LEONARD, James Joseph
(Service number 40008)

Aliases Enlisted as Leonard JAMES
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 22 January 1889 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 11 January 1916 Age 26 years 11 months
Address at Enlistment C/o Dickinson, Fordell, Wanganui
Occupation Shepherd
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs M. JAMES (mother), Arno, South Canterbury; amended to Mrs Mary LEONARD; added Mr Maurice LEONARD (father), Arno, Waimate
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

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 22nd Reinforcements, F Company
Date 13 February 1917
Transport Mokoia
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Otago Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Service Medals 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 16 November 1922 Age 33 years
Place of Death Wellington Hospital
Cause Effects of war service?
Notices Timaru Herald, 18 November 1922
Memorial or Cemetery Waimate Old Cemetery
Memorial Reference Plot 427
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James Joseph Leonard was born on 22 January 1889 at Waimate, the fifth son Maurice and Mary (née Walsh) Leonard. He was baptised Roman Catholic on 3 February 1889 at Waimate. Maurice and Mary had married in their native County Kerry, Ireland, and come to New Zealand by 1879. Thomas Leonard and Hanorah Leonard, brother and sister of Maurice, also came to New Zealand and married here. Maurice played a significant part in the Waitaki Village-Tawai district and in Waimate. Along with several of his siblings, James was educated at Tawai School, the olders ones coming to Tawai from Glenavy in 1890.

James Joseph Leonard enlisted as Leonard James, on 11 January 1916 at Tauherinekau. He was single, Roman Catholic and named as his next-of-kin his mother – Mrs M. James, Arno, Waimate, South Canterbury. This was later amended to Mrs Mary Leonard, and Mr Maurice Leonard (father), Arno, Waimate, was added. A note stated that the soldier’s correct name was Leonard, James Joseph. He was a shepherd at Fordell, Wanganui. Private Leonard James, 40008, embarked with the 22nd Reinforcements per the “Mokoia”, leaving Wellington on 13 February 1917 and disembarking at Plymouth, England, on 2 May 1917. James Joseph Leonard, shepherd, of Kauangaroa, Fordell, was called up in mid February 1917 in the Wanganui District for the 27th and 28th Reinforcements. But James Joseph Leonard was already on his way, as Leonard James.

‘Leonard James’, 40008, now with the Otago Infantry Regiment, was wounded on 16 October 1917. Mrs M. Leonard, Senior, received word, however, that Private James Leonard had been wounded on 12th October. As of 19 November 1917, his was reported to be a severe case. Mrs Leonard, Arno, received further notification that Private James Leonard had been admitted to the military hospital at Bethel Green on 19th October, severely wounded on the left thigh. His brother Pat was also hospitalised in England at this time. On 19 December 1918, James embarked at Liverpool to return home by Draft 207, the “Oxfordshire”. News had reached his father at Kapua in mid January 1919 that James Leonard would be home shortly. He was discharged no longer physically fit for War Service. There are discrepancies with regards to enlistment and discharge in the personnel file for Leonard James, 80004.

James Joseph Leonard died on 16 November 1922 at Wellington Hospital, “dearly beloved fifth son of Maurice and Mary Leonard, of Arno, Waimate.” He was only 33 years old. He was buried with his parents in the Waimate Old Cemetery. His death appears to have been as a result of his war service. A War Graves Form was prepared on 7 May 1923. In August 1923 the Tawai Soldiers War Memorial was unveiled. “We forgot our little class distinctions, our political and religious differences, and remembered only that we were all equal sons and daughters of the Empire.” These were the words of the Rev Wilson in addressing those gathered, before he unveiled the memorial - “To the glory of God, and in memory of the men from Tawai District who made the great sacrifice.”. The President of the Waimate Branch of the R.S.A. was glad to see that the people of Tawai realised their indebtedness to those who did not return and also to those who did. The names of twenty-two men who returned, including P. Leonard (James’ brother), are included on the memorial. In the centre is the inscription: “The supreme sacrifice,” and under an emblem of laurel leaves the five names, J. Leonard being one of them. And the inscription: “They died that we might live.” [See Timaru Herald, 24 August 1923 – attachment]

His brother Patrick Joseph Leonard also served in the First World War, and two other brothers, Michael Martin Leonard and Joseph Thomas Leonard, also enlisted. The two oldest sons of the family – Maurice Leonard and John Patrick Leonard – were both listed on the Reserve Roll, being married men with children. Three cousins Michael Joseph Leonard, Michael Vincent Foley (with the Australian forces under an assumed name) and Timothy Joseph Foley – all served in the War.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [03 March 2021]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [26 February 2021]; Baptism Index Christchurch Catholic Diocese CD held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [26 February 2021]; School Admission record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [26 February 2021]; Waimate Old Cemetery burial record [26 February 2021]; Waimate Cemetery headstone transcription [26 February 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [03 March 2021]; Wanganui Herald, 13 February 1917, Wanganui Chronicle, 14 February 1917, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 2 & 19 November 1917, 24 January 1919, NZ Times, 2 November 1917, 29 January 1919, Evening Post, 19 November 1917, Timaru Herald, 18 November 1922, 24 August 1923 (Papers Past) [09 February 2020; 03 & 04 March 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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