The AIF Project

Leslie Ernest CHURCH

Regimental number2534
Place of birthWest Maitland, New South Wales
SchoolTamworth Superior State School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
AddressUrabatta Street, Ross Hill, Inverell, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation35
Height5' 5"
Weight133 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Rose Etha Church, Urabatta Street, Ross Hill, Inverell, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 5 years in the 4th Infantry Regiment, Citizen Military Forces, Tamworth, New South Wales.
Enlistment date13 June 1916
Place of enlistmentNarrabri, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name33rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/50/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board SS Port Napier on 17 November 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll33rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 7 June 1917
Place of death or woundingMessines, Belgium
Age at death36.6
Age at death from cemetery records36
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Thomas and Hannah CHURCH, husband of Rose Etha CHURCH, Ross Hill, Inverell, New South Wales
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 17 November 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 29 January 1917; marched in to 9th Training Bn, 30 January 1917; reverted to Private, 31 January 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 3 May 1917; marched in to 3rd Australian Division Base Depot, Etaples, 4 May 1917; taken on strength, 33rd Bn, in the field, 22 May 1917.

Killed in action, 7 June 1917.

Handwritten notation on Form B103: 'Buried'.

Statement, Red Cross File No 730802, 1512 Pte W.J. BROWN, D Company, 33rd Bn, 8 October 1917: 'Pt. (sic) Percy Veale of the 33rd Batt. B. Co., a Battalion Pioneer, told me that Church was buried in Plugstreat (sic) Wood Military Cemetery, and that there was a cross on the grave.'

Second statement, 1911 Pte A. SUPPLE, A Company, 33rd Bn (patient, Endell Street Hospital, London, England), 31 October 1917: 'Cyril Knepp [2582 C.R. KNEIPP] who is still with the Battalion told me he buried him in the open.'

Third statement, 2405 Pte P.N.M. VEALE, B Company, 33rd Bn, 25 October 1917: 'Re 2534 Pte. L.E. Church, A Coy.[,] who was killed on Messines & buried by a few of his comrades including myself between 6th and 9th of June. I canot remember the exact day. The burial srvice was conducted by Capt. Chaplain Richmond. I am only too pleased to give any information regarding Pte. L.E. Church as he was a personal friend of mine in Inverell, N.S. Wales, Australia. Pte L.E. Church was buried with 62 others in a registered cemetery at Dead Horse corner Ploegsteert Wood, a cross has since been erected.'

Fourth statement, 2582 Pte C. KNEIPP, 33rd Bn, 11 February 1918: 'Pte L.E. Church: he was killed by a shell on the 7th June 1917. He was buried, but only a Field burial. I cannot find out where the grave is registered.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous detailsNotation on Attestation Form: 'Dental Attention'; Medical History Form gives height as 5' 8", weight as 150 lbs.
SourcesNAA: B2455, CHURCH Leslie Ernest
Red Cross File No 730802

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