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Harold Leslie Stephens

Rank: Private

Lifetime: 1897-1916

Private Harold Leslie Stephens of the 6th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry died of his wounds on 8 February 1916 at the National Hospital, London. He was buried with full military honours at Teddington Cemetery on 12 February 1916. Before the war he had lived with his parents at 55 Bushy Park Road, then within the postal district of Hampton Wick.

According to his entry on the Online WW1 War memorial for Teddington, he was born on 11 July 1897 at Teddington. His parents were Joe Crocker Stephens and Florence Ada Caroline Stephens (nee Rogers).

According to the report of his funeral in The Surrey Comet dated 19 February 1916, he had three surviving siblings, known to the family as Marjorie, Geoff and Teds. Private Stephens had been a member of the Choir of St Mark’s, Teddington and a Sergeant in the Church Lads’ Brigade. He was one of the 1,000 boys who enlisted on the outbreak of war. Prior to the war he had, presumably, been employed by Messrs Cowey’s Engineering Company, Kew, who sent a floral tribute to his funeral. He joined up in August 1914 just one month after his seventeenth birthday. He was sent to France on 21 May 1915 and three months later was in the bomber’s section. He fought at the Battles of Hooge and Loos but was shot in the head on 21 November 1915 near Ypres. He spent a month in hospital at Etaples where his parents visited him and was then transferred to the National Hospital in London where he died aged only 18.

His parents received a letter of condolence from Sergeant Harris of his Battalion in which he commented on Private Stephens’ “wonderful cheerfulness”. Apparently Private Stephens “encouraged us, and where the outlook was black his optimism helped to revive our waning spirits”.

Private Stephens had a full military funeral the first part of which was conducted at St Mark’s Church, opposite his family’s house. The coffin, covered with a Union Jack, was placed on a gun carriage provided by Kingston Barracks, and then preceded by a cross bearer and the Church Choir proceeded to Teddington Cemetery. Several members of the Church Lads’ Brigade and two nurses from the National Hospital were also in the procession. At the cemetery the committal passages were read by the former curate at St Mark’s who had founded the branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade there. Three volleys were fired by the firing party which had also been provided by Kingston Barracks and the last post sounded by a bugler.

He is commemorated on the Teddington War Memorial and on the war memorial in St Mark’s Church, Teddington. He also has an entry on the Online WW1 War Memorial for Teddington.

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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