October 14, 1912 - October 9, 1945
Lesley Louise Perkin was born in Hardisty, Alberta to John Henry "Harry" Charles Perkin (clerk in Army during WWII) and his wife, Beatrice Louise (nee Cowen) Perkin. Her father was from Newport, Wales and her mother was born in Minnedosa, Manitoba. Mrs. Perkin passed away in 1914, probably in childbirth, when Lesley was 2. Lesley had one brother, Robert Henry Jones, who was adopted at birth by Reverend T. D. Jones and his wife Olive, of Streetsville, Ontario. He was their only child. Mr. Perkin remarried and had a second daughter, Gwyneth Doris Perkin, whose mother was Mabel. The family was Anglican.
Lesley received her education in Hardisty from 1919 to 1927, Grades 1 to 8, continuing on to Hardisty High School until 1930 where she received a partial Grade XI. She stayed at home from 1930 to 1936.
Lesley moved to Winnipeg in February 1937 first working as a labeller for Mr. J. E. Wood, Barber-Ellis. She left that position as it was the 'slack season'. She found new employment as a telephone operator for the T. Eaton Company, Winnipeg from November 1937 until 1942, where her job was assured for her after the war.
She had St. John Ambulance First Aid and Home Nursing, a Ford Mechanic Course, map reading, and could drive a car. She liked to play the piano and sing. She enjoyed skating, horseback riding and paddling, along with basketball and baseball.
Lesley was originally a Pte in the Canadian Women's Auxiliary Corps, then applied to enlist with the RCAF (WD).
She noted she had her tonsils removed in 1926 and scarlet fever at the age of 24. She stood 64" tall, weighed 110 1/2 pounds, had black hair and grey eyes. She was interviewed for the RCAF on May 25, 1942. "Very good type. Very good appearance."
Training and Postings
On June 25, 1942, she was recommended for Telephone Operator. "Good type. Clear voice. Intelligent. Has been active in auxiliary services."
"This NCO knows her job and does it well. She is a natural leader, of very good apperance and excellent character. She has good voice modulation and diction and is able to instruct others. Recommend early promotion. Rank of Sergeant Acting Paid."
During training between August 15 and August 22, 1942, at No. 6 'M' Depot, Toronto, AW2 Perkin was evaluated. "This airwoman has had five years previous experience as a telephone operator. She has a clear and distinct voice and a pleasant and courteous manner. Although she has not had ringing, she grasped this feature very quickly. Very good on all features and quite capable of handling a busy board." She was 2nd out of 11 in her class and was rated as 'Above Average', however was not considered as an instructor.
On September 30, 1943, Lesley Perkin was evaluated. "This airwoman is not only outstanding in her trade but an excellent example of an airwoman. Recommended for promotion." "Very efficient and courteous operator. recommend promotion to rank of paid Corporal effective November 1, 1943." She received a superior ranking in her trade.
On December 6, 1944, Lesley was at the hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "PRESENT ILLNESSES: States that she thought she developed a 'cold in her bladder' approximately two months ago when she first noticed pain on urination and some difficulty in commencing to void....also noticing occasionally some pain in her left side. Complaints persisted for the last two months and severe frontal headaches. She used to have migraines with severe headaches accompanied by nausea and vomiting. She had her last severe headache one month ago. Two days ago, she noticed some swelling of her feet and ankles. No previous serious illnesses...there is a firm tumour mass arising out of the pelvis, about 1 hands-breadth above the symphysis pubix. This appears to be irregular on its left, superior convexity....the corpus uteri is enlarged to size of three months pregnancy. It is firm and harder than the usual pregnant uterus; there is a fibroid on its left superior convexity. Diagnosis: Fibroids of uterus. Must rule out pregnancy, however. To have A-Z test." S/L F. P. McInnis, Medical Officer.
Lesley had surgery on January 24, 1945. "Operated today. Left supling cophaectomy with removal of large firm mass in left broad ligament about 7" in diameter. This was lying in mid-line above the uterus and was rotated slightly so that the modular projection on left side which bled slightly was in apportion to terminal ileum. There was some inflammation of the small intestine in this region. Appendectomy also performed. Post-op condition good."
On January 31, 1945, No. 6 Release Centre, Regina: "This airwoman was well prior to six months ago at which time she developed a general fatigue and found she became tired very easily...developed a cold one week ago, which is improving. Discomfort on eating too much." February 2, 1945: "Patient somewhat weakened following stay and does not feel like doing much walking as yet. Found in good condition. There is some doubt about question of possible malignancy in pathological diagnosis. Further opinions are being obtained on this problem."
"In Deer Lodge Hospital, Winnipeg, on January 24, 1945, a large tumor mass was removed from the left side of the pelvis of Miss Lesley Louise Perkin, to which an ovary was attached. This tumour was an irregular type and was diagnosed as Granulosa Cell Tumor by prominent consultant pathologists. The patient at that time refused deep X-ray treatment. She was again admitted to hospital May 31, 1945 with history of several minor Jacksonian attacks and with a mass in the lower abdomen. Cranial metastases were suspected. She was given deep X-ray treatment at St. Boniface Hospital. On readmission 18-7-45, after X-ray tratements a mass was still present in the lower abdomen on the right side arising in Douglass pouch and extending up to the naval. Eye examination now showed papilloedema present indicating intracranial metastasis."
A letter dated February 13, 1945 from Dr. Frank W. Foote, of the Memorial Hospital in New York, New York: "RE: Ovarian tumour, Winnipeg General Hospital, 331/45 - Louise Perkins W304099: When Dr. Stewart was told the facts of the case, he expressed a pretty firm view that the tumour was probably an embryonal tumour of genital ridge origin, this based on the location and a certain mesenchymal appearance....Wilms' tumour...When confronted with a tumour of unusual sort and when one has no back log of personal experience in the behaviour of such tumours, therapeutic recommendations are anyone's guess. If the tumour recurs locally, I guess high voltage therapy up to tolerance level is about all that can be done. It would be bad policy to use X-ray therapy without positive evidence of local disease. If this were done, one could never evaluate the response of the tumour and if recurrence developed later, the skin would not hold up under another cycle of heavy dosage. If in the future you get more data about this case, please let me know."
February 19, 1945: "States she feels weak; except since operation, she feels extremely nervous and has noticed little tremours, etc...abdominal scar well healed. Patient has been advised to take deep x-ray therapy, but refuses. Says she prefers 'to take a chance' on regrowth of tumour. Discharge to 27 days sick leave to continue to take Iron therapy and combined Vitamins and report here in two months time from the present for recheck examination. Has lost about 5 pounds since operation." February 21, 1945: "It is considered advisable in view of the diagnosis of this patient, that she be considered unfit for further duties in the RCAF. It is important, however, that she be checked two months for the next year."
Cpl Perkin was discharged from the Deer Lodge Hospital on February 23, 1945 for one month's sick leave and was told to report to her unit on March 23. In July, Lesley's condition was poor and decided to have the deep x-ray therapy, but little effect was noted. "Outlook poor and prognosis 2-3 weeks at the most."
On August 28, 1945, a letter written to the Commanding Officer of No. 1 PCS, RCAF, Gimli, Manitoba: "The above named airwoman is on the dangerously ill list, and as a matter of fact, she is dying. It is the opinion of the Medical Officer in charge of her case that it is inconvenient and inconsiderate to board her out of the service at this time." F/L A. E. Theman, President No. 2 RMB Hospital RCAF, Deer Lodge Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba
On October 9, 1945, Cpl Leslie Louise Perkin died.
An autopsy was requested. "The body of a woman of 32, looking older than stated age, greatly emacited and with edema of feet and legs. There is very little flesh left on the bones....there is a visible increase of hair on the face, especially the upper lip and chin...no tumour metastases. Clinical Diagnosis: Carcinoma -- embryonal type in region of left ovary with metastasis."
In a letter dated October 10, 1945, Group Captain H. H. Atkinson, No. 2 Air Command RCAF, Winnipeg, wrote to Mr. Perkin: "May I express my deepest sympathy in the loss of your daughter, Corporal Lesley Perkin, who died October 9. 1945. I am informed that your daughter was a most valuable member of the section where she served in the RCAF. She has left behind her a record of exemplary character which will long be remembered by her asssociates in the Service. In all her relationships, she was guided by an unselfish and kindly disposition which did much to promote goodwill and morale. The support of your daughter in moral and spiritual things was especially marked on her unit. As a devoted follower of the Christian faith, she fostered interest in Church services and religious group work, all of which was of inestimable value to the Chaplain who had the privilege of ministering to her, even until her last hours. The spirit of our personnel in making whatever sacrifice was required of them has been very wonderful indeed. Your daughter is entitled to an honoured place among them. My earnest hope is that you may receive Divine consolation in your sorrow and be fortified with strength and courage for the days that lie ahead. May I assure you that you have the sympathy of all the RCAF who know of your bereavement."
In the list of her personal belongings, Cpl Lesley Perkin had a small list, including some clothes, a box of stationery and cards, a pink bed jacket and slippers, one pair of fur lined black gloves, photos, and a Bible with the inscription, "To my dear husband, from Grace October 15, 1943." She also had a wrist watch and identification bracelet. Lesley purchased five $50 War Bonds.
Mrs. Mabel Perkin, Lesley's step-mother, in a form dated March 4, 1946 stated: "I was not dependent upon my daughter, the late Cpl L. L. Perkin at the time of her death."
Mr. Perkin became the head of the Hardisty Legion in October 1946, one year after Lesley's death.