Adventures of a ‘souvenired’ sporran
After 87 years of unauthorised possession, travel and survival, Arthur Leggett OAM, a 103-year-old veteran of WW2 recently returned a well preserved sporran badge to the Army’s possession.
CAPTION: World War 2 veteran Arthur Leggett returns the sporran badge to 16th Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment. Story by Ray Galliott. Photo by Lt-Col Leigh Partridge.
It was issued to him as an 18-year-old, when he joined the newly raised Cameron Highlanders, of Western Australia, in 1935.
Mr Leggett was posted to the Transport Platoon and proudly wore the Cameron of Erracht tartan kit of the Highlanders until 1939 when he enlisted in the newly raised Western Australian AIF battalion – the 2/11th Battalion.
On surrendering his Highland kit, he ‘souvenired’ his sporran badge, which he carried with him throughout WW2, and what a journey it had.
As a signalman in the 2/11th Battalion, Mr Leggett was shipped to Egypt, then Palestine, Libya (Battle of Bardia), Tobruk, Dernia, Benghazi, Greece and then to Crete, where he became a prisoner of war for four years.
His sporran badge survived despite having to hide it from his German captors, who regularly conducted searches of POWs.
Mr Leggett has been the WA State President of the Ex-Prisoners of War Association since 1996 and continues to be involved in every memorial service remembering those who didn’t return home.
He has been named a ‘Lawley Legend’ at Mt Lawley Senior High School for his continual support of school activities and was instrumental in organising the erection of the Ex-POW Memorial in Kings Park.
Approaching his 104th birthday, Mr Leggett decided to return his sporran badge to Lieutenant Colonel Leigh Partridge, Commanding Officer, 16th Battalion, the Royal Western Australia Regiment, at a small ceremony at his aged care facility.
On receiving the sporran badge, Lt-Col Partridge told the gathering the badge would be a cherished piece of Australian Army history, with special significance for 16RWAR.
“The badge will be worn with pride by the OC B COY while on unit ceremonial parades,” Lt-Col Partridge said.
“Also, I won’t be raising a charge sheet for unauthorised possession of Commonwealth property!”
Mr Leggett emotionally explained what the badge meant to him, especially during the four years of captivity in Europe, and that he was extremely pleased to have it returned to the descendent unit of the Cameron Highlanders of WA for their safe custody.