SPURDEN, Leonard Joseph
(Service number 11/926)

Aliases Len
First Rank Trooper Last Rank Trooper


Date 5 December 1887 Place of Birth Winchester

Enlistment Information

Date 13 December 1914 Age 27 years
Address at Enlistment Tokomaru Bay, Gisborne
Occupation Blacksmith
Previous Military Experience Timaru School Cadets - 3 years
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin W. SPURDEN (father), Atlas Mills, Timaru
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 160 lbs. Chest measurement 37½-39½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair black. Sight, hearing and colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth very good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 4th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Wellington Mounted Rifles
Date 17 April 1915
Transport Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo
Embarked From Wellington, N.Z. Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Mounted Rifles

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkans (Gallipoli)
Service Medals 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

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


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 27 August 1915 Age 27 years
Place of Death Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Turkey
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Hill 60 (New Zealand) Memorial, Hill 60 Cemetery, Turkey
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru

Biographical Notes

Leonard Joseph Spurden, known as Len, was the third son of Walter Thomas and Sarah (nee Binskin) Spurden, of Elizabeth Street, Timaru, and the Atlas Mills, Timaru. His parents were both from England, and their's appears to be the only Spurden family in New Zealand. The family lived initially at Winchester, where Walter was a miller. By 1890 they had moved to Timaru. Leonard was born in 1887 at Winchester near Temuka, and baptised on 25 March 1888 at St John the Evangelist Anglican Parish at Winchester. He was educated at Timaru Main School, where he was awarded a special spelling prize in Standard IV (1899), and at Waimataitai School. He represented the Main School in football and cricket, being one of their more successful batsmen.

Len made his mark in the Main School Cadets, gaining good scores in shooting matches. In May 1901 he claimed first prize in weekly matches, and later the same year he was awarded the prize for best all-round cadet. From 1904 till 1906 he played in the Star II football team, captaining the team in 1906. Len played for the Fairlie Juniors football team in the Seven-a-Side Tournament on 24 May 1907. In the same season he secured the medal for the 'best trained man' in the Fairlie Football Club. He was also a good swimmer, swimming out of the Timaru Swimming Club, with handicaps in the 50 yards and 250 yards events. Len had moved to the Bay of Plenty area by 1911. In 1913 he was selected as a forward in the Tokomaru junior football team. At the 1913 end-of-season function, Len responded to one of the toasts. And at the Tokomaru Bay Rugby Football Ward plain and fancy dress ball held on 4 September 1914, Len was presented with a medal for the most improved player in the Waima Club.

Len was residing at Tokomaru Bay when he enlisted at Gisborne in December 1914. He had been employed on railways, then worked as a blacksmith for the N.Z. Shipping Company at Tokomaru Bay. He was one of a fine body of men selected for the mounted contingent, who camped at the Park (Gisborne), where they were put through some useful instructions before leaving for Wellington on 17 December, provided sufficient mounts had been secured. On 16 August 1915 Leonard had gone as Reinforcement to the Dardanelles. As of 27 August he was missing, only four days after he had joined his unit at the Dardanelles. This was reported on 21 September. He had been killed in action at the Dardanelles on 27 August 1915, as was determined by the Court of Enquiry some five months later, on 23 January 1916, at Zeitoun.

Following his death, 20 pounds 11 shillings had been paid to the Post Office Savings Bank in Wellington, being the balance of military pay due to his estate. Len's medals, plaque and scroll were to be sent to his father at the Atlas Mills in Timaru.

Here was a fine, active and very fit young man taken so soon - just four months after leaving New Zealand's shores. As his parents said in a memorial notice in the Timaru Herald of 28 August 1916 - "He left his home in perfect health, He little thought of death so nigh". His estate, amounting to £16.18.11 was administered by the Public Trustee in early 1917. Leonard Joseph Spurden is remembered on the Timaru Memorial wall. In February 1920 the Gisborne Returned Soldiers' Association was compiling a Roll of Honour, with a view to establishing a memorial. The name of Spurden, L. J. was in a very lengthy list of those who had made the supreme sacrifice.

His brother Edward William Spurden, who was in camp when Leonard was reported missing, was later also killed in action in 1916 at the Somme. His oldest brother, Frederick Walter Spurden, was listed on the Reserve Rolls, being (by 1916) married with two children. Frederick's son, who was born in 1920 and served in World War Two, was named for his two uncles who lost their lives in World War I - Leonard Edward Spurden.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [03 December 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK18805 W5553 0108245) [03 April 2014]; CWGC [03 December 2013]; NZ BDM indexes (DIA) [04 December 2013]; Timaru Herald, 20 December 1899, 16 August 1900, 11 February 1901, 18 February 1901, 04 March 1901, 03 May 1901, 19 December 1901, 21 March 1902, 03 August 1904, 24 May 1907, 14 October 1907, 12 February 1908, 24 September 1915, 28 August 1916, Poverty Bay Herald, 18 August 1913, 5 November 1913, 9 September 1914, 16 December 1914, 23 September 1915, 12 October 1915, 12 February 1920, Marlborough Express, 23 September 1915, Feilding Star, 23 September 1915, Star, 25 January 1916 (Papers Past) [04 December 2013; 06 May 2014; 08 March 2015]; School Admission Registers (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; Winchester Anglican Baptism Records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [08 March 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [09 March 2015]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [02 May 2015]

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available. 

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).
Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB