In a previous post, I shared how an entire family kept a relative’s military memories alive. In this post, we’ll have a look at some of the items donated and what we can learn about this young man, Leighton Ogilvie Scott, as well as what we can learn about that particular time in our history.
By reading Scott’s RCAF Attestation papers, we learn that Leighton Ogilvie Scott was born October 20, 1914 in Paspebiac, Quebec. His siblings included Nelson George, Theodore Luce, and Edith Cavell. He had attended Paspebiac West Rural School, Grades 1 – 6, from 1921 – 1927 and then New Carlisle High School, Grades 7 – 11, from 1928 – 1932. He worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia from December 27, 1933.
Scott’s application for employment with the Bank of Nova Scotia shows that he was proud of his academic achievements, “I have never failed in an examination in June. My best subjects are Geometry, Algebra, and History.” We also know he enjoyed reading Science, History, and Adventure books. He was President of the Young People’s Society, Paspebiac West. During the application process, the Manager interviewed Scott and wrote, “A bright boy… who would make a desirable junior. He recently obtained his Grade XI high school. Leaving diploma passing first for the local high school and has always led his class grade by grade. He states that while he would prefer to enter the service locally he would be willing to enter at another branch if necessary.” (Moving from branch to branch would prove to be a benefit as Scott wrote at a later date…)
Leighton Scott moved on from his work at the Jacquet River Branch; the following letter indicates that his work was valued and that he would be missed.
A few days later, March 7, 1940, a report was written about Scott; at the time Scott was an employee at the Jacquet River Branch, N.B. It was on the day he was transferring to an Ottawa branch. “We have found Mr. Scott a very capable and satisfactory officer, keenly interested in his work and anxious to succeed…” And succeed he did. At one point in his bank career, he received a letter congratulating him for receiving a “… diploma as Associate of the Canadian Bankers’ Association…” and encouraging Scott to take the Fellows’ Course.
Scott’s papers indicate that he enlisted days shy of his 26thbirthday at No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto. They show that he was a bank clerk for 7 years prior to enlisting. He was attached to Camp Borden, then moved to 2 W.S. (Wireless School) in Calgary. He was with 5 BG Dafoe, then sent to 1 “M” Depot, Halifax… later to 1 Signal School…. To 407 Squadron from 1 C O.T.U. … and then with 407 Squadron to RAF Depot in May, 1942.
In January 1941, Scott wrote from “overseas”, England. His letter was to the Bank of Nova Scotia Supervisor of Staff… “I received 1000 cigarettes from you recently. All you may read in Canada about the cigarette situations over here is true, so you can judge how glad I was to get them. Apart from cigarettes, and the lack of variety in food, and a few other minor nuisances, this country has been well worth coming to see. I am not in a position to speak for the army, but I should say the British are doing quite well as far as showing hospitality to the boys of the Air Force goes. I think that chaps who have come from Canadian banks can enjoy themselves especially well as various transfers from one place to another in Canada have taught them to settle down and make the most of wherever they might be. In that way we don’t have to go through a period of lonesomeness and homesickness, which is the case in regard to some of the younger lads who haven’t been away from home before. I received, also, the very welcome parcel of foodstuffs, etc. from the Bank some time ago and trust Mrs. J. has received my acknowledgment. I would like to think that I shall be spending next Xmas and New Years in Canada. That will be for the future to decide, however. In the meantime, Sir, Best Wishes to the Bank and many thanks.
Very Sincerely Yours, Leighton Scott”
In December of the same year, Scott wrote from Cumberland County to his sister, Edith, “We are flying Hudsons here and that looks like my home from now on… I think they’ll prove a nice (hite?), but have a tendency to sink very rapidly when forced down in the water. So I’ll always be wearing my ‘Mae West’.”
Just three days later, Scott wrote, “I saw my first plane crash and burn up a couple days. They managed to haul the two chaps out, but one died soon after, and the other will probably lose a foot or leg.”
Three months on, Scott wrote from RCAF Overseas as part of the 407 Squadron. The letter, penned on March 16, 1942, was to his sister, “I’ll dash off a letter to you while in the groove and unoccupied. I am sitting in the crewroom, but don’t think I’ll fly today. Our squadron is supposed to be out on rest just now, so we have things pretty easy. I left Cumberland a few weeks ago, and had a week’s leave. Now I am on the South Coast again, for how long I don’t know, but I can guess. I can also guess where we are going next, and while I can’t say where, we’ll get lots of action, because they call us ‘The Demon Squadron’ and haven’t built up a name like that, we won’t get shoved into any soft spot. Your parcel arrived OK, complete with nail file, just after I had managed to buy a nail file in Carlisle. But I think I’ve lost one already, so lucky I have another. You didn’t forget the teabags, as I have been making tea out of them ever since your parcel arrived. Speaking of oranges, I had some myself the other day, as Pat got a parcel from home… canned stuff certainly makes a welcome addition to our tea and supper. The RCAF are really getting into action in strength over here. It doesn’t seem more than yesterday, in some ways, since I joined up; but in other ways it seems as if I had never been doing anything else. The Bank seems a long distance away at present. I wrote the Bank thanking them for their parcel and 1000 cigarettes. I had a letter back the other day in reply. They have 400 lads in the services, which is quite a number to look after. Since our squadron is a Canadian one, they took away our English observer, and gave us a chap from Montreal. He has just arrived so we will be pussyfooting around until we get him welded into the crew…”
It wasn’t unusual for servicemen to try to assure their friends and families back home that all was well… On May 3, 1942, Scott sent his Dad a telegram, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD ALL THE BEST EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL”
The following day, Scott wrote to his sister, “… I see Bert is going in for his commission, good for him. I am supposed to have my Flight-Sergeant’s crowns, but they take a long time to come through. One of our chap’s wife has been getting her increased allowance back in Canada for a couple months, but so far he hasn’t heard anything of his crowns over here. However as long as I get some back pay when they do come in, I don’t mind. But it looks as if they might be cutting out that part of it, so I am pushing things, because one can never be too well off financially over on this side … I’m glad I have been able to perhaps make things a bit easier at home, by means of my allowance. I told them not to work overtime paying back loans on my insurance, but to use the money for themselves first. However, I think they have been able to do both… So you think I might be burning myself out, do you? Well, now I’ll tell you. As long as old Hitler doesn’t take a notion to burn me out, I think I can guarantee to arrive back in Canada sound in mind and any limb, so you needn’t be too hard on the English lassies on my account. I do go on an occasional all-round bender on leave, but that, I think, is more beneficial than harmful under the circumstances, as a little let down enables one to relax, and eases the tension which unconsciously creeps up on you while on the job…”
Two weeks later, communications with Leighton’s family would take a drastic turn…