Leslie Charles Hutchinson
From Our Contribution
Australia's Fighting Sons of the Empire page 101
|Date of Birth||8 Nov 1898|
|Place of Birth||North Fremantle, Western Australia|
|Death||22 Aug 1918|
|Place of Death||Bray, France|
|Age at Enlistment||18 years old|
|Occupation||Civil service clerk|
|Address||NOK 11 Sherwood street, Maylands, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Charles Hutchison|
|Date of Enlistment||20 Nov 1916|
|Unit/Formation||44th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement, to C Company / 11th Brigade, 3rd Division|
|Date of Embarkation||29 Jun 1917 ‒ 25 Aug 1917|
|Ship Embarked On||HMAT A30 Borda|
Wounded in Action 3 Apr 1918 Morlancourt |
Killed in Action 22 Aug 1918 Bray
Mundijong Honour Roll |
ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)
Australian War Memorial
British War Medal |
On arrival in England Leslie was posted to the 11th Training Battalion at Larkhill. While there he was hospitalised from 7 - 20 Sep 1917, and again from 24 - 29 Sep 1917 with influenza. On 5 Nov 1917 he was transferred to the 10th Training Battalion at Sutton Mandeville, before proceeding overseas to France from Southampton on 27 Dec 1917.
In France he spent from 28 Dec 1917 until 3 Jan 1918 in the 3rd Division Base Depot at Rouelles, and was taken on strength by the 44th Battalion on 4 Jan 1918. The battalion at this time was 'wintering' near Messines. In late January they moved into support for the front line, with a typical day described by Les in his diary thus
"It was a strange experience, the ground was pock-marked with shell holes, the whine of the shells was continuous and the rat-tat of the machine guns incessant. When our artillery fires, the whole sky is lighted up like a sheet of lightning. We rested all day and at night marched up the communication trench about 1,000 yards (914 metres) to a spot just behind the front line. here is pretty well the same all over the country; the ground is very flat and the trenches can only be dug to about knee depth when water is struck. Consequently the parapet Has to be heaped up from the outside. This was our job. We had been going for a little while, occasionally bobbing to a machine gun, when Fritz sent over a couple of pineapples followed by a number more of what were apparently duds. They were, however, gas shells...Owing to the gas being about we could not carry on, so beat a hasty retreat. Next night we went up to finish the job."
On 3 Apr 1918, the battalion was in the front lines near the north bank of the Somme, east of Amiens. The enemy shelled the front line trenches, 'registering' them, and caused minor casualties - 1 Officer and 2 other ranks, one of whom was Les, who remained on duty, so the wound would have been very light.
22 Aug 1918 was, according to the unit's War Diary, relatively quiet for a day on the front lines with the majority of the casualties taken while moving into their positions (4 killed and 16 wounded). The enemy also heavily shelled some positions at regular intervals, but being well dug in, 'few casualties were sustained'. Later in the day enemy planes bombed and strafed the battalion without causing casualties, so it would appear that Leslie's death most likely happened early in the day as they moved into position. This is borne out by his Red Cross file, although description of the circumstances of his death vary. (These statements were taken from soldiers up to a year later while they were on ships returning to Australia in 1919 or in London in 1919). 
"I was about 5 yards away and he was hit with a shell bursting on his back. He did not speak. He was killed instantly. This was near Suzanne on 22 Aug 1918 about 9 or 10 in the morning. Very young, dark. I was a stretcher bearer for the Coy." 5793 Pte H.W. Webb.
"I was in the same Company as this man. He was killed on the Hindenburg Line, by Machine Gun fire. His Platoon Commander was killed at the same time." 592 Sgt R.A. Sanders
"I saw Hutchinson of C Coy killed instantly (hit all over) within a few yards of me by wiz bang shell about 7:30 a.m. during the advance on Bray. He was No. 1 on a Lewis Gun which he was carrying. he was buried where he fell." 2826 Sgt J.A. Gilbert, C Coy
Originally buried 1,500 yards south-west of Bray-Sur-Somme Station, and 500 yards north of the Crucifix on the road leading from Etineham. Later exhumed and reburied at Beacon Cemetery (Plot VI, Row J, Grave 4) Sailly Laurett, France.
- 'The Westralian Battalion - The Unit History of the 44th Battalion A.I.F., Neville Browning, Advance Press, 2004, page 220
- "Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files - Leslie Charles Hutchinson". Australian War Memorial. 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- WAMDL - Western Australian Military Digital Library has digitised Leslie Hutchinson's war diary.
- AIF Project
- RSL Virtual War Memorial