M1866 Chassepot Bayonet and scabbard : Brigadier General R L Leane

Place Europe: France
Accession Number REL36708
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged weapon or club
Physical description Brass, Steel
Maker St- Etienne Imperial Arsenal
Place made France
Date made 1867
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

M1866 Chassepot bayonet and brass hilt with a leaf spring secured by a rivet. Stamped on the left side of the cross guard are the numbers '31231', and on the quillon the letter 'B' with another undistinguishable stamp. The riccaso on the right hand side has a 'B' and either an '8' or 'G' with a star above it. There is writing scratched onto the left hand side of the double curved yataghan blade just past the riccaso, which appears to read 'Duella Duella'. Thee back of the blade is engraved 'Impériale de Saint Étienne Arsenal 1867'. The scabbard is black painted metal and has a hanger on the right hand side with a rounded drag.

History / Summary

Raymond Lionel Leane was a member of one of Australia's most well-known military families and served with distinction in the First World War. He was born on 12 July 1878 at Prospect, South Australia. After school, Leane's work took him to Western Australia, where he was commissioned in the 11th (Perth Rifles) Infantry Regiment in 1905. Three years previously, while employed as a commercial traveller, he had married Edith Laybourne. In 1908 he began a successful career as a merchant in Kalgoorlie; he also returned to soldiering with the Goldfields Infantry Regiment, in which he was promoted to captain in 1910.

Leane enlisted in the AIF within weeks of the First World War's beginning. He was joined by every male of enlistment age in his extended family and became known as the head of what Charles Bean described as 'the most famous family of soldiers in Australian history.' Leane was given command of a company in the 11th Battalion and was among the first ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. In May he distinguished himself in a raid against Turkish positions on Gaba Tepe. The raid was unsuccessful but Leane managed to withdraw and rescue the wounded under heavy fire, winning the Military Cross. He was wounded twice, the second time on 31 July while leading an attack against a Turkish position, soon to be known as 'Leane's Trench', which he held against strong counter-attacks. He was promoted to temporary major in August and to temporary lieutenant colonel in October. Leane had been given command of his battalion on 11 September and remained on the peninsula until mid-November.

Leane's rank of major was confirmed in February 1916; he was given command of the 48th Battalion and promoted to lieutenant colonel the following month. Serving under him in the battalion were his brother, three nephews, and other relatives, and the 48th became known as the 'Joan of Arc Battalion (Made of all-Leanes)'. By the end of 1917, Leane's unit had fought at Mouquet Farm, Gueudecourt, Bullecourt, Messines, and Passchendaele, where Leane was badly wounded. Returning to duty in January 1918, he commanded the 48th throughout the rest of the war; he reached the temporary rank of brigadier in June.

A well-respected commander, brave in combat and concerned for his men, Leane received the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the French Croix de Guerre, and civilian honours. After the war, he served as South Australia's police commissioner from 1920-44 and received a knighthood on retirement. At the same time he remained in the militia, serving as a lieutenant colonel from 1921-26, finally retiring in 1938 after 12 years on the unattached list. During the Second World War he served in the Volunteer Defence Corps. Leane lived out his retirement in Adelaide, dying there on 25 June 1962.

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