Leonard Gordon Clark KYLE

KYLE, Leonard Gordon Clark

Service Number: 1202
Enlisted: 13 March 1916
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 39th Infantry Battalion
Born: Geelong, Victoria, Australia, December 1890
Home Town: Ballarat, Central Highlands, Victoria
Schooling: Flinders State School 260, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Bank accountant
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 12 October 1917
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Nar Nar Goon Commercial Bank of Australia Limited WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

13 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 1202, 39th Infantry Battalion
27 May 1916: Involvement Lance Corporal, 1202, 39th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
27 May 1916: Embarked Lance Corporal, 1202, 39th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Melbourne
25 Oct 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 39th Infantry Battalion
9 Jan 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, 1202, 39th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, GSW hio and right calf
15 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Sergeant, 39th Infantry Battalion
25 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 39th Infantry Battalion
12 Oct 1917: Involvement Sergeant, 1202, 39th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres

Story of Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle by Kylie Shi

(Original story in microsoft word format with pictures and links)

Australian WW1 Hero


Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle
(1890 -1917)

Biography by Kylie Shi

Email: [email protected]

Date: 13/06/15

Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle

Chapter 1: Cover page

Chapter 2: Overview, certificate, name in AWM

Chapter 3: Early Life

Chapter 4: The WW1 breakout and his enlistment to fight in the army

Chapter 5: Battles he fought in

Chapter 6: His likely death

Chapter 7: His burial place

Chapter 8: His legacy

Chapter 9: A poem

Chapter 10: Why I chose him

Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle was a sergeant fighting in WW1 for Australia. He was born in 1890 in Geelong, Victoria. In 1916, when he was 25 years old, he was enlisted to fight for Australia and Britain in WW1. He was quickly promoted to the rank of a sergeant in the Australian 39th Infantry Battalion. He fought bravely in many battles and was given Victory Medal and a British War Medal. He was involved in the deadly battle of Passchendaele in the western front and was killed there on the 12th of October 1917, aged 26 years and 11 months old. His body was never found, but his name is located at the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium. He will be remembered for a long time by us all.

On the next pages, you’ll find
• His Roll of Honour Certificate
• His Embarkation Roll details
• His Medal Certificates
• His signed enlistment form

Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle's name is at panel 131 at the Commemorative Area in the Australian War Memorial. The poppy shows where his name is located on the plan.

Early Life

Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle was born in 1890 in Geelong, Victoria. According to historical records, his father was Albert Kyle and his mother was Elizabeth Kyle.

Kyle was the eldest of four children: Leonard himself, Birdie, Roy and Marjorie.

According to Roy’s autobiography, An Anzac’s Story, their parents were honourable and good-living people, and loving and caring parents. Roy also wrote that he loved his brother, Kyle, with great affection, and he thought that Kyle, who was seven years older, was ‘all that an older brother could be’. The brothers used to do a lot of fishing and rabbit trapping.

It is likely that in his early childhood, his family moved to Ballarat, Victoria and lived in Balaclava Street in west Ballarat (see map on next page). He went to a school called Flinders State School in Geelong and lived with his grandparents because their house was close to the school.

When Kyle was about sixteen, he became an accountant at the Commercial Bank of Australia Limited.

In the late 19th century, Ballarat, a city with a huge mining industry, became a normal city, and many, many services. Ballarat was known as the ‘Golden City’ which was beautiful and vigorous. A picture of Ballarat in 1890 is attached.

WW1 and Kyle’s enlistment
In 1914, World War 1 broke out. Kyle was 24 years old at the time.

England, France and Russia were fighting against Germany, Austria and Turkey. There were 2 fronts: the western front and the eastern front. In the eastern front, the Britain and its allies fought against the Germans, Australians and Turks in modern Turkey. In the western front, Britain and France fought the Germans in France and Belgium.

Britain mobilised its many colonies, including Australia, to fight for their mother country (Britain). Kyle’s brother, Roy, who joined the army before he was 18 in 1915, recalled: “The country was mad with patriotism. I couldn’t get there quickly enough to kill a German.” One year later, in 1916, Kyle also joined the army and Kyle’s brother-in-law, who became Lance Corporal F.P.L. Perce Bawden, also joined the army.

From this information, it is obvious that Kyle’s family was a very patriotic one, since three young men from his family (including him) went to fight in the war for their country. This is a truly admirable family.

On the 13th of March 1916, Kyle was enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). He was 25 years and 3 months old. His service number was 1202. He was allocated into the 39th Infantry Battalion, which had been formed one month before. This next picture shows a propaganda poster for young men to join the army at the time.

Below is Kyle’s signature on his enlistment form. He was about 1.65m tall, and weighed 68kg.

Below is a photo of Kyle’s brother Roy when he was enlisted. Kyle must have looked similar to Roy when he was enlisted.

Journey to and on the Battlefield

Kyle and his 39th Battalion had some training in Ballarat and marched through Melbourne to board a ship called the HMAT Ascanius on the 27 May 1916. They sailed via Cape Town and landed at Plymouth on the18th of July 1916.

While in Britain, Kyle managed to spend two days with his brother Roy and brother-in-law Perce in London. That was the last time the three brothers saw each other.

Kyle’s battalion was sent to France in November after four months training. They landed at Le Havre after a two day journey on the 24th of November 1916 and moved to the Western Front, which was near the France and Belgium border, by train.

This next picture shows a member of the 39th Battalion in the trenches near Houplines, France on the Western Front near the France and Belgium border in December 1916.

This map shows the path (in red ink) that Kyle and his 39th Battalion took from Ballarat to the Western Front.

During the fighting around Broodseinde on 4 October 1917, the 39th formed the third wave of the 10th Brigade's attack, which went in around 6:00 am. Following up the 37th and 38th Battalions, they advanced against strongly held pill-boxes towards the Gravenstafel Switch. After digging-in, a party from the 39th joined the 40th Battalion as it launched the final wave in the brigade's attack. As the 40th came up against stiff opposition, more men from the 39th were pushed forward and the objective was finally secured around 11:00 am. After the battle, the 39th remained in the line until 6 October, when it was withdrawn back to Morbecque for reorganisation and rest.

It was recorded in Australian Red Cross files that in 9th January 1917, Kyle was wounded on the hip by a gunshot and transported to 3rd Australian General Hospital on the 22nd of January 1917, and in February 1917 Kyle was recovering favourably from a wound to the thigh inflicted from the battle.

This map shows the Western Front and the Passchendaele Village, as highlighted on the map, was the place where Kyle’s battalion fought.

According to the record below, Kyle was a Lance Corporal when he was enlisted. He became a corporal in October 1916. He was promoted to the rank of a Sergeant in August 1917.

This form (2 parts) shows the history of his casualties.

Death on the Battlefield

On the 8th of October 1916, the 39th Battalion was recommitted to the fighting and ordered to advance towards Passchendaele Ridge, near the city of Ypres in Belgium, close to the border that France and Belgium share.

The battle of Passchendaele began on the morning of 12 October despite heavy rain the previous evening. This battle was another Allied attempt to gain ground around Passchendaele. Heavy rain and mud again made movement difficult and little artillery could be brought closer to the front. Allied troops were exhausted and morale had fallen. After a modest British advance, German counter-attacks recovered most of the ground lost opposite Passchendaele. There were 13,000 Allied casualties in the mud of no-man's-land.

It was this day, the 12th of October 1916, when Kyle was said to have been killed in action in the battle of Passchendaele. Below, there are two aerial photos of the Passchendaele village before and after the battle of Passchendaele. The second photo shows how much damage this battle caused to the Passchendaele village.

Village before the battle Village after the battle

This typewritten letter was by a wounded soldier who knew him slightly and was at scene when Kyle was got shot and was dying. The soldier wrote everything he could remember, about when Kyle got shot, how the soldier himself bandaged Kyle’s wound, and when Kyle died from his wound. This letter is probably the only information describing how Kyle died.

This is a typewritten letter by a pal of Kyle reporting that a body was seen on the battlefield and people reckoned it was Kyle’s.

After Kyle’s death, because his family did not receive any news of him, they made many inquiries to the army about where he was and how he was.

On the 10th of December 1917, the army officially announced that Kyle was missing in action since the 12th of October 1917.

This is an official document stating that Kyle was killed on the 12th of October 1917.

After Kyle’s death, a parcel was sent from the army with his personal belongings to his family. It showed that Kyle loved music, and he enjoyed reading military books.

Kyle’s Burial Place

According to a letter from the army in 1918, Kyle was buried where he was found by his comrades on the battlefield. But a second letter from the army in 1920 mentioned that they tried to find the unregistered graves on the whole battlefield in Passchendaele but unfortunately Kyle’s grave was never found.

Kyle’s name is located at the Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient) in the city of Ypres in Belgium.

Field Marshal Sir Hubert Plumer said in 1927 at the opening ceremony of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing:

“He is not missing - he is here."

Even though Kyle’s body was never found, he lived in all our hearts.

The first picture on the next page is a picture of the entrance of the memorial. The second photo is of inside the Memorial Gate. The names of Kyle and other fallen soldiers in the battle of Passchendaele are listed on the walls and the columns.

Kyle’s Legacy

Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle was a courageous person with a courageous heart. He gave up his life to bring more happiness to others. Many young men like him were in the best years of their lives, and yet, they still decided to face the icy scratches of war. Kyle is a kind sergeant who will never be forgotten.

He is a very bold hero to me. I believe that his actions, along with others, have set a huge example on soldiers fighting today.

Fallen for the Motherland

You were born in Australia’s Golden City,
Carrying great hope of a large family.
You just started your dream job,
You were young and full of life and energy.

Then the call-for-arms rang, flags waving,
Motherland called for your assistance.
With teary good-byes to your family and friends,
You set off on a journey of acceptance.

Shedding blood and enduring hardships,
You became a Sergeant of your country without a yield.
Leading your enormous band of brothers,
You established the spirit of Australia on the bloody battlefield.

On that fateful autumn day when leaves were falling,
A bullet pierced your body with the wind thundering.
The mud was reddened by your young blood,
Your life was gone but as a hero you came into being.

Even though your body never came home,
Even though I never saw you,
I know your spirit is in the red on our flag,
And I remember you whenever I see our flag, red, white and blue.

The Young Soldier

It was autumn, with dry leaves on the ground
With impeccable colours,
Red, Orange, Yellow.
The young soldier kissed his last goodbyes.
Then he was off,
Not knowing what was next,
Not wanting to know what was next.
On board the ship the food was rationed
Into tiny, minuscule crumbs of dust,
There was hardly ever enough to eat,
Only mouldy bread and infested milk,
There was nothing but
Regret and hunger.
Two days seemed like a
A century,
A millennia.
He longed and longed to see
His brother’s beaming face,
And his mother’s heart-warming touch,
But he knew, just knew,
It was too late.
On the twelfth of October,
The young soldier awoke from a nightmare, full of
Horror, and
Out from the trenches under heavy gunfire
Hearing sounds of
He took his time
Caring for the wounded with his charm,
He was a shield to hide under.
Boom! Crrump! Plonk!
A lethal bullet forced itself inside
The young soldier’s heart,
With its sharp, clawing hands.
He plummeted
He lay sprawled on the muddy dirt,
With flicks of blood from the dying,
He shivered and shook with fear,
But still picked up the pieces of courage from his bleeding heart,
And exclaimed loudly to his companion kneeling by him,
“At least I saved many others!”
Then, in a pool of blood,
He felt
Autumn arrived the next year to a
Happier, healthier village.
Kids, adults, elderly,
Laughed and enjoyed the freedom
Preserved by the young soldier’s life,
Because whenever we see the falling leaves of
Splendour, and
Memory of the young fallen soldier
Spreads beautifully
Over the southern sky.

Why I chose to research Kyle

I chose to research Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle for my project because, firstly, his last name is similar to my name, and, secondly, his date of death is really close to my birthday, and thirdly, he has a high rank, being a sergeant.


[1] AWM – Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle

[2] AIF Project – Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle

[3] Every Man Remembered – Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle

[4] RSL Virtual War Memorial – Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle

[5] National Archives of Australia – Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle
http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Gallery151/dist/JGalleryView er.aspx?B=7375577&S=1&N=74#/SearchNRetrieve/NAAMedia/ShowImage.aspx?B=7375577&T=P&S=1

[6] Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing – Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle

[7] Wikipedia, Australia’s 39th Infantry Battalion

[8] Wikipedia, Battle of Passchendaele

[9] Wikipedia, Ballarat

[10] Albert Roy Kyle, ‘An Anzac’s Story’. Penguin Books Edition 2003.

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Ballarat & District in the Great War 
Sgt Leonard Gordon Clark Kyle, 1202, 39th Infantry Battalion. Born in Geelong in 1890, Len was the eldest son of Albert Kyle and Elizabeth Clark. The family came to Ballarat some years before the war. Len worked as an accountant with the Dunedin branch of the Commonwealth Bank, but transferred back to Ballarat to enlist. He was killed in action on 12 October 1917; his body was not recovered from the battlefield. Perce Bawden, Len's brother-in-law, had been killed just eight days earlier. Roy Kyle, Len's only brother, served for over 1,000 days, survived the war and lived long enough to be revered as one of the last ANZAC's.