PRIVATE LESLIE CLEGG MCMURDO
26TH SEPTEMBER 1917 AGE 17
BURIED: BUTTES NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, POLYGON WOOD, BELGIUM
Leslie McMurdo was underage when he was killed by a sniper - born in April 1900, he was only seventeen. But he had been determined to fight, so determined that when his attempt to join up in South Africa at the age of 16 failed he stowed away to Australia where he added two years to his age and claimed that he'd already undergone 121 days military training. The Australians accepted him on 21 September 1916, he embarked from Sydney on 23 December 1916, arrived in France via Britain on 4 August 1917, joined the 12th Rifle Company, 31st Battalion Australian Infantry on 24 August and was killed in action one month and two days later in the Battle of Polygon Wood.
Leslie McMurdo was the eldest of his parents' seven children. He was born in Stockton-on-Tees, Durham. The family emigrated to South Africa sometime between 1909 and 1911. His father, Thomas McMurdo, died in November 1914 so it was his mother who was his next of kin. She filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia and interestingly, she backs up her son's story claiming that he was 18 when he died. But the British records don't lie and they show that he was born in the second quarter of 1900. She also states that he came to Australia when he was 16 - that bit is true - "to go farming with Mr F.A. Sheppard ... but I do not know if he would have any other information to give you". I can't tell whether that is true or not but the speed with which he gets into the Australian army would indicate that he didn't have much time to do much farming. It's Mrs McMurdo who tells us of the manner of his death"
"After the Battle at "Polygon Wood", whilst attending a wounded comrade, 200 yards out in "No Man's Land, was shot though heart and left eye."
His body was found in an unmarked grave in March 1920.