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Pte. Leonard Herbert Sowry

New Zealand Expeditionary Force 4th NZ Rifle Brigade. 3rd Canterbury Regiment, 12th (Nelson) Coy

from:Makomako via Pahiatua, New Zealand

(d.11th Aug 1917)

Leonard Herbert Sowry was born 5th June 1895 at Woodville New Zealand. He is my great uncle and was the second son of Herbert and Eliza Sowry. As a lad Len and the family moved to Rose Farm in the newly opened bush settlement area of Makomako. He and his first cousin Hector Lyle Sowry attended Makomako school and participated in two hours a week (fifty two hours in total each) compulsory military training.

On leaving school Leonard and Hector enrolled with the 17th Ruahine Regiment, a local territorial group. After the declaration of war they both continued to train with this regiment until 1916 when at the age of twenty they volunteered and were accepted into the New Zealand regular army. Mobilising together with the 19th Reinforcement at Trentham Camp 25th July 1916.

Both the boys went on to train at Featherston Military Camp. On the 15th of November 1916 together Leonard and Hector embarked with the 19th Reinforcement on board the troopship Maunganui HMNZT 68 where they sailed via Albany Australia, Capetown South Africa the island of St Helena and then onto Devonport UK. The two troopships that embarked together the Maunganui and Tahiti then disembarked 29th January 1917 on a cold and snowy day at Plymouth and the later ship at Devonport.

On arrival Leonard and Hector were both posted to the Canterbury reserve battalion. Having marched to Sling Camp and then onto Codford Camp both again were posted together to the 12th (Nelson)Coy of the 3rd C.I.R 4th Infantry Brigade. Leonard applied unsuccessfully for the artillery and Hector successfully as a marksman.

After sixteen weeks training at Codford they both then embarked for France on the 28th May 1917. Arriving at Boulogne Leonard and his regiment traveled to Messines via Hazebrouck, Le Havre and Bailleul. Upon arrival the regiment set about repairing the Wulverghem-Messines Road.

After three two week stints in the front line trenches of the New Zealand sector Leonard was killed in action on the 11th August 1917, he was believed to be in the La Basse-Ville neighbourhood at Au Chasseur Cabaret. He is buried at the London Rifle Brigade Cemetery.

Hector rejoined the regiment on the 28th of December 1917 after completing marksman-ship training at Estaples. He went on to serve in the 12th Coy and survived the war, returning to New Zealand on board troopship Pakeha. Hector married his sweetheart Edith, he died 27th July 1984 aged 89. Hector is buried at the Featherston Return Servicemen's Cemetery, Featherston New Zealand.

Five of my great uncles served 1914~1919 Leonard is the only great uncle to not return to New Zealand.

Wendy Macpherson

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