Date of birth: 1898
Date of death: 30 December 1917
Killed in action aged 19
John William was born at Chagford Rectory, Devon to the Rev. Gerald L. H Ley and his wife, Beatrice, the youngest son of six children.
He was educated at St. George's School, Windsor, and then at St Edward‘s School, Oxford where he was a member of the Revd C S Duncan‘s set. His father having died in 1912, possibly he was brought to school in Oxford by his oldest brother, Henry George Ley, the Organist at Christ Church from 1909.
He matriculated in 1916 and would have come up to Christ Church but enlisted at Oxford and was a Private in the London Regiment.
He was killed on December 30th 1917 and is commemorated on Pier and Face 12 C on the Thiepval Memorial.
"The dwindling casualty lists have contained no names of OSE since the end of last term, and yet two deaths in action have been recorded, Rifleman Wilfred John Hare, the London Irish Rifles, fell in Palestine on December 23rd and JOHN WILLIAM LEY, the London Regiment, was in action on December 30th in Flanders and was not heard of again till his body was found in no-man's-land on January 23rd. These two losses share a pathos all their own, for under normal conditions they would have probably have been held by all to be the least likely to find a soldier's grave. Wilfred was a musician, very slightly built and intensely nervous; John seemed condemned by constant ill health to be the part of a spectator watching with humorous smile the activities he could not share. Now the frail little pianist has died amongst the rocks of Judea after service in three countries, France, Thrace and Egypt, and the invalid has fallen in the muddy snows of Flanders. All honour to the brave spirits that shone so brightly through their feeble frames!”
from the St Edward’s School Magazine 1918
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