Veteran Stories:
Fred Leitch

Army

  • Dutch hats belonging to schoolchildren. 1945.

  • German naval watch with the swastika insignia. 1945.

  • Miniature wooden shoe sold as a momento of Holland. 1945.

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"During the war, June and I wrote faithfully back and forth."

Transcript

Fred Leitch, V2789. Enlisted with the Ordnance Corps. in Toronto, transferred to the Intelligence Corps., and went overseas after six months and spent three years in Europe. When the Italian campaign was on the officer loss was severe, and the Army set up a training session for experienced NCOs to become officers. They called it a Canadian Educational Company, and it offered a four-week course for these experienced NCOs. A large number of those who went through our program became officers. During that time we were offered a ten-day leave between each of our four-week courses, and in a little over a year I had thirteen ten-day leaves in the British Isles, which was pretty educational. The university offered courses that fit the ten-day pattern, and you could spend a ten-day leave at the university instead of a private leave. I had a chance to go to Leeds, which was a tech-style university, to Oxford, to Cambridge, and also to the Stratford theatre. During the war, June and I wrote faithfully back and forth. There were three kinds of letters that were available. One was surface mail, which took six weeks to deliver, airmail, which took ten days, and later on there was an aerogramme, which was a letter written on a prescribed form, photographed, and then sent by plane overseas. And these were able to be delivered to the troops within about five days of the writing. During the war, we wrote roughly a thousand letters back and forth, and these all had to be numbered because the different times of delivery meant that your letters were often out of sequence. And we still have those thousand letters. We have one of those letters that was taken on a trip to the Scilly Islands, off the coast of Cornwall, that ran forty-eight pages. Almost a historical document.
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