Mildred LEEPER, VAD, died April 1916 Memorial Plaque
The story in brief so far.
I'd turned off the A140 Norwich to Ipswich road on an impulse - I had some long-standing commitments to provide photos for other people. For the one at Mellis the information I had was:-
St. Margaret's Churchyard (north west corner), Mildred LEEPER, VAD, died April 1916.
Now of course the church is St Mary, and after twice going round the churchyard, with particular emphasis on the North-West corner, I was beginning to wonder if I'd been sent on a wild goose chase and cursing myself for being spontaneous rather than researching first. I was trying to remember if there were St Margarets in other nearby villages that might have used Mellis as a postal address.
It was a very, very hot day and so I stepped into the cool of church to gather my thoughts and plan my next action.
Standing just inside the doorway I could see straight away that half way down the right hand side was a picture that had to be either a nun or a nurse, propped up beside a brass plaque with a poppy in front.
On closer inspection it was Mildred.
The plaque reads:
In loving memory of
Aged 27 years
Youngest child of the Rector of
This Parish, who died on Active Service
In Ipswich Hospital on April 28th 1916
This tablet is erected by members of Eye
V.A.D, Suffolk/8 and by the Nursing Staff
Of Ipswich Hospital.
MAY SHE REST IN PEACE
It looks like the picture has been hand-tinted.
A piece appeared on her in the Mellis Newsletter in the Autumn\Winter 2014 edition, (and is possibly the source for the information I was originally given).
Mildred was also the Mellis representative for SSAFA, a welfare organisation for Soldiers, Sailors and their families.
This Nurses memorial page records her as a member of the British Red Cross Society.
1888 – Birth and baptism
The birth of a Mildred Leeper was recorded in the October to December quarter, (Q4), of 1888 in the Newark District of Nottinghamshire.
What I believe to be her headstone gives a date of birth of the 12th November 1888.
She was baptised at All Saints, Winthorpe on the 2nd December 1888.
By amending the search criteria, it also brings up the baptism of brother Bernard at All Saints, Winthorpe on the 12th June 1887.
1891 – Census of England and Wales
The 2 year old Mildred Leeper, born Winthorpe, Nottinghamshire, was recorded living at a dwelling on Winthorpe Road, Winthorpe, (near the Post Office). This was the household of her parents, William C, (aged 38 and a Clerk in Holy Orders from Lynn, Norfolk), and Gertrude C., (aged 36, born Bengal, East India). As well as Mildred their other children living with them are:-
Leonard…….aged 10…..born Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Clement…….aged 9……born Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Alban………..aged 8……born Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Bertha M……aged 6……born Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Dorothy……..aged 5……born Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Bernard……..aged 3…….born Winthorpe
There are also two live in servants.
A copy of Williams “Licentiate to Officiate” at Winthorpe can be seen here.
His father was Rector of All Saints, South Lynn, and he apparently officiated at the wedding of William and Gerturde in 1879.
1901 – Census of England and Wales
The family have now moved to Belton, Suffolk and live in a dwelling on Belton Green. As well as parents William C, (48) and “Gertrud C”, (46, now said to have been born Calcutta, India), children still living at home are Leonard, (20, Draughtsman), Clement, (19) and Mildred, (12). As well as a guest staying with them, they have three live in servants.
The 18 year old Alban, single and a Law Clerk, was recorded boarding at 9, Burton Crescent, St Pancras, London.
The 16 year old Bertha and the 15 year old Dorothy were recorded as Boarding School pupils at 71, Brixton Hill, Lambeth, London
The 13 year old Bernard, a Scholar, was recorded at a Boarding School at Christs’ Hospital, Newgate Street, London.
1911 – Census of England and Wales
The family are now recorded living at The Rectory, Mellis, Eye. Parents William Clarke Leeper, (58) and Gertrude Cecilia Leeper, (56, born Lower Bengal, India), have been married 31 years and have had 7 children, all then still alive. Children still single and living at home are:-
Dorothy……..aged 25….Assistant Teacher employed by the County Council
Bernard……..aged 23….Bank Clerk for the National & Provincial Bank
Mildred……..aged 22….Self-employed Governess working from home.
They also have one live in servant.
Leonard, aged 30 and single, works for the Borough Council as a Civil Engineer and lives at 5 Britannia Road, Great Yarmouth.
Clement, aged 29 and single, was a Church of England Clergyman board at 5 Grove Street, Retford, Nottinghamshire.
The 28 year old Alban, single and an Insurance Clerk, was recorded as a Boarder at 88 Springfield Road, New Southgate, London.
There is no obvious Civil Probate for Mildred, but while checking through the Calendar I found the following entry in 1918.
LEEPER the reverend William Clarke of Mellis Suffolk, clerk rector of Mellis, died 15 November 1917. Probate Bury-St-Edmunds 12 January to Leonard Leeper engineer and Gertrude Cecilia Leeper widow. Effects £730 0s 7d.
The family in the Great War
There are no Leepers recorded on the main War Memorial Plaque. There are two hand-written Roll of Honours for the Parish split between the fallen and those who served. The list of the fallen has Mildred.
The list of those who served has a Bernard Leeper, Sherwood Foresters. There is a Medal Index Card for Lance Corporal 305437 Bernard Leeper, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, (aka Sherwood Foresters). He had originally been Lance Corporal 2198 in the same Regiment when he first entered a Theatre of War.
It may be a co-incidence, but there is a Medal Index Card for a Private 760139 Alban Leeper, London Regiment. He had originally been Private 1579 in the same Regiment.
There does not appear to be a Medal Index Card for Mildred, which probably reflects that all her service was in the UK.
On the day
The death of a Mildred Leeper, aged 27, was recorded in the Ipswich District of Suffolk in the April to June quarter, (Q2), of 1916.
There is speculation in the online Mellis magazine article that she died as a result of an infection she picked up while nursing in Ipswich.
So now the question was where she was buried. There was a St Margaret in the centre of Ipswich but I didn't know if it had a relationship with Ipswich Hospital.
It was time for one more search of the churchyard and the plaque had given me a hunch as to where I might find her.....
(To be continued!)