Topic: Leonard Reginald Derungs

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Leonard Reginald Derungs (Service No. 6/4022) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton

Leonard Reginald Derungs was born on 15th November 1896 in Christchurch, the third child of Leonard Antonio (Anthony) Derungs and Jane Edith Hampton.

Leonard's father was the only child of Giovanni (John) Christian Derungs, from Grisons, Switzerland, and Jessie Brash, from Scotland. Jane's parents James and Margaret Hampton immigrated from England in 1858 and arrived in New Zealand on the ship Clontarf. Leonard and Jane had 3 other children; Ethel May (born 1892), Ernest James (1893) and  Lucy Winifred (1900). The Christchurch coronor, Mr E. C. Levvey, ruled that Leonard Antonio de Rungs died on 27th August 1943 from hypostatic pneumonia following a fracture of the right femur. Leonard and Jane Derungs are buried in St Peter's churchyard, Upper Riccarton. 

Leonard volunteered for the Army on 18th November 1915 and gave his birthdate as 15th November 1894. However, his real birthday was 15th November 1896 so he was really too young to enroll as the age of eligabilty at that time was 20 years. The medical officer decided that he looked like he was 20 years and 11 months old.

He was also described as having a fresh complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, standing 5 feet, 6 1/4 inches tall and weighing 161 pounds. He was still living with his parents at 36 Peer Street, Riccarton. He was working as a packer at the D.I.C. (Drapery Importing Company), a Christchurch department store. 

Older brother Ernest James De Rungs (Service No. 14077) also served during the war. He enlisted 8th March 1916 and was discharged 26th February 1919. Ernest was accepted into the army although his file records show that he had a disability with one calf and foot smaller than the other. Ernest's army career got off to a shakey start when he was admitted to Featherston Hospital on 18th April 1916 with influenza and then on 9th June 1916 to Masterton Hospital with the measles. On the journey to England, on the ship Pakeha, he was admitted to hospital with pleurisy. During his time at the front Ernest wasn't wounded by the enemy but suffered fron the effects of living in the trenches. His last illness of severe trench fever saw him repatriated to England  for six months hospitalisation and recuperation before being sent back to New Zealand on the ship Briton, embarking Christmas eve 1918. 

Private Leonard Reginald Derungs was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Regiment, 1st Company and the service number 6/4022. He arrived in Suez, Egypt on 10th April 1916 and went to Moascar Camp for about six weeks training before heading North to the port of Alexandria to catch a ship to England. Leonard arrived in Devonport, England on 9th June 1916 and onto Sling Camp on the Salisbury Plains for a further three months training.

On 14th September 1916 he was on a ship headed to France, three days later he was in Etaples, taken on strength at the NZ Infantry and General Base Depot, waiting to go into the field. That day came on 1st October 1916. Four days later he was reported missing and by 6th December 1916 he was reported "killed in action". The date of his death was finally recorded as 1st October 1916. It is possible that he was killed in the battle of Le Transloy as that began on 1st October 1916 and people killed in that battle were buried in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery. Leonard's body was never postively identified.

His name is recorded on the second column of the 34th Stone of the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial at Longueval, Somme, France. Twelve hundred New Zealanders, whose graves are unknown, are named on the memorial.

Leonard Reginald Derungs was  awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the Memorial Plaque which were all sent to his parents at Peer Street.

He is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial in France and the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour. 

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Leonard Reginald Derungs


First Names:Leonard Reginald
Last Name:Derungs
Place of Birth:Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand