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Trivia | Bagatelle

A) Who am I?

Upon graduating from the Royal Military College in 1909, I took a position with the Ontario Hydro-Electric Commission, Toronto. At the outbreak of WWI, I was a Lieutenant in Toronto’s 4th Battery, 2nd Brigade, the Non-Permanent Active Militia. I immediately joined Canada’s First Division, going overseas with the First Contingent. I served in France with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, later as Brigade Major of the 5th Canadian Divisional Artillery. I was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. By October 1918, I was a Lieutenant-Colonel.

After the war I was appointed to the General Staff, Ottawa. I attended the British Staff College. I also served as Professor of Tactics at Royal Military College. I represented Canada at the 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference and at the London Imperial Conference of 1937. In 1935 I was promoted to Colonel concurrent with appointment as Commandant, Royal Military College.

Following the declaration of war in 1939, I was promoted and dispatched to Britain to prepare for the arrival of the Canadians. In July 1940, I returned to Ottawa a Major-General and as Chief of the General Staff. In 1941, I was promoted to Lieutenant-General.

In 1941 I reverted to Major-General to command the 2nd Canadian Division. I became temporary Corps Commander and was promoted to Lieutenant-General for the second time. In April 1942, I was given permanent command of the 1st Canadian Corps. I assumed command of the First Canadian Army on 20 March 1944, a few months before the allied assault on Normandy. By August, 1944 I was in command of the Canadians. As well as three Canadian Divisions (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th), the Polish First Armoured Division, the British 49th (West Riding) and 51st (Highland) Divisions.

I was the first Canadian to gain the rank of General while on active service at the front. The victories of the First Canadian Army and the forces of the many nations who fought with the Army had significant bearing on the Allied advance through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany.

I retired in 1946 after serving Canada for more than 35 years. I was decorated by France, Belgium, the USA, Poland and Holland. I died in Ottawa in 1965.

a) 749 Brigadier General (ret’d) Harry DG Crerar PC, CH, CD, DSO, CD
b) 621 Brigadier General (ret’d) C. F. Constantine, DSO
c) 624 Brigadier General (ret’d) W. H. P. Elkins, DSO
d) 816 Brigadier General (ret’d) K. Stuart, DSO, MC
e) 2120 Brigadier General (ret’d) J. Desmond B. Smith, CBE, DSO,

 

B) Who am I?

  • I joined The Lincoln Regiment as a Private soldier in 1924 and attended Annual Training in that year and the two following years and then attended RMC. On graduation in 1930 I was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
  • During the assault of 2 Canadian Infantry Brigade on Leonforte,21/22 July 1943, it was essential that an enemy demolition be bridged in order that supporting arms for the brigade could be moved forward. The bridging site at the time was under heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire. The operation was done in the dark by 3 Canadian Field Company, but owing to the vital importance of this bridge, I as Commander Royal Engineers personally supervised the effort. Some 40 Germans and three German tanks were within 50 yards of the bridging site rendering it almost impossible for infantry to secure covering positions. I ignored the incessant small arms fire which ricocheted off the bridge members, rushed through the construction, and as a result the bridge was open for
    traffic at 0210 hours, well in advance of schedule, enabling the necessary supporting arms to cross and conclude the successful drive onLeonforte.
  • The successful bridging of the River Orne in front of Caen, France and the opening of roads through the town was very largely attributable to my organizational ability and personal supervision.
  • After the war I commanded the Northwest Highway System which took over control of the Alaska Highway from the Americans, for which the United States appointed me an Officer of the Legion of Merit.
  • My postings included command of 27th Infantry Brigade in Europe (1951) and last Chief of the General Staff.
  • I married Gwynn Abigail Currie of St. Catharines in 1935 and we had one son, Robert Geoffrey.
  • I served in Canadian Army until 1964. I lived in retirement in Ottawa and died there in 1999.

 

A) 1958 BGen (Ret) Alan AB Connelly (RMC 1927)
B) 1841 BGen (Ret) Douglas G Cunningham (RMC 1925)
C) 1845 BGen (Ret) Theodore RT Dumoulin (RMC 1925)
D) 1857 BGen (Ret) Bob JRB Jones (RMC 1925)
E) 1941 LGen (Ret) Geoffrey G. Walsh (RMC 1926)

 

harry_crerar.JPG

A) Answer: a) 749 Brigadier General Harry DG Crerar PC, CH, CD, DSO, CD
Source:

B) Answer: E) 1941 LGen Geoffrey G. Walsh (RMC 1926) CBE, DSO, CD

Source:

Note from Ross McKenzie: A point of interest re: Walsh and his command of 27th Inf Bde in 1951- this formation was the very first Canadian contribution to NATO and it was the first deployment of Canadian troops overseas in peacetime.

One Comment

  • Lionel Boxer

    July 24, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I was right on both accounts. Geoff Walsh was the reviewing officer at Ipperwash Army Cadet Camp in August 1974. I was CSM B Coy and he stopped to admire my RCE hatbadge (he did not realise that he knew my Sapper dad, who was a RE Maj in 8th Army and later RCE). Other members of RMC Class of 1980 who I know of in that parade included Maj (ret) Bruce Henwood CMM CD and Maj John Fisher CD OStJ etc etc, who were also in B Coy, and Col “Pit” Barr Junior was also on that parade – he was a company commander.

    Lionel Boxer CD
    Captain
    Royal Australian Engineers