The Langtip boys who served in the First World War were four brothers-- Henry, Bertie, Ernie, and Leslie. They are the four who enlisted together. They had come from Port Albert, as I think I mentioned, down on the South Gippsland coast. They had all been farmers. Their father was renowned locally, particularly for his vegetables. He'd won prizes at local shows for some of his-- don't ask me which vegetables, but some of them. So they all recorded their professions as farmers when they enlisted.
Apart from riding in the charge at Beersheba, Leslie was otherwise renowned, perhaps we could say for two things. First of all, during the approach up towards Damascus, at a place called Corkum. He won-- sorry, you're supposed to say he was awarded a distinguished conduct medal, which for another rank, that's a soldier who is not an officer during the First World War, was the award below the Victoria Cross. So it's pretty special. He was awarded that for his part in the capture of a Turkish field gun, as I mentioned, not long before the regiment got to Damascus.
When they did finally get to Damascus, the Turks had been pretty badly knocked around, and a lot of them were ill, suffering from what was in fact, the earliest signs of that dreadful influenza epidemic that went around the world in 1919.
Now the family folklore suggests that Leslie came across a rather strangely dressed English officer who was berating and being generally unkind to some Turkish prisoners. Leslie asked him to stop. The British officer duly ignore this young colonial, so Leslie did what any fine upstanding young lad would do and snotted him. He punched him in the nose. Leslie had no idea who Lawrence of Arabia was. That's the family folklore anyway.
Interestingly, after the war Leslie changed his name. Whilst, if I remember correctly, the other three brothers went back to some sort of farming, he didn't. He lived in Melbourne. And my memory says that he was involved in a timber merchant's business. I don't think it was his own business, but I think he had something to do with the running of it, and he challenged his name. Remember, their father's name was Lang Tip, there was always that Anglo confusion of which part of the Chinese name comes first, and he was Chin Lang Tip.
The boys all enlisted with the Anglicized surname, one word, Langtip. After the war, Leslie changed his surname to Langton. The reason is not particularly apparent, except perhaps to make it sound less Chinese.
One of the things this soldiers were told they were not allowed to do during the First World War was keep a diary. Fortunately for us, Henry-- or Harry as he was known-- Langtip kept one, and he detailed all sorts of interesting things, quite apart from the day-to-day bits and pieces-- talking about his mates, talking about how his brothers were, how on one occasion one of them was wounded-- all those sorts of things.
Reference to letters and parcels that came from home, general sense of the conditions that they were fighting under all of the time. So that sort of thing gives us an insight far beyond the minutiae and detail of officialdom, and it really is quite wonderful 100 years old to read those sorts of things.