William Alfred Leaver MC MM

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William Alfred Leaver MC MM
Leaver William Alfred.jpg
Australian Fighting Sons of the Empire p.204
Leaver family.jpg
Charles (Jnr), Charles (Snr), William Leaver
Personal Information
Date of Birth 10 Sep 1897
Place of Birth Cobar, New South Wales
Death 25 Feb 1942
Place of Death Keswick Repat Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia
Age at Enlistment 19 years
Description 5'10" (1.78m) tall ; 137lbs
62.142 kg
; dark complexion ; brown eyes ; black hair ; gun shot wound left buttock
Occupation Teacher
Religion Church of England
Address 62 Cargill street, Victoria Park, Western Australia
Next of Kin Mother , Mrs. Mabel Leaver
Military Information
Reg Number 467 & SP6434
Date of Enlistment 8 Mar 1915
Rank Lieutenant
Unit/Formation 28th Battalion, C Company
Date of Embarkation 9 Jun 1915 ‒ 2 jul 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A11 Ascanius Fremantle to Port Tewfik
Date of Return 11 May 1919 ‒ 30 May 1919
Ship Returned On HMAT A30 Borda Served as paymaster during voyage
Fate WIA 1917
Returned to Australia
Monument Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Victoria Park Honour Roll
Medals Military Cross
Military Medal
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Educated in Adelaide before the family moved to Western Australia.

WW 1 Service

Enlisted in WA as a private and on 16 Apr 1915 he was allocated to 'C' Company of the 28th Battalion, then being raised in Perth. Sailed with them to Egypt aboard HMAT A11 Ascanius which departed Fremantle on 9 Jun 1915, and disembarked on 2 July 1915 at Port Tewfik before boarding boarded a convoy of four trains for Cairo. Following further training in Abbassia and a period manning the 'Citadel', he and the battalion boarded a train at Qubba Station for Alexandria on 3 Sep 1915 where they boarded HMT Ivernia which sailed that night for Mudros harbour on Lemnos. On 10 Sep 1915 they were transshipped to HMS Sarnia for Gallipoli where they were taken to Williams Pier by barges. While on Gallipoli he wrote home:

"I am in the trenches doing my bit on the gun. We are not to fire unless attacked. The Turks have just given us a demonstration just to try and draw our fire, but were not successful. Things were lively for awhile. Shrapnel, rifle and machine gun fire played on our parapets for a good half hour and all we could do was to wait and watch with periscopes. But the excitement soon died down and everything is as quiet as can be except for an occasional rifle shot"[1]

He appears to have been with the battalion when it was withdrawn from Gallipoli to Lemnos Island aboard HMT Osmanieh as one of his fellow soldiers in his letter home wrote:

:William Leaver and Walter Wilson went into the village and brought back some wine which only wetted our thirsts. By a clever scheme the three of us managed to get two jars of rum from the A.S.C. dump, although guarded by a sentry. With this, our tent had an excellent Christmas Eve. As planned the empty jars were dumped in the sea. Next morning, half the company went diving, thinking we had planted full ones."[2]

On 8 Dec 1915 he was admitted to HMHS Glenart Castle which transported him back to Egypt, releasing him to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Ghezireh on 10 Dec 1915, and they in turn released him to duty on 20 Jan 1916 . He rejoined the 28th Battalion on 28 Jan 1916. Following further training in Egypt, the battalion boarded a train for Alexandria on 15 Mar 1915, and on arrival the following morning boarded HMAT A32 Themistocles which sailed that night for Marseilles, southern France, disembarking there on 21 Mar 1916. On 14 Jul 1916 Bill was charged with having been AWOL from 11:00am to 9:15pm for which he was Admonished and lost a day's pay. Seemingly forgiven, on 13 Aug 1916 Bill was promoted to Corporal, with that rank confirmed on 9 September in addition to him being promoted the same day to Lance Sergeant.

In October 1916 the 28th Battalion with the rest of the 1st Anzac Corps moved south to attack German positions west of Gueudecourt in atrocious weather. The ground had turned to slippery mud and the men attacking a salient known as the Maze on 5 Nov 1916, were unable to keep up with the protective barrage and came under heavy enemy fire, with most survivors taking cover in shell holes in no man's land. William in a letter said:

"...I with about twelve men drop into a shell hole within thirty yards of the objective. No use going on - no men - two badly wounded men, four slightly, eight fit. Remained in hole all day sniping. Sent a corporal (he was by this time a Sergeant) in at dusk to bring out two stretchers. Killed. After waiting, went myself and brought out two stretchers with two volunteer bearers. Got the wounded in with the help of two men whom I had left with them. Had two men shot dead while doing so."[3]

Later William was involved in organising the further rescue of wounded men from no man's land while under fire, earning him his Military Medal.

On 22 Nov 1916 he was promoted Temporary Sergeant before being commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 27 Dec 1916. On 28 Feb 1917 William was leading a party of bombers who were successfully bombing heir way up Malt Trench near the Maze when he was seriously wounded by machine gun fire from a German strong point at the junction of Gamp and Malt Trenches. For this action he was awarded the Military Cross. Evacuation to England followed, but he was back with his unit, having been promoted to Lieutenant (on 27 May 1917) before the end of September, as he participated in the battle for Broodseinde Ridge near Ypres.

On 21 Oct 1917 he was presented with his Military Cross by Lt General Birdwood.. On 15 January 1918 William marched out for England for duty with the 5th Training Battalion, before he was admitted to the 39th General Hospital on 15 Sep 1918 with Venereal Disease. Following 71 days ineffective service he rejoined his unit in Belgium on 30 Nov 1918 as its 'Bombing Officer'. Bill was sent back to England on 22 Feb 1919 to begin the process of returning to Australia which was to involve him transferring to the Australian Army Pay Corps and serving as the Paymaster on HMAT A30 Borda He embarked on 11 May 1919, and disembarked on 30 May 1919. On 12 Sep 1919 his commission was terminated.

Both his father 5363 Sapper Charles Henry Leaver, and his brother 5425 Private Charles Henry Leaver served in France and returned to Australia.

Award Comment

Military Medal

"During the attack on German positions north of Flers, on morning of 5th November, 1916, displayed great courage and endurance, both during and after the action. He displayed utter disregard for personal safety, going out after two enemy snipers who were causing casualties amongst our men, and accounted for them. This was done under heavy shell fire."[4]

Military Cross

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He organised a bombing attack at a critical time and succeeded in gaining a lot of the enemy's trench. he set a fine example to his men. He was subsequently wounded."[5]

Post War

During early 1924 in Moora, William married Eileen Agnes Flynn. Eileen died in Wembley Downs on 14 Dec 1986 aged 86. They had 3 daughters (Margaret Catharine b.5 Feb 1931; Anne Josephine b. 7 oct 1934; Eileen b. 8 Feb 1936; and a son, Maurice Charles b. 7 Jul 1938).

Electoral Roll entries: 1921 at 66 Cargill street Victoria Park - no occupation; 1925 Dalwallinu farmer; 1931 - 1934 North Dalwallinu, farmer; 1941 at 596 Magill road, Burnside, South Australia.

Bill enlisted as a Temporary Sergeant in the Australian Military Force at Magill in South Australia on 13 Feb 1939 as an Instructor in the Australian Instructional Corps. However, on 20 May 1939 he was discharged as medically unfit - (Tuberculosis).


Best match for W Lever on Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll. Connection to Gosnells not yet proven, however, as a teacher (monitor) he may well have worked at a school in the District. He is included on the Victoria Park Memorial.

When he enlisted in 1915 he had given his birth year as 1895. His WW 2 documents give his birth date as 10 Sep 1897, meaning he was 17½ years old when he enlisted rather than 19½ as claimed.

  1. The Blue & White Diamond" by Neville Browning, page 44
  2. The Blue & White Diamond by Neville Browning page 67
  3. The Blue & White Diamond, by Neville Browning page 215
  4. Commonwealth Gazette No 103, dated 29 Jun 1917
  5. Commonwealth Gazette No 133, dated 21 August 1917.

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