“Experience had taught me this: to find out what you’re capable of it is only necessary to get a chance to do it, and someone else must have enough confidence in you to provide that chance.”
Rear-Admiral Leonard W. Murray, who penned these words, was given that chance.
From humble beginnings he went on to become the only Canadian officer to command a theatre of war during the Second World War.
Widely considered to be one of Canada’s most important operational commanders, Murray was recognized for his sea smarts. The abiding respect and concern he had for his sailors were his key leadership attributes. At the height of the war, he exercised command over hundreds of warships and aircraft, ensuring protection of the convoys used to deliver vital supplies to the United Kingdom.
The second of four children, Murray was born in Granton, Pictou County, N.S., on June 22, 1896, and grew up along the shores of Pictou Harbour. A natural sailor, he entered the recently founded Halifax Royal Naval College in 1911 when he was just 15 years old. Two years later he was appointed as midshipman in a Royal Navy vessel, the first in a long series of British and Canadian ships in which he served during the First World War (most of his action was in the St. Lawrence River and in the Pacific) and between the two world wars.
While serving in Canada, Murray worked on both coasts in operational and administrative leadership positions.
When the Second World War broke out, Murray’s…