ID number RELAWM01111
Title Other Ranks service dress tunic : Lieutenant Colonel R L Leane, 48 Battalion, AIF
Collection Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1916
Physical description
  • Leather
  • Oxidised brass
  • Wool twill
On display Main building: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1917

Description

Khaki wool twill tunic with a stand and fall collar. An oxidised brass Rising Sun (general service) badge is secured to the proper right front collar edge with a split brass pin. The left collar badge is missing. The khaki wool shoulder straps are secured to the tunic with a small brown pressed leather button and each strap has a voided oxidised brass 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder title, pip and red velvet backed voided crown indicating the rank of lieutenant colonel. These are attached to the shoulder strap with brass rings and split pins. The front of tunic has four patch pockets with triple pointed flaps secured with brown pressed leather buttons; the two breast pockets are box pleated and the larger pair below, attached to the integral waistband, are expanding. The tunic is fastened at the front with five large brown pressed leather buttons. Below the waist is a pair of brass press studs backed with leather reinforcement, which are intended to prevent the bottom of the tunic from gaping. At the top of each sleeve is a colour patch of the 48th Infantry Battalion: a circle with the colours white over dark blue divided horizontally. The sleeves are gathered into straight cuffs secured with a brown pressed leather button. The back of the tunic has a 50mm wide box pleat running down the centre from the base of the neck yoke. Inside the unlined tunic is a white calico field dressing pocket, which is stamped in black with the markings '33 W [broad arrow symbol] D P'.

There are a number of holes caused by shell fragments which wounded the wearer. Most of the back and much of the lower front right of the tunic is blood-stained.

Summary

The tunic was worn by Lieutenant Colonel R L Leane when he was wounded at Bullecourt in April 1917, and at Passchendaele in October 1917. A small amount of damage to the waist band, corresponds to the relatively slight back wound Leane received at Bullecourt. While the significant damage to the tunic behind the left shoulder and down the left side reflects the severe nature of the wounds he sustained at Passchendaele.

Leane remained in the field after Bullecourt, but the serious wounds he received at Passchendaele required his evacuation to England for treatment. He did not return to his battalion for several months.

Raymond Lionel Leane was a member of one of Australia's best known military families and served with distinction during the First World War. He was born on 12 July 1878 at Prospect, South Australia. After school, Leane's job as a commercial traveller took him to Western Australia where he married Edith Laybourne in 1902. He was commissioned in the 11th (Perth Rifles) Infantry Regiment in 1905. In 1908 he began a successful career as a merchant in Kalgoorlie. Continuing his Militia service with the Goldfields Infantry Regiment, 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's leadership and courage under fire saw him awarded the Military Cross.

He was wounded twice on Gallipoli, 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. Promoted to temporary major in August and given command of his battalion in September, Leane was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel in October. He remained on the peninsula until late November when he was evacuated due to illness.

In February 1916 Leane's promotion to major was confirmed and he was given command of the 48th Battalion. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel the following month. Serving under him in the battalion were a number of relatives including his brother and three nephews. The 48th became known throughout the AIF as the 'Joan of Arc Battalion' because it was made of all Leanes (Maid of Orleans). By the end of 1917, Leane's battalion had fought at Mouquet Farm, Gueudecourt, Bullecourt, Messines, Polygon Wood and Passchendaele, where Leane was badly wounded on 12 October 1917. Returning to duty in January 1918, he commanded the 48th until his appointment as temporary, then permanent commander of the 12th Brigade in June 1918 when he was promoted to temporary Brigadier General. He led the brigade at Villers-Bretonneux, Amiens and the Hindenburg Line. A respected commander, brave in combat and concerned for his men, Leane was Mentioned in Dispatches eight times, awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar and was made a Companion of St Michael and St George and a Companion of the Bath.

After the war, Leane served as South Australia's police commissioner from 1920 and received a knighthood upon his retirement in 1944. He remained in the Militia however, commanding the 3rd Infantry Brigade from 1921 to 1926, finally retiring in 1938 after 12 years on the unattached list. During the Second World War he commanded the Volunteer Defence Corps in South Australia.

Leane remained in Adelaide until his death on 25 June 1962. He is buried in Centennial Park Cemetery.