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Leslie Charles Cracknell


Serial No:
Serial No. 6072

20th Battalion


Leslie Charles Cracknell - Information

Born in Picton to Charles and Emily Henrietta Cracknell, Leslie grew up in on Main Rd in Woonona, and attended the local Public School. He completed 2 years with the Senior Cadets, and was still serving with the 37th Infantry and working as a labourer when the war began. When he was 21, Leslie travelled into Sydney to enlist. He signed up at the Royal Showground Camp on the 12th of September 1916. He was quickly allocated to the 20th Battalion and shipped out, departing Sydney on the 25th of October 1916 upon the HMAT Ascanius.

Leslie set down in Devonport, England in late December, and was marched into Rollestone. After further instruction, Leslie was shipped to France in March 1917. At the time, they were chasing the Germans to the Hindenburg Line, running into them at Lagnicourt. 1917 was a ghastly year for the Allies. The French Nivelle Offensive was a disaster leading to mutinies across the military. Italy was being crushed and Russia hung on a thread following the first revolution. Britain was asked to do something. Commander-in-Chief General Haig had always proposed a campaign in Ypres and now he had his chance. Later in the year, the 20th Battalion found themselves in Belgium for the Third Battle of Ypres. During these attacks, Leslie was wounded in action, when shell fragments sliced his scalp open. He was treated at the 17th Casualty Clearing Station, and later taken by the 36th Ambulance Train to Camiers. From here, he was transported to hospital in Liverpool, England. In mid November, he returned to duty at Weymouth and Hurdcott. In early February 1918, he was taken back to France. On the 12th, he met his unit behind the lines in Belgium. The Germans soon launched their Spring Offensive, which penetrated the Allied line in several places. The Allies were desperate to halt the German advance. The 20th Battalion stood their ground at Hangard Wood. Slowly etching forward, the Allies launched their own offensive on the 8th of August with the Battle of Amiens. Leslie was then killed in action by a high explosive shell at Mont St Quentin on the 31st of August 1918. He was buried at Feuilleres British Cemetery, 4 miles west north west of Peronne. In 1920, his remains were exhumed and re-interred to the Farm Military Cemetery, Hem-Monau, Peronne in France. The Cracknells like many Australian families suffered the loss of a son in one of the most ferocious years of the war.