No.2763 Private Leslie Joseph Rogers
[a.k.a. Leslie Joseph Collins]
Leslie Collins was one of four children, born to Pat Collins and Mary Ann Parsons. He had two older brothers, James Collins who was born at Carlton in 1890 and William Francis Collins / Rogers who was born in Carlton in 1892. His sister Alice May Collins was born in Footscray in 1894.
The children became separated in their youth. Leslie and Alice adopted the surname of Rogers, while the other two retained the surname of Collins.
Their natural father died c1898 and their mother remarried Mr Anthony Rogers. She died not long after about 1903.
[Leslie's step-father had at least two sons by an earlier marriage, and they both died while serving with the A.I.F. in France. They were Private Henry Ernest Rogers No.2844 (1888–1915) who took part in the same Battle at Pozières and co-incidentally he was reported as missing in action. He was later killed.
Another step-brother, Private Anthony Rogers No.22442 (1879–1917) also saw service in France and was killed in action.
Another brother, Mr Arthur Collins of Geelong West, who reported in the Geelong Advertiser, that his brother "Private Leslie Rogers Collins" had been killed in action in France on 4 August 1916.
Geelong Advertiser, 23 September 1916, p.3.
Leslie attended the Hyde Street School, and was a very good cricketer and footballer. After leaving school, he played with the Yarraville team and in the Essendon League.
Before enlisting, Leslie was employed as a clerk with the Victorian Department of Agriculture. This would have meant that he spent some time at the State Research Farm in Werribee.
Prior to enlisting in the A.I.F. he had served in the Citizen’s 65th Battalion, for 12 months.
At the young age of 19 years and 1 month, he needed his parents' permission to enlist. Anthony and Henrietta Rogers signed a letter of consent on 26 July 1915. (Anthony Rogers of Empress Avenue, West Footscray was his step father and Henrietta Rogers was a friend.)
After he enlisted on 2 August 1915, Leslie was sent to the No. 96 Company Depot at the Broadmeadows Camp. After 5 weeks training there he was appointed to the 6th Reinforcements, 23rd Battalion on 12 October 1915.
[The 23rd Battalion was raised in Victoria in March 1915 as the third battalion of the 6th Brigade. After initial training, it left Australia in March and arrived in Egypt, where it would complete its advanced training, in June.]
Prior to their departure, he and 34 former members of the Footscray Baptist Sunday School were given a big send-off banquet at the local church in late August 1915.
The 23rd Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne per HMAT Ulysses A38 on 27 October 1915. The Embarkation Rolls records him as 2763 Private Leslie Joseph Rogers.
He was taken on strength by the 23rd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade at the Tel-el-Kebir Camp in Egypt on the 11 January 1916.
Leslie wrote a long letter home on the 20 February 1916, describing conditions in the desert, and the attitude of the soldiers after they had evacuated from Gallipoli.
Independent (Footscray), 8 April 1916, p.3.
The 6/23rd embarked from Alexandria on the 19 March 1916, and disembarked at Marseilles one week later, on 26 March 1916, to join the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.).
Private Rogers again had an account of his journey through France, up to the front line, published in a local newspaper.
Independent(Footscray), 17 June 1916, p.3.
The 23rd Battalion went 'in the line' on 10 April 1916, when it occupied forward trenches of the Armentières sector in northern France.
Private Rogers described his first experience of coming under fire, in a letter home, that was published in a local newspaper.
Independent (Footscray), 1 July 1916, p.3.
This introduction to the Western Front was followed in July by the horrific battles of Pozières and Mouquet Farm, after which it was estimated that the Battalion lost almost 90 per cent of its original members.
In his obituary, it was reported that he was now detached on special duty, as a bomb thrower.
Independent (Footscray), 23 September 1916, p.2.
It was at the fighting around Pozieres that Leslie Rogers was killed in action on 4 August 1916. He was buried near Pozieres in France, and then his body was exhumed in 1928. It was re-interred in the Serre Road Cemetery No.2, near Beaumont Hamel, France.
The next of kin was given the option of adding a verse on the headstone, and his brother chose "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away".
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star – Issued to Arthur Collins 8 December 1920
- British War Medal - Issued
- Victory Medal – Issued
- Memorial Plaque and King’s Message – Issued to Arthur Collins 15 August 1922
- Memorial Scroll – Issued to Arthur Collins 4 December 1921
"ROGERS. L.J." on Werribee Cenotaph.
His name was not recorded in the Roll of Honor, which was published weekly in the Werribee Banner newspaper.
Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901 (CD)
Pioneer Index Victoria 1836-1888 (CD)