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26464 Sergeant
Royal Engineers
(formerly 12th Lancers)

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2004. All Rights Reserved.


Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the soldier’s service papers, WO97/5335, copies of which were located in the National Archives at Kew, Richmond, Surrey.


Frank Moulton Leslie was born near the town of Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire in June of 1871. His father was Harry James Leslie, a picture dealer. The Leslies were members of the Church of England. As a young man, prior to enlisting in the Army, Frank Leslie worked as an Assistant Civil Engineer and lived at his father's house at Sellyoak, near Birmingham.

A search was made for the Leslie family in the 1881 British Census in an attempt to locate information about his mother. The Leslie family did not appear in the 1881 census returns. No information concerning Frank Leslie's mother could be found in his service papers


The following is a description of Frank Leslie at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1891:

Apparent age:

20 years and 4 months


5 feet 9 inches


128 pounds

Chest (minimum):

34 inches

Chest (expanded):

35 inches



Eyes: :




Distinctive Marks:

Scar on the left side of the nose and scar on the back of the lower part of the left arm.

The following is a description of Frank Leslie at the time he was discharged from the Army in 1912:


41 years and 4 months


5 feet 10 inches

Chest (normal):

35 inches

Chest (expanded):

37 inches







Distinctive Marks:

Scar on the left side of the nose and a mole on the back.


a. Enlistment

Frank Leslie was recruited for enlistment in the Army on the 21st of October 1891 by Sergeant J. Neal of The Manchester Regiment. A Certificate of Medical Examination was issued for Leslie on this same date declaring him fit for service in the Army.[1] Following his medical examination, the Recruiting Officer recommended Leslie to the Officer Commanding the 12th (Prince of Wales's) Royal Lancers then stationed at Aldershot in Hampshire, although according to Leslie's service papers he was over the maximum height for enlistment in the cavalry. This recommendation on the part of the Recruiting Officer was rather unusual, as Leslie had been an Assistant Civil Engineer prior to enlisting. This civil trade would have made him a prime candidate for enlistment in the Royal Engineers. Given his trade and the fact that he was too tall for the cavalry, it might be assumed that the 12th Royal Lancers were badly in need of recruits in the latter part of 1891. It might also be assumed that the Recruiting Officer and the Officer Commanding the 12th Royal Lancers were good friends or related in some way and that this was a way to obtain a recruit for the cavalry regiment.

Colonel Frederick Meyer Wardrop, C.B., the Officer Commanding the 12th Royal Lancers,[2] indicated that he had no objection to taking Frank Leslie into his regiment. On the 22nd of October 1891 Leslie attested for the 12th Royal Lancers at Salford Barracks in Manchester. His enlistment was for 7 years with the Colours and 5 years in the Army Reserve.

At the time of his attestation, Frank Leslie answered the questions normally put to a new recruit by stating that he was not married and was not an apprentice. He stated that he had never been imprisoned by civil power and that he was not a member of Her Majesty's forces. Leslie also affirmed that he had no prior naval or military service and has never previously been rejected for naval or military service.

Leslie's attestation was witnessed by Colour Sergeant H. Alderton and was certified at Manchester by Major G.P. Nash, the Recruiting Officer. On the date of his attestation his Certificate of Primary Military Examination was issued, also at Manchester, and he was found fit to serve in the 12th Royal Lancers. The Certificate of the Approving Field Officer for his attestation was issued at Manchester by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Evan Patteshall Thomas, the Officer Commanding the 2nd Battalion, The East Yorkshire Regiment.[3]

Frank Leslie joined the 12th Royal Lancers as a Private on the 23rd of October 1891. Upon joining the regiment he was issued Regimental Number 3414.

b. Recruit Training

Leslie served with the 12th Royal Lancers from the 23rd of October 1891 until the 4th of April 1892. Presumably, during this period, he underwent recruit training as a cavalryman. Although his records are not clear on this point, it appears that sometime early in the year 1892 either Leslie requested a transfer to the Royal Engineers or the Army decided that his talents as an Assistant Civil Engineer could be better utilized and would be more advantageous to the Army if he became a Sapper.

On the 5th of April 1892 he was transferred to the Corps of Royal Engineers and was assigned Regimental Number 26464. Immediately upon transfer he probably was assigned to Brompton Barracks at Chatham, Kent for his recruit training as an engineer soldier.[4] The terms of his enlistment in the cavalry remained the same after his transfer to the Royal Engineers.[5]


a. Promotions

Frank Leslie received the following promotions during his time in service:

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Appointment and Time in each Grade

23 October 1891

Private on enlistment in the cavalry (163 days)

5 April 1892

Sapper on transfer to the Royal Engineers (7 years and 344 days)

16 March 1900

Appointed Lance Corporal (2 years and 32 days)

18 April 1902

Promoted 2nd Corporal (2 years and 273 days)

17 January 1905

Promoted Corporal (5 years and 248 days)

23 September 1910

Promoted Sergeant (2 years and 28 days)

For some reason not readily apparent from a review of his service papers, Frank Leslie spent a rather long period of time (almost 8 years) in the rank of Sapper. Had he not been that long as a Sapper, the odds are good that he might have reached the rank of Company Quartermaster Sergeant or Company Sergeant Major by the time he completed his 21 years of service. It appears that he was an intelligent soldier with skills that would have been considered to be of much value to the Corps of Royal Engineers.

b. Conduct

(1) Disciplinary Actions

Frank Leslie appears to have had only one disciplinary problem during his time in service. On the 1st of July 1893 he was reported absent without leave by Captain H. Broke, R.E. Leslie returned to duty on the 11th of July 1893 after an absence of 10 days. Leslie's service papers do not indicate what punishment he received for this offence. Under the 1885 rules for the award of Good Conduct Badges, Leslie would have been eligible to received his first badge after two years of service. He did not receive that badge until he had completed approximately 3 years and 9 months of total service. The delay in receiving the first badge was undoubtedly due to his 10-day absence in 1893.

(2) Good Conduct Badges

Frank Leslie received the following Good Conduct Badges during his time in service:[6]

Good Conduct Badge

Date of Award

Total Time in Service

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at 1d.

11 July 1895

3 years and 9 months

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at 2d.

22 October 1897

6 years exactly

At the time of his discharge from the Army in 1912, Sergeant Leslie's conduct was rated as "Exemplary." His discharge papers indicated that he had "no offences during the last 19 years and 9 months" of his service.

(3) Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Frank Leslie completed 18 years of service in the Army on the 21st of October 1909. On that date he became eligible to receive the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He subsequently was awarded the medal with a 5 gratuity in accordance with Army Orders of April 1910.[7] The Certificate of Good Conduct Gratuity was issued to him at Portsmouth on the 18th of October 1912.


a. Education

Frank Leslie earned the Certificates of Education shown in the table below during his time in service:[8]


Certificate of Education

23 March 1893

Awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education

2 November 1898

Awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education

31 October 1899

Awarded a 1st Class Certificate of Education

b. Qualifications

Sergeant Leslie earned the following qualifications during his time in service.



21 October 1891

Assistant Civil Engineer(i)



1 April 1904

Selected to receive Class I Service Pay at the rate of 7d. per day(iii)


"Superior" Topographer and "Very Good" Draughtsman(iv)


  1. Frank Leslie's trade was Assistant Civil Engineer at the time of his enlistment in the Army.
  2. Leslie's occupation is shown as Surveyor, R.E. on his marriage certificate in 1895. His service papers do not indicate when he received this qualification.
  3. Service Pay, in addition to their regular pay, was granted to men in the Royal Engineers who demonstrated proficiency in their military trades. Service Pay was awarded in seven classes, with Class I being the highest. At 7d. per day, Leslie was receiving Class I Service Pay.
  4. Leslie's discharge papers indicate that he also was a Topographer and a Draughtsman, although there is no indication in his service papers to indicate the dates that he received these qualifications.


a. Summary of Home and Overseas Service:

The table below provides a summary of the service of Sergeant Frank Moulton Leslie at home and abroad during his 21 years of service.

Home or Overseas



Years and Days


22 October 1891

14 January 1900

8 years and 85 days

South Africa

15 January 1900

19 December 1900

339 days


20 December 1900

30 May 1907

6 years and 162 days


31 May 1907

11 July 1908

1 year and 42 days


12 July 1908

21 October 1912

4 years and 102 days

Total Home Service:

18 years and 349 days

Total Service Abroad:

2 year and 16 days

Total Service:

21 years

b. Narrative of Service

(1) Home Service (1891-1900)

Upon completion of his recruit training, Frank Leslie appears to been posted to the Ordnance Survey where he spent more than 8 years at home working on the Survey of England. His service papers do not indicate with which unit(s) he served during this period; however, it appears that he was in Warwickshire and Gloucestershire at this time, probably employed on the Survey of England. His marriage certificate, dated 1895, indicates that his residence was Llangatock, Carmarthenshire. During this period he may have been assigned to duties involved with the Survey of Wales.

To better understand the work done by Leslie during these years it would be helpful to know something about the Ordnance Survey, its history and its work. The headquarters of the Ordnance Survey were established in the Tower of London until the great fire of 1842, after which they were moved to Southampton. The Director of Ordnance Survey supervised seven other officers. Two of these officers divided executive duties between them, and the other five supervised the various departments, which included the secondary and tertiary triangulation, the photography, zincography, engraving, colouring, and electrotyping processes. The country was divided into ten divisional commands for England and Wales, and one for Ireland. The Survey of Scotland being finished prior to 1885, had no separate command. All the detailed outdoor work was carried out in these districts.[9]

There were five survey companies (the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 19th) of Royal Engineers specially raised for survey purposes. It is likely that from 1891 to 1900, Leslie was assigned to one or more of these companies, or to the headquarters of the Ordnance Survey in Southampton.

On the 5th of May 1898, Leslie extended his service to complete 12 years with the Colours.[10] His request for extension was approved by his commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips Lee, R.E. and Captain Charles St. Barbe Sladen, presumably the Adjutant of his unit, entered the Officer Commanding's approval in Leslie's Statement of Services sheet.

(2) South Africa (1900)

Leslie embarked for active service in the war in South Africa on the 15th of January 1900. After landing in the Cape Colony he was assigned to staff duties, presumably duties associated with survey work.. He was present at the action at Paardeberg between the 17th and the 26th of February 1900. The units of the Royal Engineers present at the action at Paardeberg consisted of the Field Troop, R.E., the 7th , 9th and 38th Field Companies, R.E. and the Balloon Section, R.E. During the investment of Paardeberg, the Balloon Section proved itself to be very useful, as ascents over the battlefield were constantly made and officers were able to sketch the Boer positions, and to direct artillery fire on the Boer laager at Paardeberg Drift. As a surveyor and draughtsman, there is a good possibility that Leslie may have been serving in the Balloon Section and may have assisted in making the sketches. If he was in the Balloon Section, he came under fire from Boer small arms, as the balloons of the section were hit several times, but not seriously damaged.[11]

Following the action at Paardeberg, Leslie took part in the operations in the Orange Free State until he returned home to England on the 20th of December 1900. For his service in South Africa, Leslie was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps [CAPE COLONY] [PAARDEBERG][ORANGE FREE STATE].[12]

(3) Home Service (1900-1907)

Leslie returned to Ordnance Survey duties in England and during this period he appears to have served in Herefordshire. On the 25th of May 1903 he re-engaged to complete 21 years of service with the Colours.[13] His re-engagement was approved by the Director General of the Ordnance Survey.

(4) Uganda (1907-1908)

On the 31st of May 1907, Leslie was selected for employment by the Colonial Office for survey work in Uganda. The survey work in Uganda consisted of the accurate triangulation carried up by the boundary commissions from the Indian Ocean into the heart of Africa to Lake Albert. The topography in this area of the survey consisted of about 40,000 square miles. Important topographical surveys also were carried out in 1907 and 1908 under Captain A.G. Stevenson, D.S.O., R.E. in connection with the Uganda Railway Extension Survey. During this same time period, Lieutenant E.C. Fishbourne, with two non-commissioned officers, was engaged in mapping the region between Lake Victoria and the north of Lake Chioga. In 1908, a special survey party consisting of Captain W.C. Macfie, Lieutenant H.L.D. Pennington, and six non-commissioned officers, was sent out to undertake the regular topographical survey of the kingdom of Uganda, a task of some 13,500 square miles, on a scale of 1:250,000.

Unfortunately, Leslie's service papers do not contain any specific information concerning his survey work in Uganda. He may have been part of any of the surveys described above, particularly those in which non-commissioned officers were utilized. He returned home from Uganda on the 12th of July 1908 after serving there just over one year. He remained in the employ of the Colonial Office until the 10th of August 1908. It is likely that he spent his last month in Colonial employ working on compiling the field data obtained during the survey work.

(5) Home Service (1908-1912)

Leslie appears to have been assigned to both the 13th (Survey) Company and the 19th (Survey) Company during his final years in the Army. His service papers show that in January of 1910 his wife was residing at Alexandra Terrace in Marlborough, Wiltshire. This address gives some idea of where Sergeant Leslie might have been serving at the time.

As the completion of his 21 years of service approached, Leslie applied for discharge from the Army. On the 1st of October 1912 he service records were reviewed and approved by Colonel C.F. Close, R.E., Commanding the Ordnance Survey, in preparation for the convening of Leslie's discharge board. Leslie's Certificate of Soldier on Discharge was witnessed at Southampton by Sergeant A.J. Jeffery, R.E. His records show that he was on the Pay List of the 19th (Survey) Company during the month of October 1912; however, on the date of his discharge he was serving in the 13th (Survey) Company. Sergeant Leslie was discharged at Southampton on the 21st of October 1912.


No Medical History Sheet was included in Sergeant Leslie's service papers, therefore it is not known what medical conditions he had or what treatments he received during his time in service.


a. Spouse and Children

On the 4th of June 1895, Frank Moulton Leslie married Mary Sarah Hudson, a spinster, age 18 years, at St. Peter's Church in the Parish of Gorsley and Clifford Mesne, in the County of Gloucestershire. Their marriage certificate indicates that Frank was a Surveyor and that his residence was Llangatock,[14] Carmarthenshire, Wales. Frank's father, Harry James Leslie, was deceased at the time of the wedding. Frank's mother is shown as his next of kin living on Tiverton Road in Bournebrook, Birmingham.

The marriage certificate indicates that Mary lived in Clifford Mesne at the time of the marriage. Mary was the daughter of George and Mary Sarah Hudson. The 1881 British Census[15] shows that Mary, like her new husband Frank, was born Birmingham. Her father, George Hudson, a farmer, was a witness at the ceremony as was a woman by the name of Ada Frances Louise Poole. The Reverend S. Richard Cambie performed the marriage ceremony. The marriage apparently took place without the leave of Leslie's commanding officer.[16] Furthermore, there is no indication in Sergeant Leslie's service papers that his wife was ever brought on the Married Roll.

The Leslies' first child, Frank Moulton Leslie, was born at Birmingham on the 6th of December 1896. Young Frank was baptized at King's Norton in the West Midlands on the 5th of January 1897 by the Reverend Josiah Hands. Their second child, a daughter named May Moulton Leslie, was born at Luston in Herefordshire on the 16th of May 1903. May was baptized at Kingsland, Herefordshire on the 4th of July 1903 by the Reverend M. Mason.

It is interesting to note that both children born to Frank and Mary Leslie were given the middle name of Moulton. This was also Sergeant Leslie's middle name, although his middle name does not appear on his service papers. It is only found on his marriage certificate. It might be assumed that Moulton was a family name, perhaps the family name of Sergeant Leslie's mother.

b. Census Information

(1) 1881 British Census

No information regarding the Leslie family could be found in the 1881 British Census.

(2) 1901 British Census

The information in the table below was taken from PRO Reference RG13, Piece 1053, Folio 88, Page 33, Schedule Number 244 of the 1901 British Census.

Name and Age

Where Born


Relation to Head or Occupation

Frank Leslie, 29



Map Draughtsman

Mary Leslie, 23



Wife of Frank Leslie

Frank M. Leslie, 4



Son of Frank Leslie


Sergeant Frank Moulton Leslie was discharged from the Army at Southampton on the 21st of October 1912 on the termination of his second period of limited engagement. At the time of his discharge, Sergeant Leslie was serving with the 13th (Survey) Company, Royal Engineers. His total service was exactly 21 years, with 20 years and 355 days of service credited for pension purposes. The 10 lost days of service towards his pension were due to his absence without leave in 1893.

Leslie's trades were shown as Draughtsman and Assistant Civil Engineer. His commanding officer noted that he had special qualifications for employment in civil life as a "Superior" Topographer and "Very Good" Draughtsman.

Sergeant Leslie indicated that after his discharge he intended to reside at View Field on Highclere Road in Bassett, Southampton. His decision to live in Southampton after his discharge is most likely due to his familiarity with the town, having been stationed there on many occasions during his time with the Ordnance Survey. It may also be that he and his family were living at View Field during his final years in the Army and at the time of his discharge.


No specific information is known about Frank Moulton Leslie or his family after his discharge from the Army. Sergeant Leslie's son Frank would have been 18 years old in 1914 and therefore eligible for service in the Great War of 1914-1918. A search of the casualty records for the war proved negative for any officer, non-commissioned officer or other rank by the name of Frank Moulton Leslie.

Following his discharge, Sergeant Leslie's records were forwarded by the Commander of Troops, Southampton to the Embarkation Staff Officer at Southampton on the 4th of February 1913. On the following day the records were returned to the Commander of Troops, Southampton. Leslie's papers were forwarded from Southampton to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea on the 8th of March 1913 and were received on the 10th of March. This is the last entry contained in WO97/5335.



1. CHICHESTER, H.M. & BURGES-SHORT, G. The Records and Badges of Every Regiment and Corps in the British Army. Gale & Polden, Ltd., London, 1900.

2. CONOLLY, T.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers From 1660 to 1898. The Royal Engineers Institute, Chatham, Kent, 1898.

3. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.

4. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988.

5. INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The Medal Roll of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume V. Queen's and King's South Africa Medals, 1899-1902. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 2003.

6. PORTER, W. History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume II. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952, p.243.

7. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.

8. WATSON, C.M. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume III. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1954.


1. Army Orders, April 1910.

2. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage, MB 245092, General Register Office, London, 2 July 1981.

3. Queen's South Africa Medal Roll, WO161/7.

4. Service Papers of 26464 Sergeant Frank Leslie, consisting of the following documents:

a. Short Service Attestation, Army Form B.265.

b. Description on Enlistment

c. Recommendation of Recruiting Officer, Army Form B.203.

d. Statement of Services.

e. Proceedings on Discharge, Army Form B.268.

f. Military History Sheet

g. Certificate of Good Conduct Medal Gratuity.

Computer Software

1. 1881 British Census and National Index. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1999.

2. Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

Internet Web Sites

1. 1901 British Census. Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, 2003.

2. MICROSOFT EXPEDIA MAPS. www.expediamaps.com

Miscellaneous Documents

LARIMORE, F. Rules for Awarding Good Conduct Badges, Philadelphia, 2003.


[1] See Age and Physical Requirements for Soldiers in the British Army (Victorian Period).



[4] See Engineer Recruit Training.

[5] See Periods of Enlistment for the Corps of Royal Engineers.

[6] See Good Conduct Pay.

[7] This medal is in the author's collection and was the reason for conducting this research into the service of Sergeant Leslie.

[8] See Certificates of Education.

[9] R.E. Corps History, Volume II.

[10] See Extensions of Service of the Regular Army.

[11] R.E. Corps History, Volume III, pp. 101-102.

[12] Medal Roll, WO161/7. This medal is known to have been for sale on the market, but its present whereabouts are unknown.

[13] See Re-engagement in the Regular Army.

[14] The correct spelling of this town is Llangattock in present day Powys, Wales.

[15] 1881 British Census, Family History Library Film 1341610, PRO Reference RG11, Piece 2526, Folio 88, Page 15.

[16] See Marriage of Soldiers during the Victorian Period.