Leo Major

A little while ago I had a comment on one of my posts from Jocelyn Major about his father, Leo.  He has quite a story and is certainly a hero.  I’ve posted what I’ve written up for his Gallery entry.

Léo Major moved with his family to Montreal before he turned one. Due to a poor relationship with his father, he moved to live with an aunt at age 14. This relationship combined with a lack of available work led Major to join the army when Canada declared war on Nazi Germany. He wanted to prove to his father that he was somebody to be proud of. He trained initially in Canada and then in Scotland where he became a sniper and scout.

He landed at Normandy on D-Day and within a couple of days lost an eye. He refused to be evacuated – an act he repeated later when his back was broken in an attack. Late in 1944 he captured 93 German soldiers by himself, using one as a hostage. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (the second highest honour available) for his efforts. He refused the medal due to his disdain for his supervisor. On April 13, 1945 he liberated the city of Zwolle by himself. A garrison of hundreds of Germans retreated as Major entered the city, shooting key people (including four SS officers) and throwing grenades to create as much noise and confusion as possible.

Major also fought in the Korean War. He was asked to lead a small group of men to recapture a hill nicknamed “Little Gibraltar”. His men wore running shoes to mask the sound of their approach and successfully held off the Chinese for many days, refusing to surrender. For this effort he won another Distinguished Conduct Medal. His regiment, “Regiment de la Chaudiere”, has created an award in his name to be given to the company that performs best each year in competition.


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