Born in Chatham, ON. the son of Mrs. Miriam Brown, 21 Houston St., Chatham, ON.
Leonard enlisted 22/09/1942 at Windsor, ON. with 30th Reece Regt. from Windsor, ON., though he really wanted to join the RCAF, he thought it “Sounded so exciting.” It was his father that suggested “Stick to the ground forces, you are a motorcycle rider. Why don’t you join the armoured corps and be a dispatch rider.”The 30th Reconnaissance was part of the Canadian Armoured Corps, based out of Windsor.
He trained in Canada at Windsor, ON., Dundurn Sask., Camp Bordon, ON. The WN 27/01/44 reported that Gnr. Leonard Brown was stationed at Vancouver BC., serving with the 24th Regt. RCA. He went overseas 14/07/1943 joining the 17th Duke of Yorks Royal Canadian Hussars. Leonard served in England, France, Belgium, Holland and finally Germany. During his time in Europe he was hospitalized three times.
He didn’t get the dispatch riders job but instead he was the driver in a WASP; a Universal Carrier converted to be a mobile flamethrower:
He would spend eight months in one of these notoriously dangerous vehicles, lightly armoured carrying a drum of flammable liquid on the rear of the vehicle. “You had to be inside 60 yards of your target which was most often a machine gun nest.” Luck had to due a lot in the survival of WASP crews and Leonard said he was very lucky. Leonard would see his first action in Belgium.
On one occasion his luck almost ran out. “The infantry was pinned down behind a railroad embankment by a German machine gun nest and the infantry couldn’t advance.” On this day his regular Corporal who would be in charge of the WASP was off sick and he was replace with a Corporal with little experience, advertised by his standing up in the carrier exposed to enemy fire as they made their way down the road to the embankment. Suddenly the Corporal shouts “Len STOP!”
What the Corporal had seen was a couple of paving stones sticking up from the roadway a telltale sign of German mines ready to explode as soon as the WASP ran over the bricks. Closer examination revealed three mines one directly under the vehicle. They carefully reversed and it was while doing this that both the Corporal and Leonard realized the machine gun hadn’t fired on them, likely thinking the mines would get them they had pulled back. Leonard was involved in the liberation of Antwerp, a port vital to the Allied advance into the Netherlands and Germany.
The last day of WWII was ready for battle in Germany. “We were on a highway outside of Aurich to attack at dawn.” When the sun rose that morning there was no order to attack and the troops began to worry since they were ‘sitting ducks’ exposed on the road. Word finally came over the radio that the war was over, “Wouldn’t it have been horrible to be killed on this day.” Leonard thought.
Leonard was discharged from the Army 23/03/1946.
In December of 2014 Leonard was presented with a pin and a certificate from the Federal government in recognition for his service on the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II. CDN23/12/14.
1939-1945 Star, Defence Medal, France & Germany Star