World War II - Ralph McLeod Lebans
Saturday, November 10, 2018 3:24 PM
Ralph McLeod Lebans: born May 9, 1916, in Edmonton Alberta, the son of Nathaniel James Lebans and Catherine Arabella McLeod. His father had attempted to join the Canadian Army in New Brunswick but was rejected due to “flat feet”, so he served with the British Engineers during World War I, including the Somme and Vimy Ridge.
Ralph was an active Legion member and donated his time and lumber during the construction of the original structure of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 266 in Valemount. He also served as the 2nd Mayor of the Village of Valemount in 1970 to 1973; was a president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 266 and actively participated in the Boy Scouts of Canada.
Ralph spent his childhood years in High Prairie Alberta. The family moved to Richmond B.C. in 1937 and Ralph followed later where he began his early career in fishing for the Phoenix Cannery.
On September 3, 1939 he volunteered for the militia and subsequently enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders on November 30, 1939. He arrived in Gouroch, on the River Clyde, Scotland on December 31, 1939. After training and serving in England, his regiment landed in Pachino in the southern tip of Sicily on July 10, 1943. On August 4, 1943 he was wounded (shot in the head) during a battle on the slopes of Mount Etna and was evacuated to North Africa to convalesce. He was surprised to find his cousin Wilfred Metcalfe, also with the Seaforth Highlanders, had arrived in the hospital three days before him. Ralph rejoined the regiment at Ortona Italy and served until the battle of Bagnacavallo. He was wounded again (shot in the arm) on December 15, 1944 and was evacuated to North Africa. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that his cousin, Wilfred Metcalfe, had been wounded a second time and had once again arrived in the North African hospital three days before him. The war ended prior to Ralph’s recovery and upon his return to Vancouver he was discharged, at his own request, on May 31, 1945.
Ralph McLeod Lebans
Ralph was a great story teller and entertained many with his vibrant stories of the war. For the most part they were full of camaraderie and suspense laced with humor, but there was another side of his of experience in WWII that he seldom spoke of or shared. These memories haunted him for his remaining years.