28 August 2016
Leslie Reginald Yates
Another story that doesn't do justice to the full circumstances and the research that went in to finding this family.
Shortly after 0400 on 20 December 1915, the last Australians left Gallipoli, among those to leave was the 8th Battalion, 1st A.I.F.
Seven months later on the 26th July 1916, the battalion would again go into battle, this time spearheading the assault on the German lines at Pozieres.
Gallipoli always comes to the fore when any discussion takes place concerning WWI. Gallipoli with its 29,000 casualties in eight months, yet at Pozieres, Australian casualties would amount to 36,960 in the 6 weeks from 16 July to 13 August 1916, as the battle ground on, and German artillery, took a dreadful toll.
2198 PteLeslie Reginald Yates of the 8th Battalion, would take his place in that assault and was killed in action on the 26 July. Later he would be laid to rest at the Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-LaBoisselle, Somme, France.
This was battle that would prompt Australian WWI correspondent Charles Bean to report that the Pozieres Ridge was "more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on Earth".
But the losses at Pozieres and Fromelles some days before, were to have a lasting influence as the scale of losses became known to those living in Australia. It would trigger much of the subsequent conscription debate and the failure of the Australian Government to have conscription accepted by the Australian people.
At the request of the two families involved, I have not included the search details, either of John, who found the medals and plaque and spent considerable time trying to locate Leslie’s surviving family.
Recently, I was able to email to John the contact details of Michael, the grandson of Leslie’s brother James, who also fought in WWI.
In the coming months John will travel from Brisbane to Avoca in Victoria, to pass the medals and Leslie’s memorial plaque to Michael. To hold on behalf of and in memory of his Great Uncle Private Leslie Reginald Yates.
The returned medal tally is now 1903.