Leslie Robert (Les) STIRLING

STIRLING, Leslie Robert

Service Number: 15649
Enlisted: 27 March 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 4th Field Ambulance
Born: Sturt, South Australia, 7 April 1890
Home Town: Tumby Bay, Tumby Bay, South Australia
Schooling: Warratta Vale SA, Poonindie Public School
Occupation: Packer (S.A.R.)
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 21 October 1917, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Plot XXII, Row D, Grave No. 10A,
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide South Australian Railways WW1 & WW2 Honour Boards, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Port Lincoln & District Honor Roll WW1, Port Lincoln Garden of Remembrance, Port Lincoln Poonindie School Roll of Honor, Port Lincoln S.A.R. Eyre's Peninsula Division Roll of Honour WW1, Tumby Bay RSL Portrait Memorials
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World War 1 Service

27 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
23 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 15649, Army Medical Corps (AIF), Third Ypres
23 Oct 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 15649, Army Medical Corps (AIF), HMAT Port Melbourne, Adelaide
21 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 15649, 4th Field Ambulance, Third Ypres

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Stewart

Les was born at Sturt (SA) on 7 Apr 1890 to Alfred Stirling and Mary Ann Stirling (nee Parsons) of Warratta.  He was the third eldest of 12 children in the family, 7 boys and 5 girls.  His father was a blacksmith working on Warratta Vale Station at the time of his birth.  In 1907 the family moved to Poonindee and his father opened a blacksmith shop.

Les attended school at Warratta Vale before taking employ as a packer with the South Australian Railways.

On 10 Sep 1913 he married Esther Elizabeth Evans of Louth Bay.  They had two children, a boy and a girl.  The boy, Robert Bruce Stirling, now aged 96, still lives in Tumby.

Les enlisted in the Army on 21 Mar 1916.  He completed his basic training at Mitcham (SA) and was posted to the Army Medical Corps General Reinforcement Group.  On 23 Oct 1916 he embarked on the “Port Melbourne” bound for Devonport (UK), arriving on 23 Dec 1916.  He spent Christmas of that year at the Australian base on the Salisbury Plains (UK) before being drafted to 4th Division, arriving in Calais (France) on 4 Jan 1917; he then went to Etaples (France), where all of the new arrivals (40 reinforcements in total) undertook further training, including live firing exercises and gas training – all undertaken in the extreme cold and wet of winter.

On 22 Jan 1917, Les was posted to 4th Field Ambulance (C Section) based at Becordel (France).  In early Feb he was detached to 12th Field Ambulance, his task being to transport wounded from the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) to the railhead: this was his first exposure to front line casualties.

On 25 Feb 1917 he was again detached, this time to 3rd Field Ambulance.  He returned to his parent unit in early May at Bapaume (France)

On 13 May 1917 the 4th Field Ambulance began its movement forward, firstly to Le Doulieu, then Diev Galie, then Steenwerk and finally reaching Steenvoorte on the French/Belgium border on 20 Sep 1917.  On 10 Oct, C Section moved to Abeele and entrained for Ypres to support the third battle of Wipers (Ypres) in the closing months of 1917.  This battle is considered by many as one of the most costly battles of WW1.  There were 38,000 Australian casualties in eight weeks!

On 21 Oct 1917, during this battle at Ypres, Les was killed in action (KIA).  The 4th Field Ambulance was supporting forward troops with casualty evacuation when Les, 3 other stretcher bearers and the wounded soldier they were carrying, were struck by an enemy artillery shell: they all perished

He was buried behind the allied lines on 22 Oct 1917.  Later his remains were re-interred in the Lijssenthoek War Cemetery, near Poperinge (Belgium).

Medals and Decorations

British War Medal                                                                                           

Victory Medal




Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal