Private Leonard Ulyett

Lincs RegPrivate Leonard Ulyett
4th Labour Coy., Lincolnshire Regiment who died of wounds on 17th August 1918, aged 22.

Remembered with Honour
Barrow Hill Memorial
Staveley Parish Memorial
Esquelbecq Military Cemetery II.F.23


LEONARD ULLYETT was born at Barrow Hill in 1895, the son of Staveley born George Ullyett and his wife Agnes (Newton) who originally hailed from Somercotes. 21 year old George and 19 year old Agnes had married at Staveley, St John the Baptist Church on 28th October 1876 and made their home at Barrow Hill where they lived in a Staveley Company house at 135, Barrow Hill, a two-up, two-down cottage on Devonshire Terrace.

George was working as a labourer at the local ironworks when the couple’s first son, John Thomas, was born in 1877, followed two years later by another son, William. A daughter, Annie, was born in 1886 and another son, George, in 1890.

In the 1891 Census, 13 year old John Thomas and 11 year old William are listed as scholars and would have attended the Staveley Works Schools on the hill.

By 1901, the family had grown with the births of Norman in 1893, Leonard in 1895 and David in 1898. With two adults and 6 children still at home, the tiny cottage would have been even more overcrowded if John Thomas had not left to board with the Ramsdale family on Furnace Hill.

Alice was still at home in 1911, helping her mother with the house and younger children, and the family attended the recently built Parish Church of St Andrew. George and William had joined their father as labourers at the ironworks. John Thomas was employed at the Great Central Railway Canal Banks and David was still at school. Leonard was not working and it is clear from the census, and from his service records, that he had some learning difficulties – although he did find employment later as a labourer at Staveley Works.

Military Service Act 1916The Military Service Act of 27th January 1916 brought conscription into effect for the first time in the war and, as a result, Leonard was deemed to have enlisted at Chesterfield on Thursday 2nd March 1916 for general service with the colours and was transferred to the reserve. It was not until 1st March 1917 that he was called up for service, and was initially posted to the Durham Light Infantry before being transferred to the 4th Labour Company, Lincolnshire Regiment with the service number 37740.

Infantry Labour Companies had been formed from 1916 onwards to provide men to serve in France on the lines of communication carrying out labouring tasks such as repairing roads and railways and moving stores. These companies were shipped to France as soon as they were up to strength and just 3 weeks after being called up, 21 year old Leonard was sent to France on 23rd March 1917.

The Labour Corps had been formed at the beginning of 1917 and manpower was drawn from men below medical Category A in the Infantry Training Reserve. Leonard was classified as below the A1 medical condition required for front line service as, in addition to his learning difficulties, he suffered with a goitre, a swelling also known as Derbyshire Neck which is caused by an iodine deficiency.

On 14th May 1917, the 4th Labour Company, Lincolnshire Regiment, was absorbed into the Labour Corps and re-designated as the 43rd Labour Company under the command of the O.C. Depot, Durham Light Infantry at Etaples. Leonard was issued with the new service number 25652.

Units of the Labour Corps were often deployed for work within range of the enemy guns, sometimes for lengthy periods, and used as an emergency infantry during times of crisis. The Corps always suffered from its treatment as something of a second class organisation: for example, the men who died are commemorated under their original regiment, with Labour Corps being secondary.

Leonard served on the Western Front for 1 year and 148 days during which time he received medical treatment at casualty clearing stations, field hospitals and from base medics for a number of problems including an abscess on his jaw and abrasions to his big toe.

On 17th August 1918, Leonard died at the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station from wounds to his head, thigh and buttock caused by a shell.  According to the local newspaper, in a letter from an officer, “The circumstances ..were that he formed one of a working party, and while engaged on the work a shell dropped in the centre of the party, wounding Ulyett and others. The shock, however, proved too much for him.”

Ulyett headstoneEsquelbecq


Leonard Ulyett is buried in plot II. F. 23 at the Esquelbecq Military Cemetery and is commemorated under the Lincolnshire Regiment with which he originally served.


He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

*Leonards brother David had served for a very short period with the Northumberland Fusiliers (66344), the regiment that Leonard had declared a wish to join. He was discharged two days before Leonard was sent to France.

© Ann Lucas