Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 19 August 1915, 2nd Lieutenant, 33rd Infantry
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 45th Infantry Battalion (WW1)
Born: Moruya, New South Wales, Australia, 1 December 1894
Home Town: Lewisham, New South Wales
Schooling: Menzies State School, Western Australia
Occupation: Salesman
Died: Killed in Action, France, 7 August 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Pozières British Cemetery
Plot III, Row M, Grave No. 23
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World War 1 Service

19 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Officer, 13th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Lieutenant, 33rd Infantry
30 Sep 1915: Involvement Lieutenant, 13th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '11' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Argyllshire embarkation_ship_number: A8 public_note: ''
30 Sep 1915: Embarked Lieutenant, 13th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney
3 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 45th Infantry Battalion (WW1)
31 Jul 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 45th Infantry Battalion (WW1)
7 Aug 1916: Involvement Captain, 45th Infantry Battalion (WW1), Battle for Pozières , --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: 45 Battalion awm_rank: Captain awm_died_date: 1916-08-07

Help us honour Leo Sidney Drinkwater's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Captain Leo Sidney Drinkwater
45th Australian Infantry Battalion,
12th Brigade, 4th Australian Division
In the fields of the Somme, season after season poppies stand silently on what were once murderous battlefields on which a whole generation of men lived, served and fell into the mud through which, under fire and dark clouds, were shed so much tears and blood and where today stand silently and solemnly the graves of those heroes whose voices are still heard and who, united forever in camaraderie, brotherhood and remembrance, still stand proudly where they gave their youth, on the old lines of trenches and barbed wire and where with the greatest bravery, for the peace and freedom of the world, for our tomorrow they gave their lives but beyond the war, their lives did not end in tears and sadness for their memory was and always will be cherished with love and gratitude and with respect I will always watch over them so that the names of these men, of my boys of the Somme may live forever.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and with the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Captain Leo Sidney Drinkwater who fought in the 45th Australian Infantry Battalion, 12th Brigade, 4th Australian Division, and who was killed in action 106 years ago, on August 7, 1916 at the age of 21 during the Battle of the Somme.

Leo Sidney Drinkwater was born on December 1, 1894 in Moruya, Eurobodalla, New South Wales, and was the son of George Alfred and Ella Josephine Drinkwater, of 18 Albert Street, Petersham, New South Wales. He was educated at Menzies State School , Western Australia, and after graduation served as Serjeant then Second Lieutenant in the 33rd Infantry Battalion then before the outbreak of the war, worked as a salesman then as a clerk in Lewisham, New South Wales where he lived.

Leo enlisted on August 19, 1915 at Lewisham, New South Wales, as a Lieutenant in the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, 9th Reinforcement, and after a short period of training at Broadmeadows Camp, Melbourne, he embarked with his unit from Sydney, New South Wales ,on board HMAT A8 Argyllshire on September 30, 1915 and sailed for Egypt.

A few months later, on March 3, 1916, Leo arrived in Egypt and was disembarked at Tel-El-Kebir where the same day he was transferred and taken on strength in the 45th Australian Infantry Battalion which was raised the previous day and whose motto was "Quo Fata Vocant" (Whither Destinies Summon) and under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Sydney Herrig. The following month, on April 1, Leo was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and alongside his comrades, joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in Alexandria and proceeded overseas on board "Invernia" for France.

On June 12, 1916, after a peaceful journey on the Mediterranean Sea, Leo arrived in France and was disembarked in Marseilles then with the men of the 45th Battalion, marched into billets at Bailleul where they were inspected by Generals Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, William Birdwood and by Douglas Haig then followed a period of rest and training including bayonet fights under particularly humid weather until the end of the month.

On July 2, 1916, Leo and the 45th Battalion marched for Sailly-Sur-La-Lys (Pas-De-Calais) then on July 4, took the trenches to the left of Sailly where they relieved the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion in trenches in "very poor condition" and were employed in their repair but also in the construction of new lines spaced between 250 and 375 yards from the German trenches. On July 11, the 45th Battalion was relieved by the 55th Australian Infantry Battalion and were billeted at Sailly-Sur-La-Lys, then at Bailleul on July 12 and the next day, orders were received for them to go to the Somme front.

On July 14, 1916, the men of the 45th Battalion, including Leo, embarked by train at the Bailleul railway station and arrived a few hours later in the Somme, in the village of Doullens then marched to Berteaucourt-Les-Dames where they followed a period of training including marching routes, wood fighting and bayonet fighting then on July 27, moved to Rubempre where they were billeted until the morning of July 29, bivouacked at Vadencourt Wood until July 31, when Leo was promoted to rank of Captain then on August 1 marched to the town of Albert and bivouacked at "Brickfields" and prepared to enter the front line in what was the deadliest offensive and battle for the entire Australian Imperial Force in the Somme , the hell of the battle of Pozieres.

The Battle of Pozieres Ridge on the Albert-Bapaume road saw the Australians and British fight hard for an area that comprised a first rate observation post over the surrounding countryside, as well as the additional benefit of offering an alternative approach to the rear of the Thiepval defences.

The Australian divisions of the 1st Anzac Corps, having served in Gallipoli, were primarily given the task of capturing the Pozieres Ridge, which had in fact been intended for capture on the first day of the Somme Offensive.This the Australians succeeded in doing by 4 August, having launched their offensive almost two weeks earlier at 1.30 am on 23 July, a mere two days following their arrival on the Somme.They were assisted in the attack by the British 48th Division to the Australians' west, attacking from Ovillers towards the German left flank.

The Australians succeeded in capturing Pozieres village itself within an hour; after which they rushed across the main road onwards towards Gibraltar, a German strongpoint.A mere 200 yards separated the Australians from Pozieres Ridge, the attack's main objective, heavily defended by the securely entrenched German troops.Two lines of trenches needed to be overcome before the ridge could be claimed.

Later on that first day, 23 July, the Australians were joined to the north-west of Pozieres village by the British 17th Warwickshire Regiment.Still the ridge remained firmly in German hands.The 2nd Australian Division subsequently relieved their comrades and continued the attack on the ridge for a further four days before they too were relieved.Allied casualties at this stage were running at a costly 3,500.

The ridge finally fell, after almost two weeks of bitter fighting, on 4 August, although both Mouquet Farm and Thiepval remained under German control. Failed attempts directed by Hubert Gough to push further north-west from the height of the hard-won narrow salient towards Mouquet Farm and Thiepval were heavily repulsed by German artillery fire, with the loss of some 23,000 Australian troops.

Gough came under Australian criticism for his persistence in pushing the advance for five weeks; their growing scepticism of the quality of British leadership had already taken a blow following the notable failure of an earlier subsidiary attack at Fromelles, west of Lille, a veritable mud and blood bath, on 19-20 July by the Australian 5th Division, intended to divert German attention away from the Somme.

On August 3, 1916, Leo and all the men of the 45th Battalion were fully equipped for the battle of Pozieres and the next day, marched through Albert to "Tara Hill" and there bivouacked on the ground formerly occupied by the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion then on 5 August, relieved the 17th, 18th and 19th Australian Infantry Battalion under a deluge of shells from a German artillery firing with precision at an unrelenting pace. Now for them hell began and fought bravely with the Yorkshire Regiment on their right and with the 48th Australian Infantry Battalion to their left.

On August 6, 1916, the German artillery launched a very heavy bombardment on the positions of the 45th Battalion and launched a weak counterattack which was repelled by the Australians who captured several prisoners during this action but lost 100 men then the same day, the battalion assisted the British in an attack on "Munster Alley", a successful operation in which the 45th captured 30 prisoners but that same evening came under heavy German artillery fire again.

Unfortunately, it was the following day at Pozieres, on August 7, 1916 at 4:30 a.m., that during a new German counterattack towards the lines of the 45th Battalion which was easily repelled that Leo met his fate and was killed in action, he was 21 years old.
Today, Captain Leo Sidney Drinkwater rests in peace alongside his men and friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-La-Boisselle, Somme.
Leo Sidney Drinkwater had two brothers who also fought in the First World War. The first of them was Sergeant number 206 George Mahoney Drinkwater who served in the 1st Australian Infantry Battalion and survived the war. He returned to Australia on November 5, 1919 but died of pulmonary tuberculosis on April 21, 1920 at "Woodville", Belmore Road, Randwick, New South Wales. He now rests in peace at Rookwood Cemetery And Crematorium.

Leo's second brother was Corporal number 2912 Bertie Leslie Drinkwater who fought in the 31st Australian Infantry Battalion and was awarded the Military Medal with the following citation:"Corporal Drinkwater was conspicuous for his good work in the enemy trenches during the stay there. He remained after the withdrawal to search for our wounded and assisted several back; he also killed two of the enemy.

"Bertie survived the war, he was discharged on February 14, 1916 but decided to stay in France to help soldiers returning from the trenches to hospitals. After the war, he returned to Australia, worked as a painter and had a daughter with Annie Martha Flack but died on October 20, 1957 at the age of 68 in Dulwich Hill, New South Wales.

Leo, brave and determined, it was in the prime of your life that you took a step forward to answer the call of duty and defend your country alongside your brothers and comrades who together, with conviction and pride, did the choice to give their today and their youth to fight in the name of freedom and peace far from home, and after a last farewell, after a last embrace in the arms of their loved ones, embarked for an uncertain future but for what they thought would be the greatest adventure of their lives and side by side, a whole generation of young men left the shores of Australia with in their hearts the ardor of youth and the pride of serving alongside heroes guided by the ANZAC spirit who guided them with courage and determination on the chaotic and dusty roads of northern France and driven by the desire to fight, followed the bagpipes and the drums which punctuated the steps of the men and horses who together, without knowing it, headed for the darkness, for the chaos and the death of the battlefields of the Somme and in the heat of the summer of 1916, entered the trenches, in a world of despair and desolation and met the horrified, terrified gazes of the men they relieved and who silent, often wounded and their bloodstained uniforms told without speaking through what horrors they had to live.In these first dark hours, they were greeted by the howls of the enemy artillery, under rains of shells which rained down death then under their steel helmets and their slouch hats, they had to live by lowering their heads, under the lugubrious symphony of shrapnel which day and night, without respite, pulverized the shelters and crushed the bodies in the screams and the blood of men whose innocence was swept away without mercy by the brutality and the violence which reigned unchallenged on these fields of death from which all humanity disappeared in the shell holes and the mud of no man's land through which entire battalions were mowed down at an insane pace under hailstorms of bullets spat out by enraged machine guns, murderous machines of steel against that the men stood no chance but even in the face of death, alongside their mates they stood bravely and charged rifles and bayonets forward through an inferno of flames and mud in the face of enemy fire.In this apocalypse, they remained united and strong, they fought meter by meter through the lines of barbed wire and despite the fatigue, the hunger and the cold, among the rats, tormented by fear and death they did not retreat, they showed the courage of a whole generation of men who from Australia all volunteered to come to the aid of France, to protect what they held most dear in their hearts and through the blood-red fields of Pozières, lived and fell before the helpless eyes of their brothers who went over the top in attacks as heroic as they were murderous but gave their all for this war to end all wars but paid the price for each step forward in blood, they paid the supreme sacrifice with their lives and after so much pain, intense fury, howling haunting their days and nights, found the peace and silence of their final resting places on these sacred grounds which were more than a hundred years ago slaughterhouses, open-air cemeteries turned over and swept by steel fires in which lived and died a whole generation of men who thought they were ordinary but who were all heroes, many of whom rest in peace in the Somme behind the rows of their white graves and who tell us about the lived and broken lives of these exceptional men who gave their lives for us and over whom I would always watch with gratitude and respect to honor their memory, so that their sacrifice and their courage would never be forgotten and so that their names would live on forever. Thank you so much Leo,for everything.At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him,we will remember them.