Next of Kin Plaque : Private L J Abberton, 2 Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron, AIF

Accession Number REL/04393
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1922
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Bronze next of kin plaque, showing on the obverse, Britannia holding a laurel wreath, the British lion, dolphins, a spray of oak leaves and the words 'HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR' around the edge. Beneath the main figures, the British lion defeats the German eagle. The initials 'ECP', for the designer Edward Carter Preston appear above the lion's right forepaw. A raised rectangle above the lion's head bears the name 'LESLIE JOHN ABBERTON'.

History / Summary

Leslie John Abberton was born in Goulburn, NSW. He was working as a junior porter when he enlisted in the AIF at the age of nineteen and a half, on 28 February 1917. As his parents had died when he was a young child and could not give consent to his under-age enlistment. His military papers noted that he already had an elder brother, Sidney, serving with 19th Battalion and made the assumption that he would have approved Leslie's decision to enlist.

After initial training Abberton was assigned to the reinforcements for 7th Light Horse Regiment, as a trooper with the service number 3337. He sailed for Egypt on 6 May, aboard HMAT A15 Port Sydney, arriving at Suez on 20 June. Abberton was taken on strength with his regiment at the end of July, but was transferred to A Troop 2nd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron a month later.

Early in the morning of 10 November the squadron was camped beside its horse lines near a small village between Gaza and Jaffa. The men were drawing rations when the Turks began firing high explosive shells. As the squadron hastily prepared to move to safer ground a number of men were hit by shell fragments. Abberton was among them, receiving severe wounds in both legs and a minor wound to one elbow. He was immediately evacuated by an ambulance cart of the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance and began a long slow journey down the line to hospital in Egypt

Transferred to the Scottish Horse Field Ambulance the next day, Abberton underwent an emergency amputation, losing his left leg at the knee. A day later he was transferred again, to the 66th (British) Casualty Clearing Station, where he was listed as 'dangerously ill'. On 15 November Abberton was moved by rail to the 45th (British) Stationary Hospital at El Arish, then the following day to 44th (British) Stationary Hospital at Kantara in Egypt, finally arriving at 14th Australian General Hospital (14 AGH) at Abbassia on 17 November.

On arrival at 14 AGH Abberton's condition was listed as 'critical'. It was noted that he had two gaping wounds in each thigh and that the sites of both the wounds and amputation had turned septic. His pain was so severe that in order to dress his wounds Abberton had to be given a general anaesthetic. On 20 November he was noted as 'refusing all nourishment'. Two days later it was noted that there had been no improvement in his condition. The following day the wounds were thought to be improving, although the mental condition of the patient remained 'low'. On 25 November two of his wounds and the site of the amputation broke down and haemorrhaged. Abberton rallied briefly on 27 November, taking some food and appearing mentally improved. By 29 November he had lapsed into delirium. He died in the morning of 30 November. His death, ascribed to 'exhaustion', appears to have been due to septicemia.

Abberton was buried at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. This commemorative plaque was issued to his elder brother, Sidney, in January 1923, after attempts to located their eldest brother, Frederick, had been unsuccessful.