The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- George Richard
- Regimental #:
- ‘E’ Company, Special Reserve Battalion
- Place of Birth:
- Jessop’s Well, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- George William Leipold
- Mothers's Name:
- Ida Evelyn Leipold
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Singapore Memorial, Column 136, Age 19.
- Cause of Death:
- Killed in Action
- Place of Death:
- South‐West Bukit Timah
- Date of Death:
George enlisted 3rd September 1941. He joined ‘E’ Company. On 11th February 1942 he was tragically KIA during a Japanese ambush at South West Bukit Timah. 88 of the 200 men survived. He was 19 1/2 years old and a little more than 5 months passed since he enlisted.
Grandparents George and Elizabeth Leipold married in Victoria in 1888, moved to Western Australian goldfields where Grandfather-George sought work in mining. In 1915 G-F George Frederick was injured in an accident at Niagra Mine. His son George William drove his father in a horse and wagon to Kalgoorlie seeking urgent medical treatment. The journey for injured G-F George would have been excruciating as he lay in the tray being bounced over dirt tracks. G-F George died on 27th October 1915 at age of 51 years. He was and buried at Kookyne, then a thriving mining town and home to the Leipold family.
Widowed Elizabeth Leipold became the owner/publican of Kookyne Hotel, however it was son George William Leipold, father to George Richard (WX16355) who managed and worked at the pub. A year later in 1916 George William Leipold married Ida Evelyn Pearce. They had several children whilst at the Kookyne Pub including George WX16355.
Elizabeth’s son John died 3 August 191 in Cardiff, Wales from wounds received in France. John was 23 years old.
Widowed Grandmother Elizabeth Leipold remarried in 1919 to John Cairns.
The Kookyne Pub operates today (2017) however little else in the town exists.
Later the Leipold family moved to Doodlakine where George William ran a wheat carting business before moving to Mundijong.
The family farm at Mundijong was mostly dairy. Times were hard during the depression years. The children attended the local Mundijong School. George at 14 years of age finished school to work on the family farm.
George William and Ida Leipold had 6 sons and one daughter. Jack (enlisted AIF, served in Middle East and Kokoda, New Guinea), Robert, daughter Jessie, George (2/4th) Des (enlisted with Air Force and was stationed at ‘Corunna Downs’, flying bombing raids to Indonesian areas), Ken and Les.
Much of the information has been provided by Ken Leipold (July 2017) younger brother to George. Our thanks to Ken in sharing his memories and the names of the other 4 boys from Mundjong who went to fight with the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Ken is the last remaining sibling to George. He remembers his older brother George was desperately keen to join the AIF. His parents could not persuade him otherwise and he enlisted a few days after his 19th birthday.
At 90 years of age, residing in Fremantle Road, Gosnells where the Leipold family moved to 53 years ago Ken Leipold remembers well his older brother George’ skills selling his pigeons to other children at school. At 2/6d each, the pigeons proved to be 100% profit to George. His buyers were unaware they were purchasing homing pigeons! (Perhaps the pidgeons were were back at the Leipold home before George arrived home from school).
Ken also remembers the farewell party for George provided by the Mundijong community. It was held in early January soon after George was transferred to 2/4th MG Btn and before the Machine Gunners were shipped out. George was excited to learn he would soon be seeing action, it was a little consequence he had never operated a machine gun.
Talking about George continues to brings tears of sadness to Ken.
We in today’s world, cannot begin to imagine the horror so many families went through when learning of the death of their sons, brothers, husbands; affecting families and communities throughout Australia for decades after.
Following the Fall of Singapore the Leipold family were notified George was missing. It was however late 1945 early 1946 before the family would be officially notified their 19 year old son and brother was KIA. George died 11th February 1942 nearly 3 1/2 years earlier.
George was one of five young men from Mundijong to enlist with the 2/4th MG Battalion. George, Hector Bishop and George’s friend Syd Darby from Holyoake (believed to have worked at Mundijong at the time of his enlistment) were all KIA February 1942 in Singapore. Bill Swann and Steve Gleeson returned home. Gleeson had his leg amputated whilst on the notorious Burma-Thai Railway where his determination would have been the deciding factor in whether he survived his operation.
In his later life, George’s friend Steve Gleeson developed an interest in homing pigeons, he raced and bred them in SA where he lived for the last 30 odd years of his life. One cannot help but wonder whether George sold a pigeon or two to his friend Steve Gleeson whilst they were at school in Mundijong!
Ken Leipold with his wife Audrey and some family members at Marri Drive standing near the plaque in remembrance of Ken’s older brother George who was KIA at the Battle of Singapore on 11th February 1942 aged 19 years.
Organised by one of Ken’s granddaughters, George Leipold was one of about 12 Western Australian soldiers who was remembered during a service hosted by the Highgate RSL held at Kings Park on Saturday 14 February 2018.
A very large number of Leipold family members of all ages attended the service in memory of 19 year old George.
Kings Park Honour Avenue.
Dedicated by his Brother on 17 February 2018
Biography presented during plaque dedication:
‘Private George Richard Leipold was born in August 1923 to George William and Ida Evelyn Leipold in Jessops Wells, Western Australia.
He had at least one brother, Ken, who dedicated his plaque. The family moved to Mundijong and he attended Mundijong state school.
George enlisted in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force at Claremont, Western Australia in September 1941 and trained with the western command general details company.
In October, George transferred to 3 training battalion at Northam and then he was posted to 2/4 machine gun battalion. The unit continued training at Woodside, South Australia.
The 2/4 machine gun battalion was listed as one of the support units for the eighth division and was deployed in Darwin with the 23 Brigade.
The unit left Darwin in December 1941 intended for Singapore via Port Moresby. As a consequence of enemy attacks at Rabaul, the convoy went to Sydney and Fremantle, eventually reaching Singapore at the end of January 1942.
The battalion was utilised preparing defences around Singapore and was deployed to defend the Japanese attack which commenced on 8 February.
The machine gunners suffered heavily, between 8 and 15 February, with 137 men killed or missing.
Private George Richard Leipold, service number WX16355 of 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion, was killed in action on 11 February 1942.
He was 19 years of age and is remembered with honour at Singapore memorial.
His plaque is placed alongside the plaque of his uncle Private John James Leipold of 28 Battalion.’