Leon was born on 23rd November 1883 and was a French sailor who arrived in Runcorn sometime after 1911, as he is not on the census. He married a local widow, Lily Hardiman in 1913 and had a son shortly after also called Leon. He is recorded as working at the salt works as a rammer. This was the same occupation as John Butterworth, a physical job that required you to clean the internal tubes of the evaporator using a metal pole. He would also be a labourer when not ramming.
Leon initially joined the Cheshire Regiment Reg No 62144 and was posted to the 15th Battalion, the Bantams, but then at some point was transferred to the 2/ 5th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was awarded the silver war badge (B324170) due to wounds and on the register it has him enlisting on 19th March 1917.
Leon was captured on 2nd December 1917 near Cambrai. On his form it has his Runcorn address but then states he is from Jersey. He was imprisoned at Landau, a small town north of Strasburg in the west of the country.
Leon was one of the last to be repatriated and had suffered whilst in captivity, he had also been gassed during the conflict. On returning to the UK he spent over a year in a hospital in Warrington recovering from his injuries. He did return to work, but his health deteriorated and he died on 25th July 1921.
Leon is not commemorated on the Salt Union Works or the Runcorn Memorials, as his death was after they had been installed. He is buried with his wife.
Lily died in 1925, so poor Leon Jnr was brought up by his mums sister, he served in the 2nd world war and went to go on and have Elaine and a son called Leon. Both Leons died within a couple of years of each other in 2008 and 2010.
Leons grave only had a small commemorative plaque bought by his granddaughter Elaine. Having researched his story, the author of this article traced his relative Elaine, and with her consent, an appeal was lauched at the Salt Works Weston Point, for a headstone. The money was raised within 4 weeks, and now this brave frenchman who settled in Runcorn, and fought for his adopted country is remembered for the sacrifice he made.
Compiled by Graeme Ainsworth with assistance from Percy Dunbavand and Elaine Hardiman