Company Quartermaster Sergeant
Serial No. 859
Leslie Franklin - Information
Leslie’s parents Samuel Franklin and Keziah Brown married at Cobbitty Paddock on the 14th of November 1877. Leslie was of many children, born in Elderslie on the 20th of September 1891. The family then moved to 41 Gibbon St in Redfern, with Samuel’s cousin, John Franklin and his family. Here, Leslie started working as a polisher, before deciding to enlist in the AIF on the 11th of March 1915 in Liverpool, at the age of 23. He was made a Private with the 19th Battalion and departed Melbourne on the 25th of June 1915 onboard the HMAT Ceramic.
Leslie landed in Egypt and shortly joined his Battalion at Gallipoli. Towards the end of the year, the Peninsula was hit by a terrible blizzard. The weather turned bitterly cold with heavy snowfall. Further advances were impossible and the campaign was called off. As the men were evacuated, they were shortly stationed to Lemnos Island before reaching Egypt. On Lemnos Island, just before Christmas, Leslie was charged with drunkenness and disturbing peace after lights out. He was confined, but then escaped, breaking camp and going absent without leave for 60 hours. By the new year, Leslie was back in Egypt training with his unit. In mid March, he left Alexandria for the port of Marseilles in France. Here, the boys were introduced to trench warfare with daring raids into enemy lines. In July, Leslie and his unit were moved to the Somme Sector, where they participated in action at Pozières. The attacks were successful in gaining the ridge, but costly. The 19th Battalion was taken out of action to quieter lines in Belgium in September. Here, Leslie was appointed Acting Corporal. A few weeks later, he was made Pioneer Sergeant, however, reverted to Private when he took ill. On the 8th of October, he was promoted to Corporal, Lance Sergeant, and five days later, was made Sergeant. In 1917, the Germans began their withdrawal strategy. They had shortened their line, by building a series of defence fortifications on high ground, straightening out salients and given their men first rate cover. It was known as the Hindenburg Line. As they were retreating, the Allies gave chase, resulting in many altercations. Fighting was intense, and Leslie soon reported to hospital in Rouen on the 11th of April. He was diagnosed with disordered action of the heart, a physical defect caused by stress. He was feeling better in mid June and rejoined his unit. The following month, he was transported to England to the 5th Training Battalion. In early December he returned to France. However, in March 1918, Leslie returned to Rouen Hospital with debility. He was subsequently sent for treatment in Boulogne, before rejoining his unit in mid May. After, the stalemate was broken by the Germans in March, territory was quickly changing hands. The Allies managed to stifle their progress and began pushing back. On the 20th of July, Leslie was promoted Company Quartermaster Sergeant. The 19th Battalion then fought during the Battle of Amiens on the 8th of August. Here, Leslie was wounded in action when fragments from an artillery explosion penetrated his face and jaw. In extreme pain, he was rushed to the 61st Casualty Clearing Station by the 6th Field Ambulance. The following day, he was admitted to hospital in Boulogne, and shortly evacuated to England. Leslie required extensive treatment, and unfortunately his wound would leave visible scarring. He was on convalescence when the war ended. He was then granted an early Christmas present, heading home to Australia on Christmas Eve. In early 1919, he returned home to his family in Redfern.