Francis Thomas Leonard

Memorial: Kingswood - Holy Trinity Church

Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Medals: 1939–45 Star, War Medal 1939–1945

Rank and number: Private

Marital status: Married

Home address: Bristol

Date of birth: 29/12/1917

Date of death: 14/04/1945

Buried/Commemorated at: Buried at Ilfracombe (Marlborough) Cemetery

Age: 27

Further information:

2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.
Francis married Brenda Denise Robins who was from Ilfracombe, in 1942.
Francis’ battalion fought in the Western Europe Campaign and on the 24th March 1945, as part of Operation Varsity, they landed to the north of Hamminkeln in Germany and were tasked with securing road and railway crossings over the River Issel. The Battalion was the first unit of the 6th Airlanding Brigade to land, and so their vulnerable gliders became targets for all of the anti-aircraft weapons in the immediate area. As such casualties were enormously heavy, and the Battalion lost half of its manpower in dead and wounded during the ten minutes that it took all the gliders to land. The survivors quickly dealt with the anti-aircraft batteries and over the following days went on to secure further river crossings in order to aid the allied advance but they faced pockets of bitter resistance. It was during this fighting and according to his military records, that Francis was wounded on the 11th April. He would have been flown back to England where he died 3 days later on the 14th April most probably in RAF Wroughton Military Hospital as his death was registered in Swindon. Less than 4 weeks later the Germans surrendered.

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

This information has been provided by Sarah Hands, Volunteer Researcher for the South Gloucestershire War Memorials Web Site.
By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):