Norman Lees


Private 45326, 13th (Service) (1st Barnsley) Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment

Killed in Action 12th April 1918 aged 26

No Known Grave Commemorated Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium

Husband of Elsie Lees

Lived 150, Brighton Street, Heckmondwike

Norman was born in Ashton-Under-Lyne in 1891, the son of Ben Lees of Ashton-under-Lyne and Hannah Hardiman of Duckinfield who had married in 1889. They had two children, but only Norman survived beyond infancy. Ben Lees worked in a Lancashire cotton spinning mill.

On the 1911 census, Norman was described as a Textile Student, living with his parents at 4, Littlewood Street, Seedley near Ashton-under-Lyne. Norman had moved to Heckmondwike by 1913 where he married Elsie Askham, a Milliner’s Apprentice who had been born on 17th September 1894. Her parents were Arthur James Askham, a Brewer’s Traveller from Flockton and his wife, Agnes Archer from Ravensthorpe, who were living at 161, High Street, Heckmondwike.

Elsie and Norman Lees set up home at 150, Brighton Street after their marriage. They had three daughters, Elsie Marion in 1914, Gladys in 1916 who died as an infant and Phyllis May born in 1917.

Norman enlisted in the army at Dewsbury but further details are not known as his service record was later destroyed, with many others, in the 1940’s Blitz on London. The Barnsley Pals were sent to France in March 1916 and he may have joined them sometime after that date. He is recorded as being an absent voter in the Heckmondwike records in 1918.

Norman was officially assumed to have been killed in action on 12th April 1918. The 13th Battalion records show that there was great loss of life amongst the men on that day when the trench system that they were in South West of Ypres was overrun by the Germans. His remains were never found. He is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the missing in Belgium.

After Norman’s death Elsie received his soldier’s effects and continued to live at 150, Brighton Street, Heckmondwike with her children. Her brother Arthur Vernon Askham returned from the war and lived with her for a short time until he married Doris Fox in 1921.{PL/KH-085}

Medals: British War and Victory.

Commemorated: St Saviour’s Church Memorial now held in St James’s Parish Church; Green Park Memorial and Vellum Roll of Honour

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