Rank and Unit at End of World War One
Unit Pigeon Service
Regiment Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
Other service during World War One
Information from Medal Index Cards (WO372), Medal Rolls (WO329), Service Records (WO363) and/or Pension Records (WO364) held by The National Archives.
||RASC (Expeditionary Force Canteen)
Samuel Broadbent Leigh was born on the 3rd May 1876 in Altrincham, the son of William Leigh and his wife Jane Emily Leigh.
In 1900, Samuel Leigh married Isabel Smith in Leeds. In 1911, at the time of the census, Samuel was a border at 1, Market Street, Malton. He was 34 and gave his occupation as appraiser and auctioneer's valuer.
We believe that Samuel enlisted on the 24th June 1916 as a Private in the Army Service Corps with a service number T/360127. Samuel seems to have been discharged from the Army on the 31st December 1917 due to ill health. But almost immediately he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as part of their Pigeon Service and he served in that unit until the end of hostilities.
After the war, Samuel lived in Church Lane in Collingham, and there in 1940 a tragedy took place. First, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on February 17th 1940:
Yorkshire Evening Post February 17th 1940
A COLLINGHAM TRAGEDY
Samuel Leigh (aged about 60), widower, of Church Street, Collingham, was found dead today at his home. It is believed that he shot himself with a double-barelled gun. He was a prominent member of Wetherby Homing Society.
Then a fuller story on the 19th February
Yorkshire Evening Post February 19th 1940
"A Done Man" After "Life and Death" Trip.
A verdict that Samuel Broadbent Leigh (64, commercial traveller, of Church Street, Collingham, died from a gunshot wound, and that he killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed, was recorded today by Colonel Innes Wars, York District Coroner, at an inquest at Wetherby.
Mrs Sarah McLaren, housekeeper to Leigh for seven years, said that until last November he had a weekly income under his father's will, but that it then ceased. He had dealt in potatoes, but this business collapsed after the war broke out, so that he had no income. This had preyed on his mind, and he had become badly depressed.
Last Friday, he went to Manchester, telling her that it meant "life or death" to him. When he came back he said he was "a done man". On Saturday morning he went for a walk, returned at 11 o'clock and then sat by the fire.
An hour later he sent her for some chocolate, and when she returned in 10 minutes she found him dead in the chair in front of the fire, with a gun between his knees.
Police constable Foster said he found Leigh as described by Mrs. McLaren. He had discharged one shot from a double-barrelled gun - his own gun - through the mouth.
Dr. R.W. Lee, of Boston Spa, said death was due to a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted.
The Collingham Parish Magazine provides a little more detail of Sam Leigh's service:
Collingham Parish Magazine February 1940
We were all seriously distressed at the tragic end of Sam Leigh. He was one whom life in this world had treated very badly. He had been a sufferer from the results of his service in minesweepers during the Great War, and the addition of other worries were more than his mind could stand and he took his own life. Such things make us all very sad and our sympathy goes out especially to Mrs Maclaren who has served both Mr. and Mrs. Leigh for the last seven years. Upon her fell the terrible shock, and we can assure her of our desire to help her in any way we can in her natural distress.
A sad end to one of our village soldiers. Samuel Broadbent Leigh is buried in Wetherby.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 28993