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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

Francis LeBaron Leany

Updated: Jul 4

Francis LeBaron Leany would have been 96 today. He was my husband's maternal grandfather- father of Clarice Leany Rigby. I was fortunate to spend time with Grandpa Leany in our young married years and most of our children have cherished memories of him. Francis was a quiet unassuming man. He didn't say much but his actions spoke volumes.

One of the reasons I fell in love with Travis was I was sure he would look like Grandpa Leany one day. We love you Grandpa Leany and we wish you a Happy Birthday!

I came across these letters in Francis' Personal History- enjoy family and friends alike!


Hyrum and Mary Margaret Leany

During my service in World War Two

Dear Grandparents:

Amarillo, Texas – July 21, 1943

I think I will like the Army better when I get through basic training. I’m thinking about being a gunner though they say it is dangerous, but that doesn’t bother me. I know I won’t be killed unless it’s my time to go.

August 10, 1943

There are five Mormon boys here; LaNore Cox from Rockville sleeps in the bed right under mine. We have been running around together most of the time. I have been reading the Book of Mormon. I wish I had more time for things like this, we have to turn the lights out every night at 9:00 P.M.

August, 1943

I went to town this morning because I heard there was a Mormon church there, but when I tried to find it, know one seemed to know where it was. I guess there aren’t many Mormons living in Amarillo.

Army Air Forces Technical School

Scott Field, Illinois -October 8, 1943

It has been raining just about every day for the last week. It turned pretty cold this morning. We have been building transmitters in school. Two of us work together and it is a lot of fun.

October 14, 1943

I have to get up at 3:30 in the morning and start school at 5:30 and get off at 12:00. I think I will start going to school at night before long. I found where the L.D.S. Church is in Bellville, a town about 11 miles from here.

So far I have passed eight words a minute in code. We have to pass eighteen before we graduate.

Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School

Yuma, Arizona – March 9, 1944

I just started gunnery school. I finished radio school about three weeks ago. The last five weeks of school in Scott Field were pretty tough. I thought I would never get through it. It sure seems good to get back where the sun shines again. The last two weeks here I will be shooting at flying targets and ground targets from a plane.

Tampa, Florida – May 23, 1944

I found out where the L.D.S. Church is here in town. I hope I can go next Sunday. They say there are some soldiers from back west, maybe I will meet somebody I know there.

Gulfport Field Mississippi – July 30, 1944

We fly every other day and have ground school on the days we don’t fly. The first flight we made here was a crash landing because the landing gears wouldn’t go all the way down. It was quite exciting but nobody was hurt. It is my job, when we fly, to sit at the radio and send in position reports every half hour. I wish they would let us have Sundays off, we only get every eighth day off.

August 16, 1944

We had one 1000 mile cross country so far. We went to Houston ,Texas and were up so high we could hardly see what was on the ground. We went up to 30,000 feet last Sunday, boy was it cold!

September 10, 1944

We were supposed to fly this afternoon but it is so stormy that we couldn’t get the planes off the ground. Our crew is a little behind schedule on our practice bombing and gunnery missions.

England – November 3, 1944

I finally got settled down here in England. They had us moving from camp to camp until I thought I would never get to where I was supposed to be. Some of the guys started holding Sacrament meeting the Sunday before I arrived. I am very pleased to hear about it. It rains a lot here but I’m getting used to it.

December 21, 1944

I’ve been to London twice now. There is one place where all the buildings are bombed to the ground except one church which stands in the middle of the rubbage. I sure wish Theron could be sent here and come on a practice flight with us.

February 10, 1945

I’ve been getting my missions in plenty slow lately. I’m only one third through. I just take them as they come in and don’t worry about getting them done. I just wish they wouldn’t fly us so much on practice missions every day though.

Diss, England – May 10, 1945

I just got a letter from Dad two days ago, and it had the paper clipping of Grandfathers death in it. We all would have liked to have him stay with us longer. I would have liked to have seen him and talked with him again. He was a wonderful man, I had to tell you. I hope everything is going well for you. I would have liked to come home but I had five missions to go when the Germans surrendered. Most of the guys are being sent home but we have been retained to haul prisoners. We took French prisoners back to France. They were sure happy to get back to their own country. Some of them had been in the German prison camps three years. They looked plenty rough. I wanted to talk to them but they couldn’t speak English. We had quite a time trying to carry on a conversation with motions. At least I found out how to say yes and no in French. For a while we took food and dropped it into Holland. The people must have been plenty hungry by the way they ran for it. Flying over our main target areas in Germany, there doesn’t seem to be much of Germany left. I don’t know what they will have us do next, but I don’t think I can come home soon.

Love, Francis


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