Short history of RMC which has a focus with WW II

Note: We wish to acknowledge the support and material that we received from 3572 Frank Norman – Class of 1956 in providing this interesting information which certainly helps up to update our files.  We greatly appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Frank Norman

Following attached is an extract from the Short History of RMC that deals with WW II. It is not complete as it remains a work in progress, but it shows some of the other names of Canadian Generals with operational appointments. They are shown in red.

Two of whom should be mentioned – both Comdts of RMC (after having held command of a Brigade in action) – 1841 Brig D.G. Cunningham CBE, DSO, CD, and 2120 Brig J.D.B. Smith, CBE, DSO, who were sent to RMC to run the Wartime Staff College, a key appointment.

All the wartime Chiefs of the General Staff (CGS) were Ex-Cadets, the last three in the rank of Lieutenant-General – No. 433. T.V. Anderson, No. 749. H.D.G. Crerar, No. 816. K.Stuart, and No. 1019 J.C. Murchie.

Senior Army operational appointments included:

  • Gen Crerar as the GOC-in-C First Canadian Army;
  • 1596. Lt Gen G.G. Simonds and No. 1032. Lt Gen E.L.M. Burns as Corps Commanders, both having been involved as Divisional Commanders in Italy along with No. 1633. Maj Gen Chris Vokes:
  • 891 Maj Gen J.H. Roberts as the Commander of 2 Canadian Infantry Division, the source of most of the 5,000 Canadians who were involved in the Dieppe Raid of 19 August, 1942. Over 25 Ex-Cadets took part.
  • 1661. Maj Gen H.W. Foster, No. 1341. Maj Gen R.F.L. Keller, and No.1080. Maj Gen C.R.S. Stein as Divisional Commanders in NW Europe, with No. 1623. Brig (later Maj Gen) C.C. Mann as COS, HQ First Canadian Army.
  • Others who held senior appointments were No. 1022 Brig H.O.N. Brownfield and No. 1649 Brig E.C. (Johnny) Plow, both the senior Commanders of the Gunners in First Canadian Army; No. 1878 Brig H.A. Sparling and No. 1131 Brig P.A.S. Todd who were the Commanders of the Gunners in First and Second Canadian Corps, and No. 1941 Brig Geoff Walsh who, having been the Commander of the Engineers in First Canadian Corps in Italy and North-West Europe, became the senior Engineer for First Canadian Army. and
  • Two former Brigade Commanders, No.1841 Brig D.G. Cunningham and No. 2120 Brig J.D.B. Smith, commanded the Canadian Army Staff College located at RMC during the War, a senior non-operational appointment which in turn made them Commandants of RMC from 1944.

In the RCAF:

  • Air Marshal Bishop, VC, was the senior Ex-Cadet Air Force officer having been involved in recruiting throughout the War;
  • by 1945 there were eight Air Commodores, at least two of whom had held senior operational appointments, – No. 1780. A/C M. Costello, and No. 1815. A/C D.Ross, GC:
  • amongst the Group Captains appear No. G/C P.Y. Davoud, DSO, DFC and G/C W.F.M. Newsome, DSO, DFC (and Bar);
  • 2364. W/C L.J. Birchall, OBE, DFC, was named ‘the Saviour of Ceylon’ by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the British House of Commons, for having warned of the approach of the Japanese Fleet to Ceylon. Shot down, he spent most of the War as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese, he was later to become the Commandant, RMC; and
  • 2420. W/C F.R. Sharp, DFC, was later to become the first Ex-Cadet to be appointed Chief of the Defence Staff.

The RCN had fewer Ex-Cadets recognized as most of the senior appointments were graduates of the RNCC, such as Rear-Admiral L.W. Murray, the C-in-C  Canadian Northwest Atlantic (the only Canadian to Command a Theatre of Operations), and Vice-Admiral Jones who was the Chief of the Naval Staff at the end of the War. However:

  • four received a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the Naval decoration for ‘gallantry in operations against the enemy at sea’ – No. 2184 Cdr D.W. Piers, RCN; No 2397. Lt Cdr J.R.H. Kirkpatrick, RCNVR; No. 2520 Lt Cdr D.R.B. Cosh, RCNVR (who was killed in action), and No.2620. Lieut C.J. Benoit, RCN, and one in the Royal Navy, 1779. Captain W.S. Clouston, RN;
  • 2210. Lt Cdr J.B. Caldwell, RCN and No.2321 Lt Cdr D.T. Forster, RCN, both received decorations (MBE), and eight received a MID.

The POW noted  by The Globe included Col Merritt with eight other survivors of Dieppe, W/C Birchall as shown above, but also those from the Defence of Hong Kong where six Ex-Cadets had served in the ill-fated Canadian ‘C Force’, as noted by No. 1119. Lt Col J.H. Price, CO of the Royal Rifles of Canada, ‘the first Canadian force to get into action, and the last to get out of enemy hands.’  No. 1050 Maj G.B. Mathewman of the 9th Ghurka Rifles became a POW in 1942 on the fall of Singapore.

Professor Bridger shows a summary at the end of his 1946 listing in The Review of those serving in the Senior ranks of the Canadian, British and Indian Armies: one General, five Lieutenants General, 21 Majors General, 83 Brigadiers and 87 Colonels, of whom 162 were in the Canadian Forces, and 37 in the British and Indian Forces, a significant shift in the balance from 1919, demonstrating that the Canadianization had worked.

By the end of the War, Ex-Cadets again had earned an amazing number of awards for leadership and gallantry, given the numbers who had served:

  • a Victoria Cross by No. 1866. Lt Col C.C.I. Merritt for his leadership at Dieppe, in Aug 1942;
  • a George Cross, by A/C A.D. Ross for saving the lives of two crew members of a Halifax Bomber at RAF Tholthorpe in North Yorkshire, in 1944;
  • 78 Distinguished Service Orders (DSO) (with three receiving a bar for a second award);
  • five Distinguished Service Crosses (DSC)
  • 27 Military Crosses (MC) (with two individuals awarded a bar, and one, No. 2375 Norman Buchanan with two bars);
  • 15 Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFC), (with two earning a bar);
  • 11 Air Force Crosses; and
  • two George Medals (GM) – No. 2319 Maj D.G. Cunnington; and No. 2497 Maj H.W. Mulherin;
  • Mentions-in-Despatches (MID) – the number of individuals mentioned once was 212, twice 16, and three times 3.

Of those who served, 114 lost their lives, killed in action or dying from other causes:

  • the first two, both Royal Engineers, were killed at Dunkirk, No. 2279. A.F. Galloway, and No. 2311. D.E. Bradford
  • the most senior in rank was No. 1983. Brig J.N. Lane, the CRA of 4 Canadian Armoured Division, killed when his jeep was blown up by mines on 10 Nov 1944 near Bergen-op-Zoom;
  • there were two Gurkha Officers from the Indian Army – No. 2415. W.L. Ridout and No.2642.L.E. MacPherson;
  • three Non-Commissioned members – No. 1964. CPO J.G. Drew, No. 2638. Midshipman F.L.L. Jones, and No. 2729. Private J.L. Armitage
  • the most senior by College Number was No. 500. K.C. Folger, who entered the College in 1899 and was killed on duty as an Air Raid Warden in London in February 1941; the most junior No. 2827. V.S. Allan, a member of the Class entering in 1940.