Leo St Clare Grondona

June 24, 2015

GRONDONA, Leo St Clare- – – – SPC 1904-1905

DoB:– – 12 August, 1890, Hawthorn, VIC

Father:- – Charles Henry Grondona

Mother:- – Margaret, nee Dineen

Leo Grondona was a boarder from Melbourne. When he left St Patrick’s College he was involved in a wide range of farming enterprises and spent three years in outback Queensland as a jackaroo.- He was working as a journalist at the time of his enlistment.

Service No:– –

Rank:– – Lieutenant

Unit:- – 39th Battalion

Leo Grondona enlisted on 15 June 1915 at the age of 25 years. He was a tall man, at 6 feet 1 -½ inches in height, with a fresh complexion, bluish-grey eyes and dark brown hair. He was unmarried, and stated his occupation as a Journalist on the staff of The Age newspaper.

Prior to embarking for overseas service, Leo was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 1 May 1916. He left Australia aboard the Asconius on 27 May, disembarking at Plymouth on 18 July 1916. After further training in England, he proceeded overseas to France with his unit on 23 November 1916.

Early the following year, Lieutenant Grondona was wounded in action at Armentieres and evacuated to hospital back in England. He had suffered a compound fracture of his left leg, and gunshot wound in his right leg -“ basically, both of his tibias were severely shattered.

By June 1917 he was deemed medically unfit for all services for six months, and it was recommended that he be returned to Australia for -‘a change’.

The following month he embarked on No 1 Hospital Ship for his return to Australia. He was struck off strength on 7 November 1917.

The injuries Leo sustained prevented him from going back to working on the land when he returned to Australia, so he resumed his career as a journalist and writer. The development of his economic ideas around the stability of exchange rates, led to his appointment as a delegate to the Imperial (Economic) Conference in 1923, which was held in London.

From 1923 Leo remained in England. He kept his Australian connections by acting as a consultant for the High Commission in London and writing a regular -‘weekly London letter’ for the Sydney Bulletin.

He was the author of The Kangaroo Keeps on Talking, published in 1924, a book that provided a description of Australia and Australian life, with a view to encouraging British migration and investment after the war. The book has an introduction by The Right Honourable Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister.

Many years later, in 1962, he published a book focussed more on his economic theories, Australia in the 1960s, which included a preface by the Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Menzies.

At the age of 37, Leo married Peggy Hyland in London, in 1927. They had two sons, John born in early 1929, and Peter born in early 1935. The family remained living in inner London. During the Second World War, Leo served with British Intelligence. With the cessation of hostilities, he was appointed commandant (Lieutenant Colonel) of the political instruction centre for German prisoners at Wilton Park.- Between January 1946 and June 1948, more than 4,000 Germans attended re-education classes where they discussed democratic processes with visiting political figures and intellectuals. One German participant said of his time at Wilton Park -“ -‘I was a Nazi; I came to Wilton Park and it changed my life’.

Leo St Clare Grondona died on 19 October 1982, in Kensington, London, aged 92. He bequeathed his body for medical research and his ashes to be scattered at his childhood home, Quandong, on the Murray River.