The 1901 census shows 6 year old Leslie and his parents living at “Homeleigh”, Wells Road in Bristol. They had a live in home help. The road still exists today and there is still a house there with the same name, although it is certainly not 100 years old (BA3 3SD).
Ten years later the family had moved to a nine roomed house at the affluent sounding 54 Royal Parade, Eastbourne, Sussex which is on the promenade by the sea front. They now had two live in servants.
Leslie went to Eastbourne College from the age of about 16.
"I desire to be considered for appointment to a temporary commission in the Royal Field Artillery, or failing this any other Corps. I have had two years in the O.T.C (Eastbourne College Contingent). Also for the past month I have been training with the U.P.S. Brigade (University & Public Schools). My present address is as above (No 1 Company, 4th P.S.Battery Royal Fusiliers, Ashtead, Surrey). As to riding experience, I have hunted with the Southdown and have also had a certain amount of rough riding in Canada." He was subsequently commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery on 8th December 1914.
On 4th September 1915, just before his 21st birthday, he was sent to Le Havre until 25th November when he was sent as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Salonica. In May 1916 he was appointed as Lieutenant and then to Captain in May 1917 "to complete establishment of a Howitzer Battery". On 4th June 1918 he was promoted to Major "whilst commanding Battery RFA". He was awarded the medals which became known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred (The 1914/15 Star, The British War Medal and The Victory Medal).
Leslie's service record in April 1919 says he "qualified for demobilization but volunteered for army of occupation".
He was sent from Constantinople to Port Said and subsequently Alexandria. On 22nd August he went for 4 weeks leave back to England, which was then extended to 17th October. He was then demobbed on 17th November. His permanent address was given as what was now his father's family home at 36 Upper Avenue, Eastbourne and his occupation in civil life as "Rancher".
We don't know when but at some point after their marriage they went to live in Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells, in “Owl House”. This was a 16th century cottage which, in the 1950’s, was renovated by the new owners who opened the house and gardens to the public. It was so called after the night smugglers or ‘owlers’ who traded English wool for French brandy. They used owl hooting sounds to warn of Customs officers !
Whether Owl House was the property referred to as the Silver Fox Farm is not known but I was told that my father, his grandson, loved going beagling at the Farm.
In 1932 one of Marion's black cocker spaniels came third in the Tunbridge Wells dog show and “a strong feature was the fine entry of Cocker Spaniels”.
To add to the seeming favouritism, when the widow of his father's brother died in 1935, apart from leaving monies and property to her cousin and her cousin's son, the next biggest gift was £25,000, worth about £1.3m in today’s terms, to Leslie Bird. Why didn't Percy get anything - not even a mention ? He was certainly alive and well at the time. Perhaps he was considered already 'comfortable'?
It seems that Leslie did have a less serious side in that in 1935, while the scenes were being changed during a Concert Party, he “entertained the company by asking for names of well known residents, on each of which he composed amusing and entertaining limericks”.
According to my uncle, Leslie joined the diplomatic service after the war although I don't have any evidence to substantiate this.
After 44 years of marriage, his wife Marion died in 1965 in Eastbourne. A year later he became the third husband of Beattie (aka Ada Georgiana Beversham Farmer). Three years later in May 1969. Leslie died at “Domus”, Upper Carlisle Road, Eastbourne aged 75. Although I know he left a Will and made a number of bequests, I haven't found him listed on the Probate Register.