He couldn’t draw to save his life, but he sang quite well. We know exactly how tall he was and what school he went to, but we are not sure what he looked like. He was ours, Cyril Humphreys Leary, a student of St Mark’s College. He was a war veteran but only looking at his records stored in the archives one can finally see the man behind the icon.
He came from Bourne in Lincolnshire; he was eighteen when he enrolled in 1913. When the war came and St. Mark’s College became a hospital, he stayed on and served as a ‘drug department dispenser’. There is one picture that might be him, a man in white lab coat surrounded by uniformed soldiers.
He died of pneumonia in 1918 in Brighton, only 23 years old. There are letters written by his father, William Leary, which inform of his death. The blue embossed paper bears black frame- a universal sign of bad news. The archives are holding a copy of a letter with a response to his family, stating that he will not be forgotten and that he will have a place in the war memorial. Yet no matter how hard you squint and how long you read the names from the memorial, Leary’s name is not there. He died while he was still in service and so he should be among them. Even now the action is being taken to rectify this mistake. Can we really let a man to be forgotten? No. We do not forget, we honour and remember all who made sacrifices for the future. Even now, the application is being made to the War Memorial Trust to help us put Leary’s name where it belongs and finally fulfil the promise we made nearly a hundred years ago.