Jame Gordon Leggo

"James Leggo" (Ibbott)

Lieutenant, Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) R.C.I.C., First Canadian Division

Lest We Forget

| Jame Gordon Leggo | | Lest We Forget | Service Personnel Information | Essay | | | Military Service Record | Grave Reference | Additional information/links | Works Cited | Archival Reference | Internet Sites | =

Service Personnel Information

  • Service Regimental Number: H - 70417
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Marital status: Married to Marjorie Leggo
  • Religion: Anglican
  • Address: 1103 Parker Ave., Winnipeg
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Marjorie Leggo (Wife), Gordon Leggo (Father), Dorothy Leggo (Mother)
  • Date of enlistment: July 23, 1940
  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Eyes: Hazel
  • Marjorie and Lt Leggo Wedding Newspaper Article

View Larger Map


The Canadians who fought in WWII came from many different backgrounds, but they all joined together for a common cause. These young men, who were just getting to be adults and starting lives were sent into the hell of warfare without knowing what to expect. Each soldier had his own story, and they deserve to be recognized for their noble sacrifice. James Gordon Leggo was one of these young men who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and his life is a good example of what many Canadians went through.

James Gordon Leggo was born on September 8, 1916 in Fort Garry to Gordon and Dorothy Leggo. As a child, he lived at 830 Somerset Ave. His father, Gordon, was the president of Southwood Golf Club ("Gossip of Golfdom") and represented Fort Garry in city council ("Five Suburban Reeves"). He came from a well-off family and had the privilege of being able to enjoy recreational activities such as horse riding and swimming, both of which he was good at (Ibbott). He even worked as a horse riding trainer for a year. Prior to attending St Paul’s, he attended General Steele School and Fort Garry School (Military Service Files). He was described as an intelligent young man, who was always in the top eight of his class at St Paul’s. James’s conduct in class was recorded as excellent during his years at St Paul’s. This was probably because of his upbringing in a wealthy and known family. Interestingly, his worst subject was history. After leaving school, James worked as an insurance clerk for Harris and Chrisholm (Military Service Files). In 1939, James Gordon Leggo married Marjorie Christine Britain at St Paul's Anglican Church and they had one daughter, Sheila, in 1942 ("Capt. J.G. Leggo"). The wedding was traditional and the couple was able to travel for their honeymoon, meaning that the family was a wealthier, well know family ("Marjorie Christine Britain"). This was especially the case because of the fact that his wedding and death were both in the papers. After Lt Leggo died, Marjorie remarried to a war veteran and had a few more children (Bardal).

James first enlisted into the Army in 1940 into The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. At this time, he underwent training and was prepared for war as a reserve soldier ("Capt J.G. Leggo"). Quickly, his superiors liked him for his intelligence and very good discipline, and he was sent to undergo officers' training. After being commissioned at Gordon Head, he served at some Canadian bases such as Shilo, and in December 1942, he was promoted to Captain. Capt Leggo reverted to being Lieutenant on March 8, 1943 for the purpose of the draft (Military Service Files). He was then moved to the Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) after crossing the ocean in March 1943. The SLI (MG) was one of the units responsible for machine gun cover of the Canadian soldiers fighting to take control of Sicily. As a lieutenant, he worked with other officers as a leader to the troops underneath him. James had to give an example to his men and give them encouragement between and during battles (Zuehlke, 205). His leadership skills were put to the test, along with all other officers in WWII, and his soldiers must have respected him because he was not an officer who ordered from behind. As shown by his death by a land mine, he must have been at the front, urging the others to follow his example (Military Service Files). Lt Leggo was an extremely brave person because his Bren Gun Carrier Vehicle was travelling down paths without any prior reconnaissance and he had to offer covering fire, which meant the enemy could see his position ("The Sicilian and Italian Campaigns").

The Saskatoon Light Infantry traces its history all the way back to 1907 when the first infantry unit was formed in the new province of Saskatchewan. In 1936, the SLI became a machine gun regiment. When the second world war started, the regiment was part of the First Canadian Division. This force was then sent into the Sicilian campaign as part of the British Eighth Army on July 10, 1943 ("Saskatoon Light Infantry Highlights"). This means that James Leggo was only alive and fighting for two weeks into the assault. However, in this time he and his regiment accomplished a lot. They landed in Sicily and pushed up all the way to Agira. They had initiated an important offensive that was very successful ("The Sicilian and Italian Campaigns"). As a Lieutenant in a machine gun regiment, he ordered the soldiers who supported other infantry with fire from Bren Guns and Vickers Machine Guns, and used the Bren Gun Carrier vehicle. The true value of machine guns was realized during WWI, and during WWII they were an essential weapon that changed the tactics of warfare. The SLI used machine guns and armoured vehicles to suppress the enemies, which allowed their own soldiers to move forward (Zuehlke, 64). The SLI received many battle honours for fighting in the Sicilian Campaign because of their contribution at many famous battles.

During the Sicilian Campaign, known as Operation Husky, the SLI was involved in famous battles such as The Gully, Ortona, and Monte Cassino II ("Saskatoon Light Infantry"). His regimental motto was Cede Nullis, which means "Yield to None", and he truly lived up to those words along with his regiment ("Saskatoon Light Infantry Highlights"). James made it through the landing in Sicily and was a part of the successful battle of Valguarnera, but died during the attack on Agira. It was an extremely difficult campaign, especially because the Canadian forces had not yet had a chance to acclimatize to the Mediterranean climate. However, soldiers such as James Leggo fought on very successfully, and their contribution in Sicily was "greater than anyone expected" (Zuehlke, 33). The Canadians in Sicily fought as a part of the British Army, but officers such as Lt Leggo led their soldiers into battle and proved that they were not just a British colony, but a strong nation that could defy all odds and be successful in the difficult battles of Sicily (34). The Canadian forces fought with determination and were successful in taking the area.

Lieutenant James Gordon Leggo died fulfilling his duties to his country and to all people affected by the war. He was killed when his Bren Gun Carrier Vehicle was destroyed by a landmine that blew up underneath it (Military Service Files). This happened at the very beginning of the assault on the town of Agira, meaning Lt Leggo was at the very front line (Ibbott). Initially, he was buried at Libertinia, but was later moved to Agira Canadian Military Cemetery (Military Service Files).He did not die in vain because his regiment went on to finish the assault on Sicily and push out the Nazi forces. Lt Leggo gave up his life bravely in the struggle to bring peace between the nations that were fighting. On the day of his death, July 24, 1943; Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini was voted out of his position and replace by Pietro Badoglio. The reason why Mussolini was ousted by a vote of "no confidence" was that Italy was rapidly losing the war with many casualites (Zuehlke, 426). This is proof that the sacrifices of valiant soldiers such as Lt Leggo were actually of positive consequence and that the fighting was successful for the Allied forces. Lt James Gordon Leggo won two medals for his service in the Canadian military. The first medal was the 1939-45 Italy Star Medal which he received for combat in Sicily. The other medal was the 1939-45 War Medal that he received for being in active service for 28 days (Military Service Files).

The life and death of Lt Leggo was like that of many other middle-upper class young men who enlisted in the military and fought for freedom across the ocean. He left behind a young family that he loved so that he could give others the chance to experience the same freedom that he had at home. It must have been difficult to say goodbye to loved ones, knowing that it could be the final good bye. Yet so many Canadians found the courage and strength in their hearts to risk everything they had for the sake of freeing others from violence and oppression. The tragedy of Lt Leggo also contains the love of family. His parents were recorded as extremely generous donors to the Red Cross and Canadian war effort ("Red Cross Donations"). Just like all wealthier people with sons at war, they felt the need to help their child in any way they could. Gordon Leggo, his father, continued donating even after his son's death, which shows the solidarity of many Canadians on the Home Front. Finally, his wife must have taken the toughest emotional blow of everyone. Much like other women, she was left all alone with a small child that she had to take care of. Eventually, she remarried to Laurie Ibbott, who was a sergeant in the RCAF. They had four daughters, and Laurie passed away in 2005 (Bardal). Overall, Lt James Leggo experienced WWII like many other young men. He fought in extreme conditions, went head first into dangerous situations, and eventually gave up his life for the values he believed in.

World War Two forced boys into early manhood and then took away their lives completely. Lt James Gordon Leggo did what no man should ever have to do, and that makes him a hero for all Canadians. He and the other Canadians selflessly gave up their lives for the sake of protecting the lives of others. Each of these men had families, friends, and futures, but they went on and followed orders. Lt James Gordon Leggo is an example of the thousands of young Canadians that had to face the horrors of WWII.


Military Service Record

  • Age (at death): 26
  • Force:Army
  • Unit: Saskatoon Light Infantry
  • Service Number: H - 70417
  • Honours and Awards: Italy Star War Medal; 1939-45 War Medal
  • Date of Death: July 24, 1943
  • Country of Burial: Sicily
  • Book of Remembrance: Page 181 Book of Remembrance
  • A newspaper article with a summary of his life and military service. Newspaper Obituary

Saskatoon Light Regiment May 1943

“Saskatoon Light Infantry Highlights.” U of S Archives. U of S, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <http://www.usask.ca/‌archives/‌sli/‌highlights.php>.

Bren Gun Carrier. Lt Leggo died when a mine exploded underneath him.


Grave Reference

  • Cemetery: Originally Libertinia, Sicily. Reburied at Agira Canadian Military Cemetery
  • Grave Reference: Plot B, Row G, Grave 221
  • Cemetery Tour
  • leggo_grave.jpg
    Lt. James Leggo's Gravestone
  • (Wikisicily)
  • agira2.jpg
    Lt. Leggo is buried in Plot B
  • (Wikisicily)
  • agira_30.jpg

Additional information/links

SLI March - The Jockey of York
Queen Visiting the Saskatoon Light Regiment (MG)
SLI Uniform
SLI History and Pictures
SLI Poems and Songs
Canadians in Sicily: Overview and Picture Gallery

Works Cited

Bardal, Neil. “Laurie Ibbott.” Passages. Winnipeg Free Press, 18 May 2005. Web. 6 May 2012. <http://passages.winnipegfreepress.com/‌passage-details/‌id-96405/‌name-Laurie-Ibbott/>.

Book of Remembrance. Government of Canada, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/‌eng/‌collections/‌books/‌listing>.

“Capt. J.G. Leggo Reported Killed in Sicily Drive.” Manitobia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://manitobia.ca/‌content/‌en/‌newspapers>.

“Five Suburban Reeves Elected by Acclamation.” Manitobia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://manitobia.ca/‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1945/‌11/‌14/‌articles/‌16.xml/‌iarchives?query=james%2BAND%2Bgordon%2BAND%2Bleggo%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>.

“Gossip of Golfdom.” Manitobia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://manitobia.ca/‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1939/‌07/‌24/‌articles/‌171.xml/‌iarchives?query=james%2BAND%2Bgordon%2BAND%2Bleggo%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>.

Hermans, Paul. Universal Carrier. 9 Aug. 2008. Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 21 Aug. 2008. Web. 10 May 2012 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermans, Paul. Universal Carrier. 9 Aug. 2008. Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 21 Aug. 2008. Web. 10 May 2012.

Ibbott, Marjorie. “James Leggo.” Saskatooon LI. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://www.saskli.com/‌leggojames>.

Marjorie Christine Britain Weds James Gordon Leggo.” Manitobia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://manitobia.ca/‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1939/‌12/‌09/‌articles/‌189.xml/‌iarchives?query=james%2BAND%2Bgordon%2BAND%2Bleggo%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>.

Military service files of Lieutenant James Gordon Leggo (Ref. 112, Vol. 30553) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

“Red Cross Donations” Manitobia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://manitobia.ca/‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1939/‌07/‌24/‌articles/‌171.xml/‌iarchives?query=james%2BAND%2Bgordon%2BAND%2Bleggo%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>.

“Saskatoon Light Infantry.” Canada at War. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <http://www.canadaatwar.ca/‌memorial/‌world-war-ii/‌regiment/‌1/‌Saskatoon%20Light%20Infantry%20(M.G.),%20R.C.I.C./>.

“Saskatoon Light Infantry Highlights.” U of S Archives. U of S, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <http://www.usask.ca/‌archives/‌sli/‌highlights.php>.

“The Sicilian and Italian Campaigns.” Canadian War Musem. Government of Canada, 22 Oct. 2009. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <http://www.warmuseum.ca/‌cwm/‌exhibitions/‌newspapers/‌operations/‌sicilianitalian_e.shtml>.

Stacey, C P. “Second World War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/‌articles/‌second-world-war-wwii>.

WikiSicily. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://www.wikisicily.com/‌agira/‌scheda_agira.php?id=267&plot=B&fnd=G.%20221>.

Zuehlke, Mark. Operation Husky: The Canadians in Sicily. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd, 2008. Print.

Archival Reference

Military Service files of Lieutenant James Gordon Leggo (Ref. 112, Vol. 30553) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario.

Internet Sites

SLI Archives
SLI Dedicated Site
Vickers Machine Gun


example from LAC