Valarie Trevithick's story of Leslie Sinclair

Valarie's husband Leslie served in the Australian Imperial Force during World War I.

Company Quarter Master Sergeant Leslie Sinclair was 19 years old when he enlisted in September 1915. After basic training, he embarked for overseas service in April 1916 and did more training in Egypt.

Leslie joined the 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion on the Western Front in October 1916.

Leslie was twice wounded in action. Shot in the hand in May 1917, he was hospitalised in England then re-joined his unit in August of that year. Only a month later, on 25 September, he was again wounded in action, receiving shrapnel wounds to the chest and neck.

Invalided home to Australia, Leslie was medically discharged in August 1918. He re-enlisted in September, but with the war over in November so he was demobilised in December 1918.

Valarie recalls Leslie rarely speaking about his experiences during the war, only making the occasional oblique or humorous references. He chose not to attend Anzac Day services because he said he didn't need to march to remember his comrades who had lost their lives.

Leslie's health seemed to be unaffected by his war service, although a piece of shrapnel remained in his neck. The doctors were afraid to remove it because it was so close to his jugular vein. Decades later a lump formed on his neck and the shrapnel was eventually removed.

In late 1959, Leslie began to experience numbness in his fingertips and then his feet. He was referred to the Royal North Shore hospital, where he was told that he had suffered spinal damage due to the shrapnel in his neck.

Ex-Army mates encouraged him to go to the Concord Repatriation General Hospital. The prognosis was that he would live another 2 years and would be rendered immobile by increased paralysis.

Valarie nursed him constantly through this period until his passing at home on 30 May 1964, ensuring his wish was met of not dying in hospital.

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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Valarie Trevithick's story of Leslie Sinclair, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 6 December 2023,
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