Edwin Laurence LANDSLER
Eyes hazel, Hair black, Complexion dark
London-born Edwin Landsler
Story text (with minor edits and additions) is reproduced with permission from the copyright holders, the Australian Jewish Historical Society on behalf of Peter M. Allen.
Edwin Laurence Landsler was born in Hampstead, London England, in 1895 to Hannah (nee Cohen or Cowen) and Alfred Landsler - one of three brothers. He attended Upton Lane School, Forest Gate, Essex and – like many young Jewish boys in Britain - was a member of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade. In 1914, Edwin came to Australia, having an aunt, Mrs Minnie Cowan, living in Ashfield, Sydney.
Edwin was a salesman living in Stanmore when he enlisted in the AIF on 5 August 1915 as No. 3336 Private Edwin Landsler. He embarked with the 11th Reinforcement of the 2nd Battalion on HMAT A14 Euripides on 2 November.
Egypt and France
After arriving in Egypt, Edwin transferred to the new 53rd Battalion, 14th Brigade on 16 February 1916, and continued training. On 19 June, they sailed to Marseilles and entrained to the north of France. On 8 July he left a march “without permission” and was awarded “168 hours F.P. No.2” and two days later the battalion entered the frontline trenches with the 5th Australian Division. Despite being the most inexperienced, the 53rd adjoined Britain’s 61st Division in the AIF’s first major battle on the Western Front, at Fleurbaix. There, in a flawed tactic, British Lt General Sir Richard Haking, decided to create a diversion to the main fighting against the entrenched German forces further south in the Somme with disastrous results.
On 19 July 1916, just after Edwin’s one-week Field Punishment expired, the 53rd Battalion was part of the initial assault at Fromelles. It suffered grievously with many killed by artillery fire before leaving their trenches. The battalion’s 625 casualties amounted to over three-quarters of its attacking strength and included Commanding Officer Lt Col Ignatius Bertram Norris.
Like 1800 other Australians, Edwin was listed as ‘Missing in Action’, and his family hoped he was one of the 500-odd Prisoners of War. His father made many enquiries of the authorities to learn more about his son’s fate.
A year later, an enquiry found that Edwin was ‘Killed in Action on 19 July 1916’. In 1919, his father, Alfred Landsler received a report via the Red Cross from a POW repatriated after the war, Pte 3536 Charles J. McCue, who had seen Edwin:
"in our own trench before we charged. Shell burst near him, the last I saw of him, he was lying unconscious, in the trench, but I could not examine him. Do not know where he was hit."
As he has no known grave, Pte Edwin Landsler’s name is inscribed on Panel 8 of VC Corner Australian Memorial, Fromelles. He was one of ten Jews amongst the 2,000 diggers killed at the Battle of Fromelles: Australia’s – and Australian Jewry’s - worst-ever 24 hours. Just two of those have identified graves: Joseph Hart, reburied in 1921, and Berrol Mendelsohn, one of the 250 ‘Lost Diggers of Fromelles’ reinterred in 2010. By 2019, 166 of them had been identified and the quest to identify the remainder continues.
Y DNA is still being sought for family connections to
|Soldier||Edwin Laurence LANDSLER 1895-1916|
|Parents||Alfred LANDSLER 1861-1927, London, England|
|Hannah COHEN / COWEN 1865-1931, London, England|
|Siblings||Jack Bernard LANDSLER 1889-1979|
|Arthur Samuel LANDSLER 1891-1952|
While most donors have been located, we are still seeking one further DNA donation from those family members who share Y DNA.
More information on Edwin’s paternal grandparents would also be very welcome
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