Victoria Edwards: In Conversation With Glenn Allen

E6131 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) interviewed 5533 Glenn Allen (RRMC RMC 1962), who served as the Cadet Wing Commander at the Royal Military College of Canada from 1961-62. His eldest son 15708 Michael (CMR RMC 1987) was a Cadet Squadron Leader at RMC. His younger son 20704 Matthew (RMC 1997) served as Cadet Wing Commander in 1997.

e-veritas: What are your memories of being CWC?

5533 Glenn Allen: It was a great honour to be the CWC of my Class and to lead the College during our senior year. It was a great experience that served me well in my future work. I have memories of meeting many visitors at the College. We traveled and provided Guards of Honour across Canada for visiting dignitaries. One memorable event was providing a 100 Cadet Guard for the Governor General at the Royal Winter Fair. We were not told until our arrival at the site that the Guard would be in the main Equestrian Ring before the horse show. So much for the well polished “wing boots”.

e-veritas: What are your memories of your Deputy Wing Commander 5554 Commander (Ret’d) Les East (RRMC RMC 1962)?

5533 Glenn Allen: My second in command was DCWC Les East, who was great support and a sounding board towards making decisions that could have significant impact on the wing. The Wing Officers truly led and directed the activities of the Cadet body with only broad guidance from the Military Staff

e-veritas: What are your memories of 2265 BGen William Alexander Beaumont Anderson OBE CD, who was the Commandant of RMC from 1961-2.

5533 Glenn Allen: Brigadier WAB Anderson, as he was know then, was a very fair Commandant who provide the guidance of what he wanted from the Cadet Wing and then told us to “get on with it” and no surprises. He was a proud graduate and wanted to ensure that the cadets and graduates had the opportunity to grow through experience and become the future leaders of the Military of the day.

At the Christmas Ball before the break he told me he needed to see me in his office the next morning at 1000 hrs. Not knowing what was up, leave was delayed to be there. As we met, as we frequently did, he closed the door and proceeded to tell me that he was promoted and had been improperly dressed at the Ball in his old rank and would be leaving the College to go the Army Headquarters as soon as 2424 Brigadier George H. Spencer OBE, CD, ADC (RMC 1934) could get there in early January 1962.

A change of Command parade was held on a windy, cold day on the icy parade square and the new regime was started. Brigadier Spencer also a proud graduate had slightly different priorities but his initial instructions were to carry on as we were going and any changes would become the responsibility of the next class.

e-veritas: Comment on key issues and events in early 1960s.

5533 Glenn Allen: My class of 1962 was the first to receive our Engineering degrees from RMC. Consequently the catch up required in our courses increased the work load and continued throughout the year but as always the system ensured the success of those who wanted to graduate. The unfortunate consequence was that we did not get the year at a Civilian Engineering School but went straight to service with our respective units.

e-veritas: What was the process of becoming CWC?

5533 Glenn Allen: The appointment to senior Cadet rank starts very early in the life of a cadet but becomes significant in third year. I had enjoyed good success at Royal Roads and came to RMC in third year with extra credits to make up in engineering courses. I played on the football team and did all the things required of a cadet including doing well at the School of Infantry. I came back for 4th year as CSL of 2 Squadron and moved into my quarters for football training camp in mid August.

At football practice one day my Squadron Commander, Major Ken Jefferson interrupted practice and said come with me and get into uniform. Off we went to Commandant’s Office. There I was told that my good friend 5576 Mr Leonard Lee (RRMC RMC 1961), who was the CWC as far as we all knew, had developed a medical problem during his summer training and would not be continuing at RMC for our senior year. Accordingly I had a “battlefield promotion” and I left the office with new rank on my shoulders and I was now CWC for the 1961/1962 college year.

e-veritas: What are your memories of 5576 Mr Leonard Lee (RRMC RMC 1961)?

5576 Mr Leonard Lee (RRMC RMC 1961) founded Lee Valley Tools in 1978, Veritas Tools in 1985, Algrove Publishing in 1991 and finally, Canica Design Inc., designing and developing medical tools, in 1998. He was appointed as Honorary Colonel of 14 Air Maintenance Squadron in 14 Wing Greenwood, NS in April 2008. Leonard obtained a diploma in civil engineering from Royal Roads Military College in 1958, followed by a degree from Queen’s University in Kingston in 1963. He holds two Honorary Doctorate degrees in Engineering (Carleton) and Laws (Royal Military College) and was awarded the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2003. He is currently vice-chairman of the Almonte Hospital Foundation and still finds time to golf, play bridge and continue to hone his woodworking skills.

e-veritas: What were your responsibilities as CWC?

5533 Glenn Allen: As indicated earlier the Wing Officers and senior Cadet Officers had full responsibility for “running the wing” A significant challenge to do with the associated need to master the academic achievement to graduate.

e-veritas: What kind of leadership did you favour? Anything you would do differently today?

5533 Glenn Allen: I favoured a delegating style of leadership. At every level the Cadet Officers had a role and responsibility to perform according to their rank and position in the wing. However in any delegation of tasks, the responsibility and accountability remained with the CWC for the eventual success or otherwise of the wing actions and progress. Everybody has opinion and thoughts and I believe in consensus. Then a decision must be made and the leadership at all levels must own it.

e-veritas: What lessons learned and experiences obtained were put to use in later life?

5533 Glenn Allen: I recognized the need to have consensus and agreement to achieve any success and “that you can not push on a rope” If everyone understands their role and requirement to perform then a team can achieve much more than a group of individuals.

e-veritas: Any mentors or friends that you have stayed in touch with?

5533 Glenn Allen: I am in regular touch with many classmates and we have an excellent class secretary in the person of 5604 Ken Smee (RRMC RMC 1962) who keeps us up to date on class news and organizes the reunions at the appropriate time. I have stayed in frequent touch with H25917 Maj (ret’d) Danny McLeod who was a presence during our years at RMC. His athletic staff and the coaches certainly shaped us in many ways.

e-veritas: What advice did you give your sons 15708 Captain Michael Glen Allen (CMR RMC 1987), 20704 Matthew Allen (RMC 1997), and Barry Allen?

5533 Glenn Allen: I advised all of my sons to work hard while attending university, to develop an unlimited network of friends and colleagues, to graduate debt-free and to have a great career. Barry, who is a lover not a fighter, opted for a civilian university. To help cover his tuition and expenses, he lived in a house I owned and rented rooms to other students.

15708 Michael (CMR RMC 1987) was enrolled in the Canadian Forces (Regular) and received full subsidization under the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP). Michael was a Cadet Squadron Leader at RMC. Michael earned his wings in 1988 and served as a pilot with 435 (T) Squadron, CFB Edmonton. Matthew was on a training flight at when the CC-130 Hercules crashed in Wainwright, Alberta, Canada on July 22, 1993. He is commemorated on the Memorial staircase at RMC and on page 194 of the ‘In the Service of Canada’ Book of Remembrance. Michael was the husband of now Col Frances Allen, current Director Support Operations in the Strategic Joint Staff at NDHQ. My grandson, Nicholas turned 17 this year.

20704 Matthew (RMC 1997), was 13 or 14 years old when he attended Michael’s graduation from RMC, and Matthew was still a cadet at RMC when his brother died. Matthew was enrolled in the Canadian Forces (Primary Reserve) under the Reserve Entry Training Plan (RETP) and paid his own tuition and expenses at the RMC. During the summer months he was paid by the Primary Reserve and underwent military training. Matthew served as Cadet Wing Commander in 1997 and was awarded the Sword of Honour. I believe we are the only father son team to have done so. By coincidence, my name and Matthew’s are next to each other on the wall of CWCs. Upon graduation he served as a commissioned officer in the Reserve Force. Today, he is a Principal engineer– Environmental, Health and Safety Group with Giffin Koerth Inc., a forensic services firm in Toronto, where he frequently serves as an expert witness. [email protected]

e-veritas: What are you up to today?

5533 Glenn Allen: I retired from the Canadian Forces in 1970. I am retired. My wife Judith and I live in the Village of Westport on the shore of the Rideau Canal system. She has a retail women’s apparel business, Seasons of Westport [17 Church St., Westport] (and I am the “go to guy” when support is needed).

I am involved in a number of volunteer economic development and tourism associations promoting the Village and Eastern Ontario. The Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association (RHRTA), for example, collaborates with local tourism partners to develop and deliver exciting, integrated, research-driven marketing programs that promote our world class travel destination.

I served as President of the Royal Military Colleges Club in 1976-7. I currently serve on the Board of the Royal Military Colleges Club Foundation as Chair of the Gifting Committee and have chaired the Legacy Dinner Committee for the last two years. [The Mission of the RMC Foundation is to secure and deliver the funds necessary to provide the “Margin of Excellence” in the recruitment, education and training of the students of the Canadian Military Colleges that will ensure that they are among the best in the world.] I feel very proud of my association with the College, the Ex-cadets and the legacy of attendance at RRMC and RMC.