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Leslie Herbert Kyngdon (1860–1923)

by Richmond Cubis

This article was published:

Leslie Herbert Kyngdon (1860-1923), regular soldier, was born on 10 July 1860 at Exeter, Somerset, England, son of Boughton Kyngdon, medical practitioner, and his wife Elizabeth Maria, née Cobb. Fourth child in a family of five sons and three daughters, he was educated at Whitgift School, Croydon, Surrey. The family migrated to Sydney in 1878. They were then in comfortable circumstances but their fortune was later embezzled by a lawyer.

Kyngdon was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the artillery of the New South Wales Volunteer Forces on 30 June 1880 and promoted lieutenant in 1881 and captain in 1884. He served as captain commanding 'D' Company, New South Wales Infantry Battalion, in the Sudan campaign of 1885, taking part in the advance on Tamai. He transferred to the permanent forces, New South Wales Artillery, on 12 November 1885 as a lieutenant and was promoted captain in 1891. In 1896 he was sent to England for six months attachment to the Royal Artillery and on his return was appointed adjutant, 2nd Garrison Division. Released for active service in the South African War, he was a special service officer with the Royal Artillery from January to December 1900 and later served in Cape Colony and the Orange River Colony.

In 1902-05 Kyngdon was staff officer, Artillery, in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales and was promoted major in February 1905. Commander of Thursday Island in 1906-08, he was company officer in the Royal Australian Artillery in New South Wales in 1908-09. From February 1910 he commanded the Royal Australian Artillery (coastal defences) in Queensland, then Victoria, and in 1912-16 New South Wales, being promoted lieutenant-colonel in November 1910. Promoted colonel in April 1916, he was inspector of coast defences until June 1919 when he became temporary chief of ordnance. He was placed on the retired list in November 1919 with the honorary rank of brigadier general.

Although, apparently, Kyngdon 'had an eye for the ladies' he never married. After retirement, he lived at the Athenaeum Club, Melbourne, until his death from cancer on 11 April 1923 at Mount St Evin's Hospital, Fitzroy. He was buried in Brighton cemetery with Anglican rites. Kyngdon was much respected and known in the army as 'Gruffy'. His bitch Nettle, feared by junior officers, slept at the entrance to the officers' mess until the last officer came home. Nettle would then go to 'Gruffy's' bed, wake him and he would note the time. Next day Kyngdon would pick the officer who showed the most obvious signs of tiredness and ask what had kept him out so late.

Kyngdon's service in the Australian Army spanned forty years and three conflicts in which Australian troops were involved. Apart from his campaign medals for service in the Sudan and South Africa he received a mention for 'meritorious service' on the home front in World War I.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Hutchinson and F. Myers, The Australian Contingent (Syd, 1885)
  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 19 Sept 1912
  • private information.

Citation details

Richmond Cubis, 'Kyngdon, Leslie Herbert (1860–1923)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 July, 1860
Exeter, Devon, England


11 April, 1923 (aged 62)
Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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