Profile

HOPKINS, Leslie Garey
(Service number 3/1774)

Aliases Leslie Carey on CWGC record.
First Rank Private Last Rank Private

Birth

Date 7 March 1891 Place of Birth Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Enlistment Information

Date 24 September 1915 Age 24 years 4 months
Address at Enlistment C/o W. Black, Tekapo
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Regiment
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Joseph S. HOPKINS (father), Waihimomona, Geraldine
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 6 inches. Weight 143 lbs. Chest measurement 33½-37 inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes grey. Hair black. Sight - 6/6 for both eyes. Hearing and colour vision,both good. Limbs and chest well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, variococele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. No vaccination mark. Good bodily and mental health. No physical defects. Remarks - Has had no experience in Ambulance work but is keen on it. Intelligent - passed 6th Standard.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship No. 2 Field Ambulance
Date 5 February 1916
Transport Ulimaroa or Mokoia or Navua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Medical Corps, No 3 FIeld Ambulance

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Military Medal (MM)

Award Circumstances and Date

Military Medal (MM). For gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations on October 5th at Gravenstafel. This man repeatedly went out with his stretcher squad and searched shell holes for wounded bringing in many men. His fine example under the difficult conditions was an incentive to the other men and helped greatly in clearing the battlefield of the wounded. (London Gazette, 17 December 1917, p13201, Rec No 1462)

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date

Discharge

Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

3 September 1917, about 9pm, injury to right knee - was crossing a ploughed field to meet billets when his foot fell into a hole, dislocating a cartilage (internal derangement right knee joint); was quite sober, was performing military duty, and was not to blame; reported as "accidental injury".

Post-war Occupations

Death

Date 12 October 1917 Age 26 years
Place of Death In the Field, Ypres, Belgium ("Somewhere in France")
Cause Killed in action
Notices Timaru Herald, 27 October 1917, 3 November 1917
Memorial or Cemetery New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Memorial Reference XV. D. 1.
New Zealand Memorials Memorial wall, Timaru; Gapes Valley and Beautiful Valley War Memorial; Geraldine War Memorial; Memorial plaque, St Paul's Church, 25 Symonds Street,, Auckland (No 3 Field Ambulance); Commemorative Roll book at Australian War Memorial; Memorial Tablet to No. 3 Ambulance in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin; Memorial Tablet to No. 3 Field Ambulance, All Saints' Church, Palmerston North

Biographical Notes

Leslie Garey Hopkins was the second son of Joseph Samuel and Kathleen Agatha (née Garey) Hopkins, of Otipua and Hurdley Streets, Timaru, and of 37 Evans Street, Timaru. His grandfather, Joseph Harrop Hopkins, an importer in Christchurch, gave the name of Woolston to the Christchurch suburb where there is a street named after him, and established the Woolston Emporium.

Leslie was born on 7 May 1891 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The family had moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, by 1892. Leslie was educated at Opawa, Woolston and Bromley schools in Christchurch, and then at Gapes Valley School from 1904. He was well known and worked as a partner with his brother in chaff-cutting plant in the Geraldine and Kakahu districts. In 1914 he was living at home at Waimomoana, Geraldine, employed as a mill-hand. In August 1915 he was charged with failing to attend the annual training camp. The case was dismissed, however, as he had already offered his services for the Front.

Although he was residing and working at Tekapo, Leslie left Timaru on 23 September 1915, with three other South Canterbury men, for Palmerston North, to join the Ambulance Corps, and it was there that he enlisted. At his medical examination these remarks were inserted – “Has had no experience in Ambulance work but is keen on it. Intelligent - passed 6th Standard”.

Private L. Hopkins was the guest at a social arranged by the Gapes Valley and Beautiful Valley Patriotic Committee on 30 December 1915 to say good-bye. He was presented with an illuminated wristlet watch and his many good qualities were mentioned. Those gathered wished him a safe return and sang “For They are Jolly Good Fellows”.

On 5 February 1916 Leslie was on his way to Suez with New Zealand Field Ambulance No. 2, which served on the Western Front. He embarked at Alexandria for France in April. On 27 August he was admitted to the NZ No. 3 Field Ambulance for a few days. In early 1917 in France he spent three months with the Rifle Brigade before rejoining NZ No. 3 Field Ambulance. The New Zealand Field Ambulance No. 3 was attached to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and served on the Western Front at Somme in 1916 and at Messines and Passchendaele in 1917. After 2½ weeks leave in England he rejoined No. 3 Field Ambulance on 20 August. On 3 September 1917 at about 9pm he suffered an accidental injury to his right knee. While he was crossing a ploughed field to meet billets his foot fell into a hole and he dislocated a cartilage in the knee joint. It was clearly stated that he was quite sober, was performing military duty, and was not to blame. But he himself had to be admitted to the Field Ambulance.

Private L. G. Hopkins was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations on October 5th 1917 at Gravenstafel. "This man repeatedly went out with his stretcher squad and searched shell holes for wounded bringing in many men. His fine example under the difficult conditions was an incentive to the other men and helped greatly in clearing the battlefield of the wounded." Five days later he was killed in action at Ypres in Belgium.

It was first reported on 13 October that he had been wounded, then missing, and finally on 20 October reported as killed in action. The Roll of Honour column of 3 November 1917 advised that Leslie Garey Hopkins, No. 3 Field Ambulance, was killed in action “Somewhere in France” on October 12th. In a notice in the Timaru Herald of 1 December 1917, his parents thanked their friends for expressions of sympathy in the sad loss of their son. By his pay book will dated 7.3.1916, Leslie left everything he owned to his mother, Kathleen Agatha Hopkins. His medals – British War medal and Victory Medal - were sent to his mother, the plaque and scroll having been previously sent to his father.

Private L. G. Hopkins – himself a casualty as he strove to assist the wounded – was reported buried first near old German gun position used as A. D. S. at (?)Kansas, marked with peg. He is interred in the New Irish Farm Cemetery at Ieper, Belgium. He is remembered on the Timaru Memorial Wall, the Gapes Valley and Beautiful Valley War Memorial, the Geraldine War Memorial, the Memorial plaque, St Paul's Church, 25 Symonds Street, Auckland (No 3 Field Ambulance), the Commemorative Roll book at the Australian War Memorial, and the Memorial Tablet to No. 3 Ambulance in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin.

His brother, Harrap William Hopkins, died of disease in 1915 in Egypt. Another brother, Joseph Raymond Hopkins, also served in World War One and died at just 39 years of age. Yet another brother, Albert George Hopkins, was listed in the Reserve Roll. His only sister, Louisa, died in 1901 at Christchurch, aged 13 years. In 1918 his parents inserted an In Memoriam notice in the Timaru Herald, in loving memory of their two sons who gave their lives.

Gold medals were to be presented by the Patriotic Committee to the next-of-kin of all soldiers of Gapes and Beautiful Valleys who fell on the field of battle, in the Gapes Valley Hall at a social afternoon tea on 8 August 1918. After the weather prevented the gathering on three occasions, the medals had to be sent.

On 17 July 1919 an impressive ceremony and one which was unique in the history of the town took place in the Timaru Drill Hall. In the company of a large assemblage of Territorials, Senior Cadets, and the general public, Sir James Allen, Acting Prime-Minister and Minister for Defence, presented twelve decorations for bravery in the field of action. He congratulated the assembly on the peace which their brave men had won, and he expressed his deep sympathy with the parents and relatives of those who would never return. Private L. G. Hopkins was one of five recipients who had been killed in action. His Military Medal was received by his mother.

At St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin, on 22 February 1920, in a most appropriate service of hymns, prayer and sermon, a tablet to the memory of No. 3 Ambulance Corps was formally unveiled. A New Zealand battle flag which had been through the Gallipoli and French campaigns was used for the veiling. Bishop Nevill said that there were many among our people who at the outbreak of war took their stand on the side of God against the godless wrong-doing of an overweening race. Consciously or unconsciously, they chose the side of right – soldiers, sailors, ambulance men, Red Cross nurses – and very many of them laid down their lives in doing their duty to God and their country. L. G. Hopkins is one of 35 names recorded there.

In late May 1920 a memorial to fallen soldiers was unveiled in memory of soldiers from Gapes Valley and Beautiful Valley, who gave their lives in the Great War. Of grey granite stone and nearly 14 feet high, it stands in a picturesque spot between the two valleys. Inscribed on it in gold lettering are the words: "Greater Love Hath No Man. Erected by the residents of Gapes Valley and Beautiful Valley in memory of those who fell in the great war, 1914-1919." Among the names inscribed are Private L. G. Hopkins, M.M. and Trooper H. W. Hopkins. The Mayor of Geraldine paid a high tribute to the fallen and sympathised with their parents. After the unveiling a prayer was offered on behalf of the bereaved parents, all stood in silence for several minutes, and many beautiful wreaths were placed on the stone. The singing of the National Anthem brought the ceremony to a close.

A reunion of members of the New Zealand Army Medical Corps who had passed through the camp at Awapuni during the great war was held in November 1921 at Palmerston North. On the Sunday a memorial service in honour of the memory of the New Zealand Army nursing sisters and members of the N.Z.M.C. who fell in the war took place at All Saints’ Church. During the service, two In Memoriam tablets – both fine pieces of workmanship, of polished brass mounted on oak and placed on the wall of the church - were unveiled. The inscription over the first reads: “In honoured memory of the N.Z. Nursing Sisters who made the supreme sacrifice in the great war, 1914-18.” The second tablet bears the inscription: “Erected by No. 3 (Rifle Brigade) Field Ambulance. In memory of the officers and men who fell in the great war.” The names inscribed on the tablet include that of Private L. G. Hopkins.

And it was in April 1922 that there was the unveiling ceremony of the memorial cross erected in grateful memory of the men of the Geraldine district who fell in the war. Following the singing of the National Anthem and short addresses, Mr T. D. Burnett, M.P., said that the British Empire had always stood for liberty and justice, and he then unveiled the memorial. A prayer of dedication was offered, a hymn was sung, the Territorials saluted and “The Last Post” was sounded. After an interval of silence, a piper played a lament and wreathes were placed around the memorial. The names of L. G. Hopkins and H. W. Hopkins are recorded along with many familiar names, and accompanied by the inscription: “These gave up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

Sources

Cenotaph Database [21 December 2013]; CWGC [21 December 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0056551) [05 February 2014]; Star, 16 January 1901, Press, 16 January 1901, 6 November 1917, 27 April 1922, Timaru Herald, 10 August 1915, 24 & 25 September 1915, 11 February 1916, 27 October 1917, 2 November 1917, 3 November 1917 (x 2), 1 December 1917, 19 January 1918, 3 August 1918, 4 September 1918, 12 October 1918, 18 July 1919, 29 May 1920, Evening Post, 26 October 1917, Sun, 2 November 1917, Temuka Leader, 24 September 1918, Otago Daily Times, 23 February 1920, Evening Star, 23 February 1920, Colonist, 16 March 1920, Manawatu Times, 12 November 1921 (Papers Past) [14 September 2013, 22 December 2013, 01 & 02 February 2014; 16 March 2015; 03 August 2017]; NSW Australia BDM Indexes [2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [2014]; School Admission Records (Canterbury Branch NZSG; South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2014]; J. H. Hopkins, Woolston (Woolston Emporium - Victoria University of Wellington Library) [17 March 2015]; Woolston Emporium, Christchurch (Christchurch City Libraries) [17 March 2015]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TS

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