Leslie Sylvester DELANEY was working as a Labourer in Bunbury when he first enlisted for service in the Great War on 19th October 1914. After 4 months with the Depot Squadron of the 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment in WA he was discharged, no further details being provided on the service file.
Leslie transferred to Kalgoorlie WA for work as a Miner, prior to his second enlistment for active service on 16th August 1915. Following two months training he re-joined the 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment, with the 11th Reinforcements at Blackboy Hill WA.
On 1st November 1915 he embarked Fremantle on the troopship ” Benalla “, arriving at Alexandria Egypt on 24th November, being immediately transferred to the Overseas Base Depot for additional training. In mid-March 1916 whilst on duty at Habieta Egypt he contracted Pleurisy, requiring admittance to the local Australian Stationary Hospital. This illness caused recurring health issues for Leslie during the following three months.
In mid-June 1916 he was transferred to the 3rd Light Horse Reserve Regiment for a short time, then transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps at Tel-el-Kebir Egypt. Illness again intervened in late August 1916 when he was admitted to Hospital in Alexandria Egypt with Neuralgia. After a ten week period of recuperation, he was transferred to duty with the 3rd and 4th Anzac Camel Battalions in the field in Egypt and the Middle East for seven months.
A transfer to the 2nd Battalion Imperia Camel Corps Brigade at El Kubri , saw Leslie fall foul of Army protocol. which resulted in his detention at the Citadel Cairo ,for a period of seven months, from 13th June 1917. On release from detention, he rejoined the Imperial Camel Corps for active duty in the Middle East.
On 28th March 1918 he was wounded in action and remained at duty, however two days later he was reported Missing in Action. A Court of Enquiry held at Baalbek Syria on 8th December 1918 found that Leslie Delaney had been Killed in Action on 30th March 1918. He is Memorialized by inscription on the Jerusalem War Memorial at Panel No. 59.
His Mother Bridget was awarded the following mementos in recognition of Leslie’s active War Service :-
1914/1915 Star medal No. 23564
British War Medal No. 22940
Victory Medal No. 22771
Memorial Scroll & Kings Message
Mrs. Bridget Delaney had sought an explanation from the Army, in relation to the circumstances of Leslie’s death, however notes and statements that follow, appear to clearly state the action being undertaken, when he met his demise:-
Undated Note on Army Base Records File– ” I heard that he was killed by exploding shell but have not received any word officially only from some returned soldiers “.
21/04/1918- Statement made by No. 2458, Trooper JEFFREY A.F.M. 13th Company 4th Battalion Imperial Camel Corps- ” On 30/03/1918 at Amman No. 1380 Trpr. DELANEY with a party under Lieut. THORLEY advanced on to a position indicated by the ADJUTANT Capt. A.J. WATT. As they proceeded to the position they were heavily shelled by the enemy and were forced to retire about 100 yards, and take cover, and while in this position the enemy counter attacked and I never saw Delaney afterwards. The counter attack was repulsed and the line advanced , and we did not return to the place where I last saw Delaney “.
9/11/1918- Letter from 2792. Pte. JORDAN, 4th Imperial Camel Corps to 5th Military District Headquarters Perth WA- ” Your letter of the 9th inst. to hand re my statement to Mrs. Delaney re her son. Trpr. DELANEY was my pal for a considerable time on service & boys who returned previous to me told his mother I would be able to give her information. I gave her all the news that I was able being under the impression that the Military Authorities had advised her of his death which I found out later was not so, and that he had been advised as missing. Therefore I have advised Mrs. Delaney that I gave her the information purely as a friend of Les her son and not from any official source. Officers of her boy are in a better position to advise you Sir than I am. Yours obediently, Les Jordan “.
Army Base Records Certified Letters sent to Mrs. Delaney by Soldiers BRENNAN and JORDAN– ( 1 )- From No. 1748 W.H. BRENNAN, 2nd Field Squadron, Engineers- ” Dear Madam, I am very sorry for not having replied to your letter sooner but having an attack of Influenza I was unable to go down to the Base. Well you asked me to let you know what I knew about Les. He was in the same reinforcements as I was and we went away together so naturally I followed his career over there. I met a mate of his in Hospital at Port Said and he told me that Les was killed at Amman in March. I am very sorry to have such sad news for you. So to gain more information I would write to Tpr. Evans of the same Company as Les . I will close this little note with my deepest sympathy “.
( 2 )- From No. 2792 Pte. L. JORDAN 4th Imperial Camel Corps – ” Dear Mrs Delaney, I received your letter this morning forwarded to me from the Base Hospital , and I assure you that it gives me great pleasure to be able to give some information re your son Les. He was one of my best pals and a very popular lad with all and above all he was a true soldier. In your letter you state that you were advised that he was missing. From the 30th March we were fighting on the Es Salt fight all through Easter Week. On Easter Thursday Les’s mate Tom Bantoff was killed. On Easter Friday his other mate Baxter Gould was killed and Les was killed on Easter Saturday from a machine gun bullet , he suffered very little pain, lived only a few hours after he was hit and is buried in the hills between Es Salt and Amman where they are fighting at present. His pocket book and photos you should receive any day now , the only thing is that the boy who had his belongings was killed and I cannot advise you whether they got his books and photos or not. I am not going to make you believe there is any hope of his being missing. Although the truth is hard I feel sure that it will be the easiest in the long run for you. I am in deepest sympathy with you because I am sure he was a good son and a credit to you all. As for the information you require I will only be too pleased to let you have. If at any time you are in Perth I will be pleased to see you “.
8/02/1923- Letter from Mrs. Delaney to Army Base Records- ” Dear Sir, Enclosed please find the receipt for Victory Medal thanks for the same . Can you tell me why I have got one of those that was sent to the next of kin of all the deceased soldiers . Every one here got one sent to them , only me re this slip about the graves. It is no good to me, no one knows where my son was buried , if he was buried at all. His mates seen him wounded and left to the mercy of the Turks . We all know what mercy they show “.
AUTHOR NOTE :-
Leslie Sylvester DELANEY was with his Camel Corps mates for Easter , 1918 , when they were ordered to charge the Turkish trenches. After Les and his cobbers were forced to retire approximately 100 yards, the Turks responded with a counter attack, during Leslie lost his life. Like many victims of the Great War, Leslie was buried near where he fell, ( in the sands between Es Salt and Amman ) and with the passing of subsequent fighting, his body has never been found.