Major Benjamin Bennett Leane, 48 Battalion
KIA 10 April, 1917 (No individual photograph in collection)
Story delivered 2 July 2013
Today, we remember and pay tribute to Major Benjamin Bennett Leane.
Born in Prospect, South Australia, on 3 June 1889, Leane was working as a warehouseman when the First World War began. He enlisted at Morphettville Racecourse on 19 August 1914 and became one of the first men to join the 10th Battalion, as his regimental number was 3. With his previous militia experience, he was soon promoted to sergeant.
From Outer Harbour, Adelaide, he embarked for service overseas aboard the transport Ascanius in December 1914. Following a period of training in Egypt the 10th Battalion, as part of the 3rd Brigade covering force, were amongst the first troops ashore on Gallipoli on 25 April. Leane was shot in the left arm during the day, and was first evacuated to Egypt, where he was commissioned second lieutenant, and then on to England to recover. He rejoined the battalion in August, and by the time the battalion was withdrawn from Gallipoli in December, he had been promoted to lieutenant and made battalion adjutant.
In Egypt, he was briefly seconded to the Camel Corps before his brother, Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Leane, had him transferred to the newly formed 48th Battalion as adjutant, where he was soon promoted captain to reflect his position. The battalion acquired the nickname the Joan of Arc Battalion as it was made of all Leanes .
After arriving in France, the 48th Battalion took part in its first major actions at Pozières and Mouquet Farm. Leane s administrative handling of the battalion brought him to the attention of Brigadier General Duncan Glasfurd and the King of
Serbia, who conferred upon him the Order of the White Eagle, 5th Class, with swords.
Leane was promoted major in October and became the 48th Battalion s second in command. He was a deeply thoughtful man, keeping a lively diary of his experiences, which he used as a way of talking to his wife from afar. He was also a very popular man among his fellow officers and men.
Following the winter of 1916 1917, the 48th Battalion was involved in the general advance to Bapaume and on towards Bullecourt. In the early hours of 10 April 1917, during the battalion s advance from Noreuil to Bullecourt, Leane was killed by shrapnel from a German barrage. Raymond Leane scoured the battlefield to find his brother s body. Initially buried near Dernancourt, Benjamin Leane was reinterred in Quéant Road Cemetery, Buissy, France in 1921. He was survived by his wife, Phyllis, and two daughters.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.
This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Major Benjamin Bennett Leane, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.