15/162 Private Leonard Percy Arthur NZEF
NZEF Wounded Pair - 15/ Arthur
The British War Medal and Victory Medal issued to 15/162 Private Leonard Percy Arthur, who was wounded by gas in early 1918 whilst serving with the Otago Regiment.
Pte Arthur attested as a surveyor from Greytown when he joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was born 13 May 1888 in Timaru and died 25 November 1955 at Lower Hutt. He is buried at Taita Lawn Cemetery.
In life, he stood five feet and two inches tall, with blue eyes, fair complexion and light hair.
Pte Arthur was among what is regarded as the largest number of NZ soldiers to be mustard gassed in a single incident. He was wounded (gassed) on 19 February 1918 while serving in 1st Battalion Otago Regiment, which he served with through the bloody Passchendaele battles of 1917.
The Otago Regiment’s history records of the icy, snow-clad episode in the Ypres area in which Pte Arthur was gassed: ‘During the 18th [of February] artillery activity was much above the normal. Between 10 o'clock at night and the early hours of the following morning, the enemy poured a heavy concentration of gas shells over the area of the Butte de Polygone, with disastrous results to the personnel of the 2nd Brigade and [1st Otago] Battalion Headquarters established there.
‘The mustard gas used probably did not reach the height of its activity until influenced by the warmth of the morning sun; but the fact remained that during the day the extraordinary total of 14 officers and 162 other ranks of the Division were evacuated as gassed cases, a large proportion of whom belonged to the Headquarters establishment of the 1st Battalion of Otago.’
Both medals are correctly impressed 15/162 PTE. L.P. ARTHUR. N.Z.E.F. A very highly desirable complete group to a 15/ prefix, and very definitely not easy to find to one of this unit who was a casualty.