Richard H. Leir

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Richard H. Leir
Born November 19, 1921
Penticton, British Columbia
Died May 28, 2015(2015-05-28) (aged 93)
Saanichton, British Columbia
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch  Royal Canadian Navy
Canadian Forces Maritime Command
Rank Rear-Admiral
Commands held Maritime Forces Pacific

Second World War

Korean War
Awards KCB (1908), KCMG

Rear-Admiral Richard Hugh Leir was born in Penticton, BC,[1] November 19, 1921. He joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a cadet in 1940, after attending Shawnigan Lake School, as well as the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England, continued his early training with the Royal Navy.

During World War II, he witnessed the sinking of the battlecruiser HMS Hood, and survived the sinking of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the cruiser HMS Exeter. Following the latter, he was officially listed as dead for three years while actually a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese [2] .

Between 1945 and 1954, Leir saw service in five destroyers and two frigates, including duty as Operations Officer in HMCS Athabaskan during the Korean War in 1950-51. Between 1954 and 1962 he commanded the destroyer HMCS Crusader, attended the RN Staff College, served as Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure and was the Training Commander in the Fleet School at Halifax.

He commanded the destroyer HMCS Skeena in the Pacific in 1962. In 1963 he took command of HMCS Venture, the officer cadet training establishment in Esquimalt. In August 1964, he was appointed to Canadian Forces Headquarters. In 1965 he was made Commander, First Canadian Escort Squadron based at Halifax and the following year promoted Commodore as Senior Canadian Officer Afloat Atlantic.

Leir went to the National Defence College in 1967 and to National Defence Headquarters as a Director General in 1968.

He was promoted to Rear-Admiral on June 18, 1970, and appointed Commander Maritime Forces Pacific in which capacity he served for three years until designated Chief of Maritime Operations in Ottawa, retiring on 14 August 1975.[3]

He described his experiences in a fascinating documentary video "Two Prisoners of War" produced by Policy Publishers Inc. (Pat Ryan, John Frank, Maurice Turner). It is difficult to locate, but a copy is available for viewing at the DND Directorate of History and Heritage in Ottawa. Leir died on May 28, 2015.[4]


  1. ^ Biography at Okanagan museum
  2. ^ Naval Officers Association of Canada article
  3. ^ Canada's Navy: MARPAC - Maritime Forces Pacific
  4. ^