Edward Lionel Austin BUTLER


BUTLER, Edward Lionel Austin

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 2 August 1915, in Claremont, Tasmania
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 12th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 10 April 1883
Home Town: Sandy Bay, Hobart, Tasmania
Schooling: Hutchins School, Hobart, Tasmania & University of Tasmania, , Australia (law student)
Occupation: Barrister
Died: Multiple shell wounds to legs, lost right leg, , 44th Casualty Clearing Station, Mouquet Farm, France, 23 August 1916, aged 33 years
Cemetery: Puchevillers British Cemetery
Plot III, Row A, Grave 10
Memorials: Hobart Roll of Honour, Lindisfarne Officers of the 12th Battalion Pictorial Honour Roll, Lower Sandy Bay Honour Roll, MCC Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918 - Melbourne Cricket Club, Tasmanian Club Honour Roll, University of Tasmania
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World War 1 Service

2 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, in Claremont, Tasmania
9 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 12th Infantry Battalion
29 Mar 1916: Involvement 12th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
29 Mar 1916: Embarked SN Officer, 12th Infantry Battalion, RMS Orontes, Melbourne
23 Aug 1916: Involvement Second Lieutenant, 12th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

Help us honour Edward Lionel Austin Butler's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Julianne Ryan

2nd Lieutenant  Edward Lionel Austin Butler – 12th Australian Infantry Battalion

Father Edward Henry Butler and Fanny BUTLER, lived at Sandy Bay, Tasmania

02/08/1915  enlisted (32 years of age)

29/03/1916  embarked Port of Melbourne, VIC onboard RMS Orontes
                   as a 2nd Lieutenant with 12th Infantry Battalion, 16th reinforcements

23/08/1916  Multiple shell wounds to legs, lost right leg, received in action - died of wounds
                   at Mouquet Farm, France

buried in:     Puchevillers British Cemetery, France
                   Plot III, Row A, Grave 10

Relatives in service (cousins):

4922  2nd Lieutenant Colin Edmund Alleyne Chalmers –  52nd Infantry Battalion
23/08/1915  enlisted  (33 years of age)
18/02/1916  embarked Port of Melbourne, VIC onboard HMAT A70 Ballarat
                   as a 2nd Lieutenant with 12th Infantry Battalion, 15th reinforcements
07/06/1917  killed in action, Messines, Belgium
buried in:     Derry House Cemetery No.2, Belgium
                   Plot I, Row B, Grave 22

1590 2nd Lieutenant Brian Nairn Butler – 12th Infantry Battalion
14/12/1914  enlisted (22 years of age)
19/02/1915  embarked Port of Melbourne, VIC onboard HMAT A54 Runic
                   as a Private with 12th Infantry Battalion, 3rd reinforcements
18/09/1918  killed in action
buried in:     Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France
                   Plot III, Row B, Grave 5

Lte Colonel  Harry Nairn Butler MID, DSO - Australian Army Medical Corps
--  brother of 2nd Lte Brian Nairn Butler --

21/08/1914  enlisted (28 years of age)  - b. 31/03/1886
02/11/1914  embarked Hobart, TAS onboard HMAT A13 Katuna
                   as a Major with 3rd Field Ambulance C Squadron
04/05/1917  Returned to Australia
22/02/1955  passed away
cemated in: Cornelian Bay Cemetery & Crematorium, TAS
                  Derwent Gardens                                                                                                                       

Major  John Willoughby Butler Bean – Australian Army Medical Corps
20/06/1914  enlisted (34 years of age) – b. 01/01/1881
20/10/1914  embarked Sydney, NSW onboard HMAT A14 Euripides
                  as Captain with 3rd Infantry Battalion, Headquarters
05/09/1915  promoted to Major
23/10/1918  Returned to Australia
30/04/1919  discharged from service
1969            passed away in St Leonards, NSW

Captain Charles Edwin Wodrow Bean (Official WWI Correspondent)
-- brother of Major John Willoughby Butler Bean --

28/09/1914  enlisted in 1st Division Headquarters
21/10/1914  embarked Port of Melbourne, VIC onboard HMAT A3 Oriveto
                   as Press Corresonpdent, 1st Australian Division, Headquarters
01/04/1919  Returned to Australia onboard HT Kildonian Castle
30/06/1919  discharged from service
January 1921  Bean married Ethel Clara Young
Worked as Official Historian, writing the Official History of Australia at War 1914-1918 at
Tuggeranong Homestead
30/08/1968  Passed away at the Concord Repat Hospital, Concord, NSW

59/546 Captain Arthur Mainwaring Maxwell, MID, DSO MC – 52nd Infantry Battalion
24/09/1914    enlisted in Sydney, NSW (26 years of age) – b. 8/6/1888 Hobart, TAS
21/12/1914    embarked Sydney, NSW onboard HMAT A29 Suevic
                     as a Corporal with 6th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron
09/05/1915    proceeded to Gallipoli
20/05/1915    promoted to Corporal – 3rd Light Horse Regiment
14/03/1916    taken on strength 52nd Infantry Battalion
17/03/1916    promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 52nd Infantry Battalion
17/06/1916    promoted to Lieutenant
14/11/1916    Awarded MILITARY CROSS
18/04/1917    promoted to Captain 52nd Infantry Battalion
25/08/1917    Awarded DSO
28/12/1917    Awarded MID – London Gazette
16/05/1918    taken on strength to 51st Infantry Battalion
25/05/1918    attached to 12th Inf Brigade, HQ
19/08/1918    attached to 1st Div, HQ
16/06/1919    Returned to Australia onboard HT Ormonde
11/07/1919    Awarded MID – London Gazette
Married:        Marion Grey Wemyss Maxwell  (d. 4/11/1970)
Children:       Sally, Meg and Bill Maxwell
17/06/1966    passed away
Cremated –   St Simon and St Judes Cemetery, Bowral NSW
                    Columbarium 1 section

447 Captain Duncan Struan Maxwell MC – 51st Infantry Battalion  
-- brother of Captain Arthur Mainwaring Maxwell --

19/08/1914  enlisted (22 years of age)  - b. 08/01/1892
20/10/1914  embarked Tasmania onboard HMAT A2 Geelong
                   as a Private with 3rd Light Horse Regiment, C Squadron
09/05/1915  proceeded to Gallipoli, ANZAC
03/12/1915  promoted to Lance Corporal – 3rd Light Horse Regiment
17/03/1916  promoted to 2nd Lieutenant – 52nd Infantry Battalion
17/06/1916  promoted to Lieutenant
14/11/1916  Awarded MILITARY CROSS – London Gazette
01/04/1917  taken on strength 4th Div, HQ
21/06/1917  promoted to Captain – 52nd Infantry Battalion
16/05/1918  transferred to 51st Infantry Battalion
31/07/1918  Returned to Australia onboard HT D17 Malta
02/12/1919  discharged from service

1921  Bachelor of Medicine – University of Sydney, NSW

Interwar Service
09/07/1927 Captain – Reserve of Officers
14/08/1939  Major  – Reserve of Officers – 56th Infantry Battalion
25/11/1939  Commanding Officer – 56th Infantry Battalion

Married:   Marion Wistie Sly   (b.30/06/1888 Torrington Rd, Strathfield, NSW)
Marion's parents - Richard Meares Sly and Constance Adelaide Sly (nee Mullens)
25/03/1969  Marion passed away in Sydney, New South Wales

WWII  -  NX12610 Brigadier Duncan Struan Maxwell MC - 27th Inf Brigade, HQ
01/06/1940  re-enlisted into WWII at Cootamundra, NSW (48 yrs 5mths)
01/07/1940  promoted to Lte-Colonel - 2/19th Infantry Battalion
26/07/1940  taken on strength 2/19th Infantry Battalion
03/02/1941  embarked HMT Queen Mary
18/02/1941  disembarked into Singapore
01/08/1941  promoted to Brigadier – HQ AIF Malaya
01/08/1941  appointed to Command 27th Australian Infantry Brigade
21/11/1941   promoted to Colonel
15/02/1942  taken POW – Singapore Island
18/03/1942   admitted to Australian General Hospital
28/11/1942   embarked Singapore for Japan
28/04/1943   POW – Taiwan Camp
14/10/1944   POW – now interned in  Hoten Camp, China
27/09/1945   Returned to Australia – Brigadier 27th Inf Brigade, HQ
03/09/1946  discharged from service
04/09/1946  Retired – honourary  Brigadier

21/12/1969  passed away in Chatswood, NSW

Submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  05/03/2017.  Lest we forget.


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Second Lieutenant Edward Lionel Austin Butler
12th Australian Infantry Battalion,
3rd Brigade, 1st Australian Division
The Somme, now silent and peaceful, it was, more than a hundred years ago, a hell on earth which were the scene of the battles which were among the deadliest of the great war in which fought and fell thousands of young men of all nationalities for the freedom and peace in which we live thanks to their courage and their sacrifices which are remembered through the red petals of the poppies which grow between the rows of their graves which tell us and remind us who were these men and what they did for their country and for France where we will always honor their memory so that their names, their stories and their sacrifices are never forgotten and so that they live forever through the weight of the years that will never condemn them.

Today, it is with deep respect and gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his all, his today and his life for our tomorrow. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Second Lieutenant Edward Lionel Austin Butler who fought in the 12th Australian Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Australian Division, and who died of his wounds 105 years ago, on August 22, 1916 at the age of 33 on the Somme front.

Edward Lionel Austin Butler who was affectionately known as "Léo" was born on April 10, 1883 in Hobart,Tasmania, and was the son of Fanny Butler and Edward Butler who was a distinguished solicitor in Hobart, and a talented cricketer who served for 30 years on the Tasmanian Cricket Committee and lived in Sandy Bay, Hobart, Tasmania.Edward was educated at the Hutchins School, Hobart, Tasmania, then at the University Of Tasmania as a law student and after his studies, Leo followed in his father’s footsteps as a solicitor with Butler, McIntyre And Butler in Hobart, and being admitted to the Supreme Court of Tasmania. He then moved to Melbourne, working for Blake & Riggall and Mr Justice Beckett before returning to Tasmania.

Like his father and many of his uncles, Edward was also a gifted cricketer, and established "a considerable reputation as a most fearless batsman" in both Tasmania and Melbourne. He was a tall man of six-foot-two, and had a tendency to stoop as he walked, but he was a powerful hitter. It was reported that "when he was at the wicket, spectators could always rely on seeing a lively exhibition". He was universally popular, with an "unfailing good temper and lovable, sunny nature that made him friends on every side of in the field of sport or games,in the social world and among the humblest classes."

Edward enlisted on August 2, 1915 at Claremont, Tasmania, in the 12th Australian Infantry Battalion, 16th Reinforcement, and began an officers' training course, receiving his commission as second lieutenant in March 1916 then he embarked with his unit from Melbourne, Victoria, on board RMS Orontes on March 29, 1916 and sailed for Egypt.

On April 26, 1916, Edward arrived in Egypt and was disembarked at Tel-El-Kebir where he joined the 3rd Training Battalion and the following month, on May 20, 1916, he embarked with his battalion from Alexandria, on board Ivernia and proceeded overseas for France.

On May 27, 1916, after a one-week trip on the calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Edward arrived in France and was disembarked in Marseilles then joined the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot in Etaples on May 29 and two months later,on July 7, 1916, was posted in the Australian Training Depot then finally joined the 12th Australian Infantry Battalion on July 26 at Pozieres.

Unfortunately, it was a month later, on August 23, 1916, that Edward met his fate.

On August 22, 1916, Edward was ordered to join the trenches and the front line at Mouquet Farm to relieve Captain Vowles but half an hour later a shell fell and exploded near his position, killing a man and blowing off Butler's left leg below the knee.He was carried out through congested trenches and heavy shell-fire, finally reaching a regimental aid post in a deep dug-out (the 44th Casualty Clearing Station) in Puchevillers but despite all the efforts to save him, Second Lieutenant Butler died there the following day.He was 33 years old.

Today, Second Lieutenant Edward Lionel Austin Butler rests in peace in Puchevillers British Cemetery, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription "It is a soldier he will stand before the great white throne."

Edward had several cousins who served during the war including a very famous Australian, Captain Charles Edwin Wodrow Bean, a war correspondent who wrote "The official histories of Australia in the war", and was instrumental in the creation of the Australian War Memorial of Canberra. Charles recalled meeting Edward in his billets in France, saying:
"He was the same big Leo of the tennis court or the camps on Sandy Bay Beach with his web kit thrown loosely around him. Of course he was quite a junior officer but in some sort of way Leo has always been a leader, and I daresay his seniors looked up to him there, too."

Charles Bean sent the news of Butler’s death through to the latter’s parents in a cable that read:
"Leo Butler, after splendid work in battle, mortally wounded. Doctor, solders devoted. Risked lives carrying in, but died hospital, painlessly."

In 1917 a stained-glass window was dedicated to Butler in St David’s Cathedral in Hobart. The dean addressed a large congregation, describing the deceased as being:
"of a gentle, sweet nature, with that faculty for making all who came in contact with him love him. He had a reverence for old people, and a love for children, as a son, his good, virtuous and dutiful life brought no sorrow, no anxiety to his parents.His memory and influence should be an inspiration to those who following him."

Edward, you who have done more than your duty for your country, for Australia, for peace and freedom, for France and the future of the world in the trenches and the battlefields of the Somme where so many young people men fell among the poppies which today, eternal symbols of courage, lives and sacrifices of a whole generation, grow between the rows of white graves on which are inscribed the names and lives taken too early in a war that was supposed put an end to all wars but who here, on these sacred grounds will always be remembered and honored with the greatest care, with love and gratitude, we will always watch over them as if they were our sons, they are today the sons from France, our heroes, my boys of the Somme and for all that you have done for us, I would like, from the bottom of my heart, to say thank you for all that you gave and endured for in these hours that were the darkest of the history in a battle, the battle of the Somme which was the deadliest of the 20th century. These young men who came from far away, fought like lions with courage and determination through the villages and fields of northern France where they bravely moved forward under machine gun fire and fell into barbed wire, under shells and their steel bites which amputated and pulverized waves of young men in the prime of their lives and which forever changed the once peaceful landscapes into putrid quagmires in which blood and tears merge with the mud and clay which swallowed men and animals under the ominous and dismal roar of the artillery and the howls of the men who charged bayonets forward and who saw their friends fall, their comrades in heart-breaking howls and who lay on the ground, wounded and unable to move behind their brothers in arms who, with heavy hearts and tears in their eyes, could not stop for them even if they wanted to, the Somme was for them a butcher's shop, a carnage, an endless nightmare.and yet, in this hell that was the Somme and that was the great war, they showed the bravery and determination of a whole generation of men, of the whole Australian nation who did so much for our country at the cost of terrible losses but they never backed down and stood with exceptional heroism through the battles that were Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, Amiens, Flers, Gueudecourt, Dernancourt, Flers, Bazentin and Villers-Bretonneux where they stopped the German offensive in spring 1918 and saved France but it was not without sacrifices and tears and France, the Somme will be forever grateful to Australia, to our proud and valiant diggers who gave their youth and their lives on the soil of a country that will always be theirs and who today rest in the peace of the white and silent cities, united in mateship and brotherhood and still stand proudly in the poppy fields on which they paid the supreme sacrifice.Gone but never forgotten, they will always be the young men they were and for whom I feel the deepest respect, the greatest admiration and over whom I would always be proud to watch and whose stories I would keep strong and alive to bring them back to life and so that who they were, their bravery and their sacrifices are never forgotten, in the Somme, in our hearts and our thoughts, they will live forever. Thank you so much Edward,for everything. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him,we will remember them.