Family’s tributes to a brave Great War hero

Danny Parker-Allen (7) proudly wears one of his great-great-grandfather's First World War medals during Sunday's Remembrance parade through Melton EMN-161116-091112001

Danny Parker-Allen (7) proudly wears one of his great-great-grandfather's First World War medals during Sunday's Remembrance parade through Melton EMN-161116-091112001

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Little brothers Danny and Henry Parker-Allen proudly wore medals from the First World War during Sunday’s Melton Remembrance parade, a century after they were awarded to their great-great grandfather.

The medals belonged to Leonard Folwell, who helped transport badly wounded servicemen on ambulance trains during the Battle of the Somme and other intense fighting on the Western Front in France.

His grand-daughter, Margaret Hill, of Melton, now looks after the medals.

She said: “Henry is a bit young to understand much about it but Danny, who is seven, certainly enjoyed wearing one of the medals on Sunday.

“He kept looking proudly at it as the soldiers and the horses in the parade went by.”

Leonard, who lived latterly in Abingdon Road in Melton, never talked much about his service in the Great War.

He died in the 1980s but Margaret since discovered a secret diary he kept during the conflict.

It reports that he left Aldershot on January 20, 1916 and headed for France aged 19.

Leonard joined The Royal Army Medical Corps, where he worked as an orderly on Ambulance Train number 6.

He spent about three or four weeks training in a French hospital before being plunged into the horrors of caring for men who were horribly wounded in the battlegrounds of the trenches.

Leonard’s job was to pick up the injured soldiers from the field hospitals and take them in the train to base hospitals. The more serious cases would then go for treatment in Le Havre or back to England.

“He wrote the diary in fine italics - it’s beautifully written,” said Margaret (63).

“He writes a lot about the men being in a bad way but doesn’t go into too much detail about their injuries.

“I’ve been told this was his way of coping with the situation.

“His job was to change the bandages of soldiers and make sure they were comfortable on the journey.”

After the war, Leonard married Cath in 1921 and the couple had a daughter, Joyce.

Joyce, who was Margaret’s mum, married Gordon Garfoot, who became a farmer at Welby Lodge in Melton.

Margaret was so inspired by the content in her grandfather’s diary, she has started writing a novel based on it.

She said: “I am getting some help with the research about the war and I am really enjoying writing my book about it.”

Margaret added: “Grandad’s medals don’t have pinholes in them which suggests he never wore them.

“I think he should have worn them with pride after what he went through during the First World War.”