Topic: Leslie Hercules Tregoning

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Leslie Hercules Tregoning (Service no. 11/1743) was a First World War soldier with links to the Riccarton area.

Studio portrait of Leslie Hercules Tregoning Leslie Hercules Tregoning was born in Waimate on 3 October 1894.  His parents were William Hercules Tregoning (a Waimate blacksmith who worked as a 'journeyman blacksmith' in Christchurch) and Mary Annie Tregoning. He had several siblings, Muriel, Norman, Herbert, Victor, Ivy, Cuthbert and Eric. in the late nineteenth century Waimate had an over abundance of blacksmiths and in order to find more work William decided to move to Christchurch in the late 1890's. He first found residence in Edgeware Road before moving to Addington. William's wife and children moved to Christchurch once he had established his business and by 1905/6 they had settled in at the house William had purchesed at 93 Peverel Street, Lower Riccarton.

Leslie first attended Spreydon School and then Addington School from January 1903 - June 1905. He was then the 77th pupil to be registered at the recently opened Wharenui School on 28 January 1907, just a few days before his younger brother Herbert Victor. He left Wharenui School in December 1908 having attained standard six. His destination in the school register is listed as "work in Chch".

Leslie first enlisted at Trentham on 23 August 1915 and was designated to serve with B Squadron, Canterbury Mounted Rifles in the 7th Reinforcements. But due to an undescended left testicle he was discharged on 21 December 1915. As the war progressed it became increasingly difficult to fulfil the increasing demand for reinforcements. The Ministry of Defence began to relax some of the strict criteria such as height restrictions to increase the pool of men who would otherwise be ineligible for service. Leslie enlisted for service again on 5 June 1917 and the medical examination notes his rejection in 1915 and then passed him as fit 'A Class'. On both attestation forms (1915 and 1917) Leslie gave 'blacksmith' as his occupation.  His physical examination described himas having green eyes, dark hair with a height of 5' 9" (175 cm) and weighing 149 lb (67 kg).

He departed for Liverpool on 13 October 1917 on Troopship 90 'Corinthic' from Wellington as a member of the 30th Reinforcements. They arrived at Liverpool on 8 December 1917. Leslie was a Private with C Company, 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment. 

The following is a glimpse into the life of Leslie at this time.

Leslie joined his unit in the 2nd Brigade in Ypres on 23 February 1918. Some time was spent in reserve where tasks included digging trenches. Otherwise they kept fit by playing football and running races. On 4 March, his squad was beaten at football by the 1st Battalion. The following day they did a cross country run and came second to the 1st Otago Battalion.

In February 1918 the squad left Ypres to return to France. They were billeted near St Omer, then travelled by train to St Roch. They went by lorry to Port Noyelles and then marched for three and a half hours throughout the night to Auchonvillers, arriving at 7.45am. This area had been involved in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Here, they were under machine gun fire and shelling. The squad entered the old British trench system west of Beaumont-Hamel. The evening of 26 March was quiet but there was shelling the following day. They were under heavy attack on 27 March. On the night of 29 March the squad was relieved  by the 1st Otago Battalion and moved back to the support line. Twenty-four died in that action and fifty-three wounded.  They went into divisional reserve in April. During this time the 2nd Brigade was rotated. On 6 and 7 May the squad took over from the Auckland Battalion on the front line. The trenches were wet and in poor condition. They were relieved then went back into the trenches on 12 and 13 May.

On 22 June, Leslie was admitted to a field hospital with suspected Cerebral Spinal Meningitis. He departed for New Zealand on board the Tahiti on 3 December 1918. He was discharged from the army on 9 February 1919.

In 1923, Leslie married Ianthe Gertrude Clarice Piper. He worked as a blacksmith in the twenties and early thirties.  He changed his job to a machinist from 1935-1949 and he was a painter in the fifties. In later years he lived with his mother and sister Ivy in Peverel Street.

Leslie died in Christchurch on 8 August 1965 aged 70.  He is buried in Sydenham Cemetery.

Leslie's brother Victor was also a World War One soldier. He was not physically fit, due to wounds received in action and was discharged in March 1917.

Decorations - British War Medal, Victory Medal

Leslie is remembered on the Wharenui School, Roll of Honour


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Leslie Hercules Tregoning

First Names:Leslie Hercules
Last Name:Tregoning
Place of Birth:Waimate, New Zealand