King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Sands, Leslie Kelham

Acting Captain ▪ Lancashire Fusiliers

Leslie Kelham Sands, born on 4th January 1892, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1903 and was elected a Foundation Scholar throughout his School career. Leslie lived with his father, the Reverend Canon H. Sands, his mother, Lucy, and four younger siblings. The family lived at St. Oswald’s Vicarage, Dora Road, Small Heath.

Leslie was in the First Class, studying directly under the Head Master, and was classmates of JRR Tolkien and RQ Gilson. He was just below average in his class, but as this was composed of the most able academics in the school this remained an impressive achievement, especially given his considerable commitment to top-level School sports and athletics. Leslie was in the 1st XI for cricket, and, for his play in the 1st XV for rugby, was described by his peers as: “A tall, fast forward, useful in the line-out and the loose. His lack of weight lessens his value in the scrum… A good kick and tackle and, altogether, a very keen player.” In July 1911, he broke the School record for throwing the cricket ball, with a “magnificent throw of 111 yards, 2 ft. and 5 ½ inches, beating the previous record by 7 yards.” Leslie was also a proficient high-jumper, regularly placing 1st in the annual School sports competition. In summer 1911, he performed in the annual School Greek Play alongside Tolkien, Gilson, Wiseman and Smith. After leaving KES, he went on to study at Oriel College, Oxford.

Leslie applied for a commission on the outbreak of war and was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant to the Lancashire Fusiliers. He went out to the Front in July 1915, where he was promoted to Acting Captain, Battalion Bombing Officer, later Captain. He was fatally wounded by machine gun fire on 28th April 1916 at Sanctuary Wood on the Ypres Salient. His body was recovered and is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery, Nord. At the request of his mother, the inscription on his headstone reads: “Called and Chosen and Faithful”. Leslie left his estate of £292 to his father.