Keith Leslie

20/June/1918 - 17/April/2004

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Keith and Army PalsKeith joined the Royal Corps of Signals in the late 1930’s.  He had many escapades, including the time he was in a cross-country race and, with a friend, hitched a ride on a hay cart. He won the 15 mile race! His prize (never to be repeated in these times) was 200 Park Drive cigarettes, a habit that, with some interruption through the war years, he continued until 1979. Unfortunately for him, Keith was then selected for the all-England Army finals, in which he performed honourably, albeit without a hay cart ride to help him along the way.

 

In 1939 he was part of the British Expeditionary Force into France and was there until his evacuation in 1940 at Dunkirk. Wounded, he was not considered a priority and was in fact thrown into the sea to make room for unwounded soldiers returning to Blighty. He swam around for some time and was then rescued and brought back in one of the many “little boats” that streamed across the channel to help the official evacuation. Forever afterwards he had no truck with swimming and indeed was very cautious about going into water.

 

Keith after Dunkirk

 

 

On his return to England, Keith was sent to Brookwood Hospital to recuperate. This was the source of many stories, because the mentally-ill patients were assigned to look after the wounded soldiers – with some fairly interesting results. The picture to the right shows him well on the way to recovery.

 

 

Having recuperated, Keith was issued with heavy army kit suitable for cold-weather climates – and sent to Singapore!

 

After 3 months of rumours and indeed accurate news, the Japanese invaded Singapore. Keith was driving an officer along a highway and pulled off to one side for no apparent reason – just a strong feeling he should.. The officer was appalled. “Leslie!” he bawled, “what the hell are you doing?” Keith refused to drive on and, as the Officer approached nuclear meltdown, bombs commenced dropping on the highway and comprehensively destroyed the road that he would have been driving on. The Officer shut up.

 

 

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