2nd Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade (New Zealand Army)
12/08/1917 (Killed in Action)
Thomas Leslie was a son of Mrs. A Leslie of Donaghey, Sherrygroom, Cookstown. He later emigrated to New Zealand, and at the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted with the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Earl of Liverpoolís Own), who were affectionately known as The Dinks. Thomas Leslie was killed in action on 12th August 1917 and is interred at Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Thomas Leslie was the eldest son of Robert and Agnes Leslie. Robert Leslie married Agnes Milliken / Milligan in North Down on 17th January 1895.
Thomas was born in Belfast on 22nd June 1895.
By the time of their second child in August 1897, the family had moved to Cookstown.
The 1901 census lists Thomas as 5 years he was living with his family and grandfather (also called Thomas Leslie) at house 6 in Donaghey, Stewartstown, County Tyrone. His father and grandfather were farmers.
The 1911 census lists Thomas as 15 years. He had left school and was working on the farm. He was the eldest of four sons.
Family: Robert Leslie, Agnes Leslie, Thomas Leslie (born 22nd June 1895), George Leslie (born 26th August 1897), Robert John Leslie (born 17th October 1899), Allen Leslie (born 30th November 1902).
Thomas later emigrated to New Zealand, He worked as a farmer. His last employer before enlisting was H S Ludbrook of Ohaeawia.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Thomas enlisted with the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Earl of Liverpoolís Own), who were affectionately known as The Dinks. He gave his next of kin as his uncle, William Leslie, who was living in Kawakawa, New Zealand.
The 1st and 2nd Battalion of 3rd Rifle Brigade left Wellington, New Zealand on 8th October 1915 and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on 14th November. They were joined by the 3rd and 4th Battalions in March 1916 and after a period of major reorganisation the Brigade left Alexandria for France on 7th April 1916.
After a period of training the brigade entered the front line on the 13th May 1916, east of Armentieres. It participated in the vast majority of the battles of 1916 and 1917. Most notably itís first major offensive at the Somme on 15th September 1916 when it attacked the German front lines as part of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
At the Battle of Messines on 7th June 1917 the Brigade successfully attacked from the town of Nieuwkerke in a mission to seize control of a series of German pill-boxes. The brigade next saw action during the Third Battle of Ypres, 31st July -10th November 1917.
Rifleman Thomas Leslie was killed in action near Ypres on 12th August 1917 in Belgium. He was 22 years old.
Rifleman Thomas Leslie was interred in plot 4- row A- grave 2 at Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Belgium. This cemetery is close to Ploegsteert and a lane close by leads to Ploegsteert Wood which was eventually captured. Hundreds of men had lost their lives in the struggle.
After he was killed in action, it was discovered that his uncle had died, so his next of kin became his mother, Agnes, who was living in Sherrygroom, Donaghey, Cookstown.
Thomas Leslie is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph.
Thomas is also listed on a number of memorials in Kawakawa, New Zealand.
The CWGC record Rifleman Leslie as the son of Mrs A. Leslie, of Donaghey, Sherrygroom, Co. Tyrone.