Lieutenant Leonard Maurice Keysor

Service number 958
Ranks Held Lieutenant, Private
Birth Date 03 November 1885
Birth Place United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Death Date 12 October 1951
Death Place United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Final Rank Lieutenant
Service Australian Imperial Force
Units
Place London
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918
Gazettes Biographical information They dared mightily. in 1963
Published in London Gazette in 1915-10-15
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1916-02-24
Description

Leonard Keysor was one of several men who, although not born in Australia, won the Victoria Cross as members of the AIF. He was born in London in November 1885, spent ten years in Canada while growing up, then migrated to Sydney a few months before the outbreak of war. He enlisted in the 1st Battalion and sailed for Egypt in October 1914. He took part in the Gallipoli landing of 25 April 1915 and was promoted to lance corporal two months later.

Keysor won his Victoria Cross during the battle of Lone Pine in August 1915. By that time he had become a master bombthrower; during the days and nights of the battle, he proved his skill time and again. As Turkish bombs landed in his trench, Keysor would smother the explosions with sandbags or clothing. If he had time, he would throw the bombs back - on several occasions he even caught them in mid-flight before lobbing them back into the Turkish trenches. He was twice wounded but refused medical aid, maintaining his efforts for 50 hours. His actions saved the trench and removed the enemy from the position.

From Gallipoli Keysor went on to serve in France, where he was twice promoted, and twice wounded in 1918. He had always considered himself a Londoner and he returned to Britain to live after the war. He died there in October 1951

Citation (abridged):

On 7th August 1915, Keysor was in a trench which was being heavily bombed by the enemy. At great personal risk he picked up two live bombs and threw them back at the enemy. Though wounded he continued throwing bombs, thereby saving a most important portion of the trench. Next day Keysor bombed the enemy out of a position from which temporary mastery of his own trench had been obtained. Although again wounded he declined evacuation, volunteering to throw bombs for another company, which had lost all its bomb-throwers. He continued to bomb the enemy until the situation was relieved.

Rolls

  • Honours and Awards:

    Unit
    1st Australian Infantry Battalion
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Private
    London Gazette
    15 October 1915 on page 10154 at position 6
    Commonwealth Gazette
    24 February 1916 on page 456 at position 6
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    1st Australian Infantry Battalion
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Private

Timeline

Date of birth 03 November 1885 Maida Vale, London, England.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 28 August 1914 1 Battalion, AIF.
Date of embarkation 18 October 1914
Date promoted 20 June 1915 Appointed Lance Corporal.
Date of honour or award 08 August 1915 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, Turkey whilst serving with 1 Battalion, 1 Brigade, 1 Division as a Lance Corporal
Date promoted 1915-12 Appointed Sergeant.
Date promoted 13 January 1917 Appointed 2nd Lieutenant.
Date promoted 28 July 1917 Appointed Lieutenant.
Other units 1917-11 Platoon Commander of 42 Battalion.
Date wounded 27 March 1918
Date wounded 26 May 1918
Date of discharge 12 December 1918 Discharged on medical grounds.
Date of death 12 October 1951 London, England.