CAPTAIN LESLIE OLDERSHAW
ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
2ND OCTOBER 1917 AGE 24
BURIED: COXYDE MILITARY CEMETERY, BELGIUM
O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev'rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband's dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen'rous friend;
The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
The dauntless heart that feared no human pride;
The friend of man - to vice alone a foe;
For "ev'n his failings lean'd to virtue's side".
ON MY EVER HONOURED FATHER
Robert Burns 1784
Burns composed this beautiful epitaph for his father's headstone in Alloway Kirkyard in Ayr, Scotland. Dr George Oldershaw quoted from it for his son's personal inscription in Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Like his father, Leslie Oldershaw was a doctor, as was his older brother, George Francis Oldershaw. Leslie Oldershaw, who had qualified as a doctor by the age of 21, took a commission in May 1915 in the Royal Army Medical Corps and served for six months in the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool before being posted to Gallipoli in November 1915. After the evacuation he served in Egypt and then returned to Europe in the spring of 1917. Whilst home on leave in April 1917 he married Ruby Gorman whose sister, Elsie, was married to George Oldershaw Jnr. Six months later he was killed by a piece of shrapnel that struck his head. A fellow officer related to his parents how:
"He and I were walking down the road from the trenches in Nieuport, and when we had gone about a mile the accident occurred. All I remember is a flash, and then I was lying in the road and Leslie was lying by me. He never moved or spoke, and I think was killed instantaneously ... I have since been told that it was an aeroplane bomb that dropped close to us that did it."
Six days later Ruby and Elsie's brother, Howard Gannon, was killed in Salonika. Ruby served as a VAD in Western Europe from August 1918 to January 1919. In 1927 she married William Penman, a fifty-year-old widower. He died three years later. She died in 1969.