Walter Leigh, 4th Hussars, RAC

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by geoff501, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Listening to Rob Cowan on Radio 3 this morning, he played (I think) Concertino for Harpsichord and String Orchestra by composer Walter Leigh who was killed in action near Tobruk in 1942.

    Very impressed with the piece.

    Walter Leigh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    From the search engine:

    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Trooper
    Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps
    Unit Text: 4th Queen's Own Hussars
    Date of Death: 12/06/1942
    Service No: 7931725
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 10. A. 23.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    From War Diary
    War Diary of the 4th Hussars in 1942
    RHQ, C and HQ Sqns left EL DUDA at 0630 hours for CAPUZZO area, arriving 1500 hours at BIR BEDER. A Sqn, 6 Stuarts, with 4 Stuarts, 3 Grants and 1 Crusader attached, remained at EL DUDA as rearguard to TDS. At EL DUDA the Sqn was machine gunned by one of our own fighters, resulting in the death of Sgt Shill, LCpl Duckering and LCpl Leigh. One OR was wounded. The deceased were buried at approx 428412. B Sqn. At 1430 hours, the Sqn (10 Grants) with 1 Crusader (3rd CLY) attached, was ordered to engage 8 Armd Cars and 9 M13’s at MADURET EL GHESCEUASC. Whilst engaging these, approx 12 Mk IIIs and 8 MK IVs, supported by 8 x 88mm and a number of 50mm guns, appeared from the direction of B.702 384402. From this action only 1 Tank succeeded in escaping. This was 2Lt Cartmell. Apart from this crew, only 2Lt RGH Walker and Cpl Murray have returned, both wounded. Nothing further is known about the rest of the Tank crews. A Echelon was attacked by high level bombers at 384416. Tpr Hyde and Tpr Hilliard were killed and were buried on the spot. No personal effects could be recovered. LCpl Chattaway, LCpl Vyse and Tpr Deacon were wounded. LCpl Chattaway died of wounds later the same day.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    From The Times, July 20, 1942:


    The death of Lance-Corporal Walter Leigh, Hussars, at the age of 37, on active service in Libya is a loss to English music in its most precarious tradition - that of the stage. For his two comic operas, The Pride of the Regiment and Jolly Roger, followed in the Sullivan tradition of satire and burlesque served up with frank melody and good craftmanship.

    Besides these two operas Leigh wrote much other dramatic music:- For the straight stage, when he directed the music of the Festival Theatre at Cambridge; for the Cambridge Greek Play Committee, when in 1936 he set The Frogs of Aristophes; for revue, as in Clinton-Baddeley's Aladdin and in Nine Sharp; and for films.

    Leigh also wrote chamber music, a concerto for harpsichord and orchestra, and miscellaneous songs and piano pieces. His versatility and businesslike attitude to the matter in hand he had learned from Hindemith, with whom he studied for two years after an English training with Dr. Darke and Professor Dent and after taking an arts degree at Cambridge. His style was simple, effective, and well turned, and, through all the frantic experimentation of the years between the wars, he kept his head, his ideals, and his popular touch.

    From The Times, Aug 25, 1942:

    A correspondent writes:-
    The death of Lance-Corporal Walter Leigh on active service in Libya deprives both British music and British films of one of the best and most sincere of contemporary composers. After a brilliant career at Cambridge in the late twenties he studied music under Hindemith. Leigh was probably the best known to the general public for the music which he wrote for a number of intimate revues and for such operas as The Pride of the Regiment and Jolly Roger.

    His more serious works included chamber music, songs, and several concertos, and he was moreover, the first British composer to undertake a complete study of the many problems relating to the sound-track in the production of films. In this respect he was closely associated with the makers of documentary films from 1933 until the outbreak of the present war, when he joined the Hussars in the ranks. His sound score for the film Song of Ceylon still remains a classic example of the creative use of music and sound in relation to the visuals on the screen. One of the last film scores he composed before joining the Army was that for a film of The Times.

    Attachment from Times Aug 8, 1942

    Attached Files:

  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Another photo.

    9th March 1933: Composer Walter Leigh, whose work 'Jolly Roger', a musical burlesque is playing at the Savoy theatre in London, with his fiancee Marion Blandford. (Photo by Sasha/Getty Images)

    Getty Images - Unsupported browser detected
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just see he did some music for a film by the GPO Film Unit in 1936

    Sevilla Festival de Cine Europeo | Seville European Film Festival

    The Fairy of the Phone

    Music: Walter Leigh

    By the 1930s the telephone was fast becoming a mass communication device but there were still many people who were reluctant to accept such a sophisticatedpiece of technology into their homes. Eccentrically styled as a lavish musical revue, complete with a chorus line of telephone operators singing along to a sprightly score by Walter Leigh, the film sets out to promote use of the telephone. Walter’s sister, Charlotte Leigh, a popular stage star at the time, fuels the film’s eccentricity with her particular brand of off-beat comedy. Artist William Coldstream worked as an employee of the GPO Film Unit from 1934 to 1937, assisting Cavalcanti, before going on to direct films himself.

    Here on You Tube.
    YouTube - The Fairy of the Phone (1936) edited
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just see he did some music for a film by the GPO Film Unit in 1936

    Here on You Tube.

    A verrritable lesson on how to rrroll ones rrrr's.
  8. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    one of his albums is on here to listen to.....

    Great stuff. Link didn't work but a search found it. It's got the harpsichord concertino there! Thanks.
  9. keighdey

    keighdey Junior Member

    This might be of interest to you. There is a CD of Leigh's piano music and songs released on Tremula Records which is obtainable from featuring such gems as "Music for Three Pianos" and "Eclogue".
  10. DannyHarrison

    DannyHarrison Member

    Hello All,

    I think my Grandad was involved in the same action at Bir bellefaa about 12 miles south of Acroma. He was in command of a stuart tank issued to them at Capuzzo on the 4/5th June 1942. The action took place on the 12th June 1942 and my Grandad was wounded and captured and later a POW in Italy and then Germany. He saw the following men Killed C/pl Berry F. 7899417, Trooper Gardner G.G.M 2987511, Trooper Murphy M. 7934151 and the following men were badly wounded and unlikely to have evacuated their tanks : Lance Sergeant Workman .P 7883444, Trooper Starring G.A. 7926822, Trooper Omerod J.S. 366033, Trooper Andrews G.R. 7942162, and Trooper Hutchison number and Initials unknown. I would be greatfull if anybody could confirm this was the same action?
    Best Regards
    Danny Harrison
  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Most interesting, especially because he served in my old unit but long before I joined them in March '45.

    On the day he was killed, 12th June '42 I was still "treading water" in the tiny village of Houghton Regis eagerly awaiting my call-up.

    RIP Walter

  12. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  13. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Welcome to the forum Danny. If you don't already have the DCM citation, it should be on the NA website. If you can find the appropriate digital microfilm file, the download is free. It should be in the WO 373/16 file.
  14. Little B

    Little B Junior Member

    My Dad, Walter Little, possibly known as Eric to his fellow troopers, Trained and served with Walter Leigh and they became good friends. His name often cropped up in Dad's stories about the Desert Campaign and I know that Dad held him in high regard for his intelligence, gentleness and modesty. While they were learning Morse code in order to become radio operators, Walter Leigh was the first in their class to understand the stream of code in their headphones. He suddenly cried out, "Don't listen to the dits and dahs, listen to the rhythm!"
    When they visited town on an evening off they passed a poster on the wall advertising a show with music by Walter Leigh. They all joked about the coincidence with the name until Walter Leigh finally confessed that he was the composer - he had never mentioned his talent to any of his new friends.
    Dad was with him when he died. An aircraft flew low and strafed their camp and Walter Leigh was fatally injured. Dad said that he apologised to those who were trying to help him "for being a nuisance" - a truly brave gentleman to the end. I wish I could have known him.
    dbf likes this.
  15. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    welcome to The Forum, Little B and thanks for sharing the story.
  16. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Welome to the forum, Little B and thank you for sharing your fathers tale.


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