Len McLeod WW2: Australia to Shanghai via NG, Philippines & Japan

Posted on: Mon 15 Apr 2019

Part One of our special month long segment of broadcasts about the Aussie men….  well…  most were little more than children when they went to sea during World War Two to serve in the US Army Small Ships, or in the Merchant Navy.  Not many people  know their stories…  it’s time they were told!

We begin our segment with Len McLeod.

Leonard Roy McLeod was born on the second of June, 1926, the youngest child of Ruby and John McLeod, a working class family in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Len was barely 4 years old when his father died from the effects of gassing during WW1 on the Western Front in France.  Len grew up as a Legacy child and although times were tough his mother managed to feed the family and make repayments on the war service loan for their home in Footscray.

In the early stages of WW2 Len lied about his age and enlisted in the Army twice at the age of 15 before being discovered and discharged.  The third time he was more canny and succeeded.   His Mum thought he was in the Home Guard, or the Cadets.  However, her darling son, just turned 16 years of age, was on a train to Queensland as part of the first intake to Jungle Warfare Training at Canungra and then on a troop ship to Port Moresby New Guinea…. and so his big adventure in life began.

Part 1  Len McLeod:  14 days of Jungle Warfare training at Canungra Qld; Infantry New Guinea;   DC3 Dakota ‘Biscuit Bombers’ NG;  Back to the Infantry in 2/27th Bn NG;   US Army Small Ships; Arrive Tokyo Bay with the USS Missouri. 

Interviewer Helen Meyer

US Army Small Ships Association Inc

Main Photo: Small Ships Section Battle Honours.    All photos provided by Dan O’Brien, Secretary US Army Small Ships Association Australia and used with permission


The steam ship Bopple (S-147) of the Small Ships Section, United States Army Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area. Australians who served Small Ships Section were not enlisted in the U.S. Army, they were civilians employed by the Army with Australian government approval. They were predominantly too young, too old, or physically ineligible to serve in the Australian armed forces.

Len McLeod (L) with a crewmate aboard the USAT Armand Considere. The Armand Considere was built of cement.

Len McLeod circa 1943. U.S. Army studio photo, taken at the time of entry in Sydney.

1944 Lenoard McLeod centre Billy Reeves from NZ on RHS…

Small Ships Section Battle Honours

Len McLeod with Engineer aboard the Pacific Dawn 2018

Small Ships Sections Association promo 2017



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