Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

Leslie George Duncan ROBERTSON

Private 128979

45th Battalion Royal Fusiliers

Formerly Bedfordshire Regiment

Killed in Action 14th September 1919 aged 19

Born in Ealing West London in 1899, in 1911 the census shows the family living in Roydon Road.  There was Leslie, together with 2 brothers, John and Kenneth and 2 sisters Linda and Marjorie. Plus their parents Ernest who was a decorator and his mother Alice.

Leslie joined the Army and enlisted at the Recruiting office in Whitehall.  He joined the Bedfordshire Regiment but was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers.  In April 1919 the 45th Battalion was formed and Leslie joined them.

The First World War ended on November 11th 1918, apart from action in German East Africa and the North Russian Expedition.  When Russia withdrew from the war after their November revolution in 1917, and following their Peace Treaty with Germany at Brest-Litovsk, two important Russian ports, Murmansk and Archangel were open to Germany to occupy, both of these ports contained significant amounts of materiel that could have been used by the German forces.  It was decided by the Allies to occupy these two cities and train local forces in their defence.

It was not part of the plan to take on the Bolshevik army in their struggle against the “White” army of former Tsarist supporters which had become a Civil War, but that is what happened.  By August 1918 troops from Britain, France, USA, and Italy had arrived in Russia, almost 35000 of them. Most of them in Archangel, and about 1500 in Murmansk.  They fought off determined attacks by Bolshevik forces throughout the winter of 1918 and into the following spring.

By the middle of 1919 it had been decided to withdraw all Allied troops, despite them having won a significant victory at the battle of Troitsa on 18th August 1919, evacuation began at the beginning of September 1919.  On 14th September 1819 Leslie was killed near the small village of Turgas and is buried nearby. He had taken part in an attack on a Bolshevik blockhouse near the village into which the 45th Royal Fusiliers had pushed the enemy.  In a counter attack the 45th were forced back and it was in this action that Leslie was killed.

His memorial in St James church states that he was buried in the village of Chamova and also commemorated on the Archangel memorial.  

Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal