Léo Major was given his first medal, the Distinguished Conduct Medal of the British Army, the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars. Major went on to pull some more great moves in the Korean War. His friend Wilfrid Arseneault was given a Bronze Lion posthumously in 1970 by Dutch Queen Juliana.
At lunch, before stepping into a plane back to the Netherlands from Canada, I was told about the story of Léo Major, a French Canadian soldier of the Royal 22nd Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces who single-handedly freed the Dutch city of Zwolle, and other places, with some unbelievable tactics.
Léo Major of Longueuil, Québec was a corporal who refused to move up in rank despite his brilliant moves. He pulled off stuff without consulting his superiors and made bluffs work that nobody else would have come up with. He pretty much freelanced and the army just let him because he was brave and smart.
During WWII, Zwolle, Overijssel was surrounded by German troops and the 22nd Regiment that was trying to recapture it were failing miserably, losing dozens of soldiers every day. Léo Major and his best friend Wilfrid Arseneault volunteered to go and find out where the Germans were positioned to try and improve their situation.
At nightfall the pair went to the farm of the Van Gerner family who tried to explain in Dutch that the forest was full of Germans. Shortly after, Arseneault was shot, his stomach full of bullet holes, as explained by Major himself in the video below. Major, determined to complete the mission left his best friend behind and pressed on.
Major entered Zwolle and attacked German patrols and ran through the streets throwing grenades to convince the enemy that Canadian troops were marching in, and it worked. He captured entire troops of 8-10 Germans who let themselves be delivered to the 22nd Regiment outside the city, believing the city was under attack. Major kept going back to Zwolle to pull the same tactic over and over. He even set fire to Gestapo headquarters.
At dawn, he realised that the last German troops had left the city and that Zwolle was free. After making sure the city knew they were liberated, Major went to pick up the corpse of his friend that he brought to the Van Gerner farm for safe keeping until the burial. Later that morning, Canadian troops marched into the city and the residents of Zwolle finally saw that they were liberated.
Léo Major was given his first medal, the Distinguished Conduct Medal of the British Army, the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars. Major went on to pull some more great moves in the Korean War. His friend Wilfrid Arseneault was given a Bronze Lion posthumously in 1970 by Queen Juliana.
This YouTube video features Léo Major himself in English on Zwolle television, with parts translated into Dutch.
The Netherlands has a lot of water near roads, and cars regularly fall into the water, something that is a fact of life.
In Barendrecht three weeks ago Raymond Heijboer jumped into the water to save a woman from drowning in a sinking car, which he did, and all was well.
However, being the hero that he was, he jumped in the water with his ‘insured’ iPhone, which got ruined and the insurance company didn’t want to give him a new phone because he “willingly” jumped into the water.
With what I’m sure was a ‘screw this’ feeling he got from the insurer, his luck turned and a radio show called him up early one morning at home and decided to give him a brand new water-resistant iPhone 7 live on the air. Of course it was a stunt, but it was a good move.
Having heard about the radio folks giving Heijboer a free phone, the insurer called Heijboer up and tried to offer him something as well. The insurer offered to pay Heijboer “for the value of his iPhone on the day of the incident”, which didn’t exactly make the hero very happy, especially after receiving a new and better phone from total strangers. In a letter, the insurer tried to make it sound like they cared, but offering a new deal after the radio stunt makes them look a bit pathetic.
In fact, it would have almost been better for the insurer not to change their stance instead of doing pseudo damage control after being nailed on Dutch radio. And giving the guy a free phone in the first place would have done wonders for their reputation, but apparently they were too busy counting their money and having no heart to care.
The raspberry man of the Hero brand jam is making a comeback. The company from Breda had retired the advertising character last year. But when the story about his retirement hit the papers, radio and television, Flipje got caught up in a veritable media hype. It was recently decided to put Flipje back into use. The character was created back in 1935.