Leonard Liardet died of wounds received in fighting during the battle of Polygon Wood in France on 3 October 1916. He was aged 25. He is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.
Leonard was born on 22 January 1891 in Stratford. His parents were Effie Fowler and Harry Norman Liardet. His father was the first Mayor of Stratford and worked as an auctioneer before becoming New Zealand Manager for the Ocean Accident and Guarantee Corporation Ltd in Wellington. Leonard attended school at Stratford High School and was successful in the Junior National Scholarship examination in December 1904. He passed the matriculation and solicitors' general knowledge examination in 1907. While at school he was active in the Cadets and held the rank of Lieutenant, doing particularly well in shooting competitions.
On leaving school Liardet moved to Wellington and began to study law through Victoria University College from 1910 to 1912. He continued to be active in the Territorial Forces and was promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Fifth Regiment (Wellington Rifles) in March 1912. His other interests included motor cycling and he was Secretary of the Wellington Motor Cycling Club for a time. He worked hard to unite the various motor cycle clubs around the North Island and this culminated in the formation of the New Zealand Auto-Cycle Union (North Island) in June 1914. On his retirement as secretary in September 1914 he was presented with a pair of binoculars. In 1913 he offered a 6 hp Twin Precision New (1913) Hudson motorcycle for sale ("genuine reasons for selling").
Liardet passed his solicitor's examinations in 1912 and was employed by the Wellington law firm Bell Gully Bell and Myers. Securing indefinite leave from Bell Gully, he enlisted immediately on the outbreak of war and, holding the rank of Lieutenant, was a member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force which invaded Samoa at the end of August 1914. Having embarked for Samoa on 15 August he was among the first group to return, on the Monowai in mid-September, in command of the 71 volunteers on board. He was posted as Officer Commanding Expeditional Force Records Branch, having understood that he would be returned to Samoa. However, it was decided that no more forces would be sent to Samoa and Liardet expressed his disappointment at his situation in a letter on 6 March 1915 to the Adjutant General.
"Under the present circumstances I am in rather an awkward position. Although I am on indefinite leave from my employers, I am very loth to accept such leave, and put the staff of the firm to more than their usual trouble, whilst I am still in the same City and drawing pay from the Department," he wrote. "To me it seems clear that, if I am to continue in my present position, I must in fairness to the firm and to the staff resign my position in Messrs Bell Gully Bell & Myers. I feel that I cannot be the servant of two separate employers at one and the same time."
Liardet proposed an increase in salary, noting "By remaining in my present position, I am sacrificing a very great deal of training in my profession, and in the meantime forgetting a large amount of professional knowledge. At the end of my service in this Department I will have to seek a fresh position in a profession in which there is very great competition. I think, therefore, Sir, that I am justified in asking for an increase in salary."
His letter had the desired effect and in May 1915 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade for training at Trentham Camp. Liardet did have some opportunities to practise his legal skills and he represented the Defence Department in February 1915 at an inquest into the death of a soldier who was struck by a train at Wellington's Lambton Station. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and embarked from Wellington on 9 October 1915 for Suez in Egypt, arriving there on 20 November. He was posted to Ismalia on 17 January 1916 before embarking for France on 6 April 1916.
Liardet was promoted to Captain on 24 September 1916, the promotion coming through after he had been reported wounded in the back, legs and abdomen during the Battle of Flers on 15 September 1916. He died at Camiferes on 3 October.
Sources: Evening Post, 19 January 1905, page 2; Hawera and Normanby Star, 21 January 1908, page 5; Taranaki Daily News, 24 February 1908, page 3; Evening Post, 29 January 1912, page 8; Evening Post, 15 March 1912, page 3; Dominion, 27 September 1913, page 15; Evening Post, 1 April 1914, page 11; Evening Post, 22 April 1914, page 8; Evening Post, 8 June 1914, page 8; Evening Post, 14 September 1914, page 3; Dominion, 18 September 1914, page 3; Evening Post, 9 February 1915, page 10; Evening Post, 12 May 1915, page 2; Evening Post, 4 March 1916, page 6; Taranaki Daily News, 27 September 1916, page 3; Taranaki Daily News, 11 October 1916, page 3; Dominion, 22 December 1916, page 3; The Spike, War Memorial Number 1920, page 28; Evening Post, 16 November 1922, page 8; Personal Defence Force File of Lieut LV Liardet.
This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.
By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: firstname.lastname@example.org.