Leslie George BATTAMS

Badge Number: 8263, Sub Branch: Mitcham

BATTAMS, Leslie George

Service Number: 51779
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Campbelltown, South Australia, 16 March 1899
Home Town: Not yet discovered
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Sawyers Laborer
Died: Glenelg, South Australia, 22 November 1977, aged 78 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Cremation: East Area, Rose Bed E63, Position 050
Memorials: Campbelltown Methodist Church WW1 Honour Roll, Campbelltown WW1 Memorial
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World War 1 Service

1 May 1918: Involvement Private, SN 51779, 1st to 6th (SA) Reinforcements
1 May 1918: Embarked Private, SN 51779, 1st to 6th (SA) Reinforcements, HMAT Euripides, Sydney
11 Nov 1918: Involvement Private, SN 51779, 50th Infantry Battalion

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Leslie George Battams: Service number 51779

Leslie George Battams was born on the 16th of March 1899. At aged 17 he was working as a gardener, he was unmarried with no children. Leslie George Battams was a natural British born the son of George Albert Battams, his next of kin and his mother was deceased.  Leslie George Battams was 5.4 ft. tall (approximately 164 cm), he weighed 125 lbs (56.7 kg). His complexion was medium, with blue eyes, auburn hair and no distinctive features on his body. His Religion was Methodist.

On the 6th March 1917 Leslie George Battams decided to join the Australian Imperial force, which is what the Australian army used to be called. He had previously served 3 years and 9 months as a senior in the cadets 74e (A youth organisation that is involved in training and adventurous activities in a military setting. The program has more than 19,000 Army Cadets between the ages of 12½ and 19 based in 237 units around Australia. The motto is "Courage, Initiative, Teamwork" and a recently added motto "respect" ). As Leslie George Battams was aged under 18 years and required written permission by his father. 

On the 3rd of March 1917 Leslie George Battams and his unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAS Euripides to war. He served in B company Mitcham from the 16/3/17- 15/4/17. Following that he was transferred to a unit in A company and served there from the 16/4/17 – 28/5/17. He then transferred again to a unit in D company and served there from the 28/6/17 – 31/7/17. Because there is a month gap between the A company unit and D company I assume that he was on leave for 1 month before starting at D company. He then moved to unit A.M.E Base and severed there from 1/8/17 – 26/8/27. Leslie George Battams had a good conduct record with only one incident on the 6-7th of October 1917 when he was absent without leave. He was written up for misconduct for which he received a 72-hour punishment. Absences for a day would be considered a small-scale misdemeanor. They would be detected and dealt with by the NCOs and officers of a man's own unit. NCOs often gave men extra chores or exercise as punishment for small matters. They could also be confined to barracks or lose a day's pay.

Leslie George Battams was discharged on the 29th of October 1917 after being found medically unfit due to deafness not misconduct. On his medical report it claims the deafness came on gradually. The discharge note indicates that he used to do a lot of diving but that the cause of his deafness was unknown. They did not consider his deafness was contributed to by his service. It was considered chronic progressive deafness and was not considered to impact his future livelihood or ability to work.

After his discharge Leslie initially went to live at his fathers house on Williams street in Norwood. He later took up work as a box maker and moved to Wakefield St Kent town. I believe he may have been disappointed to be discharged as he soon signed up again.

On the 9th March 1918 in World War One, Leslie George Battams at the age of 18 and 11 months rejoined active service as part of the 50th Batallion.  The 50th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 26 February 1916 as part of the "doubling" of the AIF. Approximately half of its recruits were veterans from the 10th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 10th, the 50th was predominantly composed of men from South Australia. The battalion became part of the 13th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division and was dubbed "Hurcombe's Hungry Half Hundred", after its first CO, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Hurcombe. As he was still under 19 years his father had to again write a letter of consent for him to join active service. 

With the status of private he continued to work for the Australian imperial force.

On the 14th of June he was transferred to New York and on the 28th of September 1918 he embarked over seas to Liverpool England.

He was later discharged and returned to Australia on the 13th of November 1919. Seven years later Leslie George Battams became a lawyer. On January 5th 1922 he received a 1) British war medal, 2) victory medal and 3) A star. 

On November the 22nd 1977 Leslie George Battams passed away. He was 78 years old. His cause of death was unknown and he was buried at centennial park cemetery South Australia. His name is on one of the Campbelltown Methodist church memorials.

ANZAC stands for a soldier in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day has become the major celebration day in Australia.

“Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is a day we remember all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of Anzac with its human quality’s of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.” Australia War Memorial News (email newsletter) February 2011

The reported achievements of the Anzacs were such that even the failures in August 1915 and evacuation at the end of 1915 did not detract from the legend. Australians were brave but misused by incompetent British officers. A.B ‘Banjo’

Paterson wrote poetry about it and Winston Churchill wrote his finest prose about it. In 1922, Churchill began a memoir to defend his wartime decisions, called “The World Crisis”. The defense of the Gallipoli campaign was at the heart of his book narrative. Gallipoli did wonders for Australian nationalism and was even used to reinforce Australia’s strong position within the empire; the legend was reinforced throughout the war. This legend continued on in such battles as Isurava in Papua New Guinea on the famous Kokoda trail, in World War II where the legendary spirit of courage, mateship endurance and sacrifice is literally written in stone. The ANZAC spirit remains an important part of Australian culture to this day.

I think Leslie George Battams showed great Anzac sprit through his courage and endurance in signing up for the AIF not only once but twice. He fought in many places for Australia, is remembered by us in memorials and importantly we can read about his achievements through websites and document archives. He was only in trouble once in all his years of service. A true Anzac probably showed a little bit of mongrel so it probably comes as no surprise that he had a small misdemeanor against his name.