Captain Leslie Somers McLERNON
The following is a summary of the military career of Captain McLernon, based on his Army Personnel file. Leslie was born in Gisborne, and moved with his parents to Napier where he attended high school. At the start of World War One Leslie was working at his father's jewellery shop in Napier as a Jeweller's assistant.
Leslie became involved with the NZ Army at high school, being a cadet, then joining the Territorials, before joining the NZ Expeditionary Force in 1914. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Napier High School Cadets on 12 June 1911, Lieutenant in the 9th (Hawkes Bay) Company of the Wellington Battalion of the Territorials on 12 September 1912. He sat and passed his examination for Captain on 19 August 1913 in Napier.
Leslie enlisted in Napier on 14 June 1914 for the NZ Expeditionary Force and immediately went into training until October 1914. He sailed from NZ with the main expeditionary force as a lieutenant in the Wellington Infantry Battalion on 16 October 1914 for Suez in Egypt. His overseas service began on arrival in Egypt on 4 December 1914, and his Battalion was involved at Gallipoli from 25 April 1915. He was wounded in action on 17 May 1915 with a bayonet wound to his right foot. He was transferred to Alexandria until he recovered. Leslie was promoted to Captain on 29 May 1915 following the death of Captain Ateo Frandi.
Leslie re-joined his Company at Gallipoli on 8 July 1915. A month later he was killed in action on Chunuk Bair on 8 August 1915, aged 24. The Battle of Chunuk Bair was fought between the Ottoman defenders and troops of New Zealand and Britain. Allied units made the summit of Chunuk Bair early in the morning of 8th August 1915. Out of the 760 men of the Wellington Battalion who had reached the summit, 711 had become casualties by the evening of 8 August. The Ottomans recaptured the peak after a few days.