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Article: WARRRIOR WEDNESDAY: Léo Major the One-Man Army

WARRRIOR WEDNESDAY: Léo Major the One-Man Army

WARRRIOR WEDNESDAY: Léo Major the One-Man Army

You ever noticed how in most first person shooter games the character you play is a larger than life badass who single handedly saves the day with maybe just a bit of help from some NPCs? You ever think to yourself “well that’s pretty much bullshit, it’d never happen in real life.” ?

Well you’d be f*cking wrong. I got a story for you about an over the top Canadian who literally embodies damn near every aspect of a First Person shooter protagonist. This is the true story of Léo Major.

Léo Major was born in Massachusetts in 1921 to French-Canadian parents but before his first birthday they moved back to Montreal. His dad was apparently pretty abusive and neglectful, which made him move in with his aunt by the age of 14. His shitty relationship with his dad along with no real job prospects led Major to enlist in the Canadian army at the age of 19 to prove to his old man that he was "somebody to be proud of".

By D-Day He was a highly effective infantry reconnaissance scout and sniper serving in the Régiment de la Chaudière. He had some eccentricities that his superiors overlooked because of his skills. He’d routinely scout on his own or with only one other soldier, and he preferred wearing sneakers rather than the issued combat boots because the sneakers were quieter and were more comfortable. He also had a habit of just “winging it” that befuddled his superiors but it always worked out, so they kind of just let him do his own thing. On D-Day, he stormed the beaches of Normandy, penetrated enemy lines and started to scout for enemy C2 nodes and other vital intelligence. He rolled up on a Nazi Hanomag, a German armored Halftrack, he captured it and its crew without incident. This Hanomag contained sensitive Commo equipment and Nazi radio codes which greatly increased Allied intelligence. He forced the captured and disarmed crew to drive the half track back to friendly lines. Initially they took fire from British AT gunners, but Major managed to climb on top and call for a cease fire. He later stated he was “glad that the British couldn’t shoot for shit”. When the English officer in charge attempted to take custody of the Hanomag and the Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW), Major told him to get bent. It was a Canadian who captured them and so the Canadians would claim credit for it. He took his prisoners to his Canadian superiors.

an example of a Nazi Hanomag 

Four days later he was back in enemy lines recce’ing for enemies when he and a four man Waffen SS patrol ran into each other. He raised his Sten Gun and burned those nazi diehards down. However, one of the dying men managed to throw a White Phosphorous grenade. The explosion hit Léo and he lost the use of his left eye. He was evac’ed to a field hospital but refused to be sent home. After declaring he looked like a pirate he told the medical officer he only needed his right eye to aim a rifle anyways. He went back to doing Recce/Sniper missions shortly after.

During the month-long Battle of the Scheldt in the southern Netherlands, he engaged in several amphibious landings. He was sent out on a link-up mission to find a unit of Canadians that his regiment lost contact with. It was cold and raining, and Major was pissed. He was soaked to the bone and miserable. He didn’t find the Canadians he was supposed to meet but during his recon he came across two Wehrmacht soldiers walking along a dike. He said to himself, and I quote “I am frozen and wet because of you, so you will pay.” He captured one but when the other went for his gun, Major gunned him down with his stengun. He then captured their commanding officer who, along with the rest of the Garrison, were sleeping.

When he came upon them, 3 Nazis grabbed their rifles and Major blasted them into the afterlife. The other 100 soldiers dropped their rifles and surrendered. Major started to march nearly a company’s worth of soldiers back to Allied lines. While doing so, a SS artillery battery who saw what happened fired on the Wehrmacht rather than let them be captured. They killed 7 of their own men before a Sherman tank rolled up and silenced them forever. Major directed its fire to destroy the artillery position and then marched the surviving 93 EPWs to friendly lines. For this he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Commonwealth’s second highest award. Basically it’s the same as our Distinguished Service Medal.


He considered the man who was to award him, famed General Bernard Montgomery of the British Army, incompetent and in no position to be awarding medals. That’s gotta be one of the saltiest things ever done by an infantryman.

General Bernard Montgomery

In February 1945 he was part of the allied offensive in the Rhineland. He and a chaplain hitched a ride in a Bren Gun Carrier, which is basically a tracked armored MG nest, when it was struck by an AT mine. Every single man in that carrier died except Major. He suffered a broken back in three places, four broken ribs and both his ankles were broken. He once again refused to be sent home and after a short rest in a Belgian hospital, rejoined his men to clear Holland.

This is where shit starts really turning into a first person shooter single player campaign mission. On April 13th 1945 his regiment was to liberate the city of Zwolle. It showed signs of heavy German presence but the intelligence reports were spotty and unreliable. Major and his best friend Corporal Willie Arseneault volunteered to recon the city. After noticing the high civilian presence, they decided to see how they could capture the city with minimal civilian casualties, even though their mission was only to gather troop strength and try to contact the Dutch Resistance. The original plan was to bombard the city with allied artillery. The potential civilian casualties to allied people were far too high for their liking.

Around midnight, as they reconned the outskirts of the city, Arseneault’s bag got caught on C-wire and the noise alerted the German sentries. They opened fire on the two Canadians. Arseneault was killed by a burst from an MG42. The Germans made a huge f*cking mistake by killing this one eyed Canadian’s best friend. Major returned fire, killing two of the Germans. The rest broke contact and drove away in a vehicle. Major moved his friend’s body to the side of the road, took up both his and Wille’s sten guns, all of Willie’s extra grenades and swore to take the city in the memory of his friend or die trying. Shortly later, He carjacked a German driver in a staff car, took his MP40 and mags and forced the driver to take him to a bar. He found a German officer drinking alone, disarmed him, and found out the German officer could speak fluent French. Major told him that at 0600 Canadian artillery would begin to level the city which would kill both German troops and civilians. The officer seemed to understand his predicament, so Major took a calculated risk and freed him, hoping the officer would let his men know of their hopeless position instead of rallying the troops. As a sign of good faith, he even gave the officer his sidearm back.

Now armed with two sten guns, an MP40, a f*ck-ton of mags and grenades Major took to the streets and conducted an insane one-man attack upon the German Garrison to trick them into thinking the Canadian assault was starting. He ran around disoriented and confused German positions hurling grenades and blasting with his SMGs and scavenging ammo from their corpses. As he ran around, fighting block by block, he would capture 8-10 Germans at a time, marched them back at gunpoint to allied positions, turned them over and went back for more blood. He did this TEN f*cking times that night.


On four separate occasions he made his way into civilian houses to take quick naps, reload magazines and reorganize his kit. Terrified at first by his piratical appearance, the civilians came to look after him, supplying him with food and water as needed. During his rampage he assaulted the local Gestapo (Nazi secret police) head quarter and torched it to the f*cking ground. He then proceeded to locate the Waffen-SS Headquarters. He kicked the doors in and found himself face to face with eight armed SS officers. He engaged in a close range firefight and killed four of them while the other four ran away. As he stripped their corpses of ammo, he noticed two of the SS were dressed to look like members of the Dutch Resistance. After he accidentally helped save the Dutch Resistance from infiltrators, Major finally made contact with 4 members of the Dutch Resistance who helped him storm the City Hall building. By 0430 The city was liberated and the Canadian assault was called off. Major basically single handedly captured Zwolle by himself. At 0500 he carried his friend’s body to friendly lines. He was awarded the DCM again, and this time he accepted it.

Leo Major with members of the Dutch resistance after liberating Zwolle

After the War he resumed his old job as a pipefitter. BUT WE AIN’T DONE YET cus only 5 years later when the Korean war broke out, 29 year old Léo was asked to rejoin the Canadian army, but this time to kill some f*cking commies. He led a special Recon/Sniper detachment of 2-R22 regiment of the 1st Commonweath Division. In Nov 1951, the communists tried to claim Mount Kowang, a strategic high ground only 40 miles away from Seoul, the South Korean capitol. Most of the fighting revolved around the strategically important Hill 355, known as Little Gibraltar, and Hill 227. Hill 355 was held by the US 3ID who linked up with Major’s Regiment. After 10 days of attacks, on Nov 22, the entire 64th Chinese Army of 40,000 men renewed their attack: over the course of two days, the Americans were pushed back from Hill 355 and the Chinese had moved to the nearby Hill 227, practically surrounding the Royal 22nd Regiment.

To relieve pressure from Hill 227 SGT Léo Major and his 18 men were sent to Capture Hill 355. Armed with satchels of grenades Sten guns and No.4 Mk.I* (T) sniper rifles, they silently crept through the night past many chinese sentries, set up their attack positions and opened fire. This attack panicked and confused the Chinese who didn't understand why gunfire was coming from the center of their positions instead of from the outside. Shortly after midnight Major and his men recaptured Little Gibraltar. An hour later, about 14,000 men of the 190th and 191st Chinese Divisions attacked. Major was ordered to retreat but refused. Instead he radioed Captain Charley Forbes of the Canadian Mortar detachment to start putting some f*cking warheads on foreheads. As the fire missions that Major called for started to creep into the Danger Close area the Mortar Captain could hear his Mortar impacts on the radio from Major’s transmissions. The mortar barrels started to warp from the intense volume of fire. This defense went on for three days as the small detachment used captured chinese small arms when they ran out of ammo for their own weapons. For his leadership and massive iron balls Major was awarded another DCM for capturing and holding Hill 355. Major still remains the only Canadian to have ever received two DCMS in two separate wars. It would have been three if he didn’t tell General Montgomery to pretty much f*ck himself.

Leo lived a quiet life after his second war and died in 2008. He left behind his wife of 57 years, four children and five grandchildren.

Moral of this story, wear sneakers into combat. 

Speaking of combat footwear, if you're looking for the best shoes for the range or austere environments 
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