Leonard George Battams

Leonard George Battams
Leonard George Battams (left) with other guards at Loveday internment camp. Courtesy Samantha Battams.

Leonard George Battams came from a family that served in the Australian army, with his grandfather, uncles, father and all of his brothers serving in the First or Second World Wars, or both.

His grandfather and father went to Pompoota Station, the first training farm for soldier settlers, after they returned from World War I. They then settled at Moorook, where they were granted blocks of land. Two of Leonard’s uncles remained behind, buried in France and Belgium. The soldier settlers were issued with two tents per family (one for cooking, the other for sleeping in).

Leonard was athletic, winning many swimming races in the Murray River and playing for the Moorook Football Club in its premiership sides of 1926 and 1932. In 1924 he married Meta Otillie Boormann, whose Christian name was tattooed on his upper arm. The Boorman family hailed from Posen in what was then Prussia, arriving in South Australia in 1841, six years before Leonard Battams’ forebears.

In October 1941 Leonard enlisted at Wayville and was soon deployed to the internment camp at Loveday as a member of the 25th/33rd Garrison Battalion, quickly moving through the ranks to sergeant. He received only four days weekend leave every couple of months, so his wife Meta was largely left on her own to raise the nine children during the war years.

In May 1945 Leonard was discharged from the army. He later worked as a gardener and groundskeeper at St Peter’s School. Meta died in 1979, but Leonard lived until the age of 93, dying in 1998.

Meta, stanley, Leonard George
Meta, Stanley and Leonard George Battams, circa 1945. Stanley died in a motorcycle accident in 1957 when he was 17 years of age at the corner of King William Road and North Terrace in Adelaide. Courtesy Samantha Battams.

Source and author: Samantha Battams