Biography

Birth date: 31 May 1881
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Balmain
Death date: 23 March 1970
Death place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Final rank: Lieutenant Commander
Conflict: China, 1900-1901 (Boxer Uprising)
First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • RAN
  • 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train

Leighton Bracegirdle was a career naval officer whose service began before Federation and lasted until the end of the Second World War. He was born in Balmain, Sydney, on 31 May 1881. In 1898 he joined the New South Wales Naval Brigade as a cadet. Two years later he became a midshipman and served with the New South Wales contingent in China during the Boxer Rebellion.

Bracegirdle then served as a lieutenant in the South African Irregular Horse in the final year of the Boer War. He returned to Australia after being wounded and continued to serve in the naval militia while working as a clerk. He married Lillian Saunders in 1910 and in 1911 joined the Royal Australian Navy as a lieutenant, serving as District Officer in Newcastle until the beginning of the First World War.

In August 1914 Bracegirdle enlisted in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, serving as a staff officer in German New Guinea until the force was disbanded in February 1915. That month he was appointed commander of the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train and was sent to Gallipoli to prepare for the British landings at Suvla Bay in August 1915. His unit performed well under relentless shrapnel fire and remained at Suvla, where Bracegirdle was wounded, until the end of the campaign. Having constructed the piers used during the British landing, the bridging train carried out maintenance duties; assisted with the landing of troops, stores, and ammunition; and finally assisted with the evacuation in December.

After a period in hospital suffering from jaundice and malaria, Bracegirdle returned to his unit, which was now working on the Suez Canal. Bracegirdle was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June 1916 and received his third Mention in Despatches in July that year. The bridging train remained in the Middle East, assisting with the Allied advance across the Sinai by landing stores on the Mediterranean coast, but was disbanded at the beginning of 1917. Bracegirdle's command ended in March and he returned to Australia having been promoted to commander.

Between 1918 and 1921, Bracegirdle was District Naval Officer in Adelaide. This was followed by a similar posting in Sydney, which he held until 1923, when he was appointed Director of Naval Reserves. In 1924 he received another promotion, to captain.

Bracegirdle was appointed military and official secretary to the Governor-General in 1931; his posting spanned the tenure of three governors-general and ended in 1945 when he retired from the navy having attained the rank of rear admiral. After his retirement, Bracegirdle worked for BHP and held directorships in several other companies. He died on 23 March 1970 in Sydney.

Rolls and Awards

Pre First World War Conflicts Nominal Rolls

  • Rank: Midshipman
  • Conflict: China, 1900-1901 (Boxer Uprising)

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Lieutenant Commander
  • Date of embarkation: 04 June 1915
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

006093

1941-03-14. 6093. FROM L, FRONT ROW: SIR FREDERICK STEWART, M.H. R., MR. KAWAI, THE GOVERNOR GENERAL OF AUST. (LORD GOWRIE), THE ACTING PRIME MINISTER (MR. A. FADDEN), THE JAPANESE CONSUL GENERAL (MR. AKINIMA). BACK ROW: THE JAPANESE CONSUL IN MELBOURNE (MR. HATTORA, CAPTAIN MCARTHUR, AIDE-DE-CAMP,...

006093

A04003

Outdoors group portrait of staff of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, Australian Navy and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF), after the operations against the Germans. The three officers from left to right in the centre row are: Lieutenant (Lt) L S Bracegirdle; Commander J A H Beresford and...

A04003

A05026

PEKING, CHINA, 1901. OFFICERS AND MEN, PART OF THE NSW NAVAL BRIGADE WHO SERVED IN CHINA DURING THE BOXER REBELLION. SEATED, LEFT TO RIGHT: ASSISTANT PAYMASTER WYNNE; LIEUTENANT HIXSON, SUB-LIEUTENANT CREER AND MIDSHIPMAN LEIGHTON BRACEGIRDLE. (DONOR: REAR ADMIRAL SIR LEIGHTON BRACEGIRDLE).

A05026

J03337

MADANG, NEW GUINEA, 1914. A NAVAL CONTINGENT, MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN NAVY AND MILITARY EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (AN&MEF), UNDER THE COMMAND OF LIEUTENANT COMMANDER LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE AND LIEUTENANT T.A. BOND, PARADING ON THE WHARF. (DONOR LIEUTENANT COMMANDER G.A. HILL RNR)

J03337

P00417.035

CHINA. A GROUP OF AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIGADE OFFICERS SERVING IN CHINA DURING THE BOXER REBELLION, 1900-1901. IDENTIFIED ON RIGHT, STANDING, LIEUTENANT L.S. BRACEGIRDLE; FRONT LEFT, LIEUTENANT H.N. HIXSON; BACK LEFT, SUB-LIEUTENANT B. BLACK; FRONT RIGHT, ASSISTANT PAYMASTER G. WYNNE.

P00417.035

P00417.036

LIEUTENANT LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE, WHO SERVED WITH THE NAVAL BRIGADE DURING THE BOXER REBELLION, 1900-1901.

P00417.036

P00430.001

CHINA. A GROUP OF ALLIED FORCES WHO SERVED IN CHINA DURING THE BOXER REBELLION, 1900 TO 1901. (PREVLIOUSLY NUMBERED AS A04487)

P00430.001

P00417.001

CHINA, 1900-1901. A GROUP OF AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIGADE OFFICERS AND MEN SERVING IN CHINA DURING THE BOXER REBELLION, WITH SOME CHINESE. EXTREME RIGHT, SEATED, IS LIEUTENANT LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE.

P00417.001

P00417.002

CHINA 1900-1901. AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIGADE OFFICERS SERVING IN CHINA DURING THE BOXER REBELLION. EXTREME RIGHT IS LIEUTENANT LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE.

P00417.002

P00417.003

CHINA, 1900-1901. TWO OFFICERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIGADE SERVING IN CHINA DURING THE BOXER REBELLION. ON RIGHT IS LIEUTENANT LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE.

P00417.003

P00417.005

AUSTRALIA, 1898-08. GROUP PORTRAIT OF NAVAL OFFICERS. IDENTIFIED FAR LEFT, SITTING, LIEUTENANT L.S. BRACEGIRDLE.

P00417.005

P00417.006

AUSTRALIA, C. 1900. PORTRAIT OF LIEUTENANT L.S. BRACEGIRDLE, WHO SERVED WITH THE NAVAL BRIGADE DURING THE BOXER REBELLION. (PREVIOUSLY CAPTURED AT A04472)

P00417.006

P00417.024

ABOARD SHIP. C. 1900. AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIGADE OFFICERS INVOLVED IN THE BOXER REBELLION. LIEUTENANT L.S. BRACEGIRDLE IS THE OFFICER IN THE FRONT ROW. SQUATTING FOURTH FROM THE RIGHT.

P00417.024

P00417.026

PEKING, CHINA. C. 1900. A GROUP OF FIVE NAVAL OFFICERS WALKING THROUGH THE RUINS OF PEKING DURING THE TIME OF THE BOXER REBELLION. IDENTIFIED ON EXTREME RIGHT IS LIEUTENANT LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE.

P00417.026

P00591.007

TRANSPORT SHIP A39, PORT MACQUARIE, WHICH LEFT MELBOURNE ON 1915-06-03. PHOTOGRAPH MAT IS SIGNED BY AIF AND RAN OFFICERS.

P00591.007

P11155.023.001

"West Beach Suvla after a moderate Gale. Notice all the lighters wrecked round the rocks" (Original inscription). "Wrecked Lighters (ashore) West Beach Suvla after a storm. 1st RANBT busy at salvage work " (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the...

P11155.023.001

P11155.014.001

"Another view of the pipeline at Suvla" (Original inscription). "Trestle supports for pipeline from pontoons to shore Suvla Gallipoli " (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later...

P11155.014.001

J03336

MADANG, NEW GUINEA, 1914. LIEUTENANT COMMANDER L.S. BRACEGIRDLE, AUSTRALIAN NAVY AND MILITARY EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (AN&MEF), LATER TO COMMAND THE 1ST ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIDGING TRAIN, READING DIVINE SERVICE TO HIS COMMAND. (DONOR LIEUTENANT COMMANDER G.A. HILL RNR)

J03336

A01272

The filter beds and pumping plant erected by the 1st Royal Australian Navy Bridging Team with the assistance of Egyptian labour gangs. A camp is in the background.

A01272

P11155.008.001

"Lieut Commander Bracegirdle's Dug Out at Suvla" (Original inscription). "Looking from the 'owners' dugout into wardroom Kangaroo Beach Suvla" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN...

P11155.008.001

P11155.021.001

"The wrecked T.B.D broken in half" (Original inscription) [T.B.D. - Torpedo Boat Destroyer]. "Showing the good old 'Louis' broken in half with stern towards us "(Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour...

P11155.021.001

P11155.017.001

"A fleet of lighters unloading at Suvla" (Original inscription). "West Beach, Suvla,Gallipoli. 'K' Motor Lighters discharging alongside docks " (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN...

P11155.017.001

P11155.018.001

"Army Service Corps Supply Depot at Suvla" (Original inscription). "Army Service Corps Supply Dumps. Cases of 'Dog', 'Biscuit', and 'Plum & Apple Jam' " (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour...

P11155.018.001

P11155.024.001

"West Beach Suvla in early days of landing"(Original inscription). "West Beach Suvla Gallipoli. This picture should come before the one over page [P11155.023.001] and will show the alterations made at this spot by R.A..N.B.T" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165)...

P11155.024.001

P11155.004.001

"Kangaroo Beach Suvla with camp of 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train and cemetery on left" (Original inscription)."Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. Our permanent 'Crib' Piers at 'Kangaroo' Beach" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of...

P11155.004.001

P11155.006.001

"Kangaroo Beach Suvla on a windy day. The 'Owner's' Dugout awash" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later Commander, DSO), Officer Commanding the 1st Royal Australian Naval...

P11155.006.001

P11155.020.001

"Destroyers and Transports in Suvla Bay. The wreck of one T.B.D. (Original inscription) [T.B.D - Torpedo Boat Destroyer]. This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later Commander, DSO), Officer...

P11155.020.001

P11155.002.001

"The solid piers built by the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train to replace the pontoon piers at Kangaroo Beach Suvla" (Original inscription). "Kangaroo Beach, Suvla. Showing permanent 'Crib' Piers we erected to replace pontoons for bad weather" (Album caption). This image is from one of two...

P11155.002.001

P11155.001.001

"The Pontoon Pier at Kangaroo Beach Suvla in early days of landing" (Original inscription). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later Commander, DSO), Officer Commanding the 1st Royal Australian...

P11155.001.001

P11155.009.001

"The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train erecting a Trestle Pier at Little West Beach Suvla" (Original inscription). "Little West Beach, Suvla, Gallipoli. One of our trestle piers (incomplete)" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service...

P11155.009.001

A01247

A stone breakwater in the course of construction at West Beach. The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train having placed a 200 ton empty iron lighter in shore of the second hulk and continue to run out the stone wall of the breakwater.

A01247

P11155.010.001

"Horse lighters in Little West Beach Suvla" (Original inscription). "Little West Beach, Suvla, Gallipoli. Trestle Pier completed with Egyptian iron pontoons at end and Horse lighters alongside" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of...

P11155.010.001

P11155.019.001

"In Sulva Bay. Wreck of T.B.D." (Original inscription) [T.B.D. - Torpedo Boat Destroyer]. This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later Commander, DSO), Officer Commanding the 1st Royal Australian...

P11155.019.001

P01326.011

MELBOURNE, VIC, ?1918. STUDIO PORTRAIT OF COMMANDER LEIGHTON S. BRACEGIRDLE DSO, RAN, COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE 1ST ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVAL BRIDGING TRAIN AT SUVLA BAY, GALLIPOLI, 1915. IN 1917 HE WAS OFFICER IN CHARGE OF TROOPS ON THE WILLOCHRA. BRACEGIRDLE ALSO SAW SERVICE IN CHINA DURING THE...

P01326.011

P11155.011.001

"Indian Mule Corps lines at Suvla" (Original inscription). "View of Suvla Bay with usual strafe going on in distance" (Album caption). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later Commander, DSO),...

P11155.011.001

P11155.005.001

"Head Quarters Dugout of the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train Kangaroo Beach Suvla" (Original inscription). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of Lieutenant Commander Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle RAN (later Commander, DSO), Officer Commanding...

P11155.005.001

P11155.015.001

" 'A lucky shot' The Turkish shell which hit our water pipe between shore & lighter & upset our water supply for some hours. (The piece of damaged pipe & the base of the shell). Suvla." (Original inscription). This image is from one of two albums (P11155 and P11165) relating to the service of...

P11155.015.001

P11155.007.001

"Outside Naval Officers Dug Out at Kangaroo Beach Suvla. Reading from left to right Staff Surgeon Morris RANR; Lieut Commander LS Bracegirdle RAN (Commanding); Lieut Bond RANR; Captain McRitchie RE; Major R Jellicoe RE (Legion of Honour) cousin of Admiral Jellicoe." (Original inscription). This...

P11155.007.001

Private Record

Bracegirdle, Leighton Sir (Admiral)

Conduct book with handwritten entries for 1917 - 1918, kept by Admiral Bracegirdle during his service with the Royal Australian Navy during the First World War. Maker: Bracegirdle, Leighton Seymour

3DRL/3543

Bracegirdle, Leighton Seymour (Rear Admiral)

ARMY BOOK CONTAINING A LIST OF OFFICERS AND RATINGS WHO LANDED AT SUVLA BAY, GALLIPOLI, 1915. MANUSCRIPT HISTORY OF "THE BOXER REBELLION" - BRIEF HANDWRITTEN ACCOUNT Maker: Bracegirdle, Leighton Seymour

3DRL/6218

Hill, Gerald Ashby (Lieutenant-Commander)

Collection relating to the service of Lieutenant-Commander Gerald Ashby Hill, RAN, German New Guinea, Malaysia and Mediterranean, 1914-1918. Collection consists of a photostat copy of the log book of the Australian Destroyer, HMAS Yarra, written by Lieutenant-Commander Gerald Ashby Hill, RAN... Maker: Hill, Gerald Ashby

1DRL/0351

Terrell, Frederick Leopold (Private)

Transcript of diaries relating to Private Frederick Leopold Terrell, 27 Battalion, 1915-1918. The diaries describe Terrell's departure on SS Port Macquarie, May 1915, and arrival at Lemnos. He comments on air raids, gas shells, weather conditions and rations, as well as detailed descriptions of... Maker: Terrell, Frederick Leopold

PR04004

Digitised Collection

Diary of Laurie John Smee, 1915-1917

Diary relating to the First World War service of 181 Able Seaman Driver Laurie John Smee, Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT). The entries in this diary span the period 19 June 1915 to 1 July 1917. In the diary, Smee documents his time with the RANBT, which saw service at Gallipoli and in...

RCDIG0000439

Timeline

Date of birth 1881-05-31 Balmain, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1898 Naval Cadet, NSW Naval Brigade.
Other 1900 - 1901 Became a Midshipman and served with the NSW Naval Brigade at Tientsin and Peaking, China,during the Boxer Rebellion.
Date of embarkation 1900-08-08
Other 1901 - 1902 Attached to British Forces, South African War.
Date of return 1901-04-25
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1911-07-01 Joined the Royal Australian Navy as a lieutenant, serving as district officer in Newcastle.
Other 1914-08 Joined the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, serving as a staff officer in attack on German New Guinea.
Other 1915 - 1917 Commanded the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train.
Other 1915-08 Landed Sulva Bay, Gallipoli.
Other 1915-12 Evacuated from Sulva Bay, Gallipoli.
Date of honour or award 1916-01-28 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1916-06-03 Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
Date of honour or award 1916-07-13 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1916-07-25 Mention in Despatches.
Date returned to Australia 1917-03-08 The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train had disbanded and Bracegirdle's command ended.
Other 1918 - 1921 Appointed district naval officer in Adelaide.
Other 1921 - 1923 Appointed district naval officer in Sydney.
Other 1923 - 1931 Director of Naval Reserves and Mobilisation, Navy Office, Melbourne.
Date promoted 1924 Promoted to captain.
Other 1931 - 1947 Military and Official Secretary to Governor General of Australia.
Date of honour or award 1935-01-01 Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG).
Date of discharge 1945-05-31
Date of honour or award 1947-01-01 Knight Commander of the Royal Australian Order (KCVO).
Other 1948 Personal Assistant to the Governor of Victoria.
Date of death 1970-03-23 Sydney, NSW.