Sappa LESLIE H.N. JACKA

1881 – 1915

19th Battalion, 4th Field Company,

Service No. 4124

Killed in action at Gallipoli 1 December 1915

On 1st December 1915, “Enemy shelled Popes from South Wineglass Ridge, one man killed.

Leslie Harold Newton Jacka was born in Adelaide on the 16th July 18811 , the second child of Richard William Jacka and mother Catherine Whenan. He also had an older brother, Edgar Horace Alfred Jacka, born 1868. Leslie was reputedly the cousin of the famous VC recipient from Victoria, Captain Albert Jacka; however, his family tree does not indicate this, although he may have been a distant cousin, as members of the Jacka family appear to have migrated from Cornwall.  His grandfather, William Jacka had migrated from St. Ives in Cornwall to Adelaide sometime in the mid 1830’s. 

Little is known about Leslie’s early life.  His attestation papers state that he was a draftsman with the South Australian Government.   

On the 1 July 1908 he married a Manly girl, Blanche Marian Tedd in Adelaide.  Blanche was 29 and Leslie 26.  Blanche had been married twice before and had a small son, John Castner,  who was about 8 at the time. Blanche and Leslie did not have any children of their own.

At some point the family moved to Sydney, lived in Paddington, then later moved to Freshwater, where Blanche Jacka owned a small property opposite the current Jacka Park (in Wyndora Avenue). Freshwater was semi-rural in those days and Wyndora Avenue was only a track known as Suakin Street named after the Sudan War.  Most of the ground in front of her house was swamp and bush with the Freshwater Creek running through it. 

The 19th Battalion was raised at Liverpool in March 1915 as part of the 5th Brigade and Leslie enlisted on the 11th March, 1915. The 19th Battalion had previously served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force in the operations to capture German New Guinea in 1914. 

Leslie was 33 years 8 months, 5ft 11 ½ ins. and weighed 172 lbs. (78 kilos), olive skinned with brown eyes and dark hair.

Above is a photo of the Ceramic leaving Melbourne on the 25th June, 1915 moored at Station Pier, Melbourne prior to leaving.  Troops on the right are lined up waiting to embark, while those on the left are waiting with their kit bags before they are called.  Leslie is one of these men.

After training, the 19th Battalion left Australia on the troopship HMAT Ceramic A40 in Melbourne on the 25th June, 1915 for Egypt, arriving late July.  Here they trained until mid-August, however during this time Leslie developed an ulcerated leg, was hospitalised, then released to light duties while still in Egypt.

Finally, on the 14 November 1915 Leslie entrained to Gallipoli, re-joining the 19th Battalion which at that point was responsible for the defence of Pope’s Hill, one of the most critical points in the ANZAC defence system. 

On 1st December 1915, while located at Popes Post, the Unit’s War Diary records “Enemy shelled Popes from South Wineglass Ridge, one man killed, one wounded”.  Unfortunately, the one man killed was Leslie Jacka.

 

Only 19 days later the entire army was evacuated.

Above Photo looking towards Pope’s Hill after the Blizzard, when Leslie was killed.

Leslie did not receive any commendations, or mentions in despatches, however he was a brave man.  The conditions on Pope’s Hill that day were horrendous.  This was the time of the shocking storms and blizzards that swept Gallipoli and Leslie was out there still defending the Hill when he was mortally wounded.

Leslie’s resting place is not far from where he fell.  He lies in a beautiful cemetery called Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli, Plot 1, Row F, and Grave 14.

During the first days of landing, the Allied troops used the area where the cemetery now is as a road up to the Turkish positions. Stretcher-bearers and troops carrying ammunition, food and water traversed up and down Shrapnel Valley (or "Shrapnel Gully") throughout the campaign. Turkish artillery was able to regularly bombard the area with heavy gunfire. The name of the cemetery comes from the amount of shelling fired from Turkish field guns located on Third Ridge (Gun Ridge).

Shrapnel Valley (Shrapnel Gully) Cemetery was first begun during the war. Shrapnel Valley Cemetery is now 50 meters away from the coast road. It was first laid out near the exit to the beach from the valley, south of Anzac Cove, in early May 1915. After Lone Pine it is the largest battlefield cemetery in the old Anzac sector. Largely completed during the Gallipoli Campaign, a small number of graves were incorporated into the cemetery after the war. Of the 683 burials in the cemetery, 527 are Australians, 56 New Zealanders, 28 British and 72 unknown. Special Memorials commemorate 23 men believed to be buried here.

Today Shrapnel Valley, with its distinctive Judas tree, is considered to be amongst the most beautiful cemeteries on the peninsula.

As a war widow of a soldier killed at Gallipoli, Blanche was granted use of the piece of Crown Land on the corner of Wyndora Avenue and Oliver Street, which had been reserved from regular sales due to its swampy nature. The land covered just over two acres and was notified for public recreation on the 14 November, 1924. 

In 1917, members of the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club and teachers and students of the Hurlstone Agriculture College, cleared a section of the land for Blanche Jacka’s garden.  For a time, the garden flourished, however in 1918 Blanche remarried again to a Mr. Ryan and went to live on a farm at Mona Vale. After a period of neglect, blackberries encroached and the area became a dumping ground for rubbish of all kinds.

Eventually the scrub and blackberry bush were cleared from the site and the swamp drained by men employed by the 1930’s economic depression relief work scheme.  Warringah Council dumped filling in the gully in 1949 and a flag pole was erected in 1956. Jacka Park was born.

Blanche, widowed again, finally passed away at Manly NSW in 1942.  In her lifetime Blanche had five surnames from four marriages, however, in the 9 years she was married to Leslie, she happened to pass into posterity the name of “Jacka” to the Park, the name that also represents her husband Leslie Jacka,  a forgotten hero.  It would be entirely appropriate that Leslie Jacka, her husband, is also remembered as a brave and courageous man who gave his life for his country.

 

"Jacka Park will remind us of this sacrifice."

 

Medals:         The 1915/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Memorials:   The Memorial Plaque and the Memorial Scroll.

Wall of Remembrance in Jacka Park

Sources

1.     Information throughout story on Jacka Park and Sappa Leslie Jacka, from the notes of Gwen Gordon, held in the Warringah Shire Library, Dee Why and Leslie Jacka’s Attestation Papers from the War Memorial Site.

 

2.    Information on the birth, and family of Leslie Jacka from Family Search Community Trees and Births, Deaths & Marriages South  Australia https://histfam.familysearch.org//getperson.php?personID=I70416&tree=SouthAustralia

 

3.    Information on the birth, marriages and death of Blanche Tedd (Jacka) from Robert Mote’s Family Tree: www.ausigen.com

 

Page 1. Picture of soldier fighting in the snow http://www.news.com.au/national/anzac-day/remembering-what-world-war-i-was-like-for-the-anzacs-fighting-at-gallipoli-on-november-11-1915/

 

Page 2: The “Ceramic” leaving Melbourne http://alh-research.tripod.com/ships_lh.htm

 

Page 3. Information on Pope’s Hill: Australian War Memorial Site https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51459/

 

Page 3. Map of Popes Hill http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog/2012119/the-battle-of-anzac-cove-gallipoli-25-pril-1915-14th-infantry-battalion-aif-unit-history-account/

 

Page 3. Looking Towards Pope’s Hill during blizzard http://www.gwpda.org/memoir/NZ/images/nz14.jpg

 

Page 4. Shrapnel Valley Cemetery http://www.gallipoliexperience.com/en/gallipoli_shrapnel_valley.html

 

Page 5. Photos of Jacka Park’s Freshwater’s Wall of Remembrance in private collection

 

 

 

Written and researched by Wendy Mazoudier Machon for the Soldiers Avenue of Honour Stakeholders Group

Last change: 27 April, 2020

Tel: (02) 9938 1444

Email: HarbordSB@rslnsw.org.au

88 Evans St,

Freshwater NSW 2096

© 2020 Harbord Diggers RSL Sub Branch

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