Saturday, December 4, 2021
HomeBiographyLeo Major Biography, Wikipedia, Age, Family | Who was Canadian Soldier Leo...

Leo Major Biography, Wikipedia, Age, Family | Who was Canadian Soldier Leo Major? Bio, Wiki

Who was Leo Major?

Leo Major DCM and bar (January 23, 1921 – October 12, 2008) was a French-Canadian soldier who was the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) twice in separate wars. 

Major earned his first DCM in World War II in 1945 after a successful reconnaissance mission in Zwolle. As he was sent to scout the city with one of his best friends, a firefight broke out in which his friend was killed, yet he still continued, after which he found that the city was mostly deserted by the German occupational army.

Thanks to his efforts, Zwolle was spared from the artillery fire that was planned the next day by the Allies. He received his second DCM during the Korean War for leading the capture of a key hill in 1951. Today, he is sometimes called by the nickname: “the Québécois Rambo”.

Leo Major Biography, Wiki

Léo Major, DCM and Bar, soldier and war hero (born 23 January 1921 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, died 12 October 2008 in Montreal, QC). Major was a veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War. He is the only Canadian to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for two separate wars.

Major was born to French-Canadian parents (while his father was working for the American Railroad Company) in the U.S. but moved with his family back to Montréal when he was very young. Major enlisted in the Canadian army when he was 19 years old and was sent overseas in 1941.

He was amongst the Canadian forces that landed on the beaches in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944, and that same day he was instrumental in capturing a German Hanomag half-track. A couple of days later he was injured by a phosphorus grenade while fighting a group of German SS soldiers, and he lost partial vision in his left eye; he refused to be evacuated back to England because he needed only his right eye to sight a rifle.

Leo Major Biography Wikipedia
Leo Major
BornJanuary 23, 1921
New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedOctober 12, 2008 (aged 87)
Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
AllegianceCanada
Service/branchCanadian Army
Years of service1940–1945
1950–1953
RankSergeant
UnitRégiment de la Chaudière
Royal 22nd Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War II, Invasion of Normandy, Battle of the Scheldt, Battle of Zwolle, Korean War, First Battle of Maryang San
AwardsDistinguished Conduct Medal and bar
Spouse(s)Pauline De Croiselle​​(m. 1951⁠–⁠2008)​
Children4

Leo Major in Second World War

Léo Major grew up in a tough working-class district of Montreal during the Depression. He enlisted in the Canadian army in 1940 and joined Le Régiment de la Chaudière. Major landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944 as a scout platoon sniper and helped capture a German half-track that day.

Later, in a fight with a four-man SS patrol, a phosphorous grenade went off, leaving him partially blind in his left eye. Major insisted on remaining with his unit; as a sniper, he said he only needed his right eye. He stayed, sporting an eye patch.

During the Battle of the Scheldt that fall, Major captured 93 prisoners single-handedly. In February 1945, in the fierce battles to capture the Rhineland, he was wounded again when his vehicle hit a mine and tossed him to the ground. Major broke both ankles and injured his back. After treatment, he refused evacuation and returned to the Chaudières.

On 12 April 1945, the Chaudières occupied positions outside of Zwolle, a German-held city of 50,000 people in central Holland. In preparation for an attack, Major and Corporal Wilfrid Arsenault volunteered to scout the enemy defenses. At 9:30 p.m. on 13 April, the two friends moved out.

They encountered a German outpost and killed its occupants, then hid for a while. Heading out again at eleven o’clock, Major crossed a railroad track, but Arsenault was killed as he crossed. Major decided to carry on alone, but first “…I got rid of the ones who were responsible for [Arsenault’s] death.”

Armed with two Sten guns and several grenades, Major arrived in the city center about 1:00 a.m. to find the streets deserted. He went through the city for several hours, firing his weapon and throwing grenades, tricking the Germans into thinking a large force was attacking them. When the last German left, an exhausted Major returned to his unit with Arsenault’s body.

Major was awarded the DCM for liberating Zwolle. His citation reads in part, “The gallant conduct of this soldier, his personal initiative, his dauntless courage and entire disregard for personal safety, was an inspiration to all.”

Leo Major Death

Major died in Longueuil on October 12, 2008, and was buried at the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. He was survived by Pauline De Croiselle, his wife of 57 years; four children; and five grandchildren. 

A documentary film about his exploits, Léo Major, le fantôme borgne, has been produced in Montreal (Qc). To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, Canada Post issued a stamp in honour of Major, “The one-eyed ghost”, on April 29, 2020.

Leo Major FAQ’s

Who was Leo Major?

Leo Major DCM and bar (January 23, 1921 – October 12, 2008) was a French-Canadian soldier who was the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) twice in separate wars. 

How did Leo Major die?

Major died in Longueuil on October 12, 2008, and was buried at the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Quebec.

Who was Leo Major’s wife?

He was survived by Pauline De Croiselle, his wife of 57 years; four children; and five grandchildren. 

Also Read:

RELATED ARTICLES

Most Popular