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  • By the late LtCol Peter Morrissey . Used with Permission Introduction 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 the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery, in a grave especially constructed by the men of the Battalion, adjacent to the CWG cemetery. Raymond Lionel Leane Raymond Leane was born on 12 July 1878 at Prospect SA. 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 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. 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, and his nephew Captain Allan Edwin Leane died of wounds on 2 May. Severely wounded at Passchendaele on 12 October, Ray did not resume duty until late January 1918. He commanded the 48th Battalion at Albert and Dernancourt in March-April. Under his command, the 48th Battalion was prominent in halting the German advance on Amiens on 5 April. 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). 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. Raymond Leane was appointed Commissioner of Police in SA, a role he held from 1920 until his retirement in 1944. In 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. Charles Bean described Sir Raymond Leane as “the head of the most famous family of soldiers in Australian history”. His portrait by George Bell is in the Australian War Memorial. 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. Conclusion 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. From work originally compiled by the late LtCol Peter Morrissey an esteemed comrade.
  • This officer has completed 68 sorties and has displayed great courage and determination. During a sortie in January, 1943, Flying Officer Cowper was compelled to make a forced landing behind the enemy’s lines but he displayed great resource in outwitting the enemy and regained our own lines on foot. One night in July, 1943, he engaged a Junkers 88 and caused it to explode. The enemy aircraft disintegrated and a large portion struck and so disabled Flying Officer Cowper’s aircraft that he – was forced to leave it by parachute. He was later rescued from the sea and rejoined his squadron to resume operational flying. Since then, Flying Officer Cowper has destroyed another Junkers 88.
  • see No. 42 Sqn unit page Catalina serial number A24-100 and code number RK-L of 42 Squadron, RAAF, piloted by 401846 Pilot Officer (PO) (later Flying Officer (FO)) Clifford Dent Hull of Hawthorn, Vic. After completing a successful mine laying operation off Macassar (Celebes) Harbour on the night of 23 & 24 October 1944, the starboard engine of this aircraft was damaged by Japanese anti aircraft (AA) fire. Unable to maintain height on his return and with the second engine failing, PO Hull made a forced landing in the open sea south of the South Western Celebes Peninsula. He and his crew spent the next twelve hours on the water uncomfortably close to four Japanese airfields based in Southern Celebes, before a second Catalina (left), OX-U of 43 Squadron, RAAF, arrived to rescue PO Hull and his crew. A rubber dingy is visible transferring the downed crew to the rescue aircraft. A United States B24 Liberator bomber located the downed Catalina and guided the rescue Catalina in. The B24 continued to circle overhead providing protection. After the disabled Catalina had been sunk by machine gun fire, the rescue Catalina took off and returned safely to Darwin. This operation was one of the epic sea rescues of the Second World War, entailing a round trip of 1800 miles mainly through Japanese held territory. The rescue crew were: 415632 FO (later Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt, DFC)), Armand Andre Etienne (Captain), of West Perth, WA; 408409 FO (later Flt Lt), Ian McCallister Robson of Sandy Bay, Tas; 428809 Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) (later Warrant Officer (WO)), John Joseph Sweeney (Navigator), of Newcastle, NSW, (visible standing on the wing of the rescue aircraft); 428832 Flt Sgt (later WO), Raymond Victor Tumeth of Haberfield, NSW; 428360 Flt Sgt (later WO), Derek Fanshawe Robertson of Camberwell, Vic; 12912 Sergeant (Sgt) (later PO), Robert Richard Tingman of Brighton, Vic; 12223 Sgt (later Flt Sgt), Albert Leslie Warton of Sydney, NSW; A2398 Sgt, Thomas Roy Elphick of Bondi, NSW; 33642 Corporal, James Francis Burgess Oliver of Glen Innes of NSW.
  • From Flight Sergeant Norman MacDonald, only survivor of JB472 The crew of Lancaster JB472 with Reginald Wicks as pilot, joined the Squadron on 23 November 1943. They flew their first mission on 23 November - a night raid on Berlin. This was closely followed by another night mission to Berlin on 26 November. On 2 December JB472 took off from Warboys airfield for their third raid on Berlin. In a report given by Flight Sergeant Norman Macdonald after the war he describes what happened to their aircraft as they flew over eastern Germany: 'Attack by enemy fighter reported by rear gunner - pilot acknowledged, took evasive action and just then we were hit. Crew put on chutes, aircraft in steep dive. At approx between 17 and 15, 000 feet violent explosion. I was sucked out the starboard side of aircraft. Regained consciousness at approx 4,000 feet opened 'chute landed ok. I believe pilot jettisoned bombs endeavouring to save crew and aircraft but aircraft crashed 20 miles north of Hannover. The next day I was captured in the goods yard of the village railway station by 2 German soldiers who were searching for me and taken to identify wreckage of aircraft from which German officials had removed the bodies of my 6 colleagues. Taken to Frankfurt for interrogation put into solitary confinement then to Stalag IVB.'
  • Warrant Officer Bell is a an efficient and most resolute pilot. He has taken part in may harassing attacks on the enemy and has invariably displayed a high degree of gallantry. He has destroyed four enemy aircraft. London Gazette 17 November 1944
  • Lt S.E. MILLS, D Company, 32nd Bn, 22 January 1917: 'He was in my platoon and was wounded pretty severely on night of 19/20 July. With the help of two other men we carried him to a place of comparative safety and dressed his wound. This was 200 yards behind the German first line and it was found impossible to get stretcher bearers through the barrage. When the order to retire was given it was a matter of charging through the two lines of Germans and so impossible to carry two badly wounded men. Green was left with some twenty or thirty others some of whom have since been reported as prisoners. It is my opinion that Green died of his wound although he was alive when I saw him last.'
  • Translation of German message, 2 October 1919, 'Iden: Disc handed over by Intell: Off: with 6th Army H.Q. through Central Office for Deceased Estates 12/10/16[,] Austral: Pte. A.E.N. Burney, 1226, 2nd Btn. fell in the neighbourhood of Fromelles on 19/7/16'.
  • Godlee.pdf

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