Reply To: Survivor-Allen E. Purtell 262nd infantry

Leopoldville Forums Post A Message Survivor-Allen E. Purtell 262nd infantry Reply To: Survivor-Allen E. Purtell 262nd infantry


My dad, Lester L. LeBlanc was a survivor. He was in Company K of the 264 Infantry. The 264th was not supposed to be on the Leopoldville, but due to confusion in boarding Company K was separated from the rest of the division.
He spoke little about his service, but he did mention that he was on a ship that sunk. When I was finally smart enough to want to know more of his story he had already passed away. I discovered the name of the ship and a book “A Night Before Christmas” by Jacquin Sanders, which proved to be pretty helpful (I do plan on reading the book on this website as soon as I can). From the description of how the survivors were rescued and knowing dad’s personality, my best guess is that he stayed on board until the last minute. I do know that he wound up in the water, and I can’t imagine that he would have jumped off earlier when the distance from ship to water was at it’s greatest and many lost their lives in the attempt. His sister confirmed that dad said that he swam ashore. My guess is he was overcome by the cold water and picked up by a rescue boat, but if he did swim all the way, wow. He did send a letter to his mom shortly after the sinking but made no mention of the sinking (all were under orders to not disclose such information), he only said how nicely he was being treated. It was only after he returned that he could finally tell his family the truth.