L/Sgt. Leonard Cecil Leicester Sutton, known as "Leicester" to his family and friends, was born in Half Way Tree, Kingston, on the island of Jamaica, British West Indies, on April 14th, 1890. He was second of four children - two boys and two girls - of Leonard Sutton, JP, who ran a plantation at Mandeville, Jamaica, and Kathleen Mary Sullivan, who had married on the October 25th, 1887.


Leicester's grandfather was the Venerable Robert Sutton - Rector of Pevensey and Archdeacon of Lewes, in the UK. Following Robert's death in 1910, his widow Lucy Turner Sutton had moved to Andover, Hampshire, where she lived at Etwall House in New Street. This appears to be the only connection that Leicester and his cousins, Arthur and James Clayton (who are also mentioned with Leicestor on the Andover Memorial), have with the town and it was probably Lucy who put her grandsons' names forward for commemoration in the town after the war.


Leicester came to England from Jamaica around 1904 and in October of that year entered King's School, Bruton in Somerset, where his cousins, the Claytons, would also go on to study. He was tremendous at all sports, and was in the Football and Hockey XI's, captaining the Football team in his last term. However, it was in cricket that he particularly excelled, appearing in the First XI for five consecutive years. Records held by King's suggest he was "a very fine left-handed opening batsman and a tireless fast bowler who usually opened the attack".


Whilst still at school he played cricket for Somerset, making his debut against Hampshire at Southampton in May 1909, achieving a respectable 30 runs in Somerset's second innings. Leicester left King's in December 1910 (he was Senior Prefect in his final term) but continued to play cricket, appearing in eleven of Somerset's first class games in 1912; his last season for the county.


After leaving school he embarked upon a career in estate agency, and he was for a while articled to Lord Hylton's Estate Agent at Kilmersdon, Somerset. He was living in that village at the time of the 1911 Census, whilst his parents were recorded now back in England, living in Bournemouth. Shortly before the outbreak of war, Leicester moved to Canada where he worked in a real estate business in Toronto.


Leicester enlisted voluntarily into the Army in Toronto on December 30th, 1914. At his medical he was described as 5 feet 8½ inches tall, with a 34 inch chest, blue-grey eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion. He was passed fit for military service, his overall physical development being described as "good", and became Private, 109632, of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He was 24 years and 6 months of age. According to The Dolphin – the King's School magazine - he declined a Commission on joining because "he desired the experience of a Private's life".


The first tours of duty in the front line trenches for the 4th CMR came in early November 1915, near St Yves, south of Messines. On the 23rd November 1915 the regiment moved into trenches near Hill 63, Ploegsteert, taking on its first defensive responsibility and in doing so incurred its first loss. The 4th CMR remained in this area until New Year's Eve, when the six CMR Regiments learned that they were to be converted into four infantry battalions, making the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Battalions into the 8th Canadian Brigade, in 3rd Canadian Division.


The day before this news, Leicester was part of a group of officers and NCO's that were attached to the Royal Canadian Regiment (part of 7th Canadian Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division) for infantry instruction, returning to the 4th CMR on January 3rd, 1916. The battalion spent the first month of the New Year in Reserve, learning infantry drill and undertaking heavy order route marches, as well as more enjoyable activities in Balliuel, such as attending concerts and bathing parades.


At the beginning of February, the 8th Brigade went into trenches south of the Wulverghem to Messines Road for three weeks, where they repaired and improves trenches, before moving to Camp "B", east of Poperinghe until March 18th. February also saw Lieutenant Colonel John Frederick Holmes Ussher take over as the battalion's Commanding Officer. On March 19th the battalion went into trenches south of Zillebeke and then the next day went on to Sanctuary Wood. The battalion would remain in this area on and off for the next two and a half months, undertaking tours in and out of the front line. During this time, Leicester was granted two weeks leave, from April 25th to May 4th, and it is possible that he spent at least some of this ten days in Andover with his grandmother at Etwall House where, according to his service papers, his mother also appears to have been staying at the time. It was around this time that he finally agreed to apply for a Commission.


June 1st saw the battalion back in the front line, in front of Armagh Wood, south of Zillebeke, with Leicester's "C" Company stationed on the left of the battalion, towards Sanctuary Wood. That afternoon, a group of enemy soldiers were seen digging in front of "C" Company and were quickly dispersed by machine gun fire. That night the enemy were reported to be very quiet. The next morning opened as any other at that time, except for the short notice visit of Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer, Officer Commanding 3rd Canadian Division, who was due to undertake a personal reconnaissance of the front line, under instruction to plan a local attack to improve the position. He was accompanied by Brigadier-General Victor Arthur Seymour Williams, OC 8th Canadian Brigade and two other officers and were met at Battalion headquarters around 7.45am by Lieutenant Colonel Ussher who was to escort them on their tour of the front line.


Around 8.30am the enemy commenced a very heavy bombardment, which marked the opening of an action which would later become known as the "Battle of Mount Sorrel" (2nd to 13th June, 1916). A shell burst near the visiting party, deafening Major General Mercer and slightly wounding Brigadier General Williams. The war diary records that, "The bombardment increased and we were bombarded in the front line, support and reserves by thousands of shells of every description". The intense bombardment was kept up for four and a half hours without cessation, until around 1.00pm, when three mines were detonated on the battalion front and the Germans started their attack on the Canadian lines. The War Diary describes that, "an order came down the line to withdraw. At this time the whole front line was flattened out and there were no trenches of any description, and very few of the battalion that were able to carry on". Mercer was further injured and died whilst being evacuated, whilst Williams and Ussher were taken prisoner with over 100 men, as the enemy gained between 300 to 700 yards along a varied front. At a muster parade back at Camp "B" on June 4th, only three officers and 73 men were accounted for and Leicester was not amongst them.


Following the devastating events of June 2nd, he was initially posted as "missing in action", which was revised on October 11th to "missing believed killed". Finally, on April 18th, 1917, he was reported as "killed in action" on June 2nd, 1916.


The exact circumstances of his death were not fully understood until after the war, when the details were revealed to King's School by a returning comrade from the 4th CMR, who was able to confirm that Leicester had in fact been captured on June 2nd, 1916. The Dolphin reported that, "he was very severely wounded by shrapnel at Zillebeke, a singularly desolate and forbidding locality not far from Ypres. Carried to a German dug-out he was as well treated as circumstances would allow, and remained conscious and cheerful for a time. Next morning he died in the presence of Corporal White of his regiment, through whom this information is obtained. He was very popular with all ranks.".


His body was never found and today he is one of more than 54,000 Commonwealth service men commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium (below, right), one of four memorials to the "missing" of the Ypres Salient.


As well as being commemorated on Andover War Memorial (as Leicester Sutton), he is also remembered on one of 60 carved wooden panels – one for each of the school's "Old Boys" who fell in the First World War – in the Memorial Hall at King's School, Bruton. His cousins, James and Arthur Clayton, each have a panel too.


In 1919 The Dolphin wrote of him, "Leicester Sutton was most attractive both as boy and man. Straight, capable, fearless and good-humoured, he was a fine type of Brutonian and Englishman. The best form of sympathy with his relatives in their long anxiety and grievous loss is the assurance that his memory is honoured here and his example remembered." Leicester was just 26 years of age when he died.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour records that he was the "Son of Leonard Sutton J.P., and Kathleen Mary, his wife, of Ingleside, Mandeville, Jamaica, British West Indies. Educated at King's School, Bruton, Somerset. Member of the Somerset County Cricket XI. He was awaiting a Commission at the time of his death.".


For his service during the war, Leonard Cecil Leicester Sutton was awarded the campaign medals the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. These where sent to his parents in Mandeville, Jamaica, in the early 1920s.






Credit and thanks go to Craig Fisher for the above biography and images of Leicester Sutton and the Andover War Memorial.


Panel 32, Menin Gate image of L/Sgt. L.C.L. Sutton's name - courtesy of 4cmr.com