Leslie Gemmel TASSIE

TASSIE, Leslie Gemmel

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 2 December 1916
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 13th Field Ambulance
Born: Kent Town South Australia, 21 April 1890
Home Town: Prospect, Prospect, South Australia
Schooling: Prince Alfred College and University of Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: Adelaide, South Australia, 3 March 1959, aged 68 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

2 Dec 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, SN Officer, Army Medical Corps (AIF)
23 Dec 1916: Involvement Captain, Medical Officers
23 Dec 1916: Embarked Captain, Medical Officers, RMS Orontes, Melbourne
28 Jan 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 13th Field Ambulance

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Biography contributed by Annette Summers

TASSIE, Leslie Gemmell DSO MB BS


Leslie Gemmell Tassie was born in Kent Town, South Australia on 21st April 1890. He was the second of four children of Thomas Wilson Tassie and Jemima Reid, nee Wilson. He was educated at Norwood School and Prince Alfred College and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide graduating in 1912. After graduation he was a resident surgeon at the Adelaide Hospital in 1913 and then an honorary medical officer at Port Pirie Hospital and deputy quarantine officer at Port Pirie. He married Doris Stirling Howell on 14th August 1915 at St Cuthbert’s Church, Prospect, South Australia.  She was the daughter of Mr and Mrs H. Howell of Prospect.

Tassie enlisted in the AIF as a captain on 2nd December 1916. His previous military experience was as an area medical officer from July 1915. He was 5ft 11ins, weighed 162lbs, of medium complexion with blue eyes and fair hair. His wife was named as his next of kin and they lived at Indoota, Highbury Street, Prospect. He embarked on the Orontes in Melbourne on the 23rd December 1916 and disembarked in Plymouth on 17th February 1917. He proceeded to France on the 4th May 1917 and was briefly on the strength of the 2 AGH.  He was posted to 4 FdAmb on 12th June 1917 and subsequently was appointed RMO of the 52 Bn on 15th June 1917. He was in hospital sick with a ‘debility’ from 12th August to 1st September 1917. He re-joined his Battalion on 1st November. He was promoted major on 1st of February 1918 and, on the 21st April, was posted to 13 FdAmb. Tassie was awarded the DSO on 18th June 1918 for his actions during operations near Villers-Bretonneux, the citation read:  “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer set a fine example of coolness in going about amongst his stretcher-bearers directing and encouraging them. Day and night he visited the regimental aid post, and loading posts, re-arranging bearer relays, and supervising the evacuation of wounded. Hearing there were several wounded in a village which was being heavily shelled, he organised parties and cleared the village”. Tassie was then Mentioned in Despatches on the 31st December 1918. He assumed temporary command of 12 FdAmb on 16th March 1919 before leaving France for education leave in England on 7th April 1919. He returned to Australia embarking on the Boonah on 20th April 1919 disembarking in Melbourne and arrived in 4MD on 10th June 1919. His appointment to the AIF was terminated on 18th July1919. He was issued with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal with Oak Leaves.

Tassie and his wife returned to Port Pirie after the war.  When he was acting superintendent of the Port Pirie Hospital in 1925, he gave evidence to the Royal Commission into lead poisoning in Port Pirie, an issue that has continued throughout the 20th Century. He continued to be a leading citizen of Port Pirie and in the 1940s lived in Florence Street, Port Pirie. During WW2 Tassie was placed on the Reserve of Officers. In 1944 whilst driving from Crystal Brook to Port Pirie with two nurses he was involved in a vehicle accident but no injuries were sustained.  Leslie Gemmell Tassie died on 3rd March 1959 and his wife Doris died on the 16th August in 1959.  At the time they lived in Toorak Gardens, Adelaide.


Blood, Sweat and Fears: Medical Practitioners and Medical Students of South Australia, who Served in World War 1. 

Verco, Summers, Swain, Jelly. Open Books Howden, Adelaide 2014. 

Uploaded by Annette Summers AO RFD