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Leger brothers


Tongan men Francis (top left) and Baisley Leger (top right) photographed with an uncle and two young cousins in 1915. The cousins, Alexander (bottom left) and Victor Emanuel (bottom right) Leger both served in 28 (Maori) Battalion during the Second World War.

Sergeant Baisley Leger and Private Francis Leger

The Leger brothers came to New Zealand from Tonga and enlisted for service in 1915. They were sent to join the Niueans and Cook Islanders already in training and sailed with them in February 1916 as part of the 3rd Maori Reinforcements. They served in Egypt and France before returning to New Zealand with the Niueans in mid-1916.

The Legers were now added to the 9th Maori Reinforcements and returned to France in October 1916 to serve in the Pioneer Battalion. In January 1918 the brothers were among the Pacific Islanders from the Pioneer Battalion sent from France to join the Rarotongan Company in Palestine. They served with this unit until the war ended.

In 1940 Francis Leger wrote to the New Zealand authorities from Vavau requesting that he and Baisley be accepted for service once more. The offer was declined on the grounds of age.


Image courtesy Bernard Morrison

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Leger brothers, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated