Leslie Woodroffe (Ju. / Ha. 1894-98)


woodroffe_01a.jpg

Captain, Rifle Brigade
Born: October 17th 1885
Died: June 5th 1916

Age at Death: 30

Died of Wounds, France, June 5th 1916

Awarded Military Cross.

Burial:
Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension 
Barlin
Departement du Pas-de-Calais
Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Plot: I. J. 66.

A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this solder by the LEavers of 1991 - to mark their 25 Year Reunion.

Son of Henry L. Woodroffe and Clara Woodroffe of Lewes. Brother of Hugh Clayton Woodroffe (Ha. 1894-1898) (BC. Reg. 2773)

Two of his brothers, Sidney and Kenneth also in the Rifle Brigade:

Second Lieutenant Sidney Clayton Woodroffe, Rifle Brigade
8th Bn. He was Killed in Action, aged 19 on July 30th 1915 for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Educated at Marlborough. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL - Panel 46 - 48 and 50.

Lieutenant Kenneth Herbert Clayton Woodroffe, Rifle Brigade
6th Bn.,attd. 2nd Bn.Welsh Regiment. He died, aged 22 on May 9th 1915. Awards: Mentioned in Despatches. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the LE TOURET MEMORIAL - Panel 44.

Captain Leslie Woodroffe MC
Leslie Woodroffe was born in Lewes on 17th October 1885. He was the second son of Henry Woodroffe, a wine merchant, and his wife Clara; three of whose four sons were killed. After being a member of the school for four years he went to Marlborough to complete his education, being elected a senior scholar there in 1900. In 1904 he went up to University College, Oxford where he took a Second Class Degree in Greats (Classics) in 1908.

He then embarked on a career as a school master, becoming an Assistant Master at Shrewsbury School in 1909 where he was to remain in post until the outbreak of war. In December 1914 he received a commission in the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade. He was severely wounded in action at Hooge, Northern France and awarded the Military Cross for his gallant service in that action. Remarkably Woodroffe’s younger brother Sydney, who did not attend Brighton College, won a posthumous VC in the same action. After a prolonged period of recovery, during which he returned briefly to teach at Shrewsbury, he returned to the front in 1916 were, now a Captain, he was mortally wounded in action on June 5th 1916.

There were no less than ten junior masters at Shrewsbury who answered their country’s call when war broke out in 1914 and only five returned. One master who survived, CA Allington, compiled the letters sent back to Shrewsbury by and in one authored by Malcom White, who was himself to be killed in due course, there are some haunting references to Woodroffe’s death:

‘I could never have thought they would send him [Woodroffe following his earlier severe injury] out again. He was so very much part of the place, and is still. Do you think that we all continue to have our part in the place after death? even when not remembered?...

…I expect that he [Woodroffe] met death easily; for I think he trained himself in self-sacrifice.’[1]

Woodroffe is buried in the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Bethune, France. There is also a memorial to him and his brothers in All Saints Church, Branksome Park, Bournemouth, where his parents moved after leaving Lewes.
[1] See CA Allington, Two Men: A Memoir, (Oxford 1919).

Source: LEST WE FORGET PROJECT, Brighton College 2014/15