Leslie Arthur Edwards

Mary Norris

Leslie was born in Rye on 01/02/1914, the second son and fourth child of George Henry and Kate Edwards, nee Ansell. George had fought through WW1 as a member of the Suffolk Regiment, the Essex regiment and finally the Royal Army Service Corps, being eventually demobbed in late 1919.
Kate was the daughter of William and Martha Ansell of Sun Street, Lewes. William Ansell worked in the printing trade and this may be how Kate met George as on his army enlistment papers in 1915 he had described himself as a typist, probably meaning a typesetter. The Edwards family had moved from Shoreham to Hastings before finally settling at 62 The Mint in Rye.
Leslie’s father died in 1925 and is buried in Rye churchyard. Leslie was a popular local lad playing football for the Rye Old Boys team. By 1939 the family were still living at The Mint. In the house was his widowed mother, his brother Reginald, an auxiliary fireman, and his married younger sister. Leslie was listed on the register as ARP but this has been amended to say Reserve Posting.

Photo of Leslie, as printed in the Sussex Agricultural Express

It is not known exactly when Leslie joined the 2nd Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment, but his 1939 register listing would suggest it was early in the war.
The 2nd Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment had a well travelled war. In 1940 they formed part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France and were evacuated at Dunkirk.
Following this they spent some time in India in support of the 1st Battalion before being sent to the Middle East, where they remained until the end of 1942.
Their next posting was as part of Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, followed shortly by moving to mainland Italy.

Leslie was injured on 7th September 1943 at the start of the invasion of the mainland. Kate was informed of his injury and it was reported in the local paper. At that stage he was a corporal. He spent some time in hospital before rejoining his regiment as they pushed north.

Between September 1943 and February 1944 Leslie was raised to Lance Sergeant, but some records suggest he was a full sergeant. Leslie was part of the Moro River Campaign and the crossing of the Garigliano river before arriving at Anzio.

The Battle for Anzio lasted nearly six months and involved very heavy fighting in terrible conditions using trench warfare very similar to WW1.
Leslie was reported missing in February but the official notification of his being killed in action on 21/02/1944 did not come until December of that year. It is likely that Kate did not hear until 1945.

Leslie is buried in the Minturno War cemetery in grave VI A 3. He is listed on the Rye War Memorial and named on his parents’ grave stone in the churchyard as well as being listed on the Memorial at St John sub Castro and the Lewes War Memorial.

The probable reason for his inclusion on the St John sub Castro Memorial is because Kate returned to live in St John’s parish at 7 Toronto Terrace some time between 1939 and 1942. Leslie’s sister Winifred was married there in July 1942 and Kate remained living locally for some years.

This page was added on 06/11/2020.

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