Guernsey Press

Machine gunner Lesna overrun by advancing German army

Robin Millard is one of the many islanders supporting our Guernsey's Finest Hour campaign on behalf of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Charitable Trust's bid to raise £30,000 for lasting memorials to the regiment at home and abroad, in this the centenary year of the notorious Battle of Cambrai conflict. Here he explains the special family story behind his donation


In 1918, his family heard he was missing in France. He was never seen again.

It was in Lesna's memory that Robin Millard decided to make a donation to the RGLI appeal.

Lesna – or rather Thomas Lesna Millard – was his uncle.

He was born in Trowbridge in 1897 to Thomas and Kathleen. The family owned a bicycle factory and Kathleen was reputed in family history to be the first woman in the west country to ride a bicycle.

Lesna was the eldest of the children, followed by brothers Theo and Clinton and sister Clarice. They moved to Guernsey in the early 1900s and set up Millards in Bosq Lane in 1906, before moving to Victoria Road.

It was always planned that Lesna – named after a French cyclist – would take over the business.

In 1909 the Victoria Road Athletic Club was set up in the old French Wesleyan Church and Lesna – a keen footballer and runner – became secretary. But with the outbreak of war, young men left the island in droves. In 1916 – then 19 – Lesna was secretary and in the records book he lamented the loss.

'Through the war we have lost nearly half of our members, which I sincerely hope will only be for a while, as we hope to see all our members return again to us,' he wrote.

He paid tribute to the first member of the club to die – Mr R. E. West – who he said would be greatly missed during the cricket season. He ended his report talking about how he hoped more members could be recruited to the club to fill the many gaps.

Soon he was called up and sent to France with the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry.

'He was in one of the last, final pushes by the Germans in 1918,' said Robin.

'Then the family heard he was missing. My grandmother did not know what had happened and she hoped and hoped he was in the hospital. It was a long time before she gave up hope.'

Read the full story in today's Guernsey Press.

OUR Guernsey's Finest Hour campaign was set up by the newspaper to help the RGLI Charitable Trust's appeal to raise £30,000 for the memorials.

You can donate in two ways, either directly at Lloyds Bank or by sending a cheque to Chris Oliver, co-founder of the RGLI Charitable Trust.

Donations should be made to Lloyds Bank, St Peter Port, quoting sort code 30-93-73, account number 32700168 and The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Charitable Trust. Cheques should be made payable to The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Charitable Trust and posted to the RGLI Charitable Trust, Les Emrais, Ruette des Emrais, Castel, GY5 7YF, tel. 251683.

Inclusion on our Roll of Honour is optional. If you want your reason for donating to appear on the roll, which is updated every few days and appears regularly in the newspaper and permanently on our website, please either email or include a note if sending a cheque, using no more than 30 words for your dedication.

More details of our Guernsey's Finest Hour campaign appear on our website at

If you have a story for us about the RGLI please contact

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