Topic: Leslie Henry Buchanan

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Leslie Henry Buchanan (Service Number 6/2559) enlisted for the First World War with a Peterborough Street address.

Leslie Henry Buchanan Leslie Henry Buchanan was born on 17thof January 1898 in St Albans, Christchurch to parents Jane and Duncan. He was the youngest of eight children (4 brothers and 3 sisters). Leslie’s father Duncan was Scots born and his mother was born in Hobart, Tasmania.

Leslie volunteered for service on the 19th of April 1915 at Trentham. He declared his birth year to be 1895 adding 3 years to make him 20 rather than his true age of 17. His medical records state he was 5 foot 10 inches with fair hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He was declared fit for service. Prior to enlistment Leslie was working on the commercial staff of the Christchurch Sun. He was a keen amateur runner and an old boy of the West Christchurch (Technical) High School.

The Nominal Rolls show him listed with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion attached to Headquarters Expeditionary Force, from there he was posted as a private with the Fifth reinforcement. He left Wellington on the Maunganui on the 13th of June 1915 bound for Suez. He arrived some six weeks later.

The demand for replacement troops was so acute that both the Fourth and Fifth reinforcements were rushed to the trenches at Chunuk Bair without any further acclimatisation or training in Egypt. Confronted by the many wounded stretchered men waiting for evacuation at No 2 Post, the Fifth dug in and were “summarily introduced to modern war”. The Fifth were evacuated to rest camps on Lemnos in mid-September, and then with the arrival of the sixth reinforcement on the 29th of September.

Leslie was promoted to Temporary Corporal on the 21st of October. Conditions for the New Zealand brigades deteriorated even further with the arrival of winter. Every unit was below strength and heavy rain and flooding caused misery and even death.

Evacuation from Anzac began on the 15 December 1915 and was completed by the 20 December 1915. Leslie disembarked at Alexandria on the 30th of December and was temporarily attached to the School of Instruction at Zeitoun on the 10th of January 1916. He contracted pleurisy and was sent to the New Zealand General Hospital at Cairo. He was discharged and returned to duty on the 10th of May.

Next Leslie was sent to the Western Front and attached to the New Zealand Divisional Artillery. On joining his brigade he became a gunner with the trench mortar battery (previously he had been a signaller). He was taken on strength, probably at Armentieres, on June 251916, later he would have moved south and been involved in the battle of the Somme. As part of the 1st Light Trench Mortar Battery Leslie would have bombarded German positions at Flers prior to the capture of Grove Alley. In November the Divisional Ammunition Column moved back to Armentieres, and as winter set in Leslie was once again hospitalised with pleurisy. After six weeks treatment and rest he was returned to active service.

Now promoted to bombardier he re-joined his unit at Steenwerck in the Messines region. It is at the Battle of Messines that Leslie’s gallantry earned him a Military Medal. His citation detailed his conspicuous bravery for sticking to his mortar during the bombardment of

Petite Douve and despite his position being destroyed he continued to fire all his ammunition.

Leslie was next sent to the Ammunitions Second Army Trench Mortar School and thus missed the Battle of Passchendaele. Re-joining his unit in October, Leslie was promoted again in December 2017 to temporary Corporal.

The Sun newspaper 19th February 1918 reported that Leslie had been gassed and admitted to hospital. The gas would have been from Phosgene. Hot on the heels of this incident he next came down with influenza and wasn’t fit until mid-March. Posted to the New Zealand Field Artillery Trench Mortar Battalion Y battery Leslie is promoted to Corporal from temporary Corporal but is again wounded, this time with a gunshot wound to the chin. The wound was not sufficiently serious to see him sent to England, instead he was treated at 47th General Hospital at Le Treport.

On the 18th of July he was detached to the United Kingdom on special duty, he then returned to New Zealand on duty furlough on HS Ionic. He was marched into the Discharge Depot Torquay on the 18th of July 1918 and departed from Plymouth on the 24th of August 1918. Leslie arrived back in New Zealand on October 8th and after medical board proceedings received his final discharge on the 13th of December 1918. He had served a total of 3years and 239 days. He went on receive the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Not long after returning home Leslie’s father Duncan died aged 65. Leslie also got married. He married Linda Louise Laurenson in Palmerston North in May 1920. They went on to have 7 children. Leslie also continued his interests in athletics and football. He played football at representative level for Canterbury and later went on to be a senior level referee.

Leslie had a various jobs: Insurance manager, magazine publisher, journalist, publican and hotelkeeper.

During WWII Leslie served with the Administration and Special Duties Branch of the Royal New Zealand Airforce.

Leslie died in Wellington in1960 aged 62 years. In his final will he thanked his wife Linda for the “care and affection which she has bestowed upon me…for her forbearance and courage during periods of anxiety and adversity and my admiration for her sterling qualities as a mother and it is my earnest hope that her remaining years will be happy and that she will see manifested in our children some of the goodness she implanted in them during their infancy”

His wife Linda died in 1976.

Related resources

  • Online Cenotaph record for Leslie Buchanan. Auckland War Memorial Museum



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Leslie Henry Buchanan

First Names:Leslie Henry
Last Name:Buchanan
Place of Birth:St Albans, Christchurch