Topic: Leslie Richard Shannon (1885-1916)

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The first wounded from Gallipoli returned to New Zealand on the SS Willochra in July and October of 1915. Private Leslie Richard Shannon was amongst these men.

Leslie Richard Shannon (1885-1916)Prior to the war, Shannon and a mate walked from Huntley to Tauranga looking for railway work. Jobless, homeless and without food or money they expressed a desire to enlist. However, without a fixed address this was impossible. With the support of the Mayor, Captain Mirrielees the local recruiting officer, arranged for the men to camp at the Town Swimming Baths and with his assistance they duly enlisted.

Tasmanian born Shannon went on to Gallipoli where he was struck by dysentery and was one of 156 soldiers to return home on the Willochra, 30 October 1915. Described as a ‘cot case’ in the Otago Daily Times Shannon was unable to leave his bed and he was immediately transferred to Dunedin Hospital, one of only two Auckland Battalion soldiers to remain in the city.

Though admitted for dysentery Shannon developed tuberculosis and his condition progressively worsened. His death, on 9 January 1916 (reg. 1916/3495), was reported in several newspapers:

“Private Leslie Shannon of the Second Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Battalion died in Dunedin Hospital on Sunday. He returned by the Willochra, suffering from dysentery. His next of kin is Mrs J. Riva, Launceston, Tasmania.” Oamaru Mail, 11 January 1916.

“Pte Leslie Richard Shannon, whose funeral took place at Dunedin recently was 30 years of age [he was actually 34]. He was a member of the 2nd Reinforcements joining at Tauranga. He was a son of Denis and Mary Shannon of Westbury Tasmainia and took part in operations at Gallipoli until August 8 when he was invalided back to New Zealand. His death occurred at the Dunedin Hospital Jan 9. Owing to Private Shannon’s relatives all residing in Tasmania it was impossible for them to attend the funeral. The only relative present was his sister who arrived at Dunedin a week before her brother died.” Bay of Plenty Times, 22 January 1916.

In a military funeral, Private Shannon’s body was transported on a gun carriage to the Southern Cemetery. A wreath was placed on his coffin by members of the Anzac Club and the service was concluded with 3 volleys and the playing of “The Last Post”. In his will, drawn up the day he died, Shannon left all of his worldly possessions, 44 pounds of deferred defence pay, to his sister Mrs Lena Riva.

Sadly Mrs Riva was to endure further loss. In May 1919 her son Jack Riva was killed in a house fire:

“With terribly distressing suddenness, sorrow, and trial yesterday came to the family of Mr. J. Riva, of Patterson-street. Safely through a period of 2½ years' service with the expeditionary force, and awaiting in Melbourne an opportunity to embark for home, Pte. Jack Riva early yesterday morning met his death under most tragic circumstances. The report of the occurrence, as telegraphed from our Melbourne correspondent, indicated that a fire occurred about 2 o'clock in the morning at Spotswood, in a boarding house kept by Mrs. Stuckey, the widow of a soldier. Pte. Jack Riva, aged 20 years and 3 months, a native of Tasmania, was burned to death. There was evidence that the young fellow had attempted to escape. When found he was lying face downwards, with his head resting on his left arm. The rear portion of the house, which contains several rooms, was badly damaged. Pte. Riva, recently returned from the front on the City of Poona, was held up in Melbourne waiting for an opportunity to return to Tasmania. Very general sympathy will be felt with Mr. and Mrs. Riva whose only son the deceased soldier was and for whose welcome home complete preparations had been made. It is a distressing feature of the sad affair that, but for the isolation of Tasmania, consequent on the shipping strike, the young soldier would have reached home some days ago.” The Examiner, 28 May 1919. 

by Fiona Kean (2014).



Bay of Plenty Times (22 January 1916).

Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Cenotaph Record (Auckland War Memorial Museum).

Military personnel file (Archives New Zealand).

Oamaru Mail (11 January 1916).

The Examiner (28 May 1919).

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Leslie Richard Shannon (1885-1916)

Note:Service Number: 12/1499
First Names:Leslie Richard
Last Name:Shannon
Date of Birth:1885
Place of Birth:Tasmania
Country of birth:Australia
Date of death:9 January 1916
Place of death:Dunedin
Fathers name:Denis Shannon
Mothers name:Mary
Name of sibilings:Lena Shannon
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)