LIEUTENANT ELMER WINFRED DRAKE LAING MC
8TH MAY 1918 AGE 25
BURIED: BORRE BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
Elmer Laing's father, William Drake Laing, chose his inscription, very specifically giving the cause for which his Australian son had fought and died.
Born in Australia, educated in England and Marburg, Germany, Laing returned to Australia in 1911 when he was 18. He became a fruit grower, an orchardist, but joined up on 14 September 1914, barely a month after the outbreak of war.
He served with the 12th Battalion Australian Infantry, the first battalion to go ashore at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915. The battalion remained on Gallipoli until the evacuation in December. It was then deployed to France, fighting at Pozieres where Laing was awarded a Military Cross:
"Lieut, Laing was in command of his platoon in the attack at Pozieres which he led with conspicuous bravery and coolness. On the night of 24th July 1916 he commanded a patrol sent out to the N.E. corner of Pozieres to cover a party of Engineers digging a strong post and when they were driven back by machine gun fire he assisted to bring back a wounded man and by his coolness and courageousness fully got his patrol back to our line."
In the autumn of 1917 the battalion were engaged at Third Ypres and in the Spring of 1918 in attempting to halt the German offensive in the same region. On 4 May 1918 the 12th Battalion relieved the 4th in the line "east & south east of Strazeele". Laing was killed on the 8th, the war diary recorded:
"Heavy barrage of 4.2's & 7.7's on the two left companies & support company at 3 am during which Lieut E.W.D.Laing M.C. was killed."
"For his English and French brothers and sisters."