Veteran recounts family tradition of service in the military

James A. LeRoy was wounded in the final month of the Great War.
James A. LeRoy was wounded in the final month of the Great War.

The man after whom Jim LeRoy is named was wounded in the last month of the Great War.

“He was in a lot of pain,” LeRoy said of his grandfather.

James A. LeRoy, from a farm near Belleville, Ont., joined the Canadian Army  at 18, and was wounded in the second battle of Cambrai, in France, two years later in October 1918.

“He had never experienced … combat and the life in a trench wasn’t easy,” his grandson added.

Jim LeRoy serves as chaplain with the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11, in East York, where members staged a parade and remembrance service on Nov. 6.

In an interview, the grandson reflected on the grandfather’s wartime experience. He said that James A. LeRoy travelled to Windsor, Ont., in 1916 to join the Canadian army.

Jim LeRoy at Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11, Remembrance ceremony, Nov. 6.
Jim LeRoy at Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11, Remembrance ceremony, Nov. 6.

“He joined like everybody else, because it was a matter of duty to King and Country,” grandson Jim LeRoy explained.

LeRoy Sr. became a machine gunner and was shipped to Europe to fight in the Great War. He thought it would be a great adventure.

“But it was not as fun as he thought,” his grandson said.

Machine gunner LeRoy suffered from several deceases and saw his friends fall beside him. The First World War was different from what he – or anyone – could have imagined, Jim LeRoy said. No one had thought that thousands of men could lose their lives in a day.

The bullet that hit LeRoy at Cambrai entered his torso and stopped near his spinal column. The bullet couldn’t be removed, but he was still alive. The war ended a month later.

In 1934, James A. LeRoy was told that the bullet could be removed from his body. He underwent surgery, but something went wrong. He didn’t survive. He left behind his wife and two sons – 11 and three years old.

Many other members of the LeRoy family have served in the armed forces. James A. LeRoy’s father served in the Boer War. Robert K. LeRoy, Jim’s uncle, served in the Second World War. And Jim Leroy himself served from 1979 to 1985.

“The wars affected everyone, and still affects people,” Jim LeRoy said. “Even though there are no World War I veterans alive (today), the history is there and through history we are able to see how brutal man was. That’s something that I hope we never have to go through again,”Jim LeRoy said.