April 7,1910 ~ December 22,1971
1939 ~ 1945
This website represents the unwritten,
War Diary of Philip Leach
Every year at Rememberance Day, our thoughts are directed to remember all those who have offered their life and those many who sacrificed life for world freedom. We are actually to remember and reflect on events and difficult sacrifice that we can never have known. My father spent five years overseas during WWII and this time always makes me remember him, not because he was in my memory a military man, but because he was gentle and thoughtful, and most of all his involvement in war was as far as I could see incongruent with who he was as a gentleman. Yet the biggest curiosity then is what on earth my father was doing in the military front lines fighting a war.
There is a vast number of people who are so adamant against war as a concept today and I think it is mainly because we have not had honest political systems for a long time and we do not believe in going to war when directed for deceitful reasons. I can only ponder that war is more often not the answer, but when a real threat marching through the free world even a soft spoken, gentle man, like my father, brings his thoughtful courage to stand up for what he believes. And in the end, on returning home after five years of gruesome battle his first and usually last comment was, "war is not to be glorified."
I agree with his wishes, and do not present this material to glorify war, or the atrocity required to overcome atrocity. I believe when we set out each year to remember with reverence those lives sacrificed in protecting our future we must not lose sight of the human experience of war or the memory will grow cold and irrelevant to future generations. Notwithstanding, I also know that there are first hand memories that are simply unspeakable truth.
As result of those unspeakable truths my father was tight lipped about the 2nd World War he fought in long before I was born. While I was able to get some details out of him he was adamant that I was only to understand that it was just too gruesome to bring those memories home, and that I only needed to know that war was so bad, that we could only hope there would never be another. As a child I envied my elder siblings, who I always believed must know the war secrets that would never be shared with me, simply because they lived through wartime and obviously were present for father's homecoming.
I have always pondered investigating the history of the 11th Canadian Armoured Regiment to discover where my father had spent five years at war, what battles he took part in, what was the atrocity he survived that was so horrific and finally in 2008 I did. I gathered the public information of his regiment movements I created an email for my family that outlined the timeline and whereabouts of my father's movements during the war. It was not until then that I discovered that my siblings who lived during the war years were as much in the dark about father's war as I was. In fact, being a precocious inquisitive youngster with relentless questions coming at him well after his painful reflections had subsided, I may actually have badgered more information of the war from him than any of my elder siblings ever could have.
These pages reflect a compilation of my memories of the things Father did tell me and the shared stories of members of the 11th, 12th, and 14th Canadian Armoured Regiments who were deployed together under command of 1 Canadian Corps, as the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.