A man of war and words

• Mt Lawley SHS head girl Lauren McDonald, Arthur Leggett and head boy Jason Kim.

MOUNT LAWLEY senior high school has named its library after living local legend Arthur Leggett – an OAM and former prisoner-of-war.

In 2017 Mr Leggett was inducted into the school’s Lawley Legends Society.

It’s usually reserved for alumni who’ve excelled in their field or made a significant contribution to society since they left school, but also acknowledges people who’s supported the school over a lengthy period.

Mr Leggett, 99, was born long before MLSHS was founded in 1955, but has  enjoyed a long and rich association with the school.

It became caretaker of the e-POW Association memorial at King’s Park in 1996, the same year Mr Leggett became president of the WA branch of the association.

Every year he speaks to the students at their annual service and tells tales at their Anzac Day assemblies.

Mr Leggett, who turns 100 on September 8, served in North Africa and Europe during World War II.

As part of the 6th Division of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, he was involved in the actions against the Italian army across Libya.

In 1941 he was sent to Greece with the AIF to defend against a German attack.

The Germans forced the allies back to the island of Crete, then invaded the island en masse in the first large use of Fallschirmjägers—paratroopers. Many were shot from the sky, but eventually the Germans would overwhelm the island and Mr Leggett and about 17,000 other allies were captured.

As a prisoner of war he was put to work in the coal mines in Northern Poland for about two and a half years, before being forced on a march across the Czech Alps to Bavaria in the winter of 1944/45.

Naming a library after Mr Leggett is a fitting tribute: he’s published a book of bush poems and also written an autobiography, Don’t cry for me.

by DAVID BELL

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