Private William Menzies McLeish was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on December 12, 1891. Having immigrated to Canada with his family prior to the outbreak of WWI, he enlisted at Valcartier, Québec, on September 25, 1914, with the 5th Regiment Royal Highlanders of Canada.
Shipping for England on board the S.S. Alaunia in October of 1914, he proceeded to France on April 1, 1915, as part of the 13th Battalion Canadian Infantry, 1st Division. He was captured on April 24, 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, and interned at the Münster (Rennbahn) Prisoner of War Camp in Westphalia, Germany.
McLeish remained at Rennbahn until repatriated following the Armistice in November of 1918. He returned to Canada and was demobilized on March 29, 1919.
The McLeish Collection includes rare materials from the Rennbahn P.O.W. Camp, including photos and programmes of prisoner theatrical performances of works such as Roll on Blighty, as well as miscellaneous items from both his time prior to and following imprisonment, such as postcards of England’s Salisbury Plain Flood in January of 1915.
Private George Buford Williams, who is listed among the performers of Roll on Blighty in the McLeish Collection, is also connected with the Private Ralph Clement Gale Collection. Like McLeish, Pte. Gale also spent time as a German P.O.W. in the Rennbahn Camp, and Pte. Williams was among the fellow prisoners whose correspondence with the Gale family was preserved.
Pte. William Menzies McLeish’s Service Record (Serv/Reg# 24446) can be viewed/downloaded in pdf format through Library and Archives Canada.
Pte. George Buford Williams, Service Record (Serv/Reg# 16487)
[Editor’s note: Collection checked/updated February 18/2022. Some additional materials have been added and some changes to categorization of Collection Contents have been made; no materials have been removed.]