Leonard ROBINSON
Rank: Private
Number: 1079
Unit: 49th Battalion Australian Imperial Force
Date of Death: 31 March 1917
Age: 29
Cemetery: Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-la-Boiselle, Somme, France

Leonard's father, Charles, had been the tenant of Brabyns Farm, Marple. In 1901, when the Census was taken, Charles was 53 and his wife, Sarah, was 47. The children were Charles (23), Sarah (18), John Joshua (15), Leonard (14), Elsie (11), Daisy (9), Norman (6), Stanton (2).

It's not known exactly when Leonard emigrated to Australia but he enlisted into the army on 6 January 1916. He was earning a living as a fettler, working in the ceramics industry and gave his address as Tyagarah, New South Wales.

His service file is available on-line at the Australian National Archives and the reader can form an impression of the man. He was 5' 8" tall and weighed 10stone 2 pounds. Leonard had a fair complexion, light brown hair and grey eyes.  He gave his religion as Church of England. A photograph of Leonard, together with further information, is included in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

It would seem that, by this time, Charles was no longer at Brabyns Farm as his address on Leonard's attestation form was given as 12 Church Street, Marple

After initial training, Leonard embarked from Sydney on board HMAT "A64 Demosthenes", on 18 May 1916, arriving in Devonport on 20 July. Towards the end of August, Leonard was given a period of leave and, no doubt, returned to Marple to see the family. On 22 August, he was fined a day's pay for overstaying his leave. On 16 September, he went overseas on active service and spent a few weeks at the Etaples training camp in northern France. He finally joined the 49th Battalion on 21 October.

In the middle of March 1917, the German Army carried out its well-prepared plan to withdraw its troops to new heavily defended positions called the Hindenberg Line. Allied troops advanced to keep in touch with them. On 31 March, the 49th Battalion was in reserve positions, well away from the front line, near the town of Albert. Leonard was seriously wounded and he was carried to 5th Australian Field Ambulance based at Pozieres. The Field Ambulance was not just responsible for moving casualties (in the modern sense of the word ambulance) but was an integral part of the casualty evacuation chain, staffed by doctors. Leonard's service file is marked that he was admitted with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. A later enquiry to the Australian Red Cross provided the following response "Admitted to our Ambulance in a serious condition from wounds which penetrated his abdomen." Leonard died at the Ambulance and is buried nearby.

Even though the troops were in reserve, they would have provided working parties for the forward areas and it is possible that Leonard was shot by a sniper. The authors of "Remembered" conclude, from their research, that a more likely explanation is that he was hit by shrapnel from an exploding shell. In view of the distance between the Ambulance and the front line, this seems a more likely explanation

Leonard left a will. He wrote "In the event of my death, I give £100 to J J Robinson (his brother John Joshua), 12 Church Street, Marple; I give £50 to J T Robinson, Co-operative Buildings, Marple Bridge; I give £50 to C A Robinson (his brother Charles), 21 Church Street, Marple: I give £50 to S E Beverley (probably his sister Sarah), 21 Carno Street, Wavertree, Liverpool. The remaining part of my property, I give to Alice Evans, The Moorings, Syddal Road, Bramhall."

   
           
   
     
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