Leslie Harold GATCUM


GATCUM, Leslie Harold

Service Numbers: 25053, 23053
Enlisted: 4 January 1916, Brisbane, Qld.
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 9th Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld., 1892
Home Town: New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Brisbane Grammar School
Occupation: Accountant
Died: Killed In Action, Belgium, 12 September 1917
Cemetery: The Huts Cemetery, ​Dickebusch, Belgium
Memorials: Brisbane Grammar School Memorial Library WW1 Honour Board 1, Warwick War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

4 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 25053, 9th Field Artillery Brigade , Brisbane, Qld.
11 May 1916: Involvement Gunner, SN 23053, 9th Field Artillery Brigade , Third Ypres
11 May 1916: Embarked Gunner, SN 23053, 9th Field Artillery Brigade , HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney
12 Sep 1917: Involvement Second Lieutenant, Third Ypres
Date unknown: Involvement Gunner, SN 23053, 9th Field Artillery Brigade , Third Ypres
Date unknown: Embarked Gunner, SN 23053, 9th Field Artillery Brigade

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of James and Emma GATCUM, New Farm, Brisbane


Some time ago the sad news of the death in action of Lieut. Leslie H Gatcum was received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Gatcum, of River road, New Farm.  By late mails Mrs. and Mrs. Gatcum received offical news of the sad event, as well as many letters of sympathy from officers at the Front.  One of these is from Brigadier-General H.M. Grimwade (3rd Australian Division), and reads :-

"Dear Mr. Graham, - You will officially long ere this have received the sad news of your son's death in action on 12/9/1917.  His commanding officer will no doubt be writing you when time allows, and will give you more particulars than I can furnish, but I wish to offer you and your family my very sincere sympnay in the very sad loss which has come to suddenly to you.  I was specially interested in your son, because I sent him for his commission in December last.  He had only been out here with us a few months but he had shown how fully he had justified the confidence I had placed in him, as he had done splendid work and was making a fine officer.  he officers around him and the men under him will all miss him, and I can assure you he will be a lost to us all.  I can offer you no comfort in your loss except to assure you that your loss is shared by all who know your son.  I have such a splendid lot of fellows under me, and they are doing such magnificent work - it is hard, and I feel it very kennly when the inevitable happens, and some of these goof fellows go out and do not survive to see the good result of their strenous labours and gallant deeds, which we hope soon to show.  Again offering you and your family my sincere sympathy." 

Lieut-Colonel W. G Allsop (commanding an Australian F.A. Brigade), writing fromt the field says in his letter: - "Dear mr. Gatcum,  By this time, no doubt, you have been notified officially that your son was killed in action, at the battery position, at Zillebeke, near Ypres, on 11/9/17.  I regret that I have been unable to write to you before to acquaint you with the particulars of his death, but my time has been very fully occupied up till the present, and I hope you will pardon the delay.   Your son was in the.... Battery, as you know, and was universally liked by both his brother officers and his men, and this on active service means everything, as to earn that respect in the army on service he has to prove himself, and possess that personal leadership so necessary for effieiency.  At the time of this death, the enemy were putting over a very heavy bombardment on to the battery position, and a shell landed on his dug-out, and killed him instantly.  He died for his country, as I know he wished to do, faithfully doing his duty as an officer and a soldier.  The passing of a loved one is always a great blow to those dear to him, and it is so to me and the rest of his brother officers.  Please accpet the sincere sympanty of both myself and all his brother officers in your bereavement, which is, perhaps, best expressed by saying that his death was a great loss to the brigade, the service, and to us, his brother officers."

Major J.G. Rowe writes to Mr. Gatcum :-  "Your son, Lieut. Gatcum, was killed during the night of 11th/12th September last, near Zillebeke.  He was sleeping in a dug-out, not more than a few years away from me, and there was a good deal of hostile shelling going on.  One unhappy shell fell right at the entrance to his dug-out, and killed him instantaneously.  I made arrangements for his removal to the back area and he was buried with the proper service, at Dickebusch Cemetery.   All the officers of our brigade have had a cross, suitably inscribed, erected on his grave.  Lieut. Gatcum had not been with me long in the battery, but he always displayed a devotion to duty and a fearless gallantry, and I trust you will bear you sad loss with stout hearts, fortified by the knowledge that his life was given in the greates of all causes, for which we are still fighting."  

His old mate, Gunner Norman Stevenson, M.M., in a letter says : - "In the midst of our great sorrow let us be thankful that Les, did not have a painful death; it was instantaneous.  Some of our boys suffer terribly before the end comes.  Thank God, he did not suffer.  Les's grave is in a military cemetery, close to our waggon lines, and I visited the trave today.   Mrs. Gatcum, you mothers who have reard men - men who are willingly and cheerfully laying down their lives for their country, Les was  man, and a son to be proud of.  He was liked by every one with whom he came in contact.  he was straight, just, and a staunch friend; can a man be more?"

The late Lieut. Gatcum was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Gatcum, and an old Normal and Brisbane Grammar School boy.  He had made great strides in his military profession, and generally was looked upon as a young Queenslander who sould quickly rise to high rank.