In the course of trying to sort out Leigh-Mallory‘s First World War record I posted what I had come up with on the Great War Forum to clarify a few thing. Normally I am not keen on forum as they tend to be a bit sniffling and debate becomes very polarised but they do have the great advantage of being a great depository of knowledge. One of the bits that came up was this report from the Barrow News dated January 16, 1915. It shows that Leigh-Mallory was fined 20 shillings for not registering his car and, therefore, driving it illegally.

At this point L-M was serving with the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers who were based in Barrow-in-Furness. Whether or not this impacted on his service I am not sure. It does seem that when the men of the Battalion were sent overseas L-M stayed behind for further training. Was this training a penance for what had occurred? I am not. One thing I am sure of is that his biographer does not mention this incident. I can only surmise that this is for two reason. Firstly, he does not know about it or, second, he choose not to mention it. Either start to show up some of the methodological issue with the only biography of L-M.

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9 thoughts on “Leigh-Mallory Fined!

  1. This is also interesting because it confirms that he was in the Lancashire Fusiliers before going overseas. I’ve looked into his infantry service in a bit more detail and I think the biographer has made some serious mistakes. Here is an amended version of what you posted before:

    3 October 1914 – Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant; October 1914 – Transferred to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers [as you say above, this fits with him being in Barrow in January 1915; but note that this battalion never went overseas]

    12/13 February 1915 – 1/4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment deploys to France as part of 7 Brigade, 3 Division [but this could be a red herring because LM might not have been a member of this battalion at this time, and possibly never was]

    31 March 1915 – LM enters France and Flanders theatre to join 2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment (this is clearly stated on his medal card). This battalion was also in 7th Brigade, 3rd Division, but had been overseas since August 1914. LM must have been posted to it as a replacement.

    16 June – Wounded at Bellewaarde Ridge during the Second Battle of Ypres [this is consistent with 2nd South Lancs as well as 1/4th South Lancs; both their war diaries for this date are in WO 95/1414 so it should be easy to check them at the same time]

    I’m still not sure where 3rd (Reserve) Battalion South Lancashire Regiment fits in. This battalion never went overseas. He might have gone to them after leaving the Lancashire Fusiliers but before going to France, but this probably didn’t happen on 3rd April because he was already in France on 31st March. For some reason his 1914-15 Star is entered on the Lancashire Fusiliers officer roll (Off 130, now in WO 329/2948) even though the medal card states that he first qualified with the South Lancashire Regiment.

    It looks to me like the idea of him being kept back when his battalion went to France might just be the result of the biographer getting different regiments and battalions mixed up, so maybe there isn’t a mystery there at all. To be sure of what was going on you’ll need to check his service record and anything else you can get hold of.

  2. Thanks for this Gavin. It does start to clear up some of the mistake that appear. I wil confirm a lot of this next week when I look at his service records which is in WO 339/28812. It is interesting to not that even Vincent Orange, not L-M’s biggest fan at the best of times, in his ODNB entry for L-M promulgates this mistake in battalion numbers. It shows the problem of relying on one source to much.

    If in Feb 1915 he is staying in Britain for further training could it be that the men of the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers are sent on active service, not the battalion but the men as an active service unit. Is this possible?

    L-M stays behind and is transferred to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment for this training and is then transferred to the 2nd Battalion as replacement and it is with them that he is wounded.

    I know from his Papers catalogue his promotion to 2nd Lt actually dates to 30 September 1914.

    I hope his service records clears this up!

  3. “could it be that the men of the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers are sent on active service, not the battalion but the men as an active service unit. Is this possible?”

    I guess it’s possible that men from that battalion were sent to a combat unit but LM wasn’t allowed to go with them. Or it could be that he asked to be transferred to a combat battalion and was told he needed extra training. Or that the staying behind for extra training is a spurious reason assumed by the biographer without any evidence (it’s amazing how often historians do that!).

    It occurred to me that 3rd April is most likely the date he actually arrived at his new battalion at the front or wherever they were. 31st March would be the date he first stepped off the boat in France, so it might take a few days to get to the front.

    As well as confirming his unit, the battalion war diary might give more info on the circumstances of his wounding, and might even mention other things he did (or might not).

  4. Sounds like an interesting episode, and certainly highlights the problems with military biographies. I can think of many more that have various issues than ones that are what you might call upstanding. Was T-LM’s biography an authorised one, ie by his family? In my experience authorised military biographies do tend to be slightly sanitised.

  5. James it is not an authorised bio but it was written by L-M’s great nephew. Most biographies by there very nature are problematic by the simple fact that they raise an individual to centre stage. Of course there are those that deserve it but many to not. It has the problems of taking that individual out of context and making there decision appear much more important than they may well have been. This is one of the reasons why I am taking the route I am with my thesis as a biography does not seem to answer many of the questions surrounding L-M’s career.

  6. Right I can now clear this up a little. L-M never joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment. Red herring as you say Gavin. He stays with the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers until sent to France where as his service record states he was ‘attached’. He arrives on 6th April. Whether or not men of the Lancashire Fusiliers deploy in February I am not sure as I have not been able to track down a war diary for the unit yet. However, he certainly stays with them as when he returns to the battalion when he is wounded the CO states that he is ‘returning’. It is the 2nd Battalion whom he joins not the 1/4th. Maybe this is why his 14-18 Star is on the Lancashire Fusiliers Roll. During the attack on the 16th this was the reserve battalion of 7 Brigades attack at Bellewaarde. He was one of three officers wounded though L-M states in his correspondence with the medical board that it was the 17th. The War Diary does not clear this up but the regimental history states the attack was the 16th. So a step closer. Cheers for the help Gavin.

  7. Excellent. That’s all a lot clearer and confirms that the biography and the DNB have got some things very wrong. 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers won’t have a war diary because it never served overseas. You’ve confirmed that LM was a permanent member of a battalion that never went overseas, and that when he went overseas he was attached to a different battalion in a different regiment. I’d say that makes the idea of him having to stay behind when “his” battalion went overseas much less plausible.

  8. I can now be certain of his date of commission as I am looking at his commissioning certificate right now. He his appointed a 2nd Lieutenant of the Special Reserve of Officers on 3 October 1914. It is signed and dated 30 September, hence, why it is recorded as such in his service record.

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