My Grandfather, the author

Bernard Meredith Leffler is my Dad’s Dad, he was born in 1897 and married my Grandmother in 1928. He would die of pneumonia on my Uncle’s 21st birthday in 1951. I never met him and know very little about him or my Dad’s Mother Margaret Gardener Leffler.

I am thrilled to have his writings and in particular his book From Boatshed to Battlefield. I am looking forward to giving his story to family and friends as well as members of the world wide web. Most of all I’m looking forward to comments, stories, and feedback that I hope will reveal more of the character of Bernard Leffler.

My Dad, William Fredrick Van Blommenstein MacIntyre Patrick Leffler, is the eldest of three children. He was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in August 1929, his brother, Michael Leonard Leffler was born 18 months later on Valley Farm, Pretoria, South Africa and a sister, Mollie, who was born a few years later, would die of pneumonia three years later.

Here is a photograph of the three children with their nanny on Valley Farm, Pretoria, South Africa around 1935.

Dad, Mike, Molle farm with guns

Dad and Uncle Mike were well read, loved poetry, rugby and cricket. They had an in-depth knowledge of both World Wars. My Dad told us how he and Mike had newspaper cuttings on their bedroom walls, following the different battles and tactics.

My Uncle Mike built a Rondavel at Thomas Moore School, Kloof which became the centre of a wildlife sanctuary. His Rondavel is similar to the one Bernard Leffler is standing in front of for a photograph in the Farmer’s Weekly. Uncle Mike inherited his father’s love of the bush and wildlife.

CU photo of Bernard Leffler

My Grandmother, Margaret Gardener Wilson, travelled from Dumbarton, Scotland, to marry Bernard in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in 1928. Legend has it that she had all her teeth removed before she set off for Africa arriving with a set of golf clubs to become a tobacco farmer’s wife. When my mother met Margaret in 1955 her Scots accent was still very strong.

Margaret Gardener Leffler

Margaret also wrote articles for the Farmer’s Weekly and became an expert poultry farmer.

Bernard Leffler Dad and Mike school

My Grandfather with his sons; Patrick on his left and Michael on his right.

Bernard Leffler’s parents were William Fredrich Leffler and Alice Van Blommenstein. William was a well-respected Registrar of Deeds throughout South Africa and a renowned organist. Alice came from a large ancient Holland family. They had six children and their home was always open to friends and travellers.

And now for the story…

5 thoughts on “My Grandfather, the author

  1. Looks just like my dad, his brother Jim, in later life! Jim was born in 1909 so a big gap between them. My dad always referred to him as Barnie – I don’t think they had much in common. My dad was the spoilt youngest from what I gather, wild, rebellious, adoring his mother who died when he was not very old, and his sister Lilian – my Aunty Lil. I never met Patrick but Cousin Mick was a frequent visitor to my family in the UK and loved by us all. Jim had quite a talent for writing as well, but never followed it through. He was the absolute opposite of Bernard in almost every way, from what I gather, and I’m sad not to have met my uncle who sounds what we would call “a good egg”!

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    1. Thank you very much for replying. I have seen in a couple of letters that he was called Barnie. If you have any photos or stories you could share that we would be wonderful. I think I have used up what I could find at my Mother’s. Thanks again, Trish Armstrong new Leffler

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    2. I have found your blog which is very interesting. I couldn’t work out your name, sorry. You are Jonet’s brother? I too am using Barnie’s story to find out more about the family and everyday I can’t believe I didn’t ask the questions when Mike and my Dad Pat were still with us. Thanks Trish

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      1. No – I’m Jonet, and this is my husband’s blog, but it was the easiest way to log on! It has been interesting to see how much he has found out about relatives he never knew existed – the mentally disturbed arsonist cousin was a worrying one! But we also learned much more about the tough realities of life for the relatively poor in the 19th century.
        I think gradually, using public records and so on, you might be able to build a similar Leffler picture. Joel Leffler’s ancestor Edmund Ironsides (where is that from?) Leffler is a saga in itself! They have researched Tasmanian/Australian newspapers to great effect, and Jim and Barnie’s father must surely occasionally figure in the press. I am excitedly awaiting the next episode, Trish!

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