76454 John (Jack) Norman Ide LESLIE, Irish Guards

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by dbf, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Army Number: 76454
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Name: J N I LESLIE
    Unit: Irish Guards
    POW Number: 400
    Date of Capture:
    Place of Capture:
    TNA Reference:
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Personal Number: 76454
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Name: John N I LESLIE
    Unit: Irish Guards

    London Gazette : 13 November 1942
    I. G'ds.
    2nd Lt. J. N. I. Leslie (76454), to be Lt. 5th June 1940.

    London Gazette : 5 June 1945
    I . G'ds.
    Lt. J. N. I. LESLIE (76454) to be Capt., 5th June 1945.

    London Gazette : 9 August 1945
    I. G'ds.
    Capt. J. N. I. LESLIE (76454) resigns his commn., 11th Aug. 1946, retaining the rank of Capt.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


    Sir John Leslie was presented with the Legion d'Honneur at the French embassy in Dublin, just weeks before his 99th birthday

    An Irish veteran of World War Two, famed for his aristocratic connections and love of disco dancing, has been awarded France's top military honour.

    Sir John Leslie was presented with the Legion d'Honneur at the French embassy in Dublin on Monday. The 98-year-old is a cousin of Winston Churchill.

    During WW2, he commanded a section of the British Army in a battle to defend Boulogne Sur Mer from the Germans.

    He was captured and spent five years in a German Prisoner of War (POW) camp.

    Better known as Sir Jack, the veteran said he was accepting the award "on behalf of all soldiers from the island of Ireland who fought and died between the two great wars".

    The French Minister for Veterans and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini, paid tribute to Sir John Leslie as he presented him with the award

    He is a member of an aristocratic family that owns Castle Leslie in the Republic of Ireland, the County Monaghan stately home that hosted the wedding of Beatles singer Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in 2002.

    Rave music
    His grandmother was a sister of Churchill's mother, making him a first cousin once removed of the former British prime minister.

    Sir Jack joined the British Army when he was 21, enlisting with the Irish Guards in 1937, two years before WW2 began.

    During his time in POW camp, he risked his life to send a postcard to Churchill, asking his cousin to agree to a prisoner exchange in a bid to free some of his comrades who had become ill in captivity.

    After travelling the world on his release at the end of the war, Sir Jack returned to live at Castle Leslie in his 70s, when he became a regular visitor to County Monaghan nightclubs.

    The pensioner is famed for his love of dancing to rave music, and celebrated his 85th birthday in the world's biggest nightclub in Ibiza.

    'Eternal recognition'
    Now just weeks away from his 99th birthday, he was presented with the Legion d'Honneur by the French Minister for Veterans and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini.

    The minster said Sir Jack epitomised "the friendship and the memory of the Irish soldier".

    "You said you were only doing your duty," said Mr Todeschini.

    "But it was far more than your duty that you accomplished because you committed your life for the survival of your country, of France, of Europe and of your comrades.

    "For me it is an honour to convey to you today, such a special day for Ireland, the eternal recognition of France."
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  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


  5. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Read more: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/northern-ireland-news/sir-john-leslie-ww2-veteran-cousin-of-winston-churchill-and-ibiza-party-goer-dies-aged-99-1-7334992#ixzz46GGpQSXn
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  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Name: J N I Leslie
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Army Number: 76454
    Regiment: Irish Guards
    POW Number: 400
    Camp Type: Oflag
    Camp Number: VII-B
    Camp Location: Eichstätt, Bavaria

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  7. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    :poppy: Sir John Leslie, Legion d'Honneur. RIP :poppy:

  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Extract from A History of The Irish Guards in the Second World War by Desmond Fitzgerald page 91 mentionng his capture.

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  9. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I had the very good pleasure of meeting Sir John a few years ago, when I ended up having a wee chat with him. I was djing a wedding at his castle and, was waiting for the wedding party to finish in order to set up my equipment. I wandered into the bar and he was sitting, in a corner, having his dinner. Very quietly he beckoned me over and asked me to join him. I never knew anything about his wartime service nor did he ever intimate as to his activities during that time but we had a great discussion about Dance music and the clubs in Ibiza!!! He was an absolute gentleman and beloved by the staff who were on that night. RIP Sir John.
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  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  12. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    an earlier article


    Ireland's last aristocrat
    Imprisoned in a POW camp in Salzburg, living la dolce vita in Rome and celebrating his 85th birthday in an Ibiza nightclub. Maggie Armstrong meets the irrepressible Sir Jack Leslie

    'Desmond was the last person I could talk to about the old days. Now they are all dead. My address book is the list of the cemetery," Jack Leslie says. He smiles bemusedly, and carries on slicing his turbot.

    Snaffles restaurant is on the gobsmacking estate of Castle Leslie in Glaslough, Co Monaghan, where Sir John, or 'Uncle Jack' lives. A Cambridge history scholar, a prisoner of war for five years, an emigre in Rome for 40 years, a raver for 10 years, on balance he has earned this charmed existence.

    "But Jack, you can tell us stories," hollers Sammy, a daughter of his brother Desmond, from across the table. (Desmond was the more tempestuous brother: he married cabaret chanteuse Agnes Bernelle, punched Bernard Levin on TV, and wrote books on UFOs.)

    Jack is deaf in one ear, and Sammy's is the only voice he hears without difficulty.

    Jack came here from New York with his parents and older sister Anita when he was three. He was the family's "little heir" with a bandage around his head for the mastoid that deafened him.

    Today, he is their adored uncle. I learned why he is adored over supper and in an unexpectedly sharp interview in the decadent, memory-swirling castle. Jack and Sammy are the only Leslies left living in the Castle. Sammy runs the estate and equestrian farm, which I would have thought was Jack's, as the oldest boy, but it's owned by trustees.

    Nonetheless, Jack has carved out a very nice arrangement here. He is surrounded by beauty and privilege and support. Though in his 98th year, the only official assistance he gets is in climbing up and down the colossal stairway to his bedroom.

    Jack is Ireland's last aristocrat. In the magnificent breakfast room overlooking the lake, he sits in a regal red dressing robe, eating porridge and reading the Irish Independent, a guest in his own home. Here, at Snaffles, he has his whisky at six and dinner every evening – fish of the day or an omelette with red wine, followed by creme brulee and a glass of creme de menthe.

    He is a towering six foot-something, in a peacock-feathered Basque hat, fine woollen check jacket with pink carnation in the buttonhole, gold and ruby cufflinks. His pale, wraith-like presence is startling amid the bustle of chirrupy guests, smiley waitresses and meaty-shouldered waiters in their Leslie tartan waistcoats ("he's a very good footballer with Glaslough Villa," Jack says of our waiter).

    Jack's domestic routine is placid. But outside the estate he is a party animal. The last time he danced was at the Hunt Ball, though he is best known in Monaghan at the nightclubs.

    "At Spy, it's a lovely disco," he says. He attends alone, and goes bonkers. He started dancing long ago he tells me, pleased to return to the subject that no doubt everybody harangues him about.

    "Well, before the war I danced the foxtrot, the Valetta, the polka, the waltzes. Disco dancing, when I came back here in 1994. Quite a new kind of dance. You just leap around. Leap and jump on the floor!"

    What does he enjoy about socialising with drunk people one-fifth of his age?

    "It's so jolly. Everyone's enjoying themselves," he says. It doesn't bother him that people binge-drink, because he gets to take in all the rumpus. "I booze and gape. I love it. Sometimes they lift me up in the air, like that [hands in the air]," he says. "The bouncers see it, they throw them out. Actually I rather like it, it amuses me being lifted up in the air. But the bouncers think it's too wild, and throw them out. I always say, I don't mind, I don't mind, don't throw them out!"

    "But we don't want anybody dropping you and breaking you, Jack," Sammy boomingly interjects.

    "No, I don't want to be dropped, that's quite true. You get pushed over occasionally. Not maliciously, just in the scrum."

    Sammy tells me that the family were worried when Jack first started going to nightclubs in the 1980s. They wondered if all was well with him, until it made sense. Because of his semi-deafness, he couldn't hear the music in his debutant years. Since the inception of hardcore techno, he is able to feel the bass. Sammy took him to Ibiza for his 85th birthday. "We build glass ceilings for ourselves all the time. He just broke the ceiling. He said 'I love music, I love dancing'," she adds.

    Before dessert, Sammy asks if he'd like to play the piano. He gets up, sits at the pianoforte and romps out Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata'. The dramatic recital cinches the room for 10 extraordinary minutes. Some of the diners seem to have heard it before; one beery table of young men stop ranting at each other and stare over, astonished. Jack unleashes the last delicate notes, everybody applauds and he smiles graciously around the room and takes his seat again, thanking Sammy for the creme de menthe that has arrived. "Thank you, that's lovely," he says.

    The next morning we talked further, seated on a golden sofa that might as well be from ancient Rome, next to the room in which he played billiards with his grandfather, Sir John Leslie, who died while Jack was in the camps.

    Jack was 22 and fresh out of Cambridge when he joined the elite regiment, the Irish Guards. He had his own valet and they were entrusted to guard Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, which he found glamorous. In the first months of war they were captured at Boulogne and dragged on foot to a camp near Salzburg where he lived for five years, at times, with 3,000 other prisoners.

    Normality slowly trickled in. They could write letters and receive parcels – Anita sent him watercolours and tinned peaches. The prisoners formed an orchestra and theatre, gathered a library of books and played basketball.

    In one letter to Desmond dated June 18, 1942, Jack writes: "Every room here has its little vegetable plot and the camp looks like a market garden. We are now getting our own radishes!"

    It sounds like you enjoyed it, I ask pathetically. "Well, it passed the time," he says, and his voice suddenly sours. "No, I didn't enjoy it. Our food ration was very small, we were terribly overcrowded. It was very cold, it wasn't well heated. We were continually being counted in a pale, turned out on the square. We had to stand for hours while they counted you. Make sure nobody had escaped."

    He used his artistic skills to forge documents that helped escapees, but he never considered crawling through the tunnels himself. He had a stomach condition, and knew he was too weak and emaciated.

    I ask him what kept him mentally strong. "I trust in God," he answers. "And there was always something – letters would come in occasionally. We were always busy. Cleaning boots, washing saucepans, playing basketball."

    In January 1945, in a rare moment of subversion, he wrote a letter to his father's cousin, Winston Churchill, asking him to "please forgive this addition to what must be an all too voluminous correspondence", but could he repatriate them. He knew, from their hidden wireless, that they would win the war, but writing to the Prime Minister would have cost him his life.

    Four months later, on May 10, 1945, General Patton's army marched in and they were released. He is not bothered that the letter was never acknowledged, though Churchill read it as it hangs in the War Rooms in London.

    After the war he was welcomed home by the village of Glaslough.

    "I picked up where I left off," he says. He spent the next few years telling stories about the experience, though his father Shane Leslie did not like to discuss war with his three children who had all fought. Showing emotion would not have gone down well, he says.

    In 1954 he moved to Rome, where he remained for 40 years, living alone in a 16th Century palazzino. His cook/butler, Italo, died suddenly in his kitchen, between serving him an octopus course and ripe nectarines, as is recounted in his book 'Never a Dull Moment'.

    Jack has been waited on his whole life, apart from in the camps, but he is no slouch. He rises at 10ish, reads the newspapers "cover to cover", then does his correspondences. He is a "technophobe" and writes everything in elegant copper plate handwriting. He's never wanted to work, because "there's always something to do. We're always planting trees, you know, pruning trees, cutting ivy. Too much ivy" – he nods at the perfectly manicured lawns. "Arranging books, showing people around, giving them little tours."

    He fills his personal scrapbooks with pictures and clippings and reads every subject – "Historical subjects. Dictionaries, encyclopaedias ... History is so interesting. The Roman Empire, the Middle ages, The Reformation."

    What is hard about being old, I ask this aesthetic escapee and monument of stoicism. "Just you feel tired a lot," he says. "And things seem heavy. Carrying your suitcase, seems heavier. Moving books, they seem heavier. That's all. Weak. I can go for little walks. I can't walk around the lake like I used to. I miss walking. I loved walking."

    He never had a best friend or companion in life? "Not particularly. Several best friends," is his elusive reply." Did he ever look for love?

    "For love?" he reflects briefly. "Well, a bit of everybody," he chuckles. He was happy to live alone? "Yes, because I was never alone. Always people around. And you'll find every variety of book here. Reference books, historical books, there's a very good one on the Middle Ages there, with wonderful pictures."

    We drift around the woody rooms of the house, with its populations of ruff-collared family portraits, Renaissance frescoes that grandfather John Leslie painted and little Leslies scribbled on, majestic fireplaces. Jack stops in awe of something every few seconds, saying "What is that remarkable tree?" and "I know that face. I know someone who looks like that," to a painting.

    When Jack discusses his regrets (see panel), Sammy cuts in and shouts, "What's amazing, Jack, is that we all think you're the kindest, most beautifully mannered person we know. You can't even say anything nasty about Hitler."

    I tell Sammy it's very unusual to have such a bond with an uncle. "But it's such a privilege. We don't realise how precious the older generation are, how many stories and memories they have," she says.

    Remarking on an Alone campaign that hangs over the N2 as you approach Glaslough, stating that one in 10 older people are "in real need", Sammy says she would like to start a collective memory bank, a way of passing on stories from old to young.

    Before leaving we stop off at the Monaghan Museum, which has put together a fully complimentary history of the Leslies. There is a corner to Jack. You see the hauntingly good-looking army officer, the shaven-headed POW, and his sad, fanciful watercolours from the camp, including a scene from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', of owls, bats and toadstools, and spindly fairies dancing in a ring.

    Unlike at Castle Leslie, Jack has no interest in showing me around. He is sitting by himself watching the film on the projector screen, which has become one of his favourite pastimes. There is footage from the 1930s onwards, of the Leslie boys on go-carts, of a famous English broadcaster reading about UFOs, of Mick Jagger being hounded by Monaghan schoolgirls (he had come to the castle to hide), of Jack in Rome, of Jack giving a bombastic tour of his bedroom, and of Jack, dancing his lights out by a disco ball. Jack sits there absorbed, shaking his head and smiling at the scenes.

    Sir John (Jack) Leslie will speak about 'My Experience of World War II' on Wednesday May 21, at 8pm, in Monaghan County Museum in conjunction with the exhibition 'Castle Leslie – Between Two Worlds'


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  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    The Guards Magazine

    Sir John Leslie Bt
    Late Irish Guards
    by Captain R J Frewen
    formerly Irish Guards

    Jack Leslie (‘Uncle Jack’), born on 6th December 1916, came so very close to reaching his century but died peacefully in his sleep in the family home, Castle Leslie at Glaslough in Co Monahan, on 18th April 2016.

    Jack was born in New York. For two generations, the Leslie men had married ‘across the pond’ and his mother, Marjorie, was the daughter of an American diplomat, Henry Clay Ide. His grandmother was one the three Jerome sisters, all of whom found husbands over here. The eldest, Clara married the financially incompetent Sussex squire and sometime MP for West Cork, Moreton Frewen. The middle sister, Jennie is the best known having married Randolph Churchill and producing Winston. The youngest, Leonie, married Sir John Leslie of Glaslough. Descended from Bishop John Leslie (the fighting bishop), the vast Leslie estates almost entirely disappeared with Irish independence and the major part of the compensation was lost in an ill-advised investment in Russian railway bonds.

    Jack, with his elder sister, Anita came over from New York at the age of three and had an idyllic childhood at Castle Leslie, still in those days full of staff, together with plenty of time in a substantial London house.

    He was educated at Downside, an experience which his sister Anita always insisted did him no favours at all, and certainly it was in the era of ferocious discipline with absolutely no concept of pastoral care. After Downside, Jack passed into Cambridge and went up to Magdalene. While there a friend, Eric Penn, who was destined for the Grenadier Guards, suggested to Jack that he should apply to the Micks and apply he did, joining the Cambridge OTC to further his efforts.

    After a stint at the depot at Caterham, which came as something of a rude awakening to the cultured and gentle history scholar from Cambridge, Jack was commissioned on 5th September 1938 with instructions to report to the Officer Commanding Irish Guards, Birdcage Walk on or before 4th October. He did his first Tower guard in December 1938, well looked after by a number of the officers who knew him or the family, including Joe Vandeleur, Michael Gordon Watson, and John Madden. After a stint at Pirbright, the Micks moved to Wellington Barracks and a full round of public duties began. But by now the war was looming and an increasing amount of serious training took the place of public duties by day and grand balls by night. In the spring Nazi Germany had occupied Denmark and was moving up Norway from the south. The 1st Battalion was sent up to Narvik by ship: a number of officers were assembled on deck when a single bomb killed five of them including Colonel Faulkner. Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion was sent by ship to the Hague to rescue Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, a feat they managed at a cost of ten Guardsmen killed and many more wounded.

    Under Colonel Charles Haydon, the 2nd Battalion was embarked for Boulogne and from there to Outreau, just outside the city. A very stretched defensive line of Micks then dug in as best they could. With little intelligence and poor communications, they were simply overrun by the German tanks which were impervious to any anti-tank weapons then available to the Micks. Colonel Haydon subsequently wrote to Jack’s father that the line held for a crucial two hours before Jack’s platoon was overrun, and that no trace could be found of him. A good many escaped but Jack was missing and unaccounted for, and it was not for another six weeks that the news of his capture was heard. He and others ended up in OFLAG VII C near Salzburg from 1940 to 1945. Jack was never physically robust and his health deteriorated badly while in captivity: the pictures of him when the Americans under Patton freed the camp on 10th May 1945 show him almost skeletally thin.

    Jack returned to Glaslough to recuperate and was discharged in 1946, whereupon he went abroad on extended travels starting in his country of birth, the United States. By 1953 he had gravitated to Rome and there he remained for forty years. In the cold weather he lived in the city in a beautifully decorated small house in Trastevere and in the hotter months he would retreat to the spectacular Badia di San Sebastiano di Alatri, reputed to be the oldest monastery in Europe. Certainly the modern bits of it at are 13th century while the older parts date from 300 AD. Jack saved it from ruin, re-roofing it but otherwise leaving it unspoiled. At the ripe old age of 78, Jack returned to Glaslough but still spent some months each summer at the Badia, where he delighted to entertain and was always happy to welcome friends and family of all ages. He discovered disco dancing in his eighties and became a regular in the fashionable nightspots in Monahan.

    In November last year, Jack was enormously proud to receive the Legion d’Honneur from the French ambassador in Dublin, formally accepting on behalf of ‘all soldiers from the island of Ireland who fought and died in the two great wars’. Surely the Micks were at the forefront of his mind.

    With his height and slim figure, Jack always looked the part: he had natural good taste and was always elegantly dressed. His manners were impeccable and his fluent Italian was always pronounced in ringing aristocratic and patrician tones.

    Jack was the most charmingly naïve person I have ever known. He had a simple manner and thought ill of nobody, making him sometimes too trusting for his own good. On a number of occasions, neighbours in Italy would try to take advantage of this trusting nature and his niece Sammy or her brother Mark would have to ride to the rescue and make sure Jack did not sign some inappropriate document. When my wife first met Jack at Sunday lunch with another of his nephews, Tarka Leslie King, she was utterly astonished when he turned to her and said ‘the funny thing about England is that you don’t see peasants in the fields anymore’. From almost anybody else this would have been unfunny, pretentious or offensive, but Jack was merely thinking in terms of the Ireland of his youth and more recently in southern Italy. On another occasion the world’s press was camped on the doorstep of Castle Leslie having heard it was to be the venue for the wedding of Paul McCartney to Heather Mills. Jack came to the door and announced to the cameras ‘it’s on Tuesday but it’s a secret’.

    Jack never married: the heir to the baronetcy is his nephew Sean. Castle Leslie is run by his niece, Sammy, who has turned it into a very successful hotel and venue.


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