BRETT, Leo Joseph
(Service number 25/946)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank


Date 6 November 1886 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment C/o Mrs Levy, Barnard Street, Timaru
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mrs Eileen WEIR (sister), Christchurch
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 3rd Battalion, C Company
Date 5 February 1916
Transport Ulimaroa or Mokoia or Navua
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
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 28 April 1952 Age 55 or 65 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Memorial or Cemetery Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Block 1A, Plot 360
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Leo Joseph Brett was born on 6 November 1886 at Timaru, as per the clearly amended record in his military personnel file. No registration of birth has been identified. The year of 1886 tallies with a report in the Police Gazette of 1917. Leo, it seems, was born to Ellen (Nellie, née Bevan) and a Mr Brett. He had a sister, Eileen Brett or Brett, born in 1879. In 1888 at Christchurch, Nellie married Joseph William Francis, a widower with four surviving children. Nellie and Joseph had two children before they died in 1895 and 1894 respectively, both being buried from the Catholic Church at Timaru. Nellie was baptised into the Catholic Church at Timaru in 1894. Immediately after Nellie’s death the Rev Father Hurlin waited on the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board with regard to the orphaned family named Francis. “The eldest girl was old enough to go to service [Eileen]. Kind persons among his congregation had arranged to take charge of other children except one aged between 7 and 8, a chronic and helpless invalid, requiring constant attention [Cecil]. Leo was educated at Arthur Street School, Dunedin, and Timaru Main School, as Leopold Francis. It is also intimated that he was admitted to St Mary’s Industrial School at Nelson, after his mother and step-father had died. His older sister Eileen Brett attended school in Christchurch, Timaru South, Arthur Street, Timaru Main and Sacred Heart School at Timaru, as Eileen Francis and Eileen Cecilia Francis. Three step-brothers and a step-sister attended variously schools in Christchurch, Timaru Main, Arthur Street, Timaru South, and Sacred Heart at Timaru. Of the two children of Nellie and Joseph, the little girl died at two years of age and was buried at Timaru; the boy (Cecil) attended Timaru South School for a time before leaving for the Christchurch Refuge in 1906. He suffered osteomyelitis and had both legs amputated at a child. Public subscription had provided a hand-driven tricycle for him. Leo Brett, Cecil’s half-brother, had left Timaru about fifteen months prior, saying that he was going to Christchurch. Nothing had been heard of him, but it was stated that “hehad a reason for absconding”.

Leo J. Brett, Timaru, was among the recruits passed by the medical men in Timaru in mid July 1915. He named his sister, Mrs Eileen Weir, as next-of-kin. Eileen Brett married Herbert Weir in 1910. Post war, Leo seems to have covered his tracks. Was he the same Joseph Brett who was a labourer of Christchurch in 1940 when he was drawn in the ballot for World War II? Leo Joseph Brett died on 28 April 1952 at Christchurch, his age given as 55 years. Who was his next-of-kin? He was buried in Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch. One step-brother, Herbert Thomas Francis, was called up in 1917.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [20 July 2002]; School Admission records [21 July 2020]; Ruru Lawn Cemetery burial record (Christchurch City Council) [21 July 2020]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [24 July 2020]; Timaru Herald, 1 May 1895, 19 September 1906, 14 July 1915 (Papers Past) [19 July 2020]

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