WW1 Robert Johnston Leitch (90765) and William Joseph Leitch (37118)

Remuera Primary School Memorial Gates, Dromorne Rd, Remuera, 2012 (J Halpin).

Leitch commemoration, Remuera Primary School Memorial Gates, Dromorne Rd, Remuera, 2012 (J Halpin)

Robert Johnston Leitch gravestone, Featherston Cemetery (A Pentony-Graham)

William Joseph Leitch, NZ Rifle Brigade Reinforcements, Nominal Roll Vol 3 (Rol 57) page 28.

The Leitch brothers of Remuera have been commemorated in the Remuera Primary School Memorial Gates for their Service in the Great War.

Robert Johnston Leitch (90765)

Robert Johnston Leitch (90765) was born on 27 March 1891, the son of Robert Wilson Leitch and Ann (Annie) Jane Leitch (Rudd) of Arney Road, Remuera. There were three daughters and one other son, William Joseph Leitch (WWI 37118, WWII 1/18/420) who also served in both World War I and II.  Robert attended Remuera Primary School and on leaving school, trained to become a printer. In January 1914, he married Eleanor Lestelle (Harris) and they lived at 83 Bassett Road, Remuera, later moving to Kawhia Road, Campbell Road, Ellerslie.  Robert and Eleanor had one child: Robert Wilson Leitch (1915-1976).

Robert enlisted on 24 October 1918 as a Private and was described as 5ft 7 ½ inches, with dark hair and hazel eyes.  He contracted influenza during the pandemic of November 1918 while still training at Featherston Army Training Camp and died there on 25 November 1918 aged 27. The 2020 COVID-19 coronavirus has revived memories of New Zealand’s worst disease outbreak, the lethal influenza pandemic that struck between October and December 1918. In two months, New Zealand lost about half as many people to influenza as it had in the whole of the First World War. No event has killed so many New Zealanders in such a short time. [1, 2]

He is buried in the Featherston Cemetery, Western Lake Road, Featherston, Wairarapa, grave 20 B.

He is remembered on the Remuera Primary School World War One memorial gates, 25 Dromorne Road, Remuera Auckland [1, 3]

William Joseph Leitch (WW1 37118 and WWII 1/18/420)

Robert’s brother, William Joseph Leitch (WWI 37118, WWII 1/18/420), was born on 26 June 1896 and attended Remuera Primary School.  After leaving school William was employed as a carpenter with the New Zealand Railways, at the Otahuhu Workshops in Auckland.

William enlisted and embarked on 14 March 1917 on the vessel ‘Ruapehu’. He arrived on 21 May 1917 in England, as a Lance Corporal with the Reinforcements, G Company, New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He was stationed in England for the duration of the war. He caught influenza on 23 February 1919, and recovered, returning to New Zealand on 19 May 1919. He married Kathleen in 1921 and they lived in Horotutu Road, Green Lane, Auckland. They had a daughter, Beverley, who died in childhood. William also served in World War II. [2]

William was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He died in 1981. He is remembered on the Remuera Primary School World War One Gates 1914-1918, 25 Dromorne Road, Remuera Auckland.


G. Ralph
April 2020