Leonard Frederick Bysh

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Leonard Frederick Bysh
Bysh Leonard Frederick.jpg
Leonard in uniform with his sister Gertrude May Dover and her family in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire
Bysh Leonard Frederick 1.jpg
photo courtesy RSL Virtual War Memorial
Personal Information
Date of Birth 20 Aug 1887
Place of Birth Watford, England
Death 4 Oct 1917
Place of Death Zonnebeke, Belgium
Age at Enlistment 27 years, 4 months
Occupation Labourer
Religion Protestant
Address NOK 36 Peel street, Jolimont, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr James Bysh
Military Information
Reg Number 897
Date of Enlistment 17 Jan 1916
Rank Sergeant
Unit/Formation 44th Battalion, Machine Gun Section (16 Platoon D Company)
Date of Embarkation 6 Jun 1916 ‒ 21 Jul 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A29 Suevic
Fate Killed in Action 4 Oct 1917
Monument Gosnells War Memorial
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Menin Gate Memorial
Australian War Memorial
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Arrived in Australia on 19 Feb 1909, aged 22 on board SS Omrah of the Orient Line.

War Service

Following basic training in WA, the 44th Battalion proceed to England via Durban, Capetown, and St Vincent, arriving at Plymouth on 21 Jul 1916. On arrival they entrained for Amesbury where they then marched 6 miles (10 km) to Larkhill. Further training followed until 26 Nov 1916 when the battalion proceeded overseas, arriving in Le Havre the next day.

On 19 Feb 1917 Leonard was appointed Lance Corporal, and on 11 Apr 1917 Temporary Corporal. Although he reverted to LCpl on 13 May 1917 he was promoted Corporal on 15 Jun 1917. During late June and July 1917 the 44th Battalion was in the front line south of Messines On 31 July they were part of an attack designed as a feint to the real attack occurring to their north at Ypres. The feint went in under a heavy smoke screen and it was at this time that Leonard observed a large group of Germans withdrawing. A Lewis gunner, he opened a withering and accurate fire from his Lewis gun as they ran over open ground. The party of Germans was practically wiped out. [1] On 17 Aug 1917 he was mentioned in the 3rd Division's Routine Orders for distinguished conduct. Appointed Lance Sergeant on 28 Aug 1917, he was made Temporary Sgt the following day, and promoted Sergeant on 25 Sep 1917.

The 44th Battalion took part in an attack on Broodseinde Ridge on 4 Oct 1917. They had moved from Poperinghe the day before, through Ypres and late in the evening of 3 Oct 1917 took up position near the railway line in Zonnebeke. While the Australian attack was planned for 6:00am, the Germans had also assembled for an attack on the Australians, timed to commence at 6:10am. The German barrage commenced at 3:00am, so the Australians had suffered heavy casualties before their barrage commenced and the men moved forward. It was soon after this that Leonard was killed with a bullet through the head as they advanced [2]

A comprehensive Red Cross file is held by the Australian War Memorial in Leonard's name [1]

"We had gone over Hill 60 and had just reached our objective on the 4th October when I saw Sgt Bysh sniped through the head. I did not know him well, but he was a dark chap, clean shaven, about 5ft 8 in. He was a Lewis Gun Sergeant, D Coy." 876 Pte S.E>G. Dodds

"I knew Sgt Bysh. He was in my platoon. We called him 'Len'. At Ypres on or about 4th October we went over the top. We had not gone more than 200 yards when Sgt Bysh fell. He was shot through the head and killed instantly. I was quite close to him. Company Sergeant Major Bayne got his pay book and papers. We gained our objective. I did not again see Sgt Bysh's body, but a burying party went out later and I believe his body was buried. Sgt Bysh was about 5ft 8 ins, dark, clean-shaved. He was a very nice fellow and well liked by everyone." 2595 Pte Richard Jas. Kent.

"I have already written fully to his Mother and also to his sister, (in England) giving all the particulars I could. He was killed at my side, and cause of death was sniper bullet through the head. He would be buried by burial party in the field. I am unable to give any clue to grave location beyond the fact that it was in th vicinityof the Railway Station, Zonnebeke. If my letter has not reached his sister in England, I would be only too pleased to write again as Sgt Bysh was my mate." 685 Pte H.Barns.

"Was in D Coy, a Lewis Gunner. He was killed instantly by shell at Messines Ridge on October 4th, during the Hop-over. I did not see him killed, but saw his grave. He was buried in a little cemetery (about 20 or 30 graves) in Messines Hollow, near the ridge. A cross was erected over his grave out of Battalion funds." 940 Pte E Brown 44th Battalion HQs.

  • Menin Gate, Iper, Belgium
  • Section of the 44th Battalion panel

Award Comment

On 3 Aug 1917 Len was recommended for an award.

"On the morning of July 31st 1917, in the advance east of Messines, this NCO saw a party of Germans retiring under cover of our smoke barrage.

He promptly trained his Lewis gun on them and almost completely annihilated them. His prompt action and masterly handling of the gun were responsible for the good results obtained.

Temp Sergeant Bysh has always shown a high standard of courage and devotion to duty, setting a splendid example to his men who have every confidence in him.[3]

The result was that his name was mentioned in the Corps Orders, published 3 Aug 1917.


  1. 'The Westralian Battalion - The Unit History of the 44th Battalion A.I.F., Neville Browning, Advance Press, 2004, page 156
  2. 'The Westralian Battalion - The Unit History of the 44th Battalion A.I.F., Neville Browning, Advance Press, 2004, page 182

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