My husband never talked about the Second World War...then I found a secret diary after he died

My husband never talked about the Second World War...then I found a secret diary after he died

My husband never talked about the Second World War...then I found a secret diary after he died

First published in News

ALMOST until the end, Leslie Knight never spoke to anyone of his experiences during the Second World War.

While battling dementia in his final days, the former Royal Army Ordnance Corp soldier would sometimes be discovered by wife Julia with a tear in his eye, speaking of “poor boys” lost in the conflict.

But shortly after he died aged 96 in May, Julia and daughter Ellen Gooding discovered an A4 envelope with “My Wartime Story” written on it.

Inside was ten printed pages, secretly typed up over 16 months in 2006 and 2007, giving a matter-of-fact account of his role in the conflict.

It detailed how Leslie cheated death several times, including suffering malaria in Egypt and being bombed in Greece, and told of many of the friends he had lost.

He wrote how after signing up and going through training shortly after the war broke in 1939, he had been posted to Egypt to confront the Italians.

But he was soon struck down with malaria and rushed to hospital in Alexandria, where he had a “miraculous escape from death”.

He later served in Greece, Palestine, the Desert Rats campaign and Italy before taking part in the D-Day landings.

Leslie’s funeral, in June, was held at Monkwick’s St Margaret Church, which he helped to build in the 1960s and 1970s when he was not working for Crittall Windows in Witham.

Julia described her husband as a generous man who was always helping people.

For more, see Wednesday's Gazette

Comments (2)

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12:07am Thu 21 Aug 14

Boris says...

Les was a fine man who was much respected by the hundreds who attended his funeral. It was typical for him, as for many other veterans, to avoid speaking of the horrors he had seen. Well done Julie (her real name) for telling us about this account that he wrote of his experiences.
Les was a fine man who was much respected by the hundreds who attended his funeral. It was typical for him, as for many other veterans, to avoid speaking of the horrors he had seen. Well done Julie (her real name) for telling us about this account that he wrote of his experiences. Boris
  • Score: 1

7:17am Fri 22 Aug 14

Navajo wife says...

What a wonderful thing for his children and grandchildren to have. I hope that copies are made for all of them and that Julie writes a page or two of her own to add to this treasure.The family will embrace it and learn so much about dad and grandad.Things no one else knows. I know this as I am writing a family history book for my grandkids. They will be able to live my life growing up in Colchester through my words and my growing up during the war.Leslie's family will be thrilled to be able to know in HIS OWN words. What our brave WWttwo veterens endured. I amso glad I pried some of my dads experiences and horrors out of him so these will be known for generations to come. God bless you Julie.
What a wonderful thing for his children and grandchildren to have. I hope that copies are made for all of them and that Julie writes a page or two of her own to add to this treasure.The family will embrace it and learn so much about dad and grandad.Things no one else knows. I know this as I am writing a family history book for my grandkids. They will be able to live my life growing up in Colchester through my words and my growing up during the war.Leslie's family will be thrilled to be able to know in HIS OWN words. What our brave WWttwo veterens endured. I amso glad I pried some of my dads experiences and horrors out of him so these will be known for generations to come. God bless you Julie. Navajo wife
  • Score: 0
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