To my Comrades of the 3rd Battalion, A.I.F.
Brigadier-General W. B. Lesslie,
C.B., C.M.G., R.E.,
Commanded 1st Infantry Brigade, A.I.F., 1917-18.

This record of the service of the battalion throughout the Great War must comment itself to you, and to all others who had the good fortune to be associated with you.

It is fitting that the forward has been written by Sir Nevill Smyth, V.C., who was your brigade commander in muc

h of your hard fighting in Gallipoli and in France, and who is still with you as a resident in the Commonwealth.

I had the honour to succeed him as your brigade commander in France, and I am now accorded a further distinction in that I am asked to add these few lines to what he has written. I must, of necessity, be brief, and as well, perhaps, because no amount of writing could adequately express my appreciation of the service of the battalion from January 1917 to June 1918, the period of my command of the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade.

I had many opportunities of judging its work in the line. This was characterized by gallantry, determination, and a spirit of exploitation beyond all praise.

I feel sure that there can have been few brigade commanders in France whose charges gave as a great a feeling of security and freedom from anxiety as did mine.

What a record, too, that throughout the whole of this period it was not found necessary to make a single raid to obtain identification. This record was in peril near Strazeele in May 1918, but was saved by the gallantry of a sergeant of the battalion, whose name I withhold because he was but one of many who distinguished themselves.

If when out of the line there was an occasional individual break away from the bonds of discipline, we must realize that the circumstances were exceptional, and we must forgive the happy warrior who, freed from this responsibilities in contact with the enemy, gave way to the temptations of more peaceful surroundings. Whatever his lapses when out of line he invariably did all that was asked, and more, when the situation was critical and called for special effort.

Yours was a cheerful and a happy battalion – a sure sign that it was an efficient one. My visit to you was never an inspection – it was a friendly call on comrades for whom I had a great regard, and whose companionship I valued.

When I parted with you it was with very great regret, but I had the consolation that I was handling over my much treasured charge to the officer whom I most wished to succeed me, Brigadier-General I. G. Mackay.

Sixteen years have passed – the happy memory of my association with you continues, and I realize now more than ever how fortunate I was in my command.

I offer a tribute to the many gallant lads who give their lives to build up the reputation of this fine fighting battalion, and a greeting to the survivors who maintained and strengthened it.

William Lesslie

“King’s Furlong”
Basingstoke, Hants,
England,
6th March, 1934.

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