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Flashback | Rétrospective

constantine1.JPGXI Commandant, RMC – 621 Major-General Charles Francis Constantine, CB, DSO was born in Winnipeg. His father was the superintendent of the Royal North West Mounted Police. He was educated at Upper Canada College, in Toronto (1896-1902). He studied at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario 1902-1905. He was an outstanding athlete and CSM. He played rugger for two of the leading British teams, Blackheath and Harlequins.

Often referred to as a soldier’s soldier, Constantine spent his life in the army from the time he joined the artillery in 1905, until he retired in 1943. He entered the Permanent Force in 1905. By the time that the First World War broke out, he had become a captain. He was appointed brigade major shortly after proceeding oversees with the First Division. He was promoted to Lieutenant-colonel just before the Battle of Vimy in 1917 and placed in command of the Fifth Canadian Field Brigade. He rose to the command of an Artillery Brigade, winning the D.S.O. (21-Oct-1883) and bar and the Legion of Honour. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. Since the war he has held many important military posts, including O.C. of the Royal Canadian Artillery.

Following the war, he taught at Royal Military College (R.M.C.) then went to staff college in England.

He was appointed the 11th Commandant at R.M.C. (1925-30). During this period he consolidated the work of restoring RMC after the war. In 1925, Constantine was informed that the Department of Militia intended to expand the College over the next ten years so that it could handle three hundred cadets, a seven-month physical training course for officers and other ranks, equitation courses and special courses for the military training of officers of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Active Militia and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Summer training and accommodation was provided at the RMC for cadets who were candidates for the Permanent Force, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

To accommodate the growth of the college, a new mechanical engineering shop was built and equipped to release the space under Currie Hall for a drafting room. Although he also recommended plans for the construction of dormitory, mess and recreation facilities, the accommodation problem was not immediately resolved. The universities and professional societies, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario continued to recognize RMC courses and several members of the academic staff took measures to improve their academic qualifications. Although the Advisory Board recommended that RMC offer a bachelor of military science degree or that civilian universities give a special bachelor of military science degree to RMC graduates who completed their degrees in civilian universities, the proposal was coldly received by the Deputy Minister and Chief of the General Staff. Although some ex-cadets recommended the addition of more humanities and cultural courses, specialization was eliminated. All cadets took the same subjects with a heavy emphasis on mathematics, with the exception of third year specialization in chemical engineering 1924-29. During the 20s, between one quarter and a half of each RMC class went into regular military service in Canada or in Britain, particularly into the Canadian technical corps, the signals and the engineers.
constantine-sign.jpgThe Constantine Arena was named in Major-General Constantine’s honour, who in addition to his distinguished service career was an outstanding sportsman, hockey player and coach at RMC. The arena was built in 1960 during a period of rapid expansion of the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada.

After leaving RMC, he served as district officer commanding at Saint John, New Brunswick (1930). In 1934, he became adjutant-general in Ottawa. In 1938 he was the commanding officer of Kingston Ontario, Canada’s largest military district. His wife, Marie served as the Provincial Commissioner with the Girl Guides of Canada from 1937-40. With the advent of war in 1939, he was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

He died in Kingston, Ontario in 1953

Footnote: There is a connection between Major-General Constantine and the secretive Camp “X” run by the Allies in WWII.


Thursday, April 16, 1942