A Leafy Family Tree

Firstly – sorry for the long gap between posts – I just haven’t had a moment lately! Anyways…

I came across a Fern Leaf, when looking for the more elusive ‘Leaf Leavesley’.

Fern was was born on 25 Dec 1885 in York, christened on 21 Jan 1886 in St Mary Bishophill Senior, York and shown as ‘Female’ on the baptism, but actually turned out to be the son of James and Margaret Annie Leaf. It seems his older brother, Joseph James, managed to escape the pun-name curse/boon, but his sisters; Daisy, Ivy, and Violet and brother Vine did not. His other brothers names? Adonis and Noland. O-O

Fern was, in 1901, a carpenter’s apprentice. By 1911 he is a Goods Porter on the railway where all the men in the family work, his father as a wheelwright, Adonis an Engine cleaner, Noland a machinist, and Vine as a ‘Beatter’ (presumably panel beater). His Mother, showing her sense of humour here ( I hope), puts her own occupation as ‘Drudge’. In 1916, upon joining the army, he is a Printer’s Labourer.

Both Fern and Adonis definitely fought in the First World War. I always get so excited when I find Army records for someone – because they’re so detailed. You get to know what they look like, how many tattoos they had, what the family called their mother (My Great Great Nan is only down as ‘Annie’ instead of Frances on her sons Army Records) and how heroic they were, or sometimes more disappointingly (but understandably) how many time they went AWOL, during the course of the war.

Fern and Adonis’s records are no different. Fern had Two slight Hammer Toes on his left foot, was 5 foot 5 inches, and weighed 112 lbs. His facial features aren’t noted, but Adonis had brown hair, blue eyes and a ‘fresh’ complexion, so maybe Fern had the same. Fern’s records are mostly medical, and no details remain as to where and when he was posted.

Unfortunately, both brothers were injured. Adonis gets a shrapnel wound to his right hand, but Fern’s injury is more complicated. In July 1918 he reports experiencing dizziness on stooping, blurred vision in his eyes especially after reading (which for someone who had 20/20 – or 6/6 vision when he enlisted must have been very frustrating), and headaches, as a result of a Gun Shot Wound to the face.

He is medically examined, and although scarring around his eye is noted, it is decided that he has NO DISABILITY –  underlined.  They seem to have decided that as there are no usual/physical symptoms of blindness, therefore it isn’t that serious – the tone suggesting that he is either making it up or making a fuss. However a quick search of his symptoms quickly comes up with a diagnosis of localised Brain trauma, due to head injuries, such as bullets or other shrapnel piercing the skull, sometimes even being left behind in the brain.

I hope that whatever the cause of Fern’s discomforts, they did not affect him too badly. By all accounts, he lived until the age of 77, another 50 years! He married Lillian Hornby in 1922, and in 1956 they were living with Ernest and Winifred M Twiggs… a branch of the family..? 😀

From the Yorkshire Evening Press, we have his obituary, which I think perhaps says more about him than anything else:

Fern Leaf died 13 Dec 1963, late of 129, Pottery Lane, York aged 77 years. Husband of Lilian, father of Ken, Daisy and Fred,

and a dear Grandad.


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