Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leslie Reid Bremner - Palmerston North Memorial

Rifleman Leslie Reid Bremner, previously posted missing, now reported killed in action on the Somme on September 15, was the eldest son of Mr. R. J. Bremner, Kings View Road, Mount Eden. He was educated at the Caversham and Otago Boys High Schools, Dunedin, later at the High School, Palmerston North, and finished his education at the Auckland Boys Grammar School. He matriculated while attending the latter school, and was attending University classes at the time of his enlistment in the Rifle Brigade. His father is well known in commercial circles through his long connection with Wright, Stephenson and Company, Ltd., in Dunedin and Palmerston North, and until recently as manager of their local office." (Auckland Weekly News, 29 March 1917, p. 48)

Leslie Reid Bremner was the eldest son of Robert James Bremner and Annie Bremner.  Leslie was born on 13 October 1896 and enlisted on 16 October 1915 only a few days after his twentieth birthday.  He embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 5 February 1916.  He was originally reported missing but later reported killed in action on 15 September 1915 on the Somme during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.  On his military record I found evidence given by Rifleman John Fisher as to his death which reads as follows:

"On September 15 Rfm Bremner went over the top of the assembly trenches near High Wood in the same section as I was.  I saw him just before we reached Switch trench where several of the section were...
I saw someone that I took to be Rfm Bremner lying on the ground but did not make sure. Have never seen him since.  The man I took to be Bremner had red hair like Bremner's"

Such first-hand accounts give us a glimpse of the chaos on the battlefield and how difficult is was to keep track of the wounded and dead.

Rifleman John Fisher survived the war and returned home to New Zealand, he died in 1957 in Hamilton.

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