East Surrey Regiment
Saturday, September 11, 1943
Killed in action or died of wounds
Operation Roll of Honour:
Lance Sergeant Leonard Rubin died during operations at Vietri, Salerno. In 1943 he was serving as a Corporal in the Heavy Weapons Troop. See photos in the main gallery.
The CWGC have him listed with his war substantive rank of Corporal, however he is shown on an original document in our Salerno War Cemetery gallery titled Casualties and Missing as Lance Sergeant which is likely to have been a temporary or acting rank. The above document states " Killed in action at Vietri Sul Mare, Italy" and that he was originally buried "in Orange grove at the back of school, Vietri."
Leonard Rubin was part of a small detachment of 1 Officer and 25 O.R's from No.2 Commando who in Sept.'41 sailed to Gibraltar and then onto Freetown. After a short period of time they returned to Gibraltar where they remained until Dec'41 before again heading off to Freetown in Africa. They only returned to the UK on news of the St Nazaire raid in March 1942. Their role according to the Memoirs of Herbie Dixon of No.2 Cdo had been one of protecting, and evacuating if necessary, the Embassy Staff at Gibraltar.
Herbie Dixon mentions Leonard Rubin in his memoirs:
"I must tell you of one incident whilst in port. The crew were made up of R.N.V.R., Navy, merchant seamen and us, 25 or so army fellows. We lined up at mealtime in a line and was usually served by a rather loud mouthed merchant seaman who always displayed his strong arm, tattooed of course and on most occasions adopted a surly attitude when serving us army chaps. He would sometimes when serving give the navy fellows bigger portions of meat etc. on the plates than us lads. Why I didn't know. He seemed to be always looking for trouble, so sure of himself.
It all came to head one fine day. We had a fine well built Jewish boy in our mob, smart, always of a happy disposition and very popular. On this day in question on given short rations he asked for more, the same as the matelot next to him had been given. The server had been waiting for this, he created a scene swearing and calling the lad a Jewish bastard and such and invited him after meals to fight on the upper deck. Would our friend be able to put up a good show against this rough? We formed a large ring around the contestants and then it started. The seaman had divested himself of shoes and shirt but our lad went into action wearing his army boots, this putting him at a distinct disadvantage, he slipped around on the deck. He soon found his feet and adopting a professional stance he cut the bully to pieces. He went down twice to our fellow asking him to give in, he didn't want to hurt him anymore. The third knock down he was helped to his feet by our lad and then the evil sod tried to butt him. Anyway it taught him a lesson he would never forget. This young man lost his life later on in the landing at Salerno."
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