LITCHFIELD, Lester Verna

Service Numbers: 421, NX167969, NX157969
Enlisted: 3 June 1916, Marrickville
Last Rank: Warrant Officer Class 2
Last Unit: 103 aka 3 Anti Tank / Tank Attack Regiment
Born: Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, 22 May 1899
Home Town: Leichhardt, Leichhardt, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Dairy Farmer
Died: Natural causes, Burwood, New South Wales, 30 September 1968, aged 69 years
Cemetery: Woronora Memorial Park, Sutherland, New South Wales
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World War 1 Service

3 Jun 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 421, 7th Machine Gun Company, Marrickville
20 Oct 1916: Involvement Private, 421, 1st Machine Gun Company
20 Oct 1916: Embarked Private, 421, 1st Machine Gun Company, HMAT Port Lincoln, Melbourne
13 Feb 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 3rd Machine Gun Company
6 May 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 5th Machine Gun Company
9 Mar 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 421, 2nd Machine Gun Battalion, HT Kashmir for return to Australia - arriving 23 April 1919
4 Mar 1920: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, 421, 2nd Machine Gun Battalion

World War 2 Service

2 Sep 1942: Enlisted NX167969, 103 aka 3 Anti Tank / Tank Attack Regiment, Warrant Officer II
2 Sep 1942: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Warrant Officer Class 2, NX167969
21 Jan 1945: Embarked NX157969, 1 Advanced 2nd Echelon, SS Taroona for Lae, New Guinea.
7 Aug 1945: Embarked NX157969, 1 Advanced 2nd Echelon, Emplaned Lae for return to Australia - compassionate leave.
16 Oct 1945: Discharged NX157969

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Biography contributed by Michael Silver

The youngest of four boys to enlist for service in the Great War. Lester Verna Litchfield was amongst six surviving children of nine born to Ernest Daniel Litchfield (1868-1916) and his wife Sarah Ann Heil (1870-1943). The children, at times, had a challenging childhood, with their mother suffering ongoing mental health issues due to the death of her first-born child at seven weeks and their father deserting the family in 1908. Much of their up-bringing was guided by the oldest surviving sibling, only sister Ethel (1891-1984).

As preparations for the major offensives by the Allies on the Western Front in mid-1916 ramped up and the call for more men increased, young Lester Verna Litchfield decided to follow his older siblings to the battlefield. Just ten days after his seventeenth birthday he attended the recruitment centre in Addison Road, Marrickville and signed the enlistment papers. He gave his age as 18 years and 1 month.

Lester was assigned to the Machine Gun Reinforcements and after training at Glenory, New South Wales and Seymour, Victoria he embarked for England from Melbourne in late October 1916, arriving just two days before Christmas. In late April 1917 he crossed to France, just before his eighteenth birthday and was taken on strength by the 5th Machine Gun Company.

Throughout 1917 he was in and out of hospital in France with pyrexia of unknown origin (PUO). In early 1918 Lester was evacuated to England with trench fever. By June 1918 he had recovered and was based at the Machine Gun Training Depot in England.

On 23 April 1919, Private Lester Litchfield arrived back in Australia, his war over.

He married Ruby Catherine Mullard in 1922. They were to have three children with the oldest Verna Mary Litchfield serving with the RAAF in Melbourne during World War II whilst son, Kendall enlisted in April 1944 also in the RAAF and served as a Leading Aircraftman. On 2 September 1942, Lester signed up for service with the 2nd AIF. He was assigned to the 103 Tank Attack Regiment with the rank of Warrant Officer II, serving most of his time in the Northern Territory.

In early 1945 he was posted to Lae, New Guinea. Sadly, his wife Ruby died on 1 August 1945 whilst he was overseas. Lester returned to Australia on 7 August and was discharged on 16 October 1945. In 1951 he married Kathleen Clarice Ell. They were together for eleven years before her death.

Lester Verna Litchfield, who served his country in both world wars, passed away on 30 September 1968, aged 69.