Capt (RCCS Ret'd) JH (Hance) Legere

A Eulogy to Capt (Ret'd) Hance Legere by
WO Jamie McCaffrey.

     Unfortunately, I received an email from MWO (ret'd) Jim Troyanek that Hance Legere passed away on Tuesday. Some of you may remember Hance from the Leitrim 60th Anniversary ceremonies in June 2001. He was presented with his Pacific Star by the CDS for his service with No.1 Canadian Special Wireless Group during WWII. I think it is worth taking a moment to lament Hance's passing, as he is someone who helped build the very foundation on which we now serve.

     Hance's life was an interesting one, he joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS) in 1941 as a Signalman, and got selected to be an intercept operator for the fledgling Army SIGINT system. He was at Rockcliffe, the very first Army intercept station, as the 56th intercept operator in the Canadian Army. He also helped physically build the first intercept antennas at Leitrim. The same antennas which lasted until the ice storm in '98. He was offered his commission and came back to Leitrim as the acting CO in 1943. After his service in south Asia at the end of WWII, he took his leave of the Army and went to McGill University to study for his degree in engineering. He than went to work for the UN where he rose to the position of being a head engineer for the ICAO in Montreal. He spent his retirement years traveling the world as an advisor on telecommunications for civil aviation. He never forgot Leitrim and while in Ottawa visiting friends he would often look for the station while landing at Ottawa airport, and he would pass by the station on Leitrim road to see how the antennas were holding up. He took interest in the expanding station, but was leery of approaching the commissionaire for fear of being run off. He retired to Nova Scotia with his family, and paid his own way up to Leitrim to partake in the Leitrim Anniversary ceremonies.

     Hance was grateful to Leitrim and CFIOG for taking him back into the fold in 2001, and he had remained in touch ever since. After his tour of Leitrim he stated that it was wonderful to see that the 'business' had retained it's unique sense of character, and still had such professionals in the ranks. Addressing the parade was a true thrill for him, he thought that being asked to address his modern day contemporaries was the biggest honour we could give him; bigger than getting the medal from the CDS.

     Below is from Jim Troyanek's email, including a quote from Hance's son. I share Jim's sentiment and will also miss Hance. His was a life well lived.

Attached is an article from CFS Leitrim's "The Communicator", written by Capt (ret'd) Hance Legere. It offers a very rare glimpse into life at Leitrim/Rockcliffe in the very beginning from someone who lived it. Jamie McCaffrey Warrant Officer

     "J. Hance Legere passed away suddenly on Tuesday February 1st. (2005). He suffered a hemmorage in his left lung, was taken to hospital, and was gone within hours. Any of you who knew my father would know that he always said he hoped he'd "'drop while in harness'". He certainly was never put out to pasture - he remained active and self-reliant to the end." (Jim Legere, son)

     Although I never met Hance personally, I did know him quite well. In fact we had exchanged emails in January when he mentioned that except for the normal aches and pains of an 80+ year old he was feeling pretty good. . He contributed much in the way of narration and photos to my website re: 1 Canadian Special Wireless Group (1CSWG) and the Special Wireless stations in general.

#1 Canadian Special Wireless Group
Special Wireless Stations
#4 Special Wireless Station

     Hance was an Officer (Lt/Capt) with 1CSWG when they were sent to Darwin Australia in 1945, returning to Canada in 1946. He was also involved with the startup of #4 Special Wireless Station in 1944 at Riske Creek in BC's Chilcotin area. 4SWS never really got very far off the ground before it was shut down and Hance was sent to Victoria to join 1CSWG prior to their embarkation for Australia. I have to say he sure had quite a memory with regards to his experiences during that time. Another interesting read would be a book about "The untold secret story of Number One Canadian Special Wireless Group, Royal Canadian Signal Corps, 1944-1946." "The Invisible War" was written by Gil Murray and published by Dundurn Press, (ISBN 1-55002-371-3). Hance and his wealth of information and experiences of the old days will be missed by me.
Jim Troyanek

E-mail via: intarsia at symbol shaw dot ca

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