The land records of Private John Leak VC

Records in the QSA collection can provide insights into the post-war life of former soldiers. One we have found is about Private John Leak VC as a soldier settler.

Private Leak earned his Victoria Cross at the battle of Pozieres in the Somme Valley in July 1916. After being discharged from the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) in 1918, Private Leak was allocated soldier settler perpetual lease selections near Allora, Queensland.

This plan includes portions 179 and 184 held by Private Leak in the Parishes of Glengallan and Goomburra, County of Merivale.

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26104

One of the first things Private Leak did as a farmer was request finance for sinking a bore and fencing of his property, and indicate his desire to build a house, as documented in his letter to the Soldiers’ Settlements Controller, dated 19 May 1919.

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26104
Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26104

The descriptions in the land files show young Private Leak had only fair agricultural land with a stony ridge between the portions, and a lack of natural water. As he settled into life on the land, this letter written by the Soldiers’ Settlements Controller on 10 December 1919 shows he applied for a free passage from England for his wife to join him.

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26104
Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26104

Despite adversity, Private Leak improved the value of his land by clearing 15 acres of timber, ploughing and breaking up 10 acres of land, fencing, erecting a windmill and four tanks. Additional details in this letter from the New South Wales Department of Lands to the Queensland Department of Lands include the land was carrying stock – 9 horses.

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26106

According to the Land Agent of Warwick register of selections the land was surrendered on 12 January 1920, and reopened for selection on 26 February 1920.

So, what happened to the portions of land after Private Leak left? The answer is in this letter written by the State Advances Corporation to the Department of Public Lands, Brisbane, dated 27 March 1924. Information about the land surrender and reselection of John Leak’s portions is included in the correspondence.

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26105
Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 26105

These records are a little piece of the Private Leak story. Find out more about John Leak: Queensland’s first Victoria Cross winner and man of mystery in this John Oxley Library blog.

Other Queensland State Archives’ resources about land occupied by soldier settlers are listed in Brief guide 35: Soldier settlements.

If you need advice on how to get started looking for records in our collection, contact Queensland State Archives on (07) 3131 777 or send an email enquiry to info@archives.qld.gov.au.

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit www.archives.qld.gov.au

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