Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

DOUGLASS, Leslie Frederick (1891-1965)

DOUGLASS, Leslie Frederick (1891-1965)

Leslie Frederick Douglass was born on 16 October 1891, the son of Frederic Montague Douglass and Amy Elizabeth nee Thompson. Educated at Geelong Grammar School and enrolled at Geelong College in 1907, he was in both the 1st Cricket XI and 1st Football XVIII in 1909 and 1910. His address at enrolment was Wyuna, Western Beach, Geelong.

Geelong Grammarians provides the following about him:
'Born 16 Oct 1891, Son of Frederick Montague Douglass (GGS 1872-79)) of Wyuna, Western Beach, Geelong. He attended Mr Greenfield's school and joined Geelong Grammar Preparatory School as a day boy 12 Feb 1902. On 10 Feb 1904 he joined the senior school and won a prize for Divinity. In the Firtst World War, Leslie served as a driver in the 10th Battery, 4th Field Artillery Brigade, and then transferred to the 2nd Division Signals Commpany. He married Leah M Jelbart in 1923 at Woollahra.'

He enlisted in the AIF as a Driver with the 4th Field Artillery Brigade, 10th Battery and embarked for Egypt on HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 18 November 1915.

He wrote from France on 15 May 1916:
'I have received letters up to 21st March. Since I last wrote I have received a long letter from Monte, (his brother Alfred Montague Douglass, Old Geelong Grammarian, serving with D Battery, 46 Brigade, RFA, having served with 5 Bn, AIF, on Anzac, where he was wounded in September and invalided to England, where he was discharged, and took a commission in the Royal Field Artillery). He seems to be quite happy amidst his new surroundings, and says there are some very nice chaps with him, including one of the Reid boys, who was at school with me.

Things have been very quiet lately, nothing doing with the Huns, so I think the Saxons must be up in the trenches as they never fire a shot unless we do. The Prussians are the ones who are always looking for trouble. As soon as they go into the trenches to relieve the Saxons, let me tell you they get it. Our gunners have been doing excellent work, and I hear our infantry are very pleased with the artillery fire. The Saxons are a very peaceful crowd, and I think if they were all Saxons in the German Army the war would be over very soon, but the Prussians still seem to rule the roost. The censoring of letters is very strict, and seems to me to be carried too far. For instance I believe Monte is quite close to where we are, maybe only half an hour away, but I am not allowed to tell him in my letters that I am at a certain place. The town we occupy is full of civilians, and a large percentage of them are spies, who are being caught every day. The civilians tell the Germans more in five minutes than all the information they would gain from letters in five years.

We had a spell of beautiful weather here for about ten days but it has been cold for the last two or three and raining. I would like a few more plugs of tobacco, the same old brand. I have a good supply left yet, but dread the idea of having to go on any of the English or French brands procurable here. Ernie Hearne has gone to the officers’ training school. He was up in the gun pits for some time. I hope he gets a commission as he works hard and deserves one after dropping a good billet in the infantry. I have not seen Wilson since I left Egypt. Captain Hugh Conran and Captain Mab Smith came to see Keith Howe and I the other day - both looked well and fit; also Max Bingley and Hugh Conran’s younger brother. All the boys are well and very fit.'
(The five named (Hugh and Noel Conran, Maberly Smith, Howe and Bingley) were all Old Geelong Grammarians, Noel Conran was killed in action at Poziers in 1916 while the other four all survived the war).

The Geelong Advertiser of 16 January 1917 carried a story of his being injured, when pinned under a horse. His mother also received a letter from his brother, Lt Monte Douglass written on 7 September, part of which was précised in the Geelong Advertiser:
'The past week has been bright moonlight, which meant plenty of bombing at night. Luckily, Les came over one night, and we went to dinner with the Australian Motor Transport. While away the Huns dropped two bombs in the camp and put twenty-two holes in my tent which is now not quite waterproof. Unfortunately, one man was killed and another wounded. This afternoon I am going to visit my old battalion, the 5th, who are quite close, for the first time since I left them two years ago.'

'Les' Douglass transferred to the 2nd Divisional Signalling Company, and returned to Australia on HMT Ypiringa, embarking in June 1919.

His brother, John Cedric Douglass (1898-1963) was also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Corfield and Persse, Geelong Grammarians Vol 1 1855-1913 p591; Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. p181 (citing Geelong Grammarians at the Great War; Geelong Advertiser; Pegasus; National Archives).
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.