|Leslie Higgins Hammond Bartlett
- a short tragic life -
Leslie Higgins Hammond Bartlett was born 23rd September 1899 in Sydney NSW son of
Boston Clark Bartlett and Sarah Higgins.
On 24th April 1913 Leslie was admitted to the Mittagong Farm Home for boys, for truancy. At
the time he was also on probation for stealing. It is unknown how long he stayed there. Later
known as Renwick, the facility operated between 1885 and 1994. Children were cared for by
matrons in 'cottage homes' that catered for about 20 children. The facility included 100 acre
farm and boys were taught farming as well as other skills. Oral history relates that Leslie was
blind in one eye due to an accident whilst he was working in a laundry. It is likely that this
accident happened in the Farm Home where he may have been put to work in the laundry.
On 25th September Leslie applied enlist in the AIF. He was 18 years and eight months old at
the time and residing at Forest Lodge. Mother Sarah gave her permission for him to enlist.
Father Boston is recorded as being absent. His application was refused on medical grounds
'deficient ?eyesight' His eye tests notes he had 6/6 vision in one eye and none in the other.
By 1921 Leslie was working as a ganger for the railways alongside his father. He died in
Griffith NSW on 17th September 1921 in a tragic tent fire. The following account is from the
Murrumbidgee Irrigator Newspaper, dated Tuesday 20th September 1921. The newspaper
incorrectly uses the surname Bartley instead of Bartlett. My family holds an aged typed
transcript of the original newspaper article.
Burning Tragedy at Griffith.About 2.00am on Saturday morning a two roomed camp [in
Davis' camp] occupied by Boston Bartlett [aged 50], his son Leslie Higgins Hammond Bartlett
[aged 22] and John Clark, was destroyed by fire. Young Bartlett was burned to death, his
father was seriously burned. Clark escaped without injury. It appears the party retired about
midnight. Clark was a visitor and was only staying the night. At 2 am he awoke to find the
place in flames and the atmosphere chocking with smoke. He managed after some trouble to
get Mr Bartlett snr out of the tent. Young Bartlett could not be seen. It appears he voluntary
gave up his bed when retiring to Clark and made a bunk on the floor between the two beds.
An appeal for help issued forth from the tent after the two had made their escape. Although
frantic efforts were made to rescue the unfortunate young man they were of no avail. The
flames had a complete hold on the premises and in the course of a short time it was totally
destroyed. The police and doctor were communicated with. Mr Bartlett snr., was conveyed to
a local field hospital and has since been pronounced out of danger. Young Bartlett's remains
were conveyed to the hospital morgue and interred in the Griffith cemetery on Sunday. The
funeral was a very large one. Deceased was a member of the A.L.P* and members marched
before the hearse to the burial ground. The Rev. Father O,Dea officiated at the graveside and
the funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Collier and Trenerry. Mr Jno. Jacobs,
J.P., and District Coroner, will hold an inquiry as soon as Mr Bartlett snr is sufficiently well
enough to attend.
* A.L.P: Australia Labour Party
Inquest: An inquest was held on 28th September at Griffith and the following verdict was
return: "Through being burned by a fire, no evidence to show how the fire originated"
AboveApproximate site of Leslie Bartlett's unmarked grave in the Roman
Catholic section of the Griffith Cemetery
Photo Courtesy of Sandra Henderson.