Leopold George Sothcott

Date of birth:  1885
Place of birth:   Southampton
Service No.:   177509
Rank:  Sapper
Regiment / Division:   Corps of Royal Engineers
Battalion:   288th Army Troops Company
Died: 29th October 1918 aged 33 years
Death location:  France and Flanders

Military Service
The enlistment and service papers for Leopold Sothcott have not survived. In WW1 he served as a sapper in the Corps of Royal Engineers 288th Army Troops Company.  (service number:177509) The Army Troops Companies were established for behind-the-lines bridging and water work.  Army Troops was a term given to any unit (which could be infantry, engineers, artillery etc) that was under the direct command of an Army HQ, as opposed to the command of one of its subsidiary levels such as a Corps.  An Army Troops Company of the Royal Engineers reported to the Commander Royal Engineers of an Army. Very little detail was found on the activities of this battalion of the Royal Corps of Engineers. Leopold is buried in Busigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord France in plot II. A. E.  Busigny was captured by the 30th American Division and British cavalry on 9 October 1918, in the Battle of Cambrai, and in the course of the next two months the 48th, 37th and 12th Casualty Clearing Stations came successively to the village. The majority of the burials were made from these three hospitals. The cemetery extension was begun in October 1918, and used until February 1919. After the Armistice it was enlarged when graves were brought into Plots II-VII of graves from a wide area between Cambrai and Guise. He was posthumously awarded the Victory medal and the British medal in recognition of his services to his country and is inscribed on the cenotaph at Southampton “lest we forget”.

The silver British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One.  Also called the British Empire campaign medal, it was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’. The bronze Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.

Life before the war
Leopold George Sothcott was the first child of born to James John Sothcott apprentice to a smith (born in 1865 in Portsmouth) and Sarah nee Hillier born in 1854 in Wiltshire who had married in the Autumn of 1884 in Southampton (GRO reference volume 2c page 11).

Siblings: They had a total of eight children but by 1911 two had died in infancy. The following children of James and Sarah are confirmed from parish records:

1. Leopold George Sothcott was born in 1885 and died in 1918.
2. Ernest Alfred Sothcott was born in 1887.  In 1910 he married Rosa House.  Aged 29 in 1915 he enlisted for service.  His service record survives (service number 11856).  Ernest died aged 64 in 1950.
3. Winifred Blanch Sothcott was born in 1889.  In 1908 she married William George Maynard.  They had two children.  Winifred Maynard died in 1951 aged 62 years.
4. Leonard James Sothcott was born in the winter of 1891 and died in the winter of 1892 aged 1 year.
5. Reginald Arthur Sothcott was born in the winter of 1892 and died in the spring of 1893.
6. Hilda Sarah Florence Sothcott was born in 1894.  In 1917 she married Robert H Carr.  No further information was found.
7. Leslie James Sothcott was born in 1896.  In 1916 he married Lillian Eugenie Mintram (1892-1964).  They had two children.  He died aged 72 in 1968.
8. Doris Hetty Sothcott was born in 1900.  In 1921 she married Norman L Gale.  They had two children but no further information was found.

In 1891 the family lived at 70 Fir Grove Road in Millbrook Southampton.  James who had been an apprentice to a smith before his marriage and later an ironmonger.  The enumerators handwriting does not make it clear what his occupation is in 1891. In 1901 the family still lived at 70 Firgrove Road.  Father James was employed as an Ironmaker.  Leopold aged 16 was a gas fitters apprentice. In 1911 the family still lived at 70 Firgrove Road.  Father James was the shop keeper of his own shop employing his own children.

In 1909 Leopold married Dora Rose Tiller (born in 1888).  No children were found. In 1918 they lived at 32 Charkon Road Southampton.  No remarriage for Dora Rose was found after Leopold was killed.  She died in 1985 aged 96 years.

His mother Sarah died in 1931 aged 77.  His father James died in 1948 aged 84.

Researched by DHW – 18th September 2013. If you have any more information about the above named person, or any other name listed on this website or Southampton’s Cenotaph, please email Southampton.cenotaph@hotmail.co.uk, or telephone 023 8086 9599 and we will contact you.  Many thanks.

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