Private Leslie Joseph Irving (Service No.338)

The names of more than two thousand men and women who served in the Great War are listed on various memorials in Concord, Drummoyne, Five Dock and surrounding districts. Behind each name is a story. This is the story of Private Leslie Joseph Irving, who like so many young men of the time, rushed to join the armed forces, when war broke out in Europe in August 1914.

Nurse Sarah Irving
Nurse Sarah Irving

Irving was born in Drummoyne on 26 October 1894 to Sarah and Joseph Irving. Growing up he attended Drummoyne Public School. He learned his trade as a stonemason from his father and was apprenticed to him for three years. His mother was a nurse and operated a private hospital at 33 Thompson Street from about 1904 to 1914. Family notices in the Sydney Morning Herald in March 1904 describe it as Nurse Irving’s maternity hospital.

Irving was one of the first to volunteer. His application for enlistment in the A.I.F. was dated 21 August 1914, less than three weeks after the declaration of war. He was attached to the 1st Battalion C Company which left Albany in October 1914 aboard A19 Afric.  He took part in the Gallipoli landing in April 1915 and was wounded twice. The first, in May 1915, was a gunshot wound to the lower jaw and forehead. He was evacuated to the No. 1 Australian Military Hospital in Cairo, which had been set up in the former Heliopolis Hotel. He returned to Gallipoli in July of that year, where he was again wounded by gunfire. Irving was invalided to Australia and discharged as medically unfit in 1916. He received a small annual pension from the Army which was later increased.

Irving returned to his trade as a stonemason and in March 1918 married Perpetue (Pet) Frances Marceau in St Luke’s Church of England, Dapto. Perpetue was the granddaughter of Joseph Francois Marceau (the only French Canadian Exile to remain in NSW after 1844).  She died in 1932 and Irving married Jane Margaret Gibb on 15 May 1937 in St Thomas’ Church of England Rozelle.

Irving served in the Citizens Military Forces in World War II (N181376). He died in 1967 in Kiama. He is commemorated in the Drummoyne War Service Record and appeared on the original Drummoyne Honour Memorial (pictured) erected by the Soldiers, Sailors and Dependents Welfare Association. It was replaced in 1928 with the monument that now stands in front of the Canada Bay Council Chambers. 

Andrew West


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