Sir Raymond Lionel ("The Bull") LEANE CB, CMG, DSO and Bar, MC, MID

LEANE, Raymond Lionel

Service Numbers: Officer, Commissioned Officer, S64430
Enlisted: 17 August 1914, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Colonel
Last Unit: Volunteer Defence Corps (SA)
Born: Prospect, South Australia, 12 July 1878
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: North Adelaide Public School
Occupation: Merchant/Army Officer (later Local Gov Councillor and S.A. Police Commissioner)
Died: Natural causes, Adelaide, South Australia , 25 June 1962, aged 83 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Acacia C, Path CG, Grave 561
Memorials: Boulder Roll of Honor, Kalgoorlie Boulder 84th Infantry Goldfields Regiment Roll of Honour, Keswick Prospect Methodist Sunday School Honour Board WW1, Naval Military and Air Force Club of SA Inc WW1 Honour Roll, North Adelaide Public School Roll of Honor, Prospect Roll of Honour G-Z WWI Board
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World War 1 Service

17 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, Officer, 11th Infantry Battalion, Perth, Western Australia
25 Aug 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 11th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1,

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Fremantle embarkation_ship: HMAT Ascanius embarkation_ship_number: A11 public_note: ''

2 Nov 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain, 11th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Fremantle
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 11th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
1 Aug 1915: Wounded ANZAC / Gallipoli, GSW (face)
5 Aug 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 11th Infantry Battalion
1 Oct 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 11th Infantry Battalion, Appointed C.O. 11th Battalion
12 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Infantry Battalion
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
11 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (First)
31 Jul 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
7 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Infantry Battalion, 1st Passchendaele
27 Mar 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Infantry Battalion, Dernancourt/Ancre
19 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"
1 Jun 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Brigadier General, 12th Infantry Brigade Headquarters
1 Jun 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Colonel
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Brigadier General, Commissioned Officer, 12th Infantry Brigade Headquarters , "The Last Hundred Days"
3 Jan 1920: Discharged AIF WW1, Brigadier General, 12th Infantry Brigade Headquarters

World War 2 Service

10 Jul 1944: Involvement S64430, Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces
10 Jul 1944: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Colonel, S64430, Volunteer Defence Corps (SA)
10 Jul 1944: Enlisted Glenelg, SA
30 Jul 1944: Discharged

"The Fighting Leanes of Prospect"

By the late LtCol Peter Morrissey . Used with Permission


The five Leane brothers (Edwin, Ernest, Allan, Raymond and Benjamin) all served in the AIF in World War I, along Edwin’s four sons (Allan, Geoffrey, Reuben and Maxwell) and Ernest’s two sons (Arnold and William). Four of the family were killed in action or died of wounds.

Edwin Thomas Leane

Edwin was born on 25 August 1867 at Prospect SA. He was described as ‘a big man, both physically and mentally’. On 14 September 1914 he joined the AIF as a Captain in the 12th Battalion. Because of illness in Egypt, and possibly his age, he was transferred to the Australian Army Ordnance Corps. His administrative ability carried him to the top levels of the AIF Ordnance Service. Promoted Major in April 1915, he served on Gallipoli as Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services, 2nd Division from late July until the evacuation, and held the same appointment in Egypt in January-March 1916, and until July in France and Belgium. In August he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and transferred to AIF Headquarters, London. In July 1917 he was posted to France, and in November became the Head of Ordnance Services, I Anzac Corps. From February 1918 this responsibility was widened to include the whole AIF in France.

Edwin was promoted Colonel in November, and became a deputy director in the AIF Repatriation and Demobilization Department, London. He had been mentioned in dispatches five times, appointed CBE, and awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. He died at Camberwell, Victoria on 27 August 1928.

Three of Edwin’s sons, Captain Allan Edwin Leane (died of wounds, 2 May 1917, Bullecourt), Lieutenant Geoffrey Paul Leane, MC and Corporal Reuben Ernest Leane, served with the 48th Battalion, and a fourth son, Lieutenant Maxwell Leane, with the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve.


Ernest Albert Leane

Ernest was born in 1869, enlisted at the age of 45, and served with the 27th Battalion as a Warrant Officer. His two sons also served in the Battalion. One of them, Corporal Arnold Harry Leane, was killed in action on 5 November 1916. The other, Corporal William Ernest Raymond Leane, survived.

Allan William Leane

Allan was born on 11 May 1872 at Mount Gambier SA. He enlisted in the AIF as a Major in the 28th Battalion on 28 April 1915, and reached Gallipoli in September. He was Second-in-Command of the Battalion from January 1916, and commanded it in France from 29 July as a temporary Lieutenant Colonel, providing inspiring leadership during the Battle of Pozières. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 29 November, but died of shrapnel wounds received at Delville Wood on 4 January 1917, and was buried in Dernancourt Communal Cemetery.

Raymond Lionel Leane

See main entry

Benjamin Bennett Leane

Ben was born in 1889, and was killed on 10 April 1917 at Bullecourt while serving as a Major and Ray Leane’s Battalion Second-in-Command in the 48th Battalion. He was buried in Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy.


The Leane brothers and their sons provide a remarkable example of family enlistment. Every male member of military age offered himself for active service, and was accepted. The family was known during the war and for long afterwards as ‘The Fighting Leanes of Prospect’.

Principal Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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Biography contributed by Kathleen Bambridge

Brigadier-General Leane, late of the AIF, has for half a century been connected with commercial affairs, and has held several important positions.  He was departmental manager and buyer for the firm of D&W Murray Ltd of Perth and was later director of the Economic Stores Ltd trading at Fremantle, Kalgoorlie and Boulder.  At the latter place he was propietor of business organisation, wholesale and retail trading and is particularly experienced in buying and selling.

On his return from active service he was appointed Commissioner of Police for South Australia. He stood for election as director of the Army and Navy Stores in Dec 1920. He was chairman of the Sailors and Soldiers' Distress Fund.



Raymond Lionel Leane was born on 12 July 1878 in Prospect, South Australia, the son of a shoemaker, Thomas Leane, and his wife Alice.

One of eight children, he was educated at North Adelaide Public School (/explore/memorials/606) until age 12, when he went to work for a retail and wholesale business, which sent him to Albany in Western Australia. He moved to Claremont where he was elected to the local council. In June 1902, Leane married Edith Louise Laybourne.

Leane joined the militia and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 11th Infantry (known as the Perth Rifles) in 1905.

In 1908, he bought a retail business in Kalgoorlie and transferred to the Goldfields Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to Captain on 21 November 1910.

On 25 August 1914, Leane enlisted in the AIF as a company commander in the 11th Infantry Battalion, with the rank of Captain.

On 25 August 1914 he enlisted in the 11th Battalion as a Captain and Company Commander.  The Battalion went ashore with the Covering Force during the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and Ray’s C Company moved into the Plugge’s Plateau sector.

On 4 May he led an attempt to capture Gaba Tepe fort, a Turkish position close to the beach which enfiladed the Australian trenches.  Charles Bean considered him the ideal choice for this hazardous enterprise.  After landing at dawn, Ray’s small force was pinned close to the beach by heavy fire, so that no advance could be attempted.  Having been given full discretion to depart from his orders as he thought fit, he organized a withdrawal and successfully brought off his men and their wounded with the aid of the Royal Navy.  For this he was awarded the Military Cross.

Ray was slightly wounded on 28 June in an assault on Pine Ridge, and again on 31 July when he led a successful attack against Turkish defences, and held the position thereafter against heavy counter-attacks.  This position became known as Leane’s Trench.  Promoted temporary Major on 5 August, he commanded the 11th Battalion from 11 September, and was promoted temporary Lieutenant Colonel on 8 October.  He remained at Gallipoli until evacuation on 16 November.  He was twice mentioned in dispatches for service at Anzac.  While there, he had been nicknamed ‘Bull’; his “tall square-shouldered frame, immense jaw, tightly compressed lips, and keen, steady, humorous eyes made him the very figure of a soldier”.

In Egypt on 26 February 1916, Ray was confirmed as Major and appointed Commanding Officer of the 48th Battalion (the ‘pup’ Battalion of the 16th Battalion).  Promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 12 March, he took his new Battalion to France in June.  After a week at Fleurbaix, the Battalion moved into the Pozières sector, and on 7 August repulsed a heavy German counter-attack having earlier relieved the 27th Battalion in place around the Windmill feature, which the 27th had captured on the 4th August.  The 48th served at Mouquet Farm and Gueudecourt in 1916, and at Bullecourt, Messines, Wytschaete and Passchendaele in 1917.  At Bullecourt Ray’s younger brother and Battalion Second-in-Command, Major Benjamin Bennett Leane was killed on 10 April.

Severely wounded at Passchendaele on 12 October, Ray did not resume duty until late January 1918.  He commanded the 48th Battalion at Albert in March-April.   Under his command, the 48th Battalion was prominent in halting the German advance on Amiens at Dernancourt on 27 March and on 5 April at Villers Bretonneux.  He was appointed temporary Colonel commanding the 12th Brigade on 19 April, and was confirmed in rank and promoted temporary Brigadier General on 1 June.  He commanded the 12th Brigade at Villers-Bretonneux in April-May, in the attack on Proyart on 8 August, and in the battles of the Hindenburg outpost line in September.

Ray had been mentioned in dispatches eight times, and his decorations included the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Military Cross, and the French Croix de Guerre.  He was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1918, Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1919, and Knight Bachelor in 1944.  His brother Ben, three nephews, and several other relatives had served under him in the 48th Battalion, which led to its being known throughout the AIF as the ‘Joan of Arc Battalion’ (Made of All Leanes, a play on words of Saint Joan of Arc Maid of Orleans).

As a commander, Ray won the affection of his men by his constant concern for their well-being.  He gained their respect by his strength of character, firm discipline and high sense of duty.  In action he was cool and alert, directing and encouraging, heedless of danger.

He returned to South Australia as a distinguished war hero.  He was appointed Commisioner of Police, a role he held until his retirement in 1944, at which point he was knighted.  He led the SA Police force with distinction introducing sweeping reforms to police education, promotion on merit and conditions of service.  He set a pattern which was repeated after WW 2 when another Army Brigadier, John McKinna, was appointed Police Commissioner.

During World War II Ray commanded a group in the Volunteer Defence Corps.  After his retirement he lived quietly at Plympton SA until his death on 25 June 1962. The Leane family generated a remarkable collective record of service.  See the attached image and caption.  


For more reading please click on the Australian War Memorial links to left of the page...

Australian Dictionary of Biography link here - Sir Raymond Leane ADB (

Wikipedia Link - Sir Raymond Leane (