Time in the trenches

Charles Edward Leigh's nieces Maryanne Jackson and Marie Rundle, nephew Bernard Leigh, great, great niece Emma Crocker and great niece Judy Wood. 139061 Picture: GARY SISSONS


DANDENONG’S Charles Edward Leigh signed up to fight in World War I in 1917.
He died from wounds in Allonville, France, on 31 May 1918.
His niece Maryanne Jackson brought about 70 of his descendants from four generations together at Dandenong RSL on the anniversary of his death to mark the Anzac centenary.
“I’m of the eldest generation,” she said.
“Once we go, all the information that we’ve gleaned will go.
“We wanted to spread it around.
“To be in a room where you’re related to every single person, it’s quite an extraordinary experience.”
Ms Jackson brought photographs and information about Charles with her.
“I had a photo of him with his dad and two brothers, a photo that not many people in the family would have seen before,” she said.
“Everybody was commenting on how they resembled Charlie and his brothers Bill and Bernard.”
She also had letters regarding his death that his comrades sent to his mother.
“The day he died, my grandmother was living at the abattoirs in Dandenong and actually went up to the abattoirs itself and she saw Charlie standing there in his full uniform and she thought he had deserted from the war and come home,” she said.
“She just saw an apparition of him.
“He was at Allonville. He was sleeping in a barn.
“Apparently, somebody was taken prisoner. To get better treatment they gave up where these boys were sleeping. They directed the shells onto these two barns.
“I think there were about 90 people killed and a lot wounded.
“All the beams in the roof came down and the slate in the roof shattered and pierced them as they were sleeping.
“He had his leg amputated but he died of septicaemia.”