Private 24308 Meshach Lees

Lees Meshach 96 446x600 Lees Meshach 96 438x600
Apologies for poor quality of Meshach's photograph, it's the best I can get.

Died of Wounds on Sunday, 28th April 1918, age 23.
Buried in Grave I. A. 6. at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France.

3rd Bn., Grenadier Guards. 2 (Gds) Brigade of Guards Division.

Son of Mrs. Sarah Lees, of West Bromwich.
Born: Dudley Port, Enlisted: West Bromwich, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Dudley Port on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/57615/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Meshech Lees registered September Quarter 1894 in Dudley.

1901 Census
37 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs. (In 1891 the family were resident at 42 Dudley Port.)
Joseph Lees (45, Coal Miner - Pikeman, born West Bromwich), his wife Sarah (41, Dressmaker, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Joseph (18, Foundry Dresser, born Tipton), Eli (11, born Tipton), Meshack (6, born Tipton), and Arthur (6 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
5 Billhay Lane, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Joseph Lees (56, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (51, born Tipton), and 5 of their 7 surviving children of 9: Samuel (24, Grinder, born Tipton), Eli (21, Sorekeeper, born Tipton), Meshack (16, Dairy Work, born Tipton), Arthur (10, School, born Tipton), and Leonard (7, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

There are a number of spellings of his forename - Meshech, Meshack, I have standardised on Meshach.

After Meshach's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £13/1/8d (13 pounds, 1 shilling and 8 pence); this was paid to his brother and sole legatee, Arthur, in October 1918. His War Gratuity was £11/10/0d (11 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to Arthur in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Meshach had enlisted in approximately October 1915.

Action resulting in his death

As the German Spring Offensive began on 21st March 1918, the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards (3/GG), were in the Arras sector. Their first major action was on 28th March when they had 30 men killed in the German attack which became known as the First Battle of Arras, 1918.

The 3rd Battalion spent the whole month of April either in the trenches, or in reserve. Even in reserve the men had to remain ready to move at one hour's notice in the morning and three hours' notice in the afternoon. On the 25th April, 3/GG went into the front line at Ayette, approximately 7 miles south of Arras.

On the 27th April, the front posts of No. 1 Company were subjected to unusually heavy shelling between midday and 2.00 pm. Casualties amongst the Other Ranks were: 6 men were killed and 5 wounded. On the following day the Battalion retired into Brigade Reserve, where it remained till the end of the month.

Private Mehsach Lees died of wounds on 28th April 1918 in one of the Casualty Clearing Stations situated at Gezaincourt, about 18 miles south-west of Arras. It is a distinct possibility that Meshach was one of the 5 men reported wounded during the German bombardment of 27th April, but we cannot be absolutely sure. He is buried in Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt.

Newspaper Cuttings

West Bromwich Free Press, May 1918
Information has been received at his home that Private M. Lees, a West Bromwich man, of the Grenadier Guards, has died of wounds received in action. The death occurred on the 28th April in a Casualty Clearing Station in France. A letter has been received from an officer of the Grenadier Guards expressing sympathy with the friends of Private M. Lees at the loss they have sustained by his death.