Leo Vincent SIFFLEET

SIFFLEET, Leo Vincent

Service Number: 2689
Enlisted: 2 July 1915, Enlisted at Liverpool, NSW
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 13th Infantry Battalion
Born: New Plymouth, New Zealand, 11 January 1890
Home Town: Gunnedah, Gunnedah, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Cook
Died: Natural causes, Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia, 5 June 1959, aged 69 years
Cemetery: Gunnedah Cemetery, NSW
Old Catholic Portion: Row Y, Plot 40 - unmarked.
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

2 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2689, 13th Infantry Battalion, Enlisted at Liverpool, NSW
9 Aug 1915: Involvement Private, 2689, 13th Infantry Battalion
9 Aug 1915: Embarked Private, 2689, 13th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Runic, Sydney
25 Sep 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2689, 13th Infantry Battalion, HT Port Denison, England for return to Australia (disciplinary) - disembarking Sydney 17 November 1919
17 Nov 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, 2689, 13th Infantry Battalion, Discharged at the 2nd Military District

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Biography contributed by Carol Foster

Husband of Elizabeth Alma Siffleet nee Howard of Maitland Street, Gunnedah, NSW. Leonard and Elizabeth were married in Gunnedah during 1912. Father of Stanley Vincent Siffleet, Veronica P. Siffleet, Lena Mary Siffleet, Charles Edward Siffleet, Leslie J. Siffleet and Marjorie E. Siffleet 

Commenced return to Australia on 25 September 1919 aboard Port Denison disembarking on the 17 November 1919

Medals: Not eligible for medals

Biography contributed by Michael Silver

Leo Siffleet wasn't cut out to be a soldier.

Born at New Plymouth, New Zealand he came to Australia in the early 1900s, plying his trade as a cook. He also adopted a ring name (Len Gordon), as he pursued a career in boxing.

In July 1915 he enlisted in the AIF and was placed in the 13th Battalion, arriving on the Western Front in June 1916. But his time in uniform was marred by a litany of offences, including conduct 'prejudicial to good order', insolence, deserting and abuse of officers for which he was fined, disciplined and eventually sentenced to a lengthy gaol term.

It all came to a head in December 1917 when he was court martialled, convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after disappearing from his unit for a month. However, the sentence was later commuted to two years.

After spending a year in gaol in Dunkirk, France, the remainder of his sentence was suspended. But this wasn't the end of his turbulent brush with authority. In May 1919 he committed a civil offence - stealing a horse with another person, and was sentenced to nine months in prison. He didn't serve all that sentence as he arrived back in Australia in November 1919, rejoining his wife Elizabeth Alma, known as Lal, and their family in Gunnedah.

Although his time in uniform was a long chapter of disciplinary disasters, it was a different story as he returned to his former calling as a chef. As "Len Gordon" he became an exceptional chef, catering for large functions in both the city and the country.

Len Gordon's career as a chef took him from the Royal Hotel at Gunnedah to the kitchens of famous hotels like the 'Carrington' at Katoomba, as well as luxury hotels in Sydney, and he was assigned as head chef to a large number of prestige functions.

His life, however was one of tragedy. He and his wife lost two children in infancy in the 1920s and another daughter died in childbirth in 1938. Then his wife, Lal, died in 1941. His son, Sergeant Leonard George Siffleet, a special operations soldier was beheaded by the Japanese, aged 27, during World War 2.

The colourful life Leo Vincent Siffleet (aka Len Gordon) ended with his death in Gunnedah on June 5, 1959.

Source: Soldiers of Gunnedah in the Great War 1914-18 - R.G. McLean, Gunnedah & District Historical Society.

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