MANDERS, Thomas Leslie

Corporal 4200113 B Company 6th Bn. Royal Welch Fusiliers

Died (of wounds rec’d in Battle of Caen) Wed 30th August 1944 (Age 28)

At Rest: Banneville la Campagne War Cemetery, Calvados, France
Grave Ref.: XI. F. 10.

MandersLeslie

Thomas Leslie Manders was born on 12th March 1916, the son of George and Minnie (nee Green) Manders and husband of Ellen Elizabeth Manders.

Leslie’s younger brother, Barrie Manders, has very kindly provided the following account:

Leslie was the son of George and Minnie Manders (nee Green) who lived at Palmerston Street, Old Westwood. Later, in Feb. 1934, the Manders family moved into a council house at 25 Barrows Hill Lane (Back Lane) Westwood. Minnie’s mother’s family originated from Brinsley and her father’s family had moved from Darlaston. Minnie’s brother, Charles W Green, of New Westwood served in the First World War. They were related to James Ernest Green who is also named on the Jacksdale War Memorial.

Leslie’s father, George, who originated from Saltby, Birmingham, had moved here to find work as a joiner at the Pollington pit until it became inundated with water. In his spare time, George and his father-in-law Charlie Green tended the allotments behind the new Co Operative Store.
Minnie was born in 1891, attended Selston School and could remember celebrating the Relief of Mafeking and Ladysmith before leaving school at the age of eleven, to work in service. She was 22 and George was 30 when they married at Westwood Church.

 Leslie Manders was the eldest son of eleven children. His parents George and Minnie were married in 1913 and Leslie, their third child, was born in 1916 at their home in Palmerston Street which at that time was known as ‘Old Westwood’. Their home was situated two doors below the Royal Oak Public House. At that time ‘Old Westwood’ was a thriving village with no less than four private shops, a Co–Op and four public houses. There was also a Methodist and a Congregationalist Chapel, a school and a Miner’s Welfare.
Leslie had two elder sisters, Gwendoline who was the eldest child and Vera, her younger sister. Leslie was the first born son, with his brother Charles arriving only 18 months or so later. Next came Steven, Eric, Bert, Jack, Doreen, Iris and finally Barrie (author of this account), who was the youngest and resides in Jacksdale today.

Leslie attended Westwood and then Jacksdale schools, leaving at the age of fourteen. Before being conscripted, Leslie worked at the New Selston (Bull and Butcher) Colliery as a surface worker but was conscripted as only underground miners were exempt from National Service.

Leslie had many diverse talents and hobbies. He enjoyed sketching, photography and reading encyclopaedias – collecting the issues weekly. He also repaired and assembled kit radios and could even turn his hand to furniture making and fret work. Being interested in body-building he acquired a Charles Atlas body-building course.

He became an agent for a home shopping catalogue or “club” among his family and friends.

He was an amiable young man, popular with his friends especially Frank Beecroft and Jack Woodrough. He was a dog lover too keeping his own Alsatians, Rene and Tim.

Leslie was called up for service and billeted to Maidstone, Kent. His sisters Gwen and Vera were both married by this time and had already left home. Within ten days his next younger brother Charlie was also conscripted. A short time afterwards, Eric, another brother was called into the Royal Air Force.

Leslie joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers and wore the Fusilier “pigtail” on the rear of his jacket lapel, regimental regalia dating back to the Indian Mutiny.

While serving in Kent, Leslie was injured and admitted to hospital where he met Ellen Elizabeth, an 18 years old nurse, who was to become his bride. Percy Bradford, sister Gwen’s husband, travelled to Kent with Leslie’s father to witness the ceremony. During her visits to Westwood Ellen Elizabeth became known as “Betty” to the family. Sadly in only nine short months Betty was to be widowed. Sister Vera kept in touch with Betty for many years after Leslie’s death and later, Betty married Leslie’s senior officer who, having served with Leslie, was able to provide both Betty and the Manders family with more information concerning Leslie’s death.

During August 1944, Leslie was fatally wounded and died on 30th August 1944 whilst involved in the assault on Caen, France just after the Normandy Landings. He was killed during the allied bombing of a massive German stronghold at Caen and is buried in the Banneville-la-Campagne Cemetery, Calvados, France which is a village in Normandy between Caen and Pont I’Évêque. The cemetery, for the most part, contains graves of those killed during the fighting which started in the second week of July 1944, when Caen was captured, to the last week in August 1944, when the Falaise Gap had been closed and the Allied Forces were preparing their advance towards the Seine.

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He is remembered by his youngest brother Barrie with affection and he describes Leslie as a ‘second father’. Barrie remembers Leslie as a cheerful young soldier coming home on leave with his kit bag, rifle and blank ammunition.

By now Vera and her husband Joe Bullock had a 3 year old son, Derek, who was so intrigued by his Uncle ‘Tom’s ’ firearm, bothered and bothered Leslie until he was driven to pointing his rifle up into the staircase of their home and letting off a volley. Needless to say, neither Derek nor the dog approached the rifle again!

Leslie’s younger brother, Charlie, served as a cook and fortunately survived the war. Whilst at home on leave Charlie was eager to share his army catering tips with his mother. When at home on one occasion he offered to make doughnuts for the family. His mother was incredulous: how could doughnuts be made without all the right ingredients? She had a working family and two evacuees to feed on wartime rations. Charlie was happy to demonstrate and showed how bacon rind could be rendered down to provide enough fat to fry doughnuts. They say an army marches on its stomach and no doubt Charlie kept his fellow servicemen amply and wholly nourished.
Charlie met Phyllis Traunter while stationed at Leicester and later married. They settled in the village of Lutterworth which was then part of Warwickshire, finding employment at the British Thomson Houston Company, manufactures of electrical components.

Brother Eric also thankfully returned after serving as ground crew in the Royal Air Force. During the war he had met and married Vera Burnham from Somercotes. He returned to farming for a while then went to work as a truck driver at the James Oakes pipe works at Jacksdale until he was forced to retire due to ill health. They became proprietors of a boarding house off Bloomfield Road in Blackpool.

Leslie’s two younger sisters Doreen and Iris became machinists in local textile factories. Brothers Steve, Bert, Jack and Barrie were all employed as underground workers at New Selston and Pye Hill collieries.

MANDERS T L (Resized)