Leslie Patrick CARROLL

CARROLL, Leslie Patrick

Service Numbers: 401, 2390, NX7673
Enlisted: 14 September 1914, 2nd Light Horse Brigade’s “B” Squadron
Last Rank: Signalman
Last Unit: Headquarters (2nd AIF)
Born: Goulburn, NSW, Australia, 29 March 1894
Home Town: Port Macquarie, Port Macquarie-Hastings, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Stockman, Fettler
Died: Hit by train, Branxton, NSW, Australia, 14 April 1951, aged 57 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Port Macquarie Cenotaph
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World War 1 Service

14 Sep 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Trooper, SN 401, 7th Light Horse Regiment, 2nd Light Horse Brigade’s “B” Squadron
17 Sep 1915: Discharged AIF WW1, Trooper, SN 401, 7th Light Horse Regiment, Medically Discharged
3 May 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2390, 54th Infantry Battalion
30 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2390, 54th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '19' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Aeneas embarkation_ship_number: A60 public_note: ''
16 Jan 1919: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, ANZAC / Australian Provost Corps
14 Jun 1919: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Corporal , ANZAC / Australian Provost Corps
22 Aug 1920: Discharged AIF WW1, Second Corporal , SN 2390, ANZAC / Australian Provost Corps

World War 2 Service

4 Nov 1939: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, Signalman, SN NX7673, Headquarters (2nd AIF)

World War 1 Service

4 May 1942: Discharged 2nd AIF WW 2, Signalman, SN NX7673, Headquarters (2nd AIF)

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Biography contributed by Louise Hebbe

Leslie Patrick Carroll was born in Goulburn, NSW on the 29 March 1894. On the 14 October 1914, at the age of 21, the young stockman answered Australia’s ‘Call to Arms’ and headed to Rosehill Camp, NSW to enlist in WWI.  The skilled horseman was issued with the Service Number 401 and attached to the 2nd Light Horse Brigade’s “B” Squadron in the 7th Light Horse Regiment.1

His squadron embarked on the Ayrshire on the 20 December 1914 destined for Egypt and disembarked there in February 1915.2  He was based at the Maadi Camp and while on furloughs, Leslie could visit the sights, sounds and squalor of the city of Cairo. His regiment did not see any fighting action for the first three months.3 The light horses had been deemed unsuitable for conditions in Gallipoli and when his comrades landed in Gallipoli in late May 1915 as A.I.F reinforcements to the 1st Australian Division, Leslie was unable join them.4  He'd avoided the Gallipoli campaign due to health issues and had been confined to hospital since the 18 May 1915. In June 1915, he was shipped home to Australia on the Kyarra and treated at Langwarrin, Victoria, before being formally discharged from service as medically unfit on the 17 September 1915.5

Leslie enlisted again at the Sydney Sports Ground on the 3 May 1916.  This time he was issued with the Service Number 2390 and attached to the 54th Battalion of the A.I.F.  On the 30 September 1916, he embarked at Sydney on the Aeneas and disembarked at Plymouth, England. He spent three months at Folkestone before embarking on the Invicta on the 8 February 1917. He was marched in to join his unit in Etaples, France and there the 54th Battalion became part of the 14th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division.6 Leslie faced his first major action during the battle at Fromelles on the Western Front on the 19 July 1916. Around 65% of his Division were killed.7 He yearned to be back in NSW and in stark contrast to the horrors of war, he expressed in a letter to a former employer that when out of the trenches for a spell, he could walk through the fields in France and pick wildflowers that grew waist high.8

On the 23 August 1917, he was permanently detached to the 5th Division Signals Company and Leslie’s role in the war became one of the most dangerous faced on the front.9 Referred to as a “Linie” he was often the sole moving target on the battlefield and had the nail-biting job of erecting antennas and rolling out lines so that communications could be established and maintained between command posts. 

In February 1918, Leslie was permitted a two week break from the terrors of war and he took leave in the UK. Another ten months passed trying to evade enemy fire before he received a further two-week furlough in December 1918. Leslie was then transferred to the Australian Provost Corps in January 1919, which was akin to a Military Police role and conducted himself well enough to gain a promotion to Extra Regimental Second Corporal.10 For his efforts in WWI, Leslie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. When the war ended, Leslie had no physical wounds to show but no doubt, his mental scars from war were lying dormant when he was transported back to Australia on the Indarra in June 1920.11 

On his return, he made Port Macquarie, NSW his home.12 He was hailed a hero there during a Medal Presentation at the Och’s Hall in the following November.13 Within three months of arriving home he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy and he was issued the Service Number 12675.14 He was ultimately stationed on the HMAS Platypus, a submarine depot ship.15

In 1921 at the age of 28, Leslie married Doris Hicks in Marrickville, NSW.16 Soon after, his WWI service was formally acknowledged at the opening ceremony of the Port Macquarie Cenotaph on which his name was inscribed, and he went on to father a son, Leslie Jnr and daughter, Wanda.17 Yet, he could not maintain the status quo and the cracks in his psyche began to show. 

By August 1923, the HMAS Platypus was stationed at Cooktown, Queensland.18 On the 23 August 1923, the New South Wales Police Gazette stated that Leslie, officers steward, 3rd Class, had deserted His Majesty's Service. A £3 reward was offered for his apprehension and return.19 By 1924, Leslies character records in the Navy went from ‘good’ to ‘fair’ and in that same year he was discharged from the Naval service.20 

In 1924, he was caught stealing from a Port Macquarie man and ordered to pay a fine. With his heroic reputation and marriage now in tatters, he left town and two months later he was in Marrickville, NSW charged with break, enter and steal. He was arrested on the 30 June and sentenced to twelve months hard labour in Bathurst Gaol. After his early release, he turned once again to crime and in 1925 and 1926 he was caught stealing at Gilgandra and Lightning Ridge, NSW, where it was said at the latter location that he was addicted to drink.2122 In November 1927, after his three year absence from home, his wife Doris filed for divorce in Port Macquarie on the grounds of desertion.23 

In 1932, Leslie signed a Statutory Declaration at Melbourne claiming he had lost his Discharge Papers in Hobart, Tasmania in 1924. The information he gave was only slightly incorrect as he had in fact been in Hobart, Tasmania on the HMAS Platypus in January 1923. In 1936 Leslie signed another Statutory Declaration in Melbourne claiming he had no fixed abode and that his Statement of Service papers had been destroyed by fire in 1934 at Wallsend, NSW.24 By 1939, the homeless wanderer was back in Sydney. On the 30 August that year, he trespassed on railway property at Lidcombe and as a result he was kicked by a mob of 14 men. He was charged and fined at Parramatta court and the magistrate noted that it was his fourth offence for trespass on the railway.25

Regardless of his mindset at that point in time, Leslie was soon deemed stable enough to be accepted for enlistment in WWII and on that occasion, he was issued the Service Number NX7673. His birth year on his enlistment papers was recorded as 29 November 1904.26 (It is noted that there is almost a 10-year age difference between this record and his WWI and Naval records. Whether this was intentional on Leslie's behalf in an attempt to appear younger or a clerical error cannot be ascertained).

Leslie was challenged by a tragic family event when he learned of the death of his only son in 1941.27 In 1943 after his discharge from WWII, he ended up at Waterfall Sanitorium in Werriwa, NSW possibly suffering from a bout of tuberculosis which would challenge him physically and further accelerate the deterioration of his health and psychological state.28

By 1949 Leslie was residing at Railway Street Branxton, NSW where he was employed as a railway fettler.29 On the 14 April 1951, Leslie who had cheated death in two World Wars, could no longer save himself from his own state of mind. It was known by railway staff at the time, that he was prone to lecture the empty railway platform bench and that he was accustomed to seat himself on the railway tracks where he would converse with his own hat. Whether his actions were premeditated or whether he was oblivious to the No: 80 Goods Train rattling its way through Branxton Station that evening cannot be known, but when Leslie was struck and killed by the locomotive that night, it is likely that it occured due to a mental illness caused by his criminal behaviour, the breakdown of his marriage, his addiction to drink, the loss of his only son and post-traumatic stress due to the anxiety he experienced and the carnage he witnessed whilst serving in both World Wars.30 

Newspaper reports will lead us to believe that Leslie was buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Branxton, NSW, however there is no headstone there to mark his burial place and all burial records for this cemetery have been lost or destroyed leaving no opportunity to locate his burial site.31 These final events were a tragic and unfitting end to Leslie’s life and to the memory of his service as an ANZAC war hero.

Leslie died intestate at the age of 57. He was survived by his daughter Wanda Moy nee Carroll of Port Macquarie and his brother Peter Carroll of Third Street, South Cessnock, NSW.32



1. WWI Service Record, NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 5 of 44

2. Australian War Memorial, ‘First World War Embarkation Rolls’, https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R2049799/, Accessed 3 May 2017.

3. George Herbert Bourne Papers, 25 December 1914, State Library of Queensland, OM68-25/8.

4. Australian War Memorial, ‘7th Australian Light Horse Regiment’, https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51041/, Accessed 3 May 2017.

5. WWI Service Record, NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 30 of 44

6. WWI Service Record, NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 1 of 44

7. Australian War Memorial, ‘54th Australian Infantry Battalion’, https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51494/, Accessed 3 May 2017.

8. ‘Private Les. Carroll’ The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate, 4 August 1917, p. 4.

9. WWI Service Record, NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 4 of 44

10. WWI Service Record, NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 4 of 44

11. WWI Service Record, NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 4 of 44

12. ‘Corporal Les. Carroll’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate, 10 July 1920, p. 4.

13. ‘Presentation of Medals’, The Port Macquarie and Hastings River Advocate, 13 November 1920, p. 4.

14. Navy Personnel Records, NAA: A6770, CARROLL L P, Page 1 of 2

15. HMAS Platypus, http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-platypus-i

16. NSWBDM 11365/1921, Marriage of Leslie P. Carroll and Doris E. Hicks, District of Marrickville, https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

17. Monument Australia, ‘Port Macquarie Cenotaph’, http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/multiple/display/22805-port-macquarie-cenotaph/, Accessed 3 May 2017.

18. Navy Personnel Records, NAA: A6770, CARROLL L P, Page 2 of 2

19. 1923 'Deserters from His Majesty's Service.', New South Wales Police Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime (Sydney : 1860 - 1930), 22 August, p. 436.

20. Navy Personnel Records, NAA: A6770, CARROLL L P Page 2 of 2

21. ‘State Penitentiary photographic description book’ for Leslie Patrick Carroll, p. 167, NSW2468, State Archives and Records New South Wales

22. ‘State Penitentiary photographic description book’ for Leslie Patrick Carroll, p. 167.

23. ‘District Court’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate, 19 November 1927, p. 5.

24. WWI Service Record NAA: B2455, CARROLL L P, Page 22 & 23 of 44

25. ‘Kicked By 14 Men’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 6 September 1939, p. 8.

26. WWII Service Record, NAA: B883, NX7673, CARROLL Leslie Patrick

27. NSWBDM 19752/1941, Death of Leslie Patrick Carroll Jnr, District of North Sydney, son of Leslie Patrick & Doris Carroll, https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

28. Ancestry, Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980, 1943, Australian Electoral Commission, Accessed 3 May 2017.

29. Ancestry, Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980, 1943, Australian Electoral Commission, Accessed 3 May 2017.

30. 1951 'Coroner Told Of Fettler's Strange Actions', The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), 3 May, p. 3.

31. NSWBDM 12885/1951, Death of Leslie Patrick Carroll, District of Maitland, https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

32. 1951 'LATE MR. L. CARROLL', The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913 - 1954), 20 April, p. 8.