McLeods of Condah

‘Scotty’ McLeod (1880)

February 2, 1880, Branxholme – May 31, 1918, France

 

 

Early Years

His parents

Norman McLeod and Jane McLachlan were married on Wednesday 23rd April 1879 at the Free Presbyterian Church in Hamilton.  They had eleven children of which Scotty was the first being born at Branxholme on Monday 2nd February 1880.

 

Life at home

Norman’s school years

Norman attended the Condah State School.  He was enrolled in Grade 2 in 1887 and completed Grade 6 in 1893.  There were 11 children in his grade including his younger brother, Hugh, who also started school in 1887.  His education by today’s standards is considered minimal; by the standards of the time it would have been considered satisfactory.

 

Life in Condah early 1900s

Condah at the time Norman was a young adult had three churches (Presbyterian, Anglican, and Roman Catholic), the hotel (Greenhills – shown below), the state school (Condah Number 1019), the butter factory, the bank, the Mechanics Hall and the railway station.

The annual Condah Pastoral and Agricultural Show was held in November.  The ‘Ladies of Condah’ held an annual dance by invitation in the Mechanics Hall in August.

There may have been a football oval and football club, as in Norman’s will dated April 10, 1917 he leaves his two football medals to his youngest brother, Duncan and to ‘Master Frank Coutts late of Condah’.  However, it is possible he may have played for nearby Wallacedale which definitely had a football club.

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Poem by Norman McLeod in 1890s, title unknown *

Gone from the friends that loved him

Gone from this world so gay

Gone in his blooming manhood

Far, far, away

Gone like the stars that glimmer

Gone like the dried up stream*

Gone like the winsome pictures

Of Youth’s proud happy dream

But in the land of Eden

Where bloom no fading flowers

Far from this world of sorrow

Amid the heavenly bowers

He kneeleth now and prayeth

At the great white throne of God

To Christ our loving saviour

Who raised the inflicting rod

That took from our friends their brother

On that scorching summer’s day

Not one was near to tend him

As in the bush he lay

His bullocks they fed near him

When our loved one was found

Uncaring of his tragic fate*

They chewed their cuds around*

Then to the father’s dwelling

The sad, sad news was told

That in the room at Condah

His son lay stiff and cold

God help the aged father

To bear the chastening rod

God help the poor young brother

And sisters that he loved

The New Year’s sun dawned promising

Within that old man’s home

But ere it set the fourth time

His joy and pride was gone

Gone like the Smoky River

That runs before his door

In winter it is flooded

But in summer it runs no more

* Lines missing from copy of poem added by Ian McLeod, son of Norman’s first cousin, also called Norman McLeod.

 

Norman McLeod’s wars

The Boer War

The Boer War began in 1899 and ended on 31 May 1902.  Norman enlisted for the Boer War on Saturday 26th April 1902 at Ballarat and his regimental number was 459.  He was 22 years of age and listed his occupation as “farmer”.

Norman was a Corporal in 13th Lighthorse until 8 July 1915 when he reverted to Private.  He left for overseas on 28th May 1915.

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The conflict in South Africa is generally divided into three phases. *

1.      The early phase, from October to December 1899, when the British armies, mainly infantry, were defeated or besieged by the highly mobile Boer mounted troops.

2.      The second phase, from December 1899 until September 1900, which involved a British counter-offensive, resulting in the capture of most of the major towns and cities of South Africa.

3.      The third and longest phase, from September 1900 to May 1902, when the war was mainly a guerrilla conflict between British mounted troops and Boer irregulars.

Before Federation the colonies had sent a number of contingents.  After federation a further three contingents were raised by the new Commonwealth in 1901, but as they did not embark until 1902, most arrived too late for any action; indeed, some were still at sea when the war ended on 31 May 1902.

Norman McLeod was one of those who did not see any action arriving after hostilities had ceased.

* Source: Australian War Memorial.

 

World War I

Norman’s World War I record

Service Number

55A (also served Boer War)

Enlisted

29/1/1915 at Hamilton

Regiment

13th Lighthorse

Age

34 years 11 months

Occupation

Labourer

Height

5ft 8” (173 cms)

Weight

160 lbs (72.6 kilos)

Chest

35/37 inches (90cms)

Features

Fair complexion, greyish eyes, hair dark brown

Distinctive Marks

Mole in front of neck slightly to left side

Religion

Presbyterian

Died

Killed in action 31 May 1918

Buried

Allonville Communal Cemetery, 4 miles NNE Amiens, France

 

Letter Pay office AIF 16th July 1915

To District Pay Master

3rd Military District, Melbourne

The following allotment is forwarded for necessary action. The soldier’s pay book has been amended. No 55 Trooper N. McLeod “A” Sq 13th Lighthorse. 3/- per diem from 7th July 1915 in favour of N. McLeod, Snr, Morven Park, Condah, Vic.

Signed RM Meiller, Captain for Staff Paymaster

 

Summary of regiments

Regiment

From

To

13th Light horse

15 March 1915

25 May 1916

5th Division Cavalry

25 May 1916

19 August 1916

2nd ANZAC Light horse

20 August 1916

19 September 1917

14th Battalion

20 September 1917

death

 

Disciplinary action taken against Norman

1.      Cairo April 8 1916: Forfeit one day’s pay and fined 5 shillings for being absent from parade and drunk on 4th April.

2.      France 16th – 18th August, 1917, forfeited 8 day’s pay for overstaying leave.

3.      France August 25 1917, forfeited 14 day’s pay for:

a.      Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in that in the company of other soldiers created a disturbance at 10.50 pm.

b.     Disobeyed a lawful command in that he did not cease talking when ordered to do so’.

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Norman’s Regiment – the Australian Lighthorse

Recruitment

By 1914, when Australia joined the war against Germany, there were 23 Light Horse regiments of militia volunteers.  Many men from these units joined the Light Horse regiments of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

Initially Australia promised four regiments of Light Horse, 2000 men, to fight in the British cause.  By the end of the war, 16 regiments would be in action.

The recruits took a riding test which varied from place to place.  At one camp they had to take a bareback army horse over a water jump and a sod wall.  In another, they had to jump a log fence.

Recruits had to pass a very strict medical test before they were accepted.

They were then sworn in and issued with their uniforms – the normal Australian Imperial Force (AIF) jacket, handsome cord riding breeches, and leather “puttee” laggings bound by a spiral strap.  They wore the famous Australian slouch hat and a distinctive leather bandolier that carried 90 rounds of ammunition.

The first of the Light Horse arrived at Gallipoli in May.

By August, when a huge attack was launched on the Turks, there were ten regiments of Light Horse at Anzac.

The 3rd Brigade – the 8th, 9th and 10th Regiments – was to make a dawn charge across a narrow ridge called The Nek.  Plans went horribly wrong and nine tiers of Turkish trenches packed with riflemen and machine gunners waited for the Australian attack.

In three quarters of an hour 234 light horsemen were dead and 138 wounded in a futile action.

 

Evacuation of Gallipoli

Australian forces were evacuated from Gallipoli on the 20th December 1915.

Re-united with their horses in Egypt after the evacuation of Anzac, the Light Horse regiments watched the Australian infantry leave for France.  They were envious.  But only two regiments  – the 13th Light Horse and part of the 4th – were sent to the Western Front in Europe.

 

Light horsemen in France and Belgium

The two Light Horse regiments which served in France and Belgium – the 4th and 13th – are often forgotten; because they rarely fought as complete units and also because they sometimes worked in support of British, French and Canadian troops.

In 1916 they came from Egypt to France’s worst winter for more than 30 years.  In France the light horsemen often went into the trenches as infantry reinforcements, as they had done at Anzac.

They helped control tangled military traffic, escorted prisoners and rounded up lost soldiers after major battles.

They were sometimes sent to reconnoitre enemy positions or the Allied front line.  On several occasions, small Light Horse patrols discovered that, due to poor communication between different armies, a section of our front line was deserted.  A few men manned the empty trenches while others rode out to the units on either side and drew them together.

Edited from www.lighthorse.org.au/resources/history-of-the-australian-light-horse/the-mounted-soldiers-of-australia.

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Norman’s war impressions published

 The Australians in France”

‘In summarising his impressions of France and particularly the part Australians are taking in the defence of that country, Pte N McLeod, of Morven, Condah (since died on service), wrote in a letter to his parents:-

“What a lovely old life!  What a haven of rest our dug-out is!  Three of us in it.  The architect is a miner named Reynolds, a true mate, who leaves behind in sunny Australia, a wife and three children; the other is Andrew McDonald, of Hamilton, quite a lad, but full of the right spirit.  No. 3 is ‘Scotty’ (the writer).  Pte McLeod had met many district chums, namely Gordon Pitcher, Tom Fallon, Duncan Wellner, Argyle McIntyre, “Pon” Young, Frank Baker, Wallace Malseed, and many others of “shearing fame and football repute”.

It was a sad sight, he said, to see old women and children laden with their house treasures clearing away in haste from the Bosches, and never did he engage in action so proudly and determinedly as on that day.
To see the helpless women and children made the Australians all swear within themselves to do their best. The long procession of fleeing humanity was a sight which made him weak enough to shed tears, and strong enough to shed blood.  When resting, they saw a “Tommy” leading a terrier by his puttee.  Under such circumstances the sight was funny, and that man was talked about more than the job the Australians had to do, though their one ambition was to meet the Hun and stay his advance.  If anyone doubted the respect in which the Australians were held by the enemy, let them come to France and see how the Germans paid homage to the Australian – by avoiding him as much as they could.’

The Hamilton Spectator, Thursday 11/7/1918 – p4.

 

“To the Mothers”

Who tended you in weakness when in your narrow cot?

You little thought the ‘wild oats’ or the head that could not yield

Was weak enough to think of her when on the battle field

Did pride beam stronger in your breast, and ever the winning tear

Did you feel you were a coward then or had betrayed a fear?

Methinks I see shadowed ghosts rise up from where they lie

To steep their blades once more in those who mother love deny

Let vain and haughty iron men be game to stand before

The thousands who took courage from the mothers they adore

That strain and waiting patience, which won praise everywhere

Was but maternal instincts of a mother’s loving care

As you a reckless soldier, seeking pleasure not renown

Walked through the Cairo city with no sense of shame or frown

Did you ever dream she’d comfort you when you nigh forgot

You were mighty in your onslaughts as your human weakness ran

A proud conceited idiot commonly known as a man

But don’t be narrow minded and condemn us once and all

For all of us have something wrong – our excuse is Adam’s fall

I care not what the world may say as I saw them sin and die

And the men who loved their home and kin were on Gallipoli

Of course they were on other fields but this sacred spot was ours

So to the mothers of all of them I send my spirit flowers

And far above the ridges that sheltered us from fire

Across the souls of mothers true, whose love doth never t’re

And I can voice it strongly, no mother was like mine

In those moments of perdition – in hell at Lonesome Pine

By Pte Norman McLeod, Shrapnel Valley, November 30th 1915.

 

Conscription

Conscription during the First World War, 1914 – 1918

At the outbreak of the First World War, the number of people volunteering to enlist for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was so high that recruitment officers were forced to turn people
away. However, as the war went on, casualty rates increased and the number of volunteers declined, so that by 1916 the AIF faced a shortage of men. Despite opposition from his own party, Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes decided to take the issue to the people in a referendum. The nation was asked to grant the government the power to compel citizens to serve overseas during the current war. The referendum provoked furious debate within the Australian community. It was held on 28 October 1916, and the proposal for conscription was narrowly defeated. In the ensuing political fall-out, the Labor Party split and Hughes formed a breakaway party called the Nationalist Party.
Enlistment for the war continued to fall, and in 1917 Hughes called for another referendum on the conscription issue. This conscription campaign was just as heated as the first, with the most prominent anti-conscription activist being the Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Daniel Mannix. On 20 December 1917 the nation again voted “No” to conscription, this time with a slightly larger majority. Australia and South Africa were the only participating countries not to introduce conscription during the First World War.

Source Australian War Memorial: www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/conscription/ww1.asp

 

“To My Cobbers in Regret” by Norman McLeod

‘Private Norman McLeod of Condah, in forwarding the poetry below says ‘Just an attempt after request from my mates. Despite my pre war political convictions I must admit the grave necessity of something being done when the voluntary system fails – call it what you like.
There’s only one road to victory- so decide whether you take it or not.’

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Hamilton Spectator, Monday July 30, 1917.

Would you see Australia ruined

While you’re staying safe at home

While your mates are fighting bravely

In a country ‘cross the foam

Do you read the Roll of Honour

That appears from day to day

Don’t you see the names of cobbers

Will you mock them while you stay?

You can little know the hardships

That your mates have undergone

These thirty months and over

They have kept you from the Hun

Yes their losses have been heavy

And who’s going to take their place

Of the men who have one under

To uphold the British race

Give up your life of pleasure

Learn how to use and load a gun

Be worthy of your ancestry

That victory may be won

There are many who are lacking

In response to Hughes call

Yet the Mother land is waiting

So get ready one and all

Join up now and reinforce us

As our ranks are thinned you know

We will welcome you as comrades

And forget the fatal ‘NO’

Let you party feeling wither

In the fire within your breast

We are forced to love Australia

And in actions lie the test

So hurry up and swell our numbers

Help to down old freedom’s foe

Though the path’s hard and tiresome

Yet shall our manhood grow

And Australia shall forever

Be as free as wattle bloom

Then the altars of our duty

Shall reward our present gloom

 

Norman’s Wills

10th April 1917

In the event of my death I Trooper Norman McLeod, No 55, originally of 13th Lighthorse now of the 2nd Anzac Military Regiment France hereby make my last will and testament in all faith, goodwill and solemnity.

I bequeath to my father and mother all my allotment as from May 1915. My deferred pay of 1/- per day amounting to date to something like 40 pounds, I bequeath thus as under. It will be drawn after the war is over and the longer I live the more of course will be coming to me.

From say 40 pounds,

10 pounds to Annie McLeod, sister

10 pounds to Susan Jane McLeod, sister

10 pounds to Duncan McLeod, brother

10 pounds to fund to erect tombstone over grave of my fond bother, Dugald in Winton

Any deferred pay in excess of 40 pounds I bequeath thus,

10 pounds to Hugh McLeod, brother

10 pounds to Jeane McLeod, sister

10 pounds to Lexie McLeod, sister

10 pounds to Donald Roderick McLeod, brother

My football medals one to Duncan McLeod my youngest brother whom I love.

One medal to Master Frank Coutts late of Condah subject to consent of my loving mother.

Beneficiaries under this scanty will in event of my death remember I wish to be just if you feel you can without prejudice to yourself give unto any poor, bereaved and oppressed friend of mine made in God’s image who has been a friend to me in my money less days, in the name of God our father do so and may you dwell in peace instead of misunderstandings that surround us today. Dear Parents do not be alarmed I may not need to dispose of my money in this fashion but I am advised by my officer and my own common sense to make a will in case of possibilities.

With God helping me I have tried to be fair and forgive my past, forgive anything amiss, trusting that yet in life I may meet you, still trusting that I shall meet my brothers and my darling mother in heaven exhorting you all as a sinner to be kinder than I was to my dear father and mother and each of you, truer to God who appears to us all in the end when the critical moment arises.

Sorrow not over much life is but the prelude to death and I can honestly say I have lost the fear of death I once had. Love to all my relations, poor Aunty Kate. God bless you all. Norman McLeod. Scotty

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Will 20 April 1918

In event of my death I bequeath my property to my parents Mr and Mrs Norman McLeod, “Morven Park” Condah, Victoria, Australia.

Signed Norman McLeod, Rank and Unit Pte 14th Battalion AIF, Date 20 April 1918

Certified to be a true copy of will of No 55A Tpr McLeod, Norman, 14th Bn (dec’d)

 

Norman’s death

The Hamilton Spectator June 16th, 1918

‘Our Condah correspondent writes that the sad tidings have been broken to Mr and Mrs McLeod of Morven park that Pte Norman McLeod, their eldest son, was killed in action in France on May 31st. Pte McLeod (better known as “Scotty”) was well known throughout the western district, and was a noted footballer. He enlisted in January 1915, and sailed for Egypt on May 28th of the same year, and was at the evacuation of Gallipoli. He was originally in the Australian Light Horse but transferred back to the infantry on leaving Egypt, and in France took part in many big stunts without receiving a scratch, and gained the reputation of being a great fighter. Pte McLeod was 38 years of age and the sympathy of all goes out to his parents.’

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The Hamilton Spectator September 3 1918

‘Our Condah correspondent writes: A memorial service for the late Private Norman McLeod (killed in action) was held in the Condah Presbyterian church on Sunday September 1st. A most impressive sermon was delivered by Rev J R Houston, and appropriate hymns were sung. The church was draped with white and purple, relieved by wreaths of violets and a large Union Jack. A large congregation assembled to pay the last tribute of honour to the deceased soldier, one of our best known Condah boys, who was on active service for three years, serving in Gallipoli, prior to joining the 14th Infantry Battalion in France where he was killed on May 31st, 1918.’

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The Hamilton Spectator October 10 1918

Mr and Mrs N McLeod and family desire to express grateful appreciation of the sympathy and
thoughtfulness of the Condah people in presenting to them a handsome enlarged photograph of their son and brother, Private Norman McLeod, who was killed in action in France after nearly four years fighting in the cause of liberty and righteousness. Morven Park, Condah 25/10/18

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Allonville Communal Cemetery, 4 miles NNE Amiens, France. Norman’s grave is front of picture, right hand side.

 

Scotty was a grandson of the original emigrants, Norman and Susan.  A real character, Scotty was strongly connected to his Scottish roots as well as his Australian identity.

 

Maryanne Martin, 16th April 2011

 

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