Leo Major: The Canadian soldier who singlehandedly liberated a Dutch town

Believe it or not, that’s not all he did…

If this wasn’t all enough, perhaps I should mention that in 1944, a year before he liberated Zwolle, at the Battle of Scheldt, Major captured 93 German soldiers by himself and led them to waiting Canadian troops.

He and Willy were teamed up again on a reconnaissance mission to find out what had happened to a company of men that had seemingly disappeared.  Willy was sick, so Major went alone.  He soon found that the company he was looking for had all managed to get themselves captured.  Rather than go back and report immediately, Major was cold, so went into a nearby house to warm up. 

At this point, he saw a couple [of] German soldiers through a window and decided to capture them, which he did.  With them presumably helping him lug his balls of solid steal along the way, he had them take him to their commanding officer, who was among about 100 other German soldiers at the time.

His offer was basically: surrender or you die.  Of course, he’d then die too, but this plan miraculously worked.  Why?  Because some nearby SS troops observed the exchange and misinterpreted, thinking the commanding officer and his men were surrendering.  

Thus, the SS opened fire on both Major and the German soldiers around him.  The Germans being fired upon decided surrendering to Major was better than being killed by the SS, so they went with him, with the SS hot in pursuit, killing some of them along the way. All total, 93 Germans soldiers made it back with him and became POWs.

For this amazing feat, Major was offered a Distinguished Conduct Medal, but refused it because he felt his commanding officer, Field Marshall Montgomery, was “incompetent” and that, “He had made an awful mistake.  I didn’t like him at all.” Thus, he didn’t want to receive an award from the Field Marshall’s hand.