Chief Ordnance Artificer Leslie (“Len”) Francis Gill, DSM, was born in Victoria, British Columbia, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Gill. Prior to his enlistment he owned a locksmith business in Victoria.
After enlisting with the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1939, Gill served for several years aboard H.M.C.S. St Laurent. He was later stationed at H.M.C.S. Cornwallis in the fall of 1943, before joining H.M.C.S. Iroquois in early 1944. While home on leave in Victoria, Gill married Wanda Kathleen Spencer, on August 31, 1943, at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria, B.C. Their daughter Evelyn was born November 11, 1944.
Gill received the Distinguished Service Medal on November 14, 1944, among those recognized "For courage and determination in H.M. Ships Albright, Ashanti, Bellona, Diadem, Mauritius, Onslow, Tartar and Ursa and H.M. Canadian Ships Assiniboine, Haida, Iroquois, Qu’appelle, Restigouche and Skeena, in a series of successful attacks on enemy escorted convoys off the coast of France."
Most of the collection’s letters were written to and from Leslie and Wanda Gill (née Spencer), between 1941 and 1945. Due to project budget constraints only thirty-three letters have transcriptions at this time. A list identifying transcribed letters can be found at the end of the Letters section, dated as “2023.”
Included in the letter section is a handwritten document, dated 1943-01-13, titled “Review of Attack on Convoy ONS154”, written by “Directorate of Intelligence , Naval Staff, Naval Services HQ.” It describes the December 25-29 U-boat attacks on convoy ONS-154 in which fourteen ships were lost.
The poem is a conscription crisis themed verse,“70,000 Zombies.” Photographs are a mix of personal and military subjects, including several official RCN photos. Among the personal items, #27 is an unusual document in that it appears to be a guide to converting standard message phrasing into private messages between Gill and his wife.
C.O.A. Leslie Gill’s service record (Serv/Reg# V50176) is not open to public access at this time at Library and Archives Canada.
The announcment of Gill’s Distinguished Service Medal was published in the London Gazette of November 14, 1944, (#36794, p.5224).