Undated newspaper report of the death of 2582 Private William Leach in Ayr, Scotland:
ZULU WAR VETERAN
DEATH OF OCTOGENARIAN FUSILIER
The "Last Post" was on Saturday sounded over the remains of Mr. William Leach, an old member of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and a veteran of the Zulu War, who died on Wednesday of last week at his residence, 13 M'Call's Avenue, Ayr, after only a day's illness.
Mr. Leach was a bluff and hearty Englishman, who was esteemed by a wide circle. A native of Berkshire, he enlisted in the Royal North British Fusiliers (the 21st) at Oxford on February 17, 1871, at the age of 18 years and was discharged in 1889 at Ayr after between 18 and 19 years service with the regiment with a "very good" mark on his conduct sheet.
Mr. Leach took part in the Zulu War, the medal for which he held and also the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He had many interesting stories to relate of the Zulu campaign in which he suffered many hardships. He was present, as also was Mrs Leach, when the Prince Imperial was killed. In those days women "on the strength" were not provided for in the manner obtaining nowadays, but had to accompany their husbands when they went on foreign service, and after Mr Leach had gone to Africa Mrs Leach, who died about nine years ago, followed him there. She and many other women who accomanied her suffered many hardships in reaching their husbands and also after joining them. There were no trains and the women followed their husbands in waggons drawn by oxen and driven by black men. Mr and Mrs Leach were besieged in Pretoria and Mrs Leach used to steal out at nights when her husband was on sentry go to see that all was well with him.
Mr Leach was the best type of soldier, who loved his regiment and was proud of it and everything connected with it. Of a family of seven, two sons and two daughters were born at Ayr Barracks, and one son, William, employed as a postman at Ayr Post Office, was born in Pretoria during the campaign - on the battlefield as it were - when the campaign was at its fiercest.
Mr Leach was a first-class shot, and, along with the late Sergeant-Major Hardwicke, Ayr, used to represent the regiment on the occasions of big shooting competitions.
His services were valued by officers under whom he served, and one possession of which he was particularly proud was a silver watch which bore the following inscription:- "Presented to Private William Leach by Captain F. Justice, 13th L.I., in recognition of his service to Lieutenant A. Justice, Royal Scots Fusiliers, 13th September 1880." Mr Leach had never disclosed to his family what the watch was presented for, but the services rendered must have been a very unusual character to justify the presentation of a silver watch in those days.
Till the end the martial ardour was ever in his breast, and during the Great War, when at an age when most men have given up thinking about army service, he volunteered for service with the Ayrshire Veteran Section, and was accepted, being attached to the Burgh of Ayr Company of the force.
After obtaing his discharge from the Fusiliers, Mr Leach became a vanman with the late Mr A.M. Turner, Ayr (now Turners, Ltd.), and was one of only two vanmen then employed by the firm. He was a faithful servant, and was with the firm for about 20 years. To a large number of people in the town of Ayr he was popularly known as "Hazel Hoe," this name having been conferred on him by virtue of the fact that while employed with Messrs Turner he energetically pushed the sale of a non-intoxicating liquor known by that name. Mr Leach had not worked for about nine years.
The funeral, which took place to St Margaret's R.C. Cemetery on Saturday, was a military one, a firing party, a piper, and a bugler being present from the Depot, Royal Scots Fusiliers. At the grave three volleys were fired and the "Last Post" and "Reveille" were sounded.