(Service number 7169)
|Aliases||Known as Lennie or Leon|
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||15 July 1895||Place of Birth||Temuka|
|Date||12 September 1917||Age||22 years 2 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Brookstead, via Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia|
|Previous Military Experience||Senior Cadets T.A.I.A. Discharged as 'out of area'.|
|Next of Kin||Mr Joseph LEE (father), Brookstead, via Pittsworth, Queensland|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 150 lbs. Chest measurement 33-35 inches. Complexion medium. Eyes brown. Hair dark brown. Free from scrofula; phthisis; syphilis; impaired constitution; defective intelligence; defects of vision, voice or hearing; hernia; haemorrhoids, varicose veins, beyond a limited extent; marked varicocele with unusually pendent testicle; inveterate cutaneous disease; chronic ulcers; traces of corporal punishment, or evidence of having been marked with the letters D. or B.C.; contracted or deformed chest; abnormal curbature of spine; or any other disease or physical defect calculated to unfit him for the duties of a soldier. Can see the required distance with either eye. Heart & lungs healthy. Free use of joints & limbs. Not subject to fits of any description. Fit for Active Service, subject to dental attention. Innoculated.|
|Served with||Australian Imperial Forces||Served in||Australian Army|
|Body on Embarkation||21st Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||25th Battalion|
|Date||16 November 1917|
|Embarked From||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
14 December 1917 - to ship's Hospital, sick with influenza
|Date||2 September 1918||Age||23 years|
|Place of Death||Mont St Quentin, France|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Peronne, Somme, France|
|Memorial Reference||Plot III, Row C, Grave No. 37|
|New Zealand Memorials||Timaru Memorial Wall; Temuka War Memorial (Lee L.); Temuka RSA Roll of Honour (Lee L.); Temuka District High School Roll of Honour; Opihi College Roll of Honour (created by David Ellena, 2015); Australian War Memorial; Pittsworth (Queensland) Memorial School of Arts Memorial Tablet|
Leonidas Lee was the son of Joseph and Annis (Annie) Elizabeth (née Ackroyd) Lee. He was born on 15 July 1895 at Temuka, the oldest of eight children (seven boys and one girl) born in New Zealand. Lennie, as he was known, was educated at Temuka School, along with four of his brothers. The Lee family members were early settlers in New Zealand, Lennie’s grandparents, Edward and Harriet Lee, having migrated by the “Victory” in the mid 1860s. Young Leonidas enjoyed success at Temuka School – third place in the first heat and then in the final of the 50 Yards, boys under 9, at the annual sports held in early December 1903; and a prize and 2nd class certificate in Standard I in 1904. Shortly before their departure for Queensland, Leo Lee and Sidney Lee, and other brothers, were awarded prizes at St Peter’s Sunday School. The prizes comprised well-bound Bibles, prayer books and storybooks.
His father was the proprietor of the Bull's Head Butchery at Temuka. When the family moved to Australia in 1908, to take up land, 13 year old Leonidas attended the Toowoomba Grammar School in Queensland. Joseph Lee and his father, Edward, visited Queensland in 1907 and, favourably impressed, took up land on Darling Downs and set about winding up their business affairs at Temuka. A presentation was made to Mr E. Lee, a Temuka resident held in high esteem and whose departure was much regretted, in January 1908 when he was about to leave Temuka. Messrs J. and W. Lee also spoke on this occasion – Joseph and Walter, his sons and the fathers of the servicemen who were go to war with the Australian forces. The health was proposed of Messrs J., R. and W. Lee, sons of Mr Edward Lee. Mrs Lee was bade farewell at a gathering arranged by the Ladies Guild and choir of St Peter’s Church in May 1908 as she prepared to join her husband in Queensland. On 27 May Mrs Edward Lee and Mr and Mrs Joseph Lee and family left Temuka for Queensland. Three generations of the Lee family had been valuable members of the Temuka community. Having suffered the effects of drought, Mr Edward Lee and some of his family intended returning to New Zealand in early 1912, but he was to die in Queensland in August 1912. Mrs E. Lee returned to New Zealand in February following and lived for some years with her son Rufus at Temuka. In 1921 a presentation was made to Mrs E. Lee, one of the oldest members of the Temuka Parish Church, and “still a consistent and ardent worker for it”. A Temuka Leader article, of 24 January 1924, recalling the arrival of the Victory in March 1866, Mr and Mrs Edward Lee among her passengers, mentioned that Mrs Lee was still at Temuka, “hale and hearty”. She too returned to Australia where she died in 1934. Brothers Joseph and Walter Lee engaged in wheat-growing in Australia, and in 1917, when their sons were preparing to go and serve at war, they harvested a record crop of wheat off their St Ronan’s (Queensland) property.
When Leonidas Lee enlisted at Toowoomba on 12 September 1917, he was labelled a “practical patriot”. He was 22 years old, a farmer, single and of Church of England affiliation, living at home at Brookstead. He named his father, J. Lee, of Brookstead, via Pittsworth, Queensland, as next-of-kin. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 150 pounds and had a chest measurement of 33-35 inches. His complexion was medium, his eyes brown and his hair dark brown. He was free of any diseases and deformities. He could see the required distance with either eye. His heart and lungs were healthy. He had the free use of his joints and limbs. He was free of all diseases and defects which may have rendered him unfit for the duties of a soldier. He declared that he was not subject to fits of any description. Thus he was fit for Active Service, subject to dental attention. He had already served with the Senior Cadets, being discharged as he was out of the area. He was granted five days Home Leave with pay prior to embarkation, which included 18 hours of travel by train. Private Leonidas Lee embarked at Sydney on 16 November 1917 per “Canberra”, with the 25th Battalion, 21st Reinforcement. On the trip he was admitted to the ship's hospital (Canberra) on 14 December 1917, sick with influenza. On the day of embarkation, he requested the Paymaster to pay three shillings and six pence per day to his mother, Annis Elizabeth Lee, Brookstead, during his service with the Australian Imperial Force. Having disembarked at Suez on 21 December 1917, he embarked at Port Said on 9 January 1918 and disembarked at Taranto on 20 January 1918 and at Southampton on 30 January 1918.
Private L. Lee proceeded overseas on 29 April 1918 to France via Folkestone, and on 30 April 1918 he was admitted from England to Etaples where he joined his unit on 4 May and was taken on Strength in the Field. Private Leonidas Lee was killed in action at St Quentin, France, on 2 September 1918, aged 23 years. Information to this effect was received at Pittsworth from the military authorities on Friday, 20 September. “The late gallant soldier” had been through much of the heavy fighting on the Western Front. Leonidas was buried first in an isolated grave in a shell hole near barbed wire at Mont St Quentin, just over one mile north of Peronne. His remains were exhumed and re-interred in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, the work being carried out with every measure of care and reverence in the presence of a Chaplain (advice dated 15 October 1919 and 8 January 1920). One package containing the effects (wallet, photos, cards) of the late No 7169 Pte. L. Lee 25th Battalion was sent to his mother (his legatee), Annis Elizabeth Lee, in April 1919. These were the only effects recovered, no others being found in his kit bag. His father had enquired after being alerted to an advertisement in August 1920, but this referred to another member of the A.I.F. In his Will dated 28th February 1918 at Fovant Camp and previously lodged with the Officer in Charge Base Records, he bequeathed all his property to his mother. The Memorial Scroll and a pamphlet “Where the Australians Rest” were sent to his father, Joseph Lee, in 1921, the Memorial Plaque in 1922 and the Victory Medal in 1923. Private Lee was also awarded the British war Medal. A studio portrait is included in the Australian War Memorial record. It appears that Leonidas had a girlfriend (maybe fiancée) when he left for the Front. On 24th September 1918 Miss May Elsden, of Wigtown Farm, Brookland via Pittsworth, Queensland, wrote to Major J. M. McLean, requesting that all letters signed ‘Your Loving girl, May’ which she had sent to No. 7169 Private Leonidas Lee, on Active Service Abroad, be sent back to her or destroyed. A reply was sent stating that any found would be sent to his father and that none could be destroyed. At the October 1918 meeting of the Pittsworth shire Council, the chairman referred to the deaths of two soldiers, one of them being Private Leonidas Lee, whom he spoke of as “a very fine boy indeed”. A vote of sympathy to the bereaved relatives was carried by all standing in silence, and a letters of condolence were to be sent to the relatives. Mr and Mrs Joseph Lee were well known and respected residents of Brookstead.
Leonidas was a promising young man and had been very popular in the Temuka district where his grandmother, Mrs E. Lee, was residing when she received a letter in November 1918, advising that her grandson, Private Lennie Lee, had been killed in action on 2 September. Just five months earlier she had received word that another grandson, Ashton Lee, had been killed in action. Walter Ashton Lee, a cousin of Leonidas was killed in action on 24 april 1918 at the Somme. Sidney Lee, a brother of Lennie, served with the Australian Forces; and another cousin, Gordon Rufus Lee, of Temuka, served in World War II. Lennie’s parents and his only sister, Millie, visited Temuka from Queensland in 1930 and were the guests of Mrs Lee’s sister at Rangitira Valley. Mrs Annis Lee died in 1936 and Mr Joseph Lee in 1947, after a lengthy illness. They are buried in the Toowoomba Cemetery.
An Honour Board to the memory of those soldiers who, in their boyhood, had attended the school at Pampas, was unveiled in early 1920 in the presence of a large number of relatives and residents of the districts. Reference was made to the willingness with which the boys of Brookstead and Pampas had volunteered to fight for Country, King, Freedom, Honour and Right. Six of the twelve boys who had attended the school had paid the supreme sacrifice, among them Leon Lee and his cousin Ashton Lee. The Honour Roll was a very handsome one, manufactured at a cost of £12/13/7. Eric Lee, a brother of Leonidas, had subscribed four shillings to the Roll.
The Roll of Honour erected at the Temuka District High School to perpetuate the memory of the ex-pupils of the school who lost their lives in the Great War, was unveiled in June 1921 in the presence of a large gathering, comprising nearly all the pupils of the school and some hundreds of adults. Proceedings commenced with the singing of “O God our help” and the saying of the Lord’s Prayer. The chairman said “These men went forth to do battle for right against a strong and mighty foe, knowing that they might not return to their own again. It was therefore our duty as fellow citizens to do something to keep their names ever green in our minds and hearts.” The names of two of the men who went forth, are Private L. Lee and Private A. Lee.
Fourteen months later the Temuka Borough memorial was unveiled before a very large gathering in the domain, including Temuka Territorials and Cadets, Temuka and Geraldine returned soldiers, the Temuka Pipe Band, the Salvation Army Band, the children of the district schools, national and local dignitaries, and local folk. Opening proceedings, the Mayor said “We regret that this occasion has arisen, but having done so we must look back with pride at the actions of those who rose to the call of the Motherland, which was in peril. Many of those brave boys who left these shores did not return, and we have erected this memorial to their memory, . . .” Following hymns and scripture readings, His Excellency the Governor-General formally unveiled the monument and the local M.P. read out the names inscribed thereon.
The names of Leonidas Lee and his cousin Walter Ashton Lee were heard regularly at Anzac Day commemorations at Pittsworth, Queensland. At the evening united public meeting in 1930, Mr J. W. Shaw said that they had gathered together to to pay tribute to those who had won a priceless reputation for Australia. Before reading the names, the Rev. Tunstall said that it was the aftermath of the Great War that confronted them that day. The Rev. Bean moved a motion of sympathy with the relatives of those who died, and with those who had suffered on behalf of the Empire, and recorded the assurance that those who had fallen, and those who had survived the perils of War, would ever be remembered with gratitude. Several hymns were sung, and the anthem “Lest We Forget” by a combined choir, and a collection was taken up for the Pittsworth Soldiers’ Memorial fund. In 1931, the school children and citizens placed wreaths at the Memorial Tablet at the Pittsworth Memorial School of Arts, where the citizens had gathered for the ceremonies. L. Lee and Ashton Lee are two of those who lost their lives and whose names appear on the tablet. The same list of names – all soldiers from the district who made the supreme sacrifice - was read in 1933, after addresses and wreath-laying during the day, and resolutions of sympathy and loyalty and the sounding of the “Last Post” at 9 o’clock in the evening. Similar commemorations were held in 1937, one minute’s silence being observed and the “Last Post” sounded after the reading of the names of the fallen soldiers from the district. Anzac Day 1939 drew a large crowd to the public meeting. Again numerous wreaths were placed around the marble Memorial Tablet. The main feature of the day was the unveiling of costly War Memorial Stained-Glass Windows at St Andrew’s Church of England. St Andrew’s was one of the most beautiful and picturesque churches in Queensland. The windows were a memorial to all the men and women of the Pittsworth district who gave service during the Great War. In 1943 Anzac Day fell on Easter Sunday, which drew large congregations to the churches. The Star Theatre was also full for the public commemorations. A procession comprising members of the Returned Soldiers’ League, V.A.D, A.W.A.S. and W.A.A.F. was headed by the Toowoomba Pipe band. An explanation was given to the children of how the word “Anzac” first came into use 28 years ago. And there were added to the memorial the names of soldiers who had fallen in World War II, which list had grown by 1944. In an address to the children, the speaker said that “it was a privilege for them to pay homage to the daring exploits and gallant deeds of the men who fought in the great struggle of 1914-1918. The men whose deeds they commemorated fought that war to end war, but unfortunately their hopes had not been realised.” The Pittsworth branch of the Fathers’ Association entertained 350 ex-servicemen and women at luncheon at the 1947 Anzac commemorations, a function which had been inaugurated in 1946 and proved very successful and popular. The fallen soldiers were again honoured at a public meeting. The 1949 Anzac commemorations were memorable and reflected the march of time. At Pittsworth the Stone of Remembrance and a plaque inscribed with the names of the second World War fallen were dedicated and unveiled. The names of the fallen from both wars were read as the Last Post was sounded. “Their bodies lie over many quarters of the globe. Their honoured memories remain with us for all time. It is for us to treasure and honour them.” And at the 1950 Anzac public ceremonies, the traditional resolution of loyalty was moved. The residents of Pittsworth desired to express their admiration of the self-sacrifice, endurance and heroism of the men and women who served in the two world wars.
Leonidas Lee is honoured, his name being inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall, the Temuka War Memorial the Temuka RSA Roll of Honour, the Temuka District High School Roll of Honour, the Opihi College Roll of Honour (created 2015), and on the Australian War Memorial, and the Pittsworth (Queensland) Memorial School of Arts Memorial Tablet.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 November 2016]; Australian Imperial Force Attestation Paper (National Archives of Australia) [08 May 2014]; CWGC [07 May 2014]; Australian War Memorial - Roll of Honour (www.awm.gov.au) [07 May 2014]; WWI Pictorial Roll of Queenslanders (ww1qld.gravesecrets.net) [07 May 2014]; Australian Imperial Force - Nominal Roll (static.awm.gov.au) [07 May 2014]; Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files, 1914-18 War [08 May 2014]; Temuka Leader, 5 December 1903, 24 December 1904, 7 September 1907, 9 January 1908, 19 & 28 May 1908, 15 August 1911, 13 February 1913, 1 May 1913, 6 February 1917, 30 May 1918, 9 November 1918, 18 & 25 June 1921, 12 August 1922, 24 January 1924, 30 January 1930, Timaru Herald, 28 May 1908, 11 November 1918 (Papers Past) [09 May 2014; 27 September 2019; 01 October 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [09 May 2014]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch) ; New Zealand & Australian Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au); Toowoomba Chronicle, 13 September 1917, 21 September 1918, 17 October 1918, Darling Downs Gazette, 23 September 1918, The Brisbane Courier, 24 September 1918, Pittsworth Sentinel, 10 March 1920, 30 April 1930, 29 April 1931, 29 April 1933, 26 April 1939, 1 May 1943, 4 March 1947, 18 April 1947, 29 April 1947 [x 2], 26 April 1949, 28 April 1950 (Trove) [30 September 2019]
- Walter Ashton & Leonidas LEE - newspaper clippings 1930-1950 (pdf, 13.7 MB updated 10-Oct-2019)
- LEE - Leonadis, Sidney & Walter Ashton - newspaper clippings (pdf, 1016.9 KB updated 11-Feb-2020)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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