Arctic veteran Tommy dies at 102

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An Arctic convoy war veteran has passed away peacefully at the age of 102.

Halifax born and bred Tommy Leonard was born in 1911 at Horsefall’s Yard, Range Bank.

He married Ivy Rodgers in 1938 and worked at Fletcher Brothers Dye Works, Halifax, until he was called to serve in the Royal Navy, in 1941.

Gunner Leonard’s first ship was HMS Pozarica - part of Arctic convoy PQ17 - and one of 11 ships to survive the original 36-ship convoy.

Sir Winston Churchill reportedly referred to the Arctic convoys, carrying supplies to the Soviet Union, from 1941-5, as “the worst journey in the world” - where more than 3,000 men died on convoy.

Mr Leonard went on to serve on HMS Birmingham and HMS Aldenham.

After the war, he returned to Halifax, to his wife and family and to his previous job where he worked as a dye house labourer for a further 37 years.

Tommy and Ivy had three children, Michael, born before the war, Pauline born during the war, and Kathleen born post-war. They have three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Tommy was widowed in 1987.

Mr Leonard, along with other Arctic veterans, travelled to London’s Downing Street with a petition requesting Government recognition for veterans and men who lost their lives on Arctic convoys.

70 years after service, Tommy was awarded with an Arctic Star bravery medal from the Ministry of Defence which was presented to him by Commodore Dickie Baum at his care home, at the age of 101.

Tommy spent 29 years living next-door to daughter Kathleen and husband Peter where he enjoyed tending the garden.

Kathleen said her father loved to watch and play snooker and was a keen bowls player.

On his 100th birthday, Tommy enjoyed a three-day open house party with family and friends at Kathleen’s home.

The war veteran spent the last two years residing at Savile Park care home where he died peacefully, surrounded by the love of his family and carers, on July 13.

The funeral of Tommy Leonard will take place at St Malachy’s Church, Ovenden, Halifax, at 11.15am on July 23 with a wake at The Moorlands Inn, Ogden - where, Kathleen says, everyone is welcome.

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