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australian rowers profiles and history

Leslie J Coulter DSO

Ballarat City Rowing Club (VIC)

Major Leslie J Coulter DSO MID (3), 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company

Leslie Jack Coulter was the youngest of the five Coulter brothers. He was born in Ballarat on 20th July 1889. He was educated at Ballarat College and Ballarat School of Mines studying Maths, Chemistry and Mine management from 1907 to 1909. As his brother Graham was club Captain from 1904 to 1910, the young schoolboy Leslie was probably pressed into service as a coxswain at the club on occasions. He rowed at Ballarat City Rowing Club from 1907 to about 1910. In 1907 he was training in a Novice four with T. E. Mudie, G. Simpson and F. Beaumont. In 1908 he won the club Trial fours and in 1909 won the club Scratch pairs. In 1909 he represented the club in Maiden eights at Ballarat and Barwon Regattas. He competed in Maiden pairs with Hugh Conran, who also served in WW1, at the VRA regatta in December 1909. 

By 1911 he had moved to Bendigo and was employed in the mining industry there. In 1914 he was working as a Mining Engineer in Tasmania and was noted for his bravery in rescue work during the Mt. Lyell mining disaster of the same year. He had military experience with the 91st infantry Regiment CMF and he applied for a commission in the Field Company Engineers on 28th of September 1915. He joined the Miners Corps on the 1st of December 1915 with the rank 2nd Lieutenant. He was promoted to Major in March 1916. In July 1916 he was wounded in action and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was also mentioned in dispatches three times. On the 28th of June 1917, while being involved in a raid to destroy German tunnels, he was shot and killed. Coulter Crater at Hill 70, near Lens, was named after him. The explosion that created this crater marked the last of the German tunnelling on the now infamous Hill 70.

THE DSO CITATION:-“HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the appointment of the undermentioned officer to be Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, in recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty in the field :- MAJOR LESLIE JACK COULTER “For conspicuous gallantry during operations.  When a “Push Pipe” failed to explode, he went out, accompanied by a corporal, under heavy shrapnel and machine-gun fire, and blew up the exposed portion of the “push pipe”.  Later, when the leads were cut by a hostile shell fire, he went out, under very heavy fire, to try and light the fuse further down the sap.  Though wounded, he refused to be removed till the “push pipe” had been successfully exploded. He is buried in Hersin Communal Cemetery Extension, Plot 1.A.2.

NOTE: His name appeared on the 1919 Ballarat City Rowing Club Honour board along with brothers Graham and Jason. Somehow their names were not listed in the Victorian Oarsman. When the honour boards were replaced in 2004 the list of members who served from WW1 was sourced from that volume. However further research has revealed that the three Coulters should be listed.

Kate Elliott
September 2021

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