, 70E.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission