Tag Archives: Leslie W. Greenleaf

Oral recording by Leslie Greenleaf about the Coo-ee March

Oral recording of Leslie Webster Greenleaf’s recollection of the Coo-ee March

An oral recording is held in the Australian War Memorial sound collection (ID number S00329), which has the title: : ‘Leslie Webster Greenleaf, MM, as a private, 13th Battalion, discusses his part in the Gilgandra “Cooee March” in October 1915 in an interview with Kaye Mallison’.

This recording covers Leslie Webster Greenleaf’s recollection of joining at Gilgandra, the march to Sydney, training in Liverpool, the trip on the troopship ‘Star of England’, final parade in Egypt, and subsequent break-up of the Coo-ees, which he described as “that was the end of the era for the Coo-ees”, and his subsequent troopship journey to France.

This oral recording can be listened to online at http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/S00329/

To listen to this recording, click on the “Sound” link next to the file name.

Leslie Webster GREENLEAF

Leslie Webster GREENLEAF

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4783), Leslie Webster Greenleaf was born in London, England. He gave his age as 18 years, his marital status as single, and his occupation as butcher. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 7 inches tall, weight 126 lbs., with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Church of England.  He completed his medical on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra and was attested by Captain Nicholas on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra. He claimed to have had no previous military service.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Eumungerie Post Office, N.S.W., and his next of kin was his sister, Miss P. Greenleaf, 2 Woodside Road, Surrey, England.

Private Greenleaf departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England on the 8th March 1916 as part of the 15th reinforcements to the 13th Battalion. He arrived in Egypt on the 11th April 1916.

On the 7th June 1916 Private Greenleaf left Alexandria aboard the Transport Ionian bound for France, arriving at Marseille on the 14th June 1916.

On the 29th August 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, when the 13th Battalion was attacking Mouquet Farm, he received a gunshot wound to his right hand. Private Greenleaf was hospitalised then evacuated to England.

Private Greenleaf returned to France on the 29th December 1917.

On the 2nd May 1918 Private Greenleaf was with his Battalion defending Villers-Bretonneux when he undertook an action for which he was recommended for (and subsequently awarded with) the Military Medal. The citation read: ‘East of Villers-Bretonneux on the morning of the 2nd May, 1918, when an officer was severely wounded by M.G. fire and lay within full view of the enemy, Privates Greenleaf and Smith went to his assistance and carried him in at great personal risk. With the assistance of two other men they improvised a stretcher squad, and, as the case was a serious one, carried through with it to the Regimental Aid Post. This was done in broad day light, and practically the whole route was under observation of enemy snipers who were very active.’

On the 20th May 1918, when the Battalion was still defending Villers-Bretonneux, three members of the Battalion were wounded. Private Greenleaf received a bomb wound to his left arm. He was hospitalised and evacuated to England.

Private Greenleaf did not return to France before the war ended, and he began his return to Australia aboard the City of Exeter on the 15th January 1919, arriving in Australia on the 2nd March 1919. He was discharged on the 11th May 1919.

Day 1, Sunday, 10th October, 1915, Gilgandra to Balladoran

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

Transcribed from The Farmer and Settler, 12 October, 1915, p. 3.

‘THE ROUTE MARCH. Gilgandra to the Coast TRIUMPHANT SEND-OFF BY THE PEOPLE.

Gilgandra’s greatest of all events, the start of the route march, became a fact of history on Sunday last, when the contingent after a simple religious ceremony stepped out on its long march to the coast.

On Saturday, when the ‘Farmer and Settler’ special reporter, who will march to Sydney, arrived at Gilgandra, he found Captain Nicholas and Drs. Burkitt and Cooper, of Dubbo, on the ground. Captain Nicholas has been appointed to take charge of the contingent, and be will be their leader and instructor all the way through to Sydney.

On Saturday afternoon twenty-five recruits were sworn in. Two failed to pass the doctor, but they will march through to the coast nevertheless. The number of recruits would have been double if the recruiting association had not been compelled to wait so long for the permission of the military authorities, the result being that many men grew tired of waiting, and went into camp. The doctor said that the Gilgandra men were as fine a body of recruits as he had seen, with good feet and sound constitutions. On Saturday night a torchlight procession paraded the town, headed by the band. The recruits were followed by the rifle club and the boy scouts. In the interval of a picture show, Major Winn, of Sydney, and Private Lee, the ex-clergyman recruit, made special appeals to the young men to volunteer.

There were fully three thousand persons, almost the whole population of the district, at the open-air consecration service on Sunday morning, when the Rev. W. Jenkins commended the men to their Creator.

The shire president, Mr. Barden, said he was sure that the twenty-five starting out would be five hundred at the end of the long march. Almost the whole of the people, the largest gathering ever seen at Gilgandra, accompanied the march to Boberah, where a general programme of hand-shaking took place. A guard of honor of young horsewomen   rode at the head of the procession, and the local recruiting association and shire councillors took part. Captain Nicholas formed up his little force — grown already to thirty-one men; and Mr. W. T. Hitchens had the honor of giving the first words of command–‘Quick march.’ Amid resounding cheers the route march had begun, and it was followed for several miles of its long journey, by a great cavalcade of horses and vehicles. Then there was a halt, with more good-byes, more cheers, and the rifle club fired a parting volley.

The heat was intense, and the dust hung over the troops like a pillar of cloud — a fiery cloud, so that when the first stop, Marthaguy, was reached, all were grateful for the lunch spread by the residents, and not less for the facilities provided for a wash and a freshen up. At Marthaguy one new recruit fell in. Many of the Gilgandra folk still followed the column. The young daughter of a prominent citizen left her car and marched alongside the men for some distance; she announced her intention of being present in Martin Place at the finish, and declared that if she had been a boy she would have marched all the way, and gone to the front with the contingent. It is a pity that some of the boys have not the spirit of the girls.

Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

‘Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march’ – Coo-ees on the road to Balladoran (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

At Balladoran the townspeople met the column a mile out of town and escorted them to their camp with banners, and gave them a hearty welcome. The camp was reached at five o’clock, and here another recruit joined the column.

Following are the names of the first twenty-five to enlist:–

John Quinn, John Macnamara, Stanley E. Stephens, Jack Hunt, William L. Hunt, Albert W. Pearce, Leslie W. Greenleaf, Arthur C. Finn, Francis N. White, Alfred Wardroffe, Victor Quinton, William Alston, Sidney Bennett, John R. Lee, Harold Baxter, Charles R. Wheeler, E. T. Hitchen, James McKeown, James Crowford, Charles E. Marchant, Andrew J. MacGregor, Lawrence L. McGuire, Robert C. Campbell, Peter Wilson, and Frank Humphrey.’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116668904