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Elliot Angus Leybourne (1889-1950)

8 DLI officer interned in Switzerland as prisoner of war

After only six days on active service with the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI), 25 year old Lieutenant Angus Leybourne was wounded on 25 April 1915 at Boetleers Farm, Belgium, in the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

He was captured and held as a prisoner of war, first in Germany and then in Switzerland, until the end of 1917. His interview by the Committee on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War (link at the bottom of this page) confirms locations and dates:

Paderborn Convent, Germany, April – May 1915
Bruderhaus, Paderborn, Germany, May – September 1915
Gutersloh, Germany, September 1915 – May 1915
Rossiniere, Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland, from 2 June 1916.

Wounded in the knee, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) prisoner of war records show that Angus was in hospital in May, June and September 1915.

At the end of May 1916 Angus Leybourne was one of 27 officers who were amongst the first British prisoners of war to be sent from Germany to neutral Switzerland on the grounds of ill health, under a scheme organised by the ICRC. By 2 June he was at the Hotel Grand Chalet in Rossiniere, one of the oldest chalets in Switzerland, just outside Chateau-d’Oex in the canton of Vaud.

On 4 September 1916, while at Rossiniere, Angus proposed by letter to Constance ‘Connie’ Kirkup. Her brother, Philip Kirkup, was one of Angus’s fellow officers in the 8th Battalion DLI, so Connie and Angus knew each other before the war began. They corresponded throughout his time as a prisoner of war and Connie was able to see him in Switzerland in January 1917 as part of a British Red Cross arranged visit. Angus’s mother and sister had already travelled out to visit him in July 1916.

Angus Leybourne was repatriated in December 1917. He and Connie were married on 16 October 1918 at St George’s Church, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Angus’s family still have the letters he wrote during his captivity. They are currently being transcribed by Durham at War volunteers and you can read all the letters to the end of 1916 by following the link at the bottom of this page.

Durham at War blog – A Very British Romance

Where to find more information:

The British interned in Switzerland, by Lieut-Colonel H. P. Picot, CBE

3 cheers for Switzerland! – the prisoners of war interned in Switzerland in 1916

St Peter’s, Chateau d’Oex – 1914-1918 War: Centenary

1914-1918 Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War – Internees (Switzerland)

Imperial War Museum: film of the arrival of the first internees at Chateau D’Oex in Switzerland (at 1 min 30 secs)

Civil Parish: Gateshead

Birth date: 12-Sep-1889

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Bircholme, Gateshead
The Mount House, Springwell

Education: Sedbergh School

Employment: Mining Engineer
Employed Ministry of Labour 1918

Family: Father – Samuel John Leybourne, J.P.
Mother – Mrs Maud Leybourne
Married, on 16 October 1918, at St George’s Church, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, Constance Dora Kirkup, only daughter of Philip Kirkup, J.P., M. Inst. C.E. and Mary Ann Kirkup of Leafield, Birtley

Military service:

2nd Lieutenant 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, 29 May 1913; Lieutenant 12 Sep 1914; Captain 1 Jun 1916; relinquished commission on account of ill health caused by wounds 5 May 1919.
Rejoined as Captain 25 Jul 1920; Major 1 Apr 1930; Lt-Colonel 23 Dec 1937; retired 1 Sep 1948 retaining rank of Lt-Colonel; TD (London Gazette) 16 Aug 1929.
Served in France & Belgium 19 Apr 1915 - 25 Apr 1915, wounded; prisoner of war 27 Apr 1915; repatriated 3 Dec 1917

Medal(s): 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by D. Leybourne | Durham County Record Office