Elmer Winfred Drake Laing MC

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Elmer Winfred Drake Laing MC
Laing EWD.jpg
12th Bn Officers early 1918.jpg
12th BN Officers early 1918. Laing in middle row, 2nd from left. AWM EO1785
Personal Information
Date of Birth c1892
Place of Birth La Perouse, Sydney, New South Wales
Death 8 May 1918
Place of Death Strazeele, France
Age at Enlistment 22 years, 6 months
Description 5'6" (1.68m) tall ; 132lbs
59.874 kg
; fair complexion ; blue eyes ; light hair
Occupation Farmer
Religion Church of England
Address Maddington, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr WD Laing
Military Information
Reg Number 940
Date of Enlistment 10 Sep 1914
Rank Lieutenant
Unit/Formation 12th Battalion, D Company
Date of Embarkation 20 Oct 1914 ‒ 10 Dec 1914
Ship Embarked On HMAT A2 Geelong embarked in Hobart
Fate Wounded in action 25 Apr 1915 Gallipoli
Wounded in action 25 Feb 1917 Le Barque
Killed in action 8 May 1918 Strazeele
Monument Gosnells War Memorial
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Medals Military Cross
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Had previous experience as a Lieutenant in the 11th Infantry Regiment (militia).

War Service

Enlisted as a Private with Regimental Number 940. Men from WA travelled to Tasmania to complete their training in Australia. On 16 Sep 1914 Elmer was appointed Lance Corporal, and on 2 Nov 1914 promoted Corporal. Travelled to Egypt with his battalion and then on 2 Mar 1915 he embarked on HMHS Devanha then operating as a troop ship for Mudros. Wounded in action on Gallipoli on 25 Apr 1915, he was evacuated to Alexandria on 30 Apr 1915 aboard HMAT A49 Seang Choon. Admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital on 3 May 1915 with a gunshot wound to the thigh.

Released to duty, he rejoined his unit on Gallipoli on 25 Oct 1915. On 1 Dec 1915 at Mudros he was promoted to Sergeant. On 6 Jan 1916 he disembarked in Alexandria from the HMT Lake Michigan and on 16 Jan 1916 he was admitted to hospital at Tel-el-Kebir with measles.

On 29 Mar 1916 he embarked in Alexandria for Marseilles in France, arriving on 5 Apr 1916. Soon after his arrival in France, on 12 Mar 1916 he was promoted 2nd Lieutenant, and then on 12 Jun 1916 promoted again to Lieutenant. Elmer was awarded the Military Cross as part of the New Years Honours on 1 Jan 1917.

Wounded for a second time on 25 Feb 1917 at Le Barque (between Warlencourt and Bapaume) with wounds to his left hand and nose, Elmer was treated by the 1st Australian Field Ambulance before being admitted to the 1st Red Cross Hospital at Le Touquet on 27 Feb 1917. Elmer was evacuated on 10 Mar 1917 aboard HMHS Gloucester Castle from Le Havre to England. His wound was by then septic and had infected his eyes. On 11 Mar 1917 he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital. Operated on, on 24 Mar 1917, he required further plastic surgery on his face to rectify the wound to the face. Released on 18 May 1917, from then until 9 Jul 1917 he was detached to command depots in England while he recovered strength.

On 9 Jul 1917 he proceeded overseas to France again, and on 18 Jul 1917 he was back with his battalion. On 2 Sep 1917 he was admitted to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance with VD. Sent to the 39th General Hospital I le Havre, he was released back to duty on 4 Nov 1917, but by 17 Sep 1917 needed medical treatment again. Seen by the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance and treated for VD, he was released to duty on 4 Nov 1917, rejoining the 12th Battalion on 11 Nov 1917. On 30 Nov 1917 he was sent on a course at the 2nd Army Musketry Camp, and then on to the 4th Army Musketry School, returning to the 12th Battalion on 22 Mar 1918.

Elmer was killed in action on 8 May 1918. The battalion was in the front line east and south east of Strazeele, when its two Companies on the left of the line were on the receiving end of a heavy barrage of German 4.2 inch (11cm) and 7.7 (20cm) inch artillery shells. Elmer died during the barrage.

  • Borre British Cemetery near Hazebrouck, France
  • Courtesy Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Award Comment

Military Cross

"At Pozières. France, from 22nd to 25th July 1916 Lieut Laing was in command of his platoon in the attack on Pozières which he led with conspicuous bravery and coolness. On the night of 24th July 1916 he commanded a patrol sent out to the N.E. corner of Pozières to cover a party of Engineers digging a strong post and when they were driven back by machine gun fire he assisted to bring back a wounded man and by his coolness and courage successfully got his patrol back to our line."[1]


  1. London Gazette 1 Jan 1917, page 44, position 53; Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 29 Jun1917, page 1390, position 39

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