Leonard James "Ben" Leland
Born June 11, 1921 at McLean’s Corner, Saint George, NB, Ben was the fifth and youngest child of Dennis John Leland and wife, Helen Alma (McLeod) Leland. Shortly after his birth, Ben and family moved to the home of his paternal grandparents, James Leland and Mary (Hoyt) Leland, at Leland’s Creek, Mascarene. After the death of his maternal grandfather, Captain James Mann McLeod, Master Mariner, Ben and family moved to Caithness, to live with his maternal grandmother, Lucy Annette “Nettie” (Gates) McLeod, remaining there until 1943.
Ben attended one-room schoolhouses, in Mascarene and Caithness, until grade 9, and then Saint George Superior School. Later, he graduated from the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute of Aeronautics in Glendale, Los Angeles County, CA, specializing in aircraft sheet metal work. After returning home, Ben drove an SMT bus between Saint George and the British Commonwealth Air Training Base at RCAF Station Pennfield Ridge and worked in the woods with friend, Clyde Stewart. Ben later attended Agricultural College in Truro, NS for upgrading for Air Crew.
In 1943, Ben joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in Moncton. He trained in Leshine, QC; Souris, MB; Dieppe, NB (where he had his first airplane ride); and Belleville, ON. Ben received his “wings” on December 10, 1943 and left for overseas the following March.
During World War II, Ben served as Navigator on the Halifax and Lancaster Bombers, as a member of the 433rd Smythe Crew 6th Bomber Command, Porcupine Squadron, of the RCAF, posted at RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, England. He earned the rank of Warrant Officer, Second Class. When Victory was declared in Europe, Ben signed up for service in the Pacific. Enroute to the Pacific, Ben arrived in Saint George on June 21, 1945. The war ended while Ben was on leave. He didn’t make it to the Pacific.
Throughout the war, and on his many missions, Ben wore a chain suspending the High School graduation ring of one Margaret Frances McVicar.
After receiving instructions from Father Harold L Coughlin, Ben was baptised July 06, 1947 at the Saint George Roman Catholic Church, Godparents Marie Alice McVicar and Arthur Hugh McVicar. On October 02, 1947, Ben married the love of his life, Margaret Frances McVicar, RN, daughter of John Valentine McVicar and Kathleen Mary (Brown) McVicar at the Saint George Roman Catholic Church.
After their wedding, Ben and Marg lived with Everett and Emily Stewart and family at McKay’s Corner in Saint George and then at Ben’s parent’s home in Caithness before purchasing their Main Street home in 1948.
After returning from overseas, Ben owned and operated “Ben’s Taxi” for several years before being employed by the New Brunswick Liquor Commission, Store #10 in Saint George. He remained there 35 years, serving many years as Manager, before being terminated because of his age (63). With two children in school and two in university, Ben successfully sued the Liquor Commission for age discrimination. He had described that time as one of the most difficult periods of his life. During that time, Ben supported his family by driving school busses and working as a security guard with the Corps of Commissionaires.
Ben was a devote family man. Besides his beloved relic, Ben is survived by seven (7) sons and seven (7) daughters, Mary Teresa (Richard “Mac”) MacDonald of Orleans, ON; Peter McLeod Leland of Black’s Harbour; Nellie Ann (Daniel) Wright, of Moncton; Kathleen Frances (Wylie) MacKeigan of Rothesay; John William (Judy) Leland, of Caithness; Leonard Joseph (Irene) Leland of Black’s Harbour; Rosalie Jane (Stig) Skodje of Saint George; Glen Anthony Gerard (Lorraine) Leland of Caithness; Marilyn Maria (William) Bennett of Baxter’s Corner; Margaret Clare McVicar (Thomas (McInnis)) Dick of Caithness; Benjamin Paul Timothy Leland of Detroit, MI; Veronica Marie Alice (Leonard) Cassidy of Saint John; James Thomas Alexander (Lori) Leland of Caithness; and Patrick Andrew Kevin Leland of Saint George.
Ben is also survived by fifty (50) Grandchildren; James Donald Leland (Sasha) Wright, Moncton; Gregory William Gates Wright, Belleview, WA; Barbara Ann Leland MacDonald (Ronald) Waren, Pasadena, NF; Anna Karin Leland Skodje (James) Buchanan, Linton Stream; Susan Mary Leland MacDonald (Paul) Schieman, Orleans, ON; Laura Kathleen Wright (Greg) Gordon, Moncton; Sonja Marita Skodje (Christopher) Roy, Saint George; Janet Pauline Mills MacDonald, Surrey, BC; Theresa Nicole Leland Bennett (Jody) Waring, Saint John; Jeffrey Edward Daniel (Laura) Wright, Chilliwack, BC; Ingrid Elisabeth Skodje, Saint George; Leland Joseph MacDonald, Orleans, ON; Christopher William (Darcy) Bennett, Upper Golden Grove; Joseph Leonard Michael Wright, Moncton; John William Leonard (Amanda) Leland, St David’s Ridge; Jennifer Marie McInnis, Caithness; Timothy Craig Bennett, Saint John; John Francis Keith MacDonald, Conception Bay South, NF; Andrew Stig Josef Skodje, St Andrews; Mary Ann Elizabeth Wright (Matthew) Bordage, Moncton; Sarah Ann Patricia Dick, St Andrew’s; Steven Patrick Michael Leland, Caithness; Martha Judy Ann Bennett, Saint John; Rosalie Marie Clare Leland Cassidy, Saint John; Michael Peter Joseph MacDonald, Orleans, ON; David Benson McLeod Leland, Caithness; Peter Paul Gerard Wright, Moncton; Anthony Ryan Joseph Dick, Caithness; Adam James Noah Leland, Black's Harbour; Rosemary Margaret Elida Skodje, Saint John; Kathleen Lynn Frances Leland, Onoway, AB; John Anthony Leland Wright, Moncton; James Michael MacKeigan, Rothesay; Maryellen Annette Teresa Leland, Black's Harbour; Veronika Beth Solvi Skodje, Saint George; George Wyman Frederick Bennett, Baxter’s Corner; Emily Lucy Annette Cassidy, Saint John; Matthew Ryan Patrick Wright, Moncton; Sandra Lorraine Frances Leland, Caithness; Jakob Simon Peter Skodje, Saint George; Harrison Leland Cassidy, Saint John; Nelson Gerard Leland, Black's Harbour; Kenzie Daniel MacKeigan, Rothesay; Jacinta Christine Dick, Caithness; Rebecca Leilani Mae Bennett, Saint George; Michael Anthony Lawrence Leland, Caithness; Katherine Bernadette Kristine Skodje, Saint George; James Elliot Thomas Dick, Caithness; Benjamin Leonard James Leland, Caithness; and Margaret Jessica Lynn Leland, also of Caithness.
Ben is also survived by twenty-one (21) great grandchildren with the surnames of Ford, Roy, Schieman, Buchanan, Smith, Gordon, Waring, Wright, Boyd and McInnis.
Ben is survived by four (4) cousins, Alice Leland (Adams) (Darke) MacVicar, Deer Island; Mary E (Gillespie) Jardine, Belleville, ON; Richard Gillespie, Dartmouth, NS; and Emma (McLeod) Conley, Camden, NJ.
Ben was the last surviving member of his immediate family, having been predeceased by his grandparents and parents as well as two sisters; Mary (April 02, 1912 - April 09, 1912) and Nellie Isabelle Leland, RN, of Caithness; and two brothers; Captain Glen Hoyt (Jane Rosalie Kelly, deceased) Leland of Baltimore, MD and Lloyd George “Pete” (Catherine Macdonald, deceased; Ethel Pearl Turner Eldridge, deceased) Leland of Riverview.
Of his crew, Ben is survived by Bomb-Aimer Larry (Ann) Gartner, Winnipeg, MB; and Pilot M Richard “Bill” (Ann) Smyth, Surrey, BC. He was predeceased by Engineer Co-Pilot Jim Sutherland, Orleans, ON; Mid-Upper-Gunner J Ross (Kay) Plumbtree, Richmond Hill, ON; Wireless Operator Joe (Virginia) Walsh, North Sydney, NS; and Tail-Gunner Patrick J (Valarie) Murray.
Ben was a devote member of the Saint George Roman Catholic Church, having served as Eucharistic Minister and Cemetery Committee Chairman for many years. Ben was also a member of the Legion, Knights of Columbus and a founding member of the Saint John Right to Life. Ben served on the District 21 School Board and was instrumental in having Fundy High built in Saint George. He also served as Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the Town of Saint George. Ben enjoyed family, travel, antique cars, his 1926 Model-T Touring, his tractor, fishing, pruning trees, working around his summer home, baseball and cribbage.
Visitation will take place at the St. George Funeral Home (755-3533), 26 Portage Street, Saint George, NB on Thursday, November 10, 2011 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm; and on Friday, Remembrance Day, from 1 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm. A Requiem Mass, for the repose of Ben’s soul, will be said on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11 am at Saint George Roman Catholic Church with Father Rolando Suplido officiating. Interment will take place at the Saint George Roman Catholic Cemetery, Upper Letang, NB, immediately following. In Ben's memory, donations to the Saint George Roman Catholic Church Building Fund or to the Saint John Right to Life would be appreciated by the family. Personal condolences may be addressed to Mrs. Ben Leland, 112 Main Street, Saint George, NB, E5C 3J9. Online condolences may be placed at www.stgeorgefh.ca
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Saint George Roman Catholic Church, Saint George NB
November 10 & 11, 2011
2-4 and 7-9 pm & 1-4 and 7-9 pm
St. George Funeral Home, Saint George NB
November 12, 2011
Saint George Roman Catholic Cemetery, Upper Letang, NB
Saint George Roman Catholic Church Building Fund or the Saint John Right to Life