Born in Sandall Lock, Leonard Freeman lived in Stainforth with his family. After studying at Thorne Grammar School he joined the York and Lancaster Regiment as a reservist. Whilst a reservist, he worked for the Doncaster Corporation and lived with his wife in Wheatley.
Leonard was called up in September 1914 and fought in Ypres. At Lille in late 1915 he lost his right hand to a German shell. Binding his wound with a khaki handkerchief given to him by the Vicar of Doncaster’s wife, which he later credited as saving his life, he stumbled out of his trench only to be discovered and captured by German forces. Though initially threatened with execution, he was sent to a hospital in Germany and treated well.
By October, Leonard had been returned in a prisoner exchange and sent to a London hospital to await an artificial hand. Afterwards, he returned to Doncaster and finally met his baby daughter.