Leonard Keysor VC

Leonard Maurice Keysor was born in Maida Vale in London in 1885. His father Benjamin Keysor imported clocks. He was educated at the Townley Castle school in Ramsgate. The Rev S H Harris became Principal in 1890 in what the Jewish Standard called “a high-class boarding school for young Jewish gentlemen.”

After completing his studies, Keysor travelled to Canada in 1904 where he remained for ten years before emigrating to Australia in 1914. Keysor had only been in Australia for about three months when the First World War broke out. He enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Force on 18 August 1914 as a private and was assigned to the 1st Battalion. Initially he served in Egypt where the Australians were involved in the defence of the Suez Canal against the Turks, but on 25 April 1915 he landed at Gallipoli.

On 7 August 1915 at Lone Pine, while an acting lance-corporal, 29 year-old Keysor performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation appeared in the London Gazette on 15th October 1915.

Keysor Cit

Later Keysor fought on the Western Front and took part in the Battle of Pozieres. In May 1918 Keysor was gassed at Villers-Bretonneux. He returned to Australia to head up a recruiting campaign and was discharged from the army on medical grounds in December 1918. In 1927 Keysor re-enacted his exploits at Gallipoli in the film For Valour and died in London in 1951. His memorial service was held at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood. His Victoria Cross is on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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