Commondale Shepherds War Memorial

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This remote war memorial carries the following inscription
War Memorial, Commondale Moor
For Remembrance Guardsmen Robbie Leggott killed in action 1916 Alf Cockerill died of wounds 1920 duty 1914.
War Memorial, Commondale Moor


Some research was done on Rootchat which follows :-

In 1914 they both went to London together and joined the Grenadier Guards. Robert Leggott lied about his age, he was only 17. He was killed in 1916 on the Somme aged 19 an his bodied never found. His name is on the Thiepval Memorial in Flanders. In July 1916 the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards were holding trenches near Ypres. They were attacks on both sides of their position resulting in close quarter fighting and shelling. There was also sniper activity. In these actions Alfred Cockerill was wounded in the head. Alf was sent home. Back in UK, he was declare unfit for any futher duty. His head wound had serious damaged him. He now had epilepsy and would never return to the moors. He was one of the many head injuries and shellshock cases places in mental hospitals. He was sent to the Chalfont Colony opened 1894 by The National Society for the Employment of Epileptics, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire. He spent four years there, dying at the Epilepsia Colony on 11th August 1920 of Epilepsy and Meningitis.

15 thoughts on “Commondale Shepherds War Memorial

  1. Pingback: Not so distant | The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

  2. LEGGOTT, ROBERT HENRY Rank: Lance Corporal Service No: 19208 Regiment: Grenadier Guards 4th Bn. Date of Death: 25/09/1916 Age: 22 Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Panel Reference: Pier and Face 8 D. Son of James Brown Leggott and Mary Leggott, of Round Close Farm, Guisborough, Yorks.
    Note – Round Close Farm is 2 miles by footpath north of the Shepherd’s Memorial. 1901 and 1911 living Thunderbush Farm Commondale 1.2 miles south of the Shepherd’s Memorial. Robert Henry was born between Oct and Dec 1896 GRO Birth Index Guisborough 9d 516

    COCKERILL, ALFRED Rank: Private Service No: 19205 Regiment: Grenadier Guards Date of Death: 11/08/1920 Age: 31 GRO Death Index Amersham 3a 710 Memorial: BROOKWOOD 1914-1918 MEMORIAL Panel Reference: Panel 2
    Note – Born between Jul and Sep 1888 Westerdale, GRO Birth Index Guisborough 9d 514 mother Mary Cockerill who married John Wheldon of Farndale later clay pipe maker at Commondale.

  3. I go every year and have done since the mid 70s .At first maybe only me or might get a passing walker. Last Remembrance Sunday there was 20+ of all ages. Although I’m not a Grenadier I do belong to the same family I was in the Coldstream Guards . I’ll be there again this Sunday I’m 74 and the terrain and weather does not make it easy but the price in doing this honour to these men pushes me on. Lest we forget.

    • My name is John Watson and my mother was Alice Cockerill who lived at Maddy Farm where Alf was born. I am doing a talk on north York moors and stones and wondered if you had any more information on Alf Cockerill. Did he grow up at Westerdale and move to Maddy.
      Thank you
      John Watson

    • Dear Billy you are completely forgiven if you’re not struggling over the moors tomorrow, however John Leggott and myself will be in the Cleveland Arms in Commondale at 3 pm after we’ve walked up if you fancy joining us! James Johnson – both Great Nephews of Robbie.

  4. LEGGOTT, ROBERT HENRY Rank: Lance Corporal Service No: 19208
    Regiment: Grenadier Guards 4th Bn. Date of Death: 25/09/1916 Age:19

    My great uncle, who lied about his age when he joined up in 1914, was only 19 in September 1916 after 2 years of service in the trenches. My own late father was named in his honour ‘Henry Leggott’ Johnson by Robbie’s still distraught sister Ninny (Eliza) in 1926.

    I was in Commondale last year 2018 and thrilled to discover that my extended family still farm in the area,Thunderbush Farm and Round Close Farm are names that are enshrined in family history.

    I have always been led to believe that Lady Gisborough was personally responsible for erecting the Shepherd’s Memorial and that Robbie is also commemorated on the War Memorial in Commondale and on Edwin Lutyens stirring Memorial in Thiepval, Picardy.

    • Hello James, Robert Henry was also my great uncle! I am John Leggott ,my grandad was George William -brother of Robert Henry.I lived at Round Close till age 18. I’m doing family tree .Please get in touch if you’re interested. I’ve got old photo albums etc. Look fwd to your reply

    • Hello James, my name is John Leggott, I am a great nephew of Robert Henry. Please get in touch via facebook and I can share more information and photos. Thanks, John.

  5. Very good to hear from you, I’m afraid I don’t do Facebook so that won’t work, if you google my name as a chartered surveyor you will find my website very easily, James Johnson FRICS

  6. Its lovely to hear from a relatives of two very brave men like I said in previous comments as a former Guardsman it was privilege to honour them on Remembrance Sunday for the last 40+ years. Last year I missed due to Ill health but this year god willing I’ll try and make it.

    • Unfortunately I won’t make it again this year and to be honest I think it’s a bridge to far as I’m approaching 80 yrs old. These days I go to Eston a local cenotaph where I pay my respect and remember my blue red blue brothers on Commondale Moor.

  7. Dear John

    I’m afraid I don’t do social media! You can however contact me directly by email on

    I presume that if Robbie is your great uncle that makes you my cousin! He was also my great uncle, as in my father’s, mother’s brother. I think we probably all come from Thunderbush!

    James Johnson

    Son of ‘Henry Leggott’ Johnson

  8. We visited today on 11 November 2023. An honour to have visited and pay our respects. As we did, a rainbow emerged from the moor. I laid my poppy in remembrance. We will remember them.

  9. Hello James and John
    Forgive me for ‘gate crashing’ your posts, but I came upon this site whilst I was researching my great grandfather’s family (Frederick Robinson of Danby) and became absorbed when I discovered Arthur Frank Robinson, his youngest brother married Annabella Leggott b.1893, who seems to fall in between your respective relations and being such a large family seemed extremely interesting to discover a bit more. I was quite moved to realise this memorial exists to your great uncle Robbie.
    I am therefore indirectly related !
    Arthur died relatively young leaving Annabella, or Aunt Annie, as my father always referred to her, farming with her 3 sons, first at High House Farm, Westerdale and then Picton House Farm, Yarm . He spent many happy holidays visiting them as well as his grandparents who were farming in Welbury at that time.
    I remember accompanying my father to Aunt Annie’s funeral in 1971 at Kirklevington Church and have since visited relations in Old Byland.
    It is very easy to get side tracked when researching family history.

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