David Anthony Leckenby was born on the 25th April 1925 in Acomb, York. His Dad was Cecil an architect, known to my generation for his bushy eyebrows and ability to watch football on a very fuzzy TV.
His Mum was Mildred, a house wife who passed away when I was about 18 months old, and there was Peter his elder brother, who grew up to be a telecoms engineer, living in Trinidad for a number of years.
David attended Archbishop Holgates School just outside the bar walls of York. The fine building now houses part of St John’s College.
During his school days he was interested in architecture and planes. His diaries from this time (the only ones we have) always mention the planes flying over. Maybe one of the Lancaster bombers that flew low over Acomb on the 1st of September 1943 was piloted by Mick’s Dad.
Whenever an old plane flew over our house he would say what it was and then rush out to check he was correct, he inevitably was. I’m sure lots of people who grew up during WW2 could do the same.
Once he’d left school he commuted by train to Leeds where he attended Leeds School of Architecture. He used to tell tales of riding his bike carrying a drawing board as he peddled to and from stations. I was lucky enough to find his diaries from these days a few years ago when sorting through the family house. Sadly there are gaps in them and he certainly got a bit too obsessed with a young lady called Peggy!
His college days were of course interrupted when he was called up, by October 1943 he was writing from the platoon hut in number 7 company lines at Maryhill Barracks, Glasgow.
Over the next year he moved around, June 1944 he was at the 175 class, 140 OCTURE, Ure Bank Camp in Ripon and by December 1944 he was posted to France, then Brugges. Sadly there are gaps in his diaries so I don’t know where he was for VE day. Maybe my brother remembers a tale or two that I don’t.
He never shoot his gun in combat, but was around Europe for the final push.
There are mentions of German mine fields and a tale of picking items up that could have been booby trapped, but luckily for him they weren’t.
In September 1945 he waved farewell to the shores of England and set sail for India. Here with the Sappers he mended bridges, and I believe ended up being one of the last Brits in Hyderabad. Here he did shoot his gun when a snake came out of the overflow on his bath.
We are very lucky to have many of his wonderful sketches of India. Some architectural others of men with cows and landscapes.
Sadly his diaries stop whilst in India. So with the information to hand I don’t know quite when he left and headed home. I do know that he managed to jump ships and come home via Germany where he wanted to meet up with Peggy. She however had shacked up with a Canadian soldier (if he’d looked back at his diary he’d have seen it coming), Dad’s trip a heart breaking waste of effort.
Back home he returned to Leeds School of Architecture. His year was now a mixture of those who had been demobbed and those a few years younger. Stood in a queue one day he spotted a tall young lady, Lillian Heseltine!
They courted, Dad had to sell his prized motorbike to buy an engagement ring.
Proposing on a trip to Rievaulx Abbey where his final project for college was based, they got married in Thornton, Bradford in 1952.
They lived in York, with Dad working in his fathers architectural practice where he became a partner.
Many buildings and shop fronts around York were designed by him, he also looked after churches around the city and built our family home in Fulford, which was just still visible from the River Ouse when we last passed.
He loved his walking. Climbing most of the Lake District peeks with Worthington.
Gliding was another love, but he was given an ultimatum by Mum to chose flying or his family. He wisely chose us. For his 80th birthday we bought him a trip up in a glider from Sutton Bank, the club house his design.
He took up windsurfing instead and got his daughter hooked for a few years too.
If Mum and Dad could think of an excuse for a party, then the house would be filled with people. In fact I think the house was built with parties in mind!
Dad loved his dancing and his record collection, often seen kneeling on the floor with a head torch on so that he didn’t play the shadow of the next record.
Holidays in foreign parts, where food and the local wines were always sampled. Most holiday photos are of people sat around tables.
The beard was grown in 1976 when he became very ill and ended up in a plaster cast from the top of his head to his waist for most of the drought filled summer months. Gradually the white hair crept from his chin and took over his full head of hair.
He got to watch his Grandson Josh grow and became known as Daddy Daddy.
Lots and lots of happy memories.
David Anthony Leckenby 25th April 1925 to 18th September 2012
My Daddy Fatso. xxx
PS I’m aware I can’t spell