Leslie Caldwell Radcliffe was born in Sydney but was working on the family farm near Home Hill when he went away to school (graduated Toowoomba Grammar School 1914), and then the army soon after his graduation. He had also spent some time at Brisbane Grammar. Leslie enlisted in Brisbane on 23 February 1916; he was 21 years of age. He was the son of Frank and Emily Radcliffe of Home Hill, although Ayr is written as his “place of association” on the AWM file. He wrote his mother as NOK. Leslie was almost 5’10” tall, weighing 137 pounds; he had a fair complexion, brown eyes and auburn hair; he was of the Church of England religion. He stated his occupation as farmer.
After basic training at Enoggera he was posted to the 4/47th Battalion reinforcements and left Brisbane on the A42 Boorara on 16 August 1916. The voyage to England lasted until mid-October. After further training in Wiltshire, he crossed the Channel to join his battalion in France near the end of December. Leslie served in the ranks of the 47th Battalion for over eight months. He experienced the horrors of Bullecourt and Messines, clearly impressing his superiors as a competent soldier and survivor.
In late October, Leslie began officer training with an officer-cadet battalion in Belgium. Two weeks later, he graduated to the full officer course at Oxford University, where his preparation lasted over four months. After commissioning as 2/Lieutenant he moved back to France and gained a posting to 49th Battalion, the Queensland unit of 13th Brigade, 4th Division. He joined the battalion soon after its heroic charge at Villers-Bretonneux, where it took part in one of the greatest feats of the AIF.
Leslie served as a junior officer on the front during the period of “peaceful penetration” of the German lines east of Villers-Bretonneux, through the Battle of Hamel, until preparations were underway for the great attack on 8 August. Unfortunately, on 2 August, Leslie was sheltering in a trench that was hit by German artillery, burying a number of men. Leslie and another soldier were killed, although several others were rescued by their mates. He was 23 years of age; he was buried in the Hourges Orchard Cemetery, Domart-sur-la-Luce, France (grave B.59).
Leslie’s father Frank signed receipts for his medals and mementoes at the farm near Home Hill.
Toowoomba Grammar School Archive Records state that he started at the school on 1st January 1907 and left on 31st December 1907.
National Archives of Australia Military Records
Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing
Australian War Memorial Honour Roll