Leonard James Bright came to Chelmsford from Writtle, joined the army and was killed near Arras in July 1917. His family home was in Anchor Street.
He was born in Writtle on 13th December 1889, the youngest son of Charles Bright and Frances Charlotte Bright (nee Mead). His father had been born in 1850 in High Easter; his mother c1851 in East Hanningfield. They had married on 23rd January 1875 at All Saints’ Church, East Hanningfield, at which time Leonard’s father was a 24 year-old baker living in East Hanningfield. Leonard’s mother was also 24 and living in East Hanningfield, the daughter of the labourer Aaron Mead. In 1881 the couple had been living at Bridge Street in Writtle.
Leonard was christened at Writtle on 23rd February 1890. By then his father was a labourer living in Writtle. Leonard’s four siblings included Clara Florence Bright, (born in 1876) Louisa Mary Bright (born in 1879) and Willis Charles Bright (born in 1882). All were Writtle-born, though two of the four would be dead by 1911.
The 1891 census recorded one year-old Leonard resident with his parents and three siblings still in Bridge Street. His father was employed as a journeyman baker. By the time of the next census in 1901 the family had moved to Chelmsford and were living at 33 [Upper] Bridge Road. Leonard’s father was a labourer in a brickyard, as was Leonard’s brother Willis Charles Bright.
A decade later 21 year-old Leonard was listed by the 1911 census living with his father and niece, Doris Hilda Dowsett at 6 (Upper) Anchor Street, Chelmsford. Leonard was a mechanical labourer; his father, an electrical stoker. Meanwhile Leonard’s mother was a patient at the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital in City Road, London (‘Moorfields’).
Leonard served in the Essex Regiment with the number 5951 in the 3/6th Battalion. He was then transferred to the 3/5th Battalion of the Border Regiment, initially with the service number 5698 before a further transfer to the 1/5th Battalion of the Border Regiment serving as Private 242042.
He was killed in action on 3rd July 1917. The battalion was a Territorial unit which formed part of the 151st Brigade in the 50th (Northumbrian) Division. Leonard was aged 27. Today he lies at Guemappe British Cemetery, Wancourt, Pas de Calais, France, some eight kilometres south-east of Arras (grave: II. B. 5).
BRIGHT, LEONARD JAMES,
Private, 1/5th Battalion, Border Regiment (formerly of the Essex Regiment)
On 27th July 1917 the Essex County Chronicle and Essex Weekly News both carried a family announcement of Leonard’s death:
“BRIGHT. - Killed in action on 3rd July 1917, Leonard James Bright, Border Regt., youngest son of Frances and Charles Bright of 6 Upper Anchor Street, Chelmsford, aged 26."
Leonard is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and the Moulsham Parish Memorial, St John’s Church, Moulsham. He was entitled to the Victory and British War medals.
Leonard’s mother died on 31st October 1917, aged 67:
“BRIGHT. - On rge 31st October, Frances Charlotte, beloved wife of Charles Bright, of 6 Upper Anchor Street, Chelmsford, aged 67 years."
The 1918 register of electors listed his father at 6 Anchor Street, Chelmsford (pictured) and Leonard’s brother Willis and his wife a few doors away at number 4.
Leonard’s father died on 22nd October 1919:
“BRIGHT. - On October 22 at 6 Upper Anchor Street, Chelmsford, Charles Bright , in his 67th year."