Rank:


Rifleman

Service No(s):


555058

Regiment:


London Regiment

Unit:

1st/16th (County of London) Battalion (Queen's Westminster Rifles)

Returned:

No

Place of birth:

Barton, near Torquay, Devon

Occupation:

Date of death:

30/12/1917

Cause of death:

Drowned

Grave or panel reference:

Name of father:

John George Poplett

Name of siblings:

Sidney George Poplett

Name(s) of children:

Died:

Yes

Date of birth:

12/11/1898

Place of enlistment:

St. Paul's Churchyard - Middlesex

Event:

Gallipoli

Age at death:

19

Cemetery or memorial:

Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt

Other memorial:

St. Mellitus Church

Name of mother:

Louisa Poplett (née Clack)

Name of spouse:

Address:

Holloway - Middlesex

Biography:

Leonard John Poplett was born on 12 November 1898 in Barton, near Torquay in Devon. He was the younger of two sons of John George Poplett, a gardener, and Louisa Poplett (née Clack), his older brother Sidney George Poplett having been born on 16 September 1888.

In 1901, Louisa filed for divorce from Leonard’s father on the grounds of adultery and desertion. That year’s census reveals that Sidney was already separated from the family, living in Arthur Road, Islington, with his Aunt Emily (his father’s sister) and her husband Samuel Langham. Louisa’s divorce papers show that she and Leonard were living in Thorpedale Road, near New Court Congregational Church, and allege that Leonard’s father was often violent towards his mother. The final decree was granted in July 1903.

In January 1907, at the age of eight, Leonard was admitted to the Orphan Working School and Alexandra Orphanage in Haverstock Hill, where he remained until December 1913. How much contact he was able to maintain with Louisa is not documented, but not long after his 18th birthday, he enlisted with the 1st/16th (County of London) Battalion (Queen’s Westminster Rifles).

The First World War eventually took Leonard to the Middle East. In late 1917 he boarded the troopship HMT Aragon, which was transporting reinforcements for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. There were about 2,500 troops on board when Aragon arrived at Alexandria in Egypt on 30 December 1917, and it docked in the harbour before being ordered to anchor outside, with no protection from enemy attacks. 

Aragon was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine and sank. Leonard was one of 610 personnel on board who lost their lives. He is commemorated at the Chatby War Memorial Cemetery in Alexandria, where almost a thousand Commonwealth servicemen who were killed at sea are honoured. 

Louisa Poplett was living in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, at the time of Leonard’s death. Just four months later, she lost her other. Sidney had enlisted with the 23rd (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment, and ironically was fighting as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force when he was injured during the First Battle of Amman and died from his wounds on 5 April 1918.