|The Rushden Echo Friday 14 July 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates
Rushden Soldier Missing - Rifleman Leonard Sayer - The Great Offensive - News Wanted
Mr and Mrs J Sayer, of 63, Harborough-road, Rushden, have we regret to say, received some disconcerting news regarding they son, Rifleman L Sayer, of the King's Royal Rifles, who is officially reported as missing since July 2nd.
The first news was received through the medium of Mrs Hinde, Orchard-place, Rushden, whose husband, Drummer B Hinde, wrote:-
"I dare say you remember me writing and telling you about Leonard Sayer, who lives up the Harborough-road. I am grieved to tell you that he has been missing for several days, and I think he must be dead. I feel so grieved for his parents, as he was a good living lad."
Mrs Hinde considerately lost no time in conveying the information to Mrs Sayer, who shortly afterwards received a letter from Gunner Cyril Wills (Rushden), of the Machine Gun Section, K.R.R.'s confirming the news. Gunner Wills wrote that Leonard was missing, and that his papers had been entrusted to his (Gunner Wills's) care. Gunner Wills added the information that he was on sentry duty and shook hands with him as he (Rifleman Sayer) was going out with a raiding party.
Official confirmation that Rifleman Sayer is missing was received yesterday morning.
In his last letter home, written to his parents dated July 1st, the day of the opening of the great offensive, the missing solder wrote:-
"This last time has made my feet rather sore, as we have been up to our knees in mud and water. It rained nearly every day, so it was miserable. This time has been rather warm for us as we had some mines blown up on our company's front. We had a few casualties as well, poor fellows.
"I had two near goes, but, thank God, I have come through safe and sound. Another fellow and myself were on duty together in a sap-head when we had mines blown up close to us. We got plenty of sandbags and earth drop round us, and we could hardly get out, but managed it after a struggle. The top of was blown in both times, so we had the job of rebuilding it. We had a lively time all the tune we were in, and I was glad and thankful when we were relived, I can tell you. Some of our fellows have suffered from shell shock, and to see all the poor lads, I don't wonder at it now. The weather was lovely, I wished it had been like it all the week. The trenches do get in a state after a little rain. I can only say I have been a very lucky lad, but perhaps it is providence. I can tell you it makes us realize how near we are, and that we need to prepare our souls by prayer to meet our Maker.
"I guess you felt proud when the Rector spoke about our battalion. I know you would like to think that you have a son in it. Give my love to all at home. I am proud of you all. I saw a good air fight last night. God bless you both."
Rifleman Sayer, prior to taking up his military duties, worked for Messrs Sudborough Bros., boot manufacturers, Higham Ferrers. He enlisted at the age of 20, at the beginning of September last year; he went to the front in March, and entered the trenches for the first time in June. Right up to the time of his enlistment he was a member of St Mary's Church choir, Rushden, and for some years he was associated with St Mary's C.L.B., in which he held the rank of Sergt Bugler. He was also a teacher in St Mary's Sunday School, and took a keen and active interest in church work. He celebrated his 21st birthday on Dec. 19th last year.
Much sympathy is felt with Mr and Mrs Sayer in their uncertainty of mind, and they would be grateful to any of Rifleman Sayer's comrades who can send them any further information concerning their son. Communications should be addressed to them at 63, Harborough-road, Rushden, Northants.
|The Rushden Echo Friday 3 November 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates
Rushden Soldier Missing - Distressing Reports Regarding Pte J Sayer
Mr John Sayer, of 63, Harborough-road, has received the following letter from the British Red Cross, regarding his son, Pte J Sayer, 1376, KRRC, previously reported missing:-
"Dear Sir, we have made enquires for your son, but did he have the initial "J". Had he another name besides Leonard? A report has been given by Rifleman Harry Hancock, 990, 16th KRRC, County of London War Hospital, Epsom (home address 113 Lothair-road, Leicester) who states:-
On July 2nd, 1916, at Quinchy, at about 1 a.m. as I was lying wounded in a shell hole, I saw Sayer passing me, limping. I asked him if he was hit and Sayer told me he was wounded in the leg. I suggested that he should stop there, but Sayer limped off, and I heard nothing more of him.
The second report is given by Rifleman H Potter, 222, 16th KRRC, Hemingford Street Hospital, Birkenhead (home address 25, Devonshire-street, Leicester), who states:-
On July 2nd, 1916, at Quinchy, we went on a bombing raid about midnight. About 40 men and two officers went, but only about 11 returned. I saw Sayer wounded in both legs, and he said he was afraid that he would not be able to get back.
If these reports relate to your son I wish to express my sincere sympathy with you in receiving such distressing reports.
Yours faithfully for the Earl of Lucan, J J Freeman, Oct 17/16.
Before his enlistment Pte Sayer worked for Mr Sudborough boot manufacturer, Higham Ferrers.