Born in Sunnybank, Leo was serving in the Royal Artillery during World War II when he was captured by the Japanese while fighting in the Far East.
For the next four years he survived the horrors of a prisoner of war camp in Sumatra along with gruelling work on the Burma Railway and the bridge over the Kwai river. Months went by before his parents were informed that the teenager had been taken captive, and not been killed as originally believed.
He later worked as a conductor on Rhondda Transport although ill health, due to the war years, plagued him for the rest of his life. He married Margaret Hughes of Treherbert and the couple settled in Dan Caerlan where they raised a son, Terrence.