Walter Leslie Brown

Honourary Captain Walter Leslie Brown
Orillia, Ontario
Canadian Chaplains Service 

Chaplain Brown is sponsored by the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires.
Chaplain Brown était parrainé par Canadian Corps of Commissionaires.

Walter Leslie Brown was the son of George C Brown and Mrs. Florence Brown.   He was born on 13 August 1910 in Peterborough, Ontario. As Walter got older he decided he wanted to be a Clergyman for the Church of England in Windsor Ontario. Walter was never married and never had any children.   He joined the military at the age of 31.

 Walter started off his military days on 15 April 1941 as an Honorary Captain for the Chaplains Pool in Borden, Ontario. On 19 June 1941 Walter was attached as a Chaplain to the Grey and Simcoe Foresters which is a reserve infantry regiment for the Canadian Forces. On 19 September 1942 Walter passed the prescribed tests to drive wheeled vehicles such as jeeps and trucks. At this time he ceased to be attached to the 2nd Canadian Army Tank brigade as the padre with rations.

Walter was later granted furlough and money allowance of 50 cents a day from 2 November to 15 November 1942, and again on 29 December 1942 with a stipend of 50 cents a day. On 16 June Walter was struck of strength of the Canadian Army in Canada and taken on strength the next day to the Canadian Army (Overseas) in the United Kingdom (UK). Walter waited in the UK for a week before he was assigned to Canadian Army Headquarters as an Honorary Captain.

Before seeing action in Normandy, Walter was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp for his time spent in the Canadian army. On 15 May 1944 Walter was attached to the 27th Canadian Armored Regiment also known as the Sherbrooke Fusiliers, as an honorary captain padre. This gave Walter just three weeks to learn about all the troops, this includes their religion, personality, what makes them happy/sad, how to tell what kind of mood they are in, etc.

On 3 June 1944 Walter boarded a transport ship along with members of the 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment in preparation to cross the English Channel on his way to Normandy. The waters were rough as the large troop ships pushed their way through the heavy seas. The ships were rocking back and forth making it even harder for the soldiers to hold down their food. It was Walter’s job to go around talking to the soldiers and try to put them at ease, but they knew what they were heading into and a couple of hours later many would lay dead or dying. It was part of Walter’s job to assess the mood of the soldiers to his superiors so he knew what mental condition the soldiers were in. Everyone was nervous and many had a very hard time controlling their nervousness before battle but Walter had to try his best no matter what to make his presence known. He would hold services with groups of soldiers praying for their safety but Walter knew that God could only do so much.

Walter’s fellow man of the cloth, Reverend R.A. Dickey, who also landed with the Canadians on 6 June 1944 recounts, “At daybreak the engines stopped and the boat was still, we rushed up to the deck and there about ten miles away was the coast of France about to be awakened to a tragic day.  Overhead our planes droned past and in a few minutes the coast lit up with the well-known flares of bombing.”

Reverend R. A. Dickey’s memoir The Scarlet Dawn, noted that the men aboard the transport ships carrying the men out to middle of the English Channel put on brave faces but many of the soldiers would start to cry being emotionally overwhelmed by what was about to occur.  It is in moments such as this it was the spiritual leaders, such as Dickey and Walter, who had to put the men at ease. Soldiers would approach Walter in need to spiritual guidance or solace in the fear of being killed or wounded.  Walter would pray with him and this would calm the soldier down a little.

Walter was the first Canadian Chaplain to step foot on the beach at Juno Beach on D-Day with just a suitcase in hand on 6 June1944. It was Walter’s dream to minister and perform the rite of communion to the Canadian soldiers who were in need of religious comfort. After he had spent 3 ½ years in England ministering to the men, Walter had asked his superiors if he could participate in the action that would be taking place in Normandy. His request was granted and Walter, who would survive the first day of the Normandy campaign landed with his men in the first wave of action in the early hours of 6 June 1944.

The story of Walter’s final day is quite sad.  The details are somewhat confusing as to whether he was killed in the late hours of 6 June 1944 or the following day.  The evidence compiled suggests that he was killed the following day. Reports states that a little after midnight on 7 June, Walter, along with two other Canadian corporals, were on their way to a field hospital to deliver medical supplies. Walter and his companions were by a patrol of Hitler Youth. Their jeep was stopped by a patrol of Hitler Youth who were on orders to push toward the coast where the Allied forces were unloading their equipment and men for the continued offensive of the Campaign.  The Hitler Youth were under orders given by German General Kurt Meyer to give no quarter, and take no prisoners. The members of the Hitler Youth who surrounded Walter’s jeep did just that.

The Hitler Youth immediately killed one of the corporals and wounded the other, leaving them for dead as Walter surrendered. The corporal that was wounded crawled back to safety and looked for help. He informed his unit that he last saw Walter walking towards the enemy soldiers with his hands up, a sign of surrender. Weeks later Walter was listed as missing in action. It was not until July 1944 that Walter’s body was found in a ditch by the side of a road.  Walter’s body was identified, in part, by the suitcase that he had landed with on D-Day.  The suitcase contained everything necessary for him to conduct a service and found in the ditch next to his body.

Walter was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, a War Medal, a Defense Medal, and the France-Germany Star which he left to his parents. Also Walter left all of his money to his next of kin, Mrs. Florence M Brown, who was his mother. Today, the remains of Leslie Walter’s remains are buried in Beny-sur-Mer, France in grave 9, plot 8.

 Written by: A student at the Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute in Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Rédigé par : Un élève de Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada.

REMEMBER TODAY, REMEMBER ALWAYS.

THIS TRIBUTE PROFILE CONTAINS AVAILABLE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON ONE OF THE CANADIANS WHO DIED ON JUNO BEACH ON 6 JUNE 1944. THE PROFILE ALSO RECOGNIZES THE INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION WHO GENEROUSLY SPONSORED THIS SOLDIER, AND INCLUDES A MESSAGE OF THANKS AND REMEMBRANCE FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE SOLDIER’S NATIVE TONGUE AND HAS BEEN COMPILED BY THE LEST WE FORGET PROGRAM AND, IN SOME CASES, THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE SOLDIERS. DUE TO THE INCONSISTENCY OF HISTORICAL RECORDS AND THE SPARSE AVAILABILITY OF FIRST-HAND WITNESSES, WE KNOW MORE ABOUT SOME THAN OTHERS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE ANY MATERIAL OR HELP IN OUR EFFORTS TO PRESENT THE BIOGRAPHIES IN BOTH FRENCH AND ENGLISH, PLEASE CONTACT: JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.

CE PORTRAIT CONTIENT DES INFORMATIONS BIOGRAPHIQUES RELATIVES À L’UN DES CANADIENS QUI SONT MORTS SUR LA PLAGE JUNO, LE 6 JUIN 1944. IL PORTE ÉGALEMENT MENTION DE LA PERSONNE OU DE L’ORGANISATION QUI A GÉNÉREUSEMENT PARRAINÉ CE SOLDAT, AINSI QU’UN MESSAGE DE REMERCIEMENT EN SOUVENIR DE SON SACRIFICE. CES INFORMATIONS SONT DISPONIBLES DANS LA LANGUE MATERNELLE DU SOLDAT ET ONT ÉTÉ COMPILÉES PAR LE PROGRAMME LEST WE FORGET ET, DANS CERTAINS CAS, GRÂCE À LA GÉNÉROSITÉ DES PERSONNES LIÉES AUX SOLDATS. EN RAISON DE LA DISPARITÉ DES DOCUMENTS HISTORIQUES ET DES RARES TÉMOINS DE L’ÉPOQUE, NOUS NE DISPOSONS PAS DE LA MÊME QUANTITÉ D’INFORMATION SUR TOUS LES SOLDATS. SI VOUS SOUHAITEZ COMPLÉTER NOTRE DOCUMENTATION OU NOUS AIDER DANS NOS EFFORTS POUR PRÉSENTER LES BIOGRAPHIES EN FRANÇAIS ET EN ANGLAIS, MERCI DE CONTACTER : JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.