The AIF Project

Reginald Gordon LEEDER

Regimental number284
Place of birthNorth Sydney, New South Wales
Place of birthRichmond, New South Wales
SchoolPublic school
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationTram conductor
Address37 Albany Street, Crows Nest, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation26
Height5' 11.75"
Weight168 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs R Leeder, 37 Albany Street, Crows Nest, New South Wales
Previous military service1st Australian Infantry
Enlistment date23 September 1914
Place of enlistmentRose Hill, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name13th Battalion, C Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/30/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A38 Ulysses on 22 December 1914
Rank from Nominal RollSergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll13th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 July 1918
Age at death33
Age at death from cemetery records29
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
69
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Charles and Alice LEEDER; husband of Renie LEEDER, 'Nuandwen', Mount William Street, Gordon, New South Wales
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Embarked Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (Gallipoli Campaign), 12 April 1915.

Promoted Corporal, 20 April 1915.

Promoted Acting Sergeant, 29 April 1915.

Promoted Sergeant, 29 April 1915.

Evacuated to hospital, 8 June 1915; admitted to HS 'Grantley Castle', 9 June 1915 (cardiac); transferred to Deaconess Hospital, Alexandria, 22 June 1915 (disordered action of heart); to Convalescent Camp, Mustapha, 28 June 1915.

Marched into Australian and New Zealand Base, Mudros, 28 August 1915.

To rejoin unit, Mudros, 12 October 1915.

Placed on Supernumerary List, 10 December 1915.

Admitted to HS 'Carrisbrook Castle', no date stated; transferred to No 21 General Hospital, Alexandria, 8 January 1916 (adenitis, groin); to Ras el Time Convalescent Camp, Alexandria, 17 January 1916; discharged to duty, 1 February 1916, and classified Class 'A'; rejoined 13th Bn, 8 February 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 1 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 6 June 1916.

Tried by Field General Court Martial, 27 February 1917, on charges of (1) whilst on active sevice, drunkenness; (2) absenting himself without leave from 0920 hours, until apprehended at 1500 hours; found guilty: award, to be reduced to the ranks and to forfeit all ordinary pay for 28 days.

Tried by Field General Court Martial, 7 May 1917, on a charge of whilst on active service, he absented himself from the attack from 2030 hours, 10 April 1917, until 1800 hours, 11 April 1917; found guilty: sentenced to 15 years' penal servitude.

Admitted to No 1 Military Prison, Rouen, 20 June 1917.

Sentence of penal servitude commuted to one of 2 years' imprisonment with hard labour by Commander in Chief.

Sentence suspended, 18 May 1918, and released the same day; rejoined 13th Bn, in the field, 27 May 1918.

Killed in action, 4 July 1918.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Statement, Red Cross File No 1580307O, 5715 Pte F.S. LANCASTER, B Company, 13th Bn (patient, 1st Australian General Hospital, Rouen), 20 September 1918: 'If I remember rightly, both [LEEDER and 2nd Lt A.J. HALL] were killed the same day by shell fire, though not exactly at the same time. We were attacking at Vaire Wood, between Villers Bretonneux and Hamel. Both were killed practically simultaneously. We passed them goin on towards our objective. It was during the advance that I saw these men on the ground. When we got our objectives, we were busy and knew nothing of what went on in our rear, but as burial parties were detailed, there can be no doubt that these men would be properly buried.'

Second statement, 1245 Pte E.E. THOMAS, A Company, 13th Bn, 23 September 1918: 'We were digging in at Vaire Wood on July 4th. A Sniper caught Leeder and he was killed outright; I saw his body afterwards. He was buried where he fell - at the back of our first line. A Cross was erected; I saw the Grave. The ground is in our hands.'

Third statement, 3159 Pte S.W. SIMPSON, 13th Bn (patient, Duston War Hospital, Northampton, England), 24 September 198: 'I saw Leeder hit by a sniper at Veare [sic] Wood in an attack on the machine gun positions. He was left in No man's land for some time but was later carried away by the Stretcher Bearers. I was told he died at the dressing station, holding his wife's photograph in his hand. I do not know where he is buried.'

Fourth statement, 1341 Pte B. GOUGH, A company, 13th Bn (patient, 4th Australian General Hospital, Randwick), 9 December 1918: 'Informant states that Leeder was in his Company ("A") when he was killed and was a private, but was previously a Sergeant. On 4/7/18 the Battalion was attacking Hamel and during the attack Leeder was killed outright at Vere [sic] Wood, a little to the right of Hamel. Informant was about 20 or 30 yards away and saw him fall. Informant was told that he had been shot through the heart. He could give me no details as to burial.'

Fifth statement, 6087 Sergeant G.S. McKENZIE, A Company, 13th Bn (patient, 4th Australian General Hospital, Randwick), 6 February 1919: 'On 4/7/18 the Battalion was between Hamel and Villers Bretonneux in action. They hopped over at 4.15 a.m. At about 5.30 a.m. when they had gone about 1000 yards, and were close to their objective in fron of Vere [sic] Wood, Leeder was hit in the head by a rifle bullet and killed outright. Informant was about 10 yards away at the time and went over to Leeder and saw that he was dead. He then continued in the advance, but knows that those killed were buried that night.'

Sixth statement, 1557 Sergeant H. SPARROW, Headquarters, 13th Bn (patient, 4th Australian General Hospital, Randwick), 6 February 1919: 'The under-noted states that he was present at Leeder's burial in a little Soldiers' Cemetery just outside of Hamel, and saw Leeder before he was buried. Several others were buried at the same time, and the Service was read by a Chaplain.'
SourcesNAA: B2455, LEEDER Reginald Gordon
Red Cross File No 1580307O

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