Thomas Leydon

July 20, 2015

LEYDON, Thomas- – – – – SPC ?

DoB:- – 1897, Sydney, NSW

Father:- – John Leydon

Mother:- – Catherine

Service No:- 1556

Rank:- – Private

Unit:- – 18th Battalion

On 13 April 1915, Thomas Leydon enlisted in the AIF. He put his age at 22 years, but he was really only 18 years old. It was necessary for boys to have signed parental permission to enlist if they were less than 21 years old, so possibly Thomas did not want his parents to know he was joining up. His attestation papers state that he was a single man, five feet, eight and three quarter inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He was a labourer by occupation.

After leaving Australia, he proceeded to Gallipoli from Egypt on 16 August 1915. He was wounded (slightly) and admitted to hospital at Mudros with a gunshot wound to the thigh. One wonders how -‘slight’ the gunshot wound was, as Private Leydon was invalided to England on 30 August.

After some time recuperating and undergoing further training back in Egypt, Private Leydon proceeded from Alexandria to Marseilles, France in March 1916. He was wounded on 17 April, sustaining a gunshot wound to his right thigh, at Bailleux. He returned to action, but was admitted to hospital again with scabies in January 1917. He rejoined his unit on 28 January, and in February was hospitalised again, this time with trench foot at Rouen.

His illness with trench foot was severe enough for him to be sent to England for further treatment. He remained in England for about three months, and was transferred to hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland by June 1917. On 20 June he was charged with several offences:

Edinburgh 22.5.17: (1) Interfering with Military Police in Leigh St about 9.10pm. (2) Not complying with an order. (3) Violently resisting an escort. (4) Striking and kicking the Military Police. (5) Breaking arrest.- – Award: 28 days’ detention.

In July 1917 he was discharged back to duty, and on 9 October proceeded overseas to France. He rejoined his unit in the Field near Ypres on 14 October. On 3 November 1917, Private Thomas Leydon was killed in action.

The Australian Red Cross Society eye witness reports reveal what happened:

– -‘-¦ He was in C Coy, a single man. He was killed by a shell with about 6 other men on a post at Passchendaele during the day. I think he was blown to pieces -¦’

– -‘-¦ Several of us were on outpost duty when a shell fell, killing Leydon, -¦ I saw them killed and helped to bury them on the morning of the 5th near a large tree about 50 yards from the outpost. We erected a temporary cross with names, etc. The three men were buried together; discs and their belongings were taken from the bodies, and given into the Orderly Room -¦’

– -‘-¦ I knew [him] well. We were in the vicinity of Passchendaele on [3.11.17]. We were in the line at the time, he was in a dugout near me with four others. A shell came over. Lodged right in the dugout, and killed 5 of them. He was killed outright. He was buried behind the trench at Passchendaele, and a Cross erected. I saw the grave afterwards -¦’

Private Thomas Leydon is remembered at Ypres, Menin Gate, Memorial, Belgium.