Leslie Oswald Lancaster was born on the 30 January 1898 at Sulphur Creek, the 11th of 14 children of Robert and Sarah Lancaster (pictured).
After leaving school Leslie worked as a butcher. He was a Lance Corporal with 91st Infantry “A” Company in Penguin, before he enlisted in the A.I.F. at the age of 18 years on 23 February 1916.
Private Lancaster was assigned to the 40th Battalion “C” Company, he sailed on HMAT Berrima out of Hobart on 1 July 1916, arriving in Devonport, England on 22 August 1916.
Three months later the 40th Battalion “C” Company left Southampton for France, where they spent 1917 bogged down in bloody trench warfare in Flanders.
Towards the end of February, Leslie spent three days in the 3rd Division School and in early May, was admitted to hospital for the treatment of scabies. In June the Battalion took part in the Battle of Messines, designed to force the German enemy to withdraw from the main battlefront of Vimy – Arras.
Winning the high ground South of Ypres was essential for the Allies to launch a larger campaign planned for East of Ypres. Shortly before the allied attack on the 7 June 1917, the Germans shelled the area with gas causing up to 2,000 casualties, including Leslie Oswald Lancaster, who was killed in action.
At 3.10 am, when the Allied detonator switches were triggered, thousands of German troops were obliterated.
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times on 14 November 1917 published an article entitled "A Penguin Lad's Death":
The following letter has been received by Mr and Mrs R. Lancaster, of “Springbanks” Penguin, relative to the death of their son, Pte. Leslie Lancaster who, at the time of his enlistment was employed by J. T. Stubbs of Penguin. The letter is written by C.S.M. R. K. Wilson.
I am very sorry to have to write to you about such a subject but, long before this reaches you, you will have heard of your son Leslie’s death. I am a very poor hand with a pen, as I can’t express on paper all I feel for you, but there is one consolation and that is that he died fighting for a world-wide cause – humanity. Your son was a real good soldier in every way, and was thought a great deal of by all the men in his company, for he was always bright and cheerful and willing to do anything to help any of his mates. I have been asked to convey to you, and to all his mates and relations at Penguin the heartfelt sympathy of his Company and of the whole Battalion.
Leslie Oswald Lancaster
Remembered with Honour
Memorial Register No 29 – Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium
Awarded – 1914-15 Star, Victory and British War Medals