WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Leonard Maurice Kyezor

Leonard Maurice Kyezor

Male 1885 - 1951  (65 years)

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  • Name Leonard Maurice Kyezor 
    Born 3 Nov 1885  Maida Vale, London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 12 Oct 1951  London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I20074  My Relatives
    Last Modified 22 Jan 2019 

    Father Benjamin Joseph Kyezor,   b. 1854, Middlesex Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Mar 1930, Paddington, London Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Julia Benjamin,   b. 1857,   d. 1943  (Age 86 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married 31 Aug 1881 
    Family ID F7157  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Gladys Louise Benjamin,   b. 1890 
    Married 21 Jul 1921  Hill Street, Synagogue Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Joan Doris Keysor,   b. 1923,   d. 27 Dec 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 85 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 22 Jan 2019 
    Family ID F7159  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • In one of the bravest and most sustained acts of bravery in World War 1, Louis’ great grandson Leonard Maurice Keyzor, fighting with the First Battalion of the Australian Infantry, was awarded the Victoria Cross at Lone Pine, Gallipoli and helped forge the legend of the Anzacs. He changed his name to Keysor on returning to England.
      Keysor was educated at Tonnleigh Castle in Ramsgate. After completing his studies, Keysor travelled to Canada in 1904 where he remained for a period of ten years before emigrating to Australia in 1914 where he undertook clerical work in Sydney, New South Wales.
      Leonard Maurice Keysor VC (also known as "Keyzor" or "Kyezor") (3 November 1885 – 12 October 1951) was a British-born Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Born in England, Keysor emigrated to Australia shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. He enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Force in August 1914 and served in Egypt before landing at Gallipoli, Turkey at the beginning of the campaign. On 7 August 1915 at Lone Pine, while serving as an acting lance-corporal, 29 year-old Keysor performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Later in the war he took part in the fighting in France, serving in the trenches along the Western Front. He would later achieve the rank of lieutenant before being discharged from the army on medical grounds at the end of the war.

      Keysor remained in Australia in 1920, working as a clerk in Sydney, New South Wales before returning to England where he began a career in business. On the outbreak of the Second World War he attempted to rejoin the military but was deemed medically unfit and was rejected. He died in 1951 suffering from cancer.

      Military career

      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, which was forming at Randwick. On 18 October 1914 he embarked for overseas service among the first contingent. 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 where he took part in the subsequent fighting on the peninsula. On 20 June 1915 he was promoted to lance corporal, before taking part in the Battle of Lone Pine in August.
      It was during the course of this battle that Keysor performed the actions that led to him receiving the Victoria Cross. Early in the morning on 6 August 1915 the 1st Battalion carried out a diversionary attack at Lone Pine and after heavy fighting that lasted almost the entire day they managed to capture the Turkish trenches. After this more fighting would continue around the position for the next three days as the Turks attempted to regain the position. The fighting was carried out at close range, using bayonets and improvised grenades and bombs. Over the course of about 50 hours on 7–8 August, Keysor continually risked his life to pick up the Turkish grenades as they were thrown into the trenches and throw them back. Later, despite being wounded and ordered to seek medical attention, Keysor continued to remain in the line, volunteering to throw bombs for another company.

      After the battle was over Keysor was evacuated from Gallipoli suffering enteric fever. He eventually rejoined the 1st Battalion after they had been transferred to France in early 1916. In March 1916 Keysor took part in the Battle of Pozieres. In November 1916 he was transferred to the 42nd Battalion and promoted to the rank of sergeant on 1 December. On 13 January 1917 he was commissioned and promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. Six months later he was promoted to lieutenant. On 28 March 1918 Keysor was wounded and was evacuated from the line before returning to take part in the fighting at Villers-Bretonneux, where he was gassed on 26 May 1918.

      In October 1918 when manpower levels in the AIF reached critical level, Keysor returned to Australia to head up a recruiting campaign. He was discharged from the army on medical grounds on 12 December 1918
      Later life

      Following the end of the war, Keysor resided in Sydney from 1918 until 1920, during which time he worked as a clerk when he returned to England. On 8 July 1920 he married Gladys Benjamin. After this he went into the family business importing clocks.

      In 1927 Keysor re-enacted his exploits at Gallipoli in the film For Valour, during which he was injured.
      1931 Electoral Register at 11 New Bond Street London with home address 127a Maida Vale, W9 with wife Gladys
      He remained on the Australian Military Forces list of inactive reserve officers, however, in 1939 when the Second World War began Keysor attempted to rejoin the military, but was rejected on medical grounds.

      He died of cancer on 12 October 1951. He was survived by his wife and their daughter. In 1977 Keysor's Victoria Cross was purchased by the Returned Services League. It is now displayed at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.