Leslie Whitehead was a private in the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. He died in France on the 1st June 1916 aged 19. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Whitehead, of Sulgrave.

The battalion were variously known as the “Sportsman’s Battalion” and the “Football Battalion” for reasons not easily ascertained.

The main event on the Western Front in 1916 was the Battle of the Somme which began on July 1st. Leslie Whitehead was killed in this area a month before the battle began and it is not possible to speculate that he died in any particular action. However the following extract from the war diary of an adjoining regiment on the very day of his death illustrates the continual fighting and loss of men, even during relatively quiet times, before the Somme began:

1st Battalion, the King's Liverpool Regiment
War diary 1st January to 3rd June 1916 covering operations at Givenchy, Calonne and Vimy Ridge
1st June 1916

Quiet morning. Heavy shelling all afternoon increasing in violence until it died away about midnight after the attack. After a bombardment of the enemy line, which left the section we were to attack very much as it was before, three bombing parties attacked up Ersatz Alley, Boyau Hartung and Boyau Gobron. The intention was that these three parties should establish themselves in the enemy line and each bomb to the left. After they had cleared the trench and had got in touch with each other, they were to dig in and consolidate. In the event of their being successful a fourth party was ready at the top of B. Tanchot to get into communication with them at Momber Crater. Reserve parties were ready to support the attack and advanced dumps of bombs and RE stores were established. The party on the right under Lt Jamieson came under a shell barrage on their way up the communication trench and were wiped out without being able to close with the enemy. Their supporting party had no better luck. The centre party under Lt Head effected an entrance into the hostile trench, and though subjected to a severe fire, remained there for about three quarters of an hour. Finally they were ordered to withdraw, as the two parties on their flanks had been unsuccessful. This they did slowly and in good order. The left party under 2/Lt Hewson found themselves enfiladed by machine gun fire. They made several attempts and lost heavily and finally were ordered to abandon the enterprise. There were about 80 casualties including the Adjutant, Lt Thompson. 2/Lt Hewson and 2/Lt Head wounded

Leslie Whitehead is buried in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, in the Pas de Calais, France. Souchez is a village 3.5 kilometres north of Arras on the main road to Bethune. The "Cabaret Rouge" was a house on the main road about 1 kilometre south of the village, at a place called Le Corroy, near the cemetery. On the east side, opposite the cemetery, were dugouts used as battalion headquarters in 1916. The cemetery now contains 7,655 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, more than half of them unidentified.