1945 > Great Gunners
LGen WAB Anderson OBE, CD (1915-2000)
A member of one of Canada’s most distinguished military families, Lieutenant-General William Alexander Beaumont Anderson was born in Montreal, 7 May 1915. His father, the late Major-General W. B. Anderson, CMG, DSO of Ottawa, was a former Commander of Military District No. 3. His uncle, Major-General T. V. Anderson, DSO, was Chief of the General Staff at the outbreak of the Second World War. His second uncle, Colonel A. A. Anderson, DSO, was second-in-command of the Royal Canadian Signals Training Centre, Kingston, during World War II.
He received his education at the Rothsay Collegiate School in Saint John, New Brunswick, where his interest in the military became evident. He joined the Frontenac Regiment at age 13 and entered the Royal Military College in 1932. During his college years, he spent two summers training with the Royal Canadian Navy, the first as a Cadet at HMCS Stadacona and the next aboard HMCS Saguenay. Graduating in 1936, commissioned a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, he was subsequently placed on leave to attend Queen’s University. He then served with “A” Battery in Kingston and “C” Battery in Winnipeg. In 1939, he attended the Artillery Staff Course and was completing the latter portions of this training when the Second World War broke out.
On mobilization, he was appointed Adjutant of the 3rd Field Regiment and went overseas in December 1939. The following May, he was named Staff Captain, Royal Artillery at the 1st Division Artillery Headquarters and led the advance party on the abortive trip to Brest, France, in June 1940. Several staff appointments at the Canadian Military Headquarters in London followed, as well as attendance at the Camberley Staff College in 1941. He was given command of 15 Field Regiment in 1943. Relinquishing control in May 1944, he served as General Staff Officer, Grade One (Operations) at Headquarters First Canadian Army. Returning to Canada, in February 1945, for assignment to the Pacific Force (6 Canadian Division) as Deputy Commander, Royal Artillery. The Pacific Force disbanded before he could take up his appointment.
Promoted Colonel in 1946, he was appointed Director of Military Intelligence, attending the National Defence College in 1949, with his appointment as Director of the Canadian Army Staff College. Later, in the rank of Brigadier, he commanded the Western Ontario Area and 1 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in Germany. In 1956, he attended the Imperial War College. From 1957 to 1962, he held the successive appointments of Vice Adjutant General, Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Commandant of the Royal Military College.
In January 1962, he was promoted Major-General and appointed Adjutant-General, a position he held until the army reorganization in 1964. He then chaired the study group tasked to produce a career management plan for officers. In October 1965, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Reserves. In July 1966, he was promoted to Lieutenant-General and given command of Canada’s army, Mobile Command.
He was Mentioned-in-Dispatches in 1944 and awarded the Order of the British Empire, the Order of Leopold, Order of the Crown with Palm, and Croix de Guerre (Belgium).
After retirement, in 1969, he joined the Ontario Civil Service as a Deputy Minister. His appointments included Chairman of the Ontario Civil Service Commission and Secretary to the Management Board of the Ontario Cabinet. He later served as Vice Chairman of the Ontario Inflation Restraint Board.
Active in his community, as past President of the Royal Life Saving Society of Canada, he served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Niagara Institute, and as Honourary Governor of the National Ballet of Canada. In September 1986, he accepted the appointment of Colonel Commandant, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. He relinquished this appointment, in 1992, after six additional years of distinguished service to the Royal Regiment.
With more than forty-five years of service and rising from the ranks to command Canada’s army, Lieutenant-General Anderson made a significant contribution to his country and his Regiment. He passed away in Ottawa in 2000.
MGen AB Matthews CBE, DSO, ED, CD (1909-1991)
Major-General Albert Bruce Matthews, the son of Ontario’s 16th Lieutenant-Governor, was educated at Upper Canada College and the University of Geneva. After graduation, he became a partner in the family business. Enrolling in the 3rd Field Brigade (Non-Permanent Active Militia) in 1928, he spent the next decade on regimental duty. While serving as adjutant of the 7th (Toronto) Regiment, RCA in 1938, he was promoted to Major.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, he mobilized the 15th Field Battery and accompanied it overseas, in January 1940. While in the United Kingdom he commanded 3/23 Medium Battery, served as second-in-command of the 1st Medium Regiment and later mobilized and commanded the 5th Medium Regiment. After 14 years of continuous regimental duty, he was a skilled practitioner of the Gunner’s art. He was appointed 1st Canadian Corps Counter-Battery Officer and in January 1943, was promoted Brigadier to command the artillery of the 1st Canadian Division. In this capacity, he served in both Sicily and Italy. As the fire support commander during the Sicily landings, he controlled the minute to minute firing from the bridge of the monitor, Roberts.
In March 1944, he was appointed Commander Corps Royal Artillery 2nd Canadian Corps. The following November, he was promoted Major-General, assuming command of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. This was a post he held until demobilization in November 1945. To recognize his fine work he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, awarded the Distinguished Service Order and twice Mentioned-in-Dispatches.
MGen HON Brownfield CBE, MC, CD (1894-1958)
One of The Royal Regiment’s brilliant technical proponents, Major-General Harold Oswald Neville Brownfield, was born in Englewood, New Jersey, in December 1894. He was educated in Kingston, Ontario, and subsequently attended the Royal Military College. On graduation, in 1910, he was employed as an instructor with The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and The Royal School of Artillery in Kingston.
As a Lieutenant, he served in France from 1916 until the armistice. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and noted in his citation, the coolness and courage he displayed while directing the care of the wounded under high explosive and gas barrage while maintaining an observation post under constant machine gun fire. “Brownie,” as he was affectionately known, was mentioned frequently for his skill and courage when it mattered.
After serving in Kingston and Winnipeg, he was nominated to attend the Imperial Staff College. After graduation, in 1934, he was appointed Professor of Tactics at the Royal Military College. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was a General Staff Officer at Military District Number 7 in Saint John, New Brunswick. He proceeded overseas as Brigade Major, Royal Artillery, 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Promotion soon followed and with it the appointment to command the 8th Field Regiment.
Due to his proven abilities and his experience overseas, he returned to Canada in 1940. He was promoted to fill the Commander Royal Artillery appointment in the newly formed 3rd Division. The following summer, he sailed with the Division for the United Kingdom.
In November 1941, he was appointed Commander Corps, Royal Artillery at the 1st Canadian Corps. He served both in England and in Italy, before assuming the appointment of Brigadier, Royal Artillery of the First Canadian Army, from November 1943 until January 1945. In the latter stages of the war, he commanded “C” Group, the artillery component of the Canadian Reinforcement Units in the United Kingdom. His work in coordinating all artillery matters was widely acclaimed. His dedication, efficiency, and forceful, positive personality, became his hallmark. Among his many achievements, the conception and establishment of the Canadian Army School of Artillery (Overseas), the development and fielding of the Land Service Mattress (1 Canadian Rocket Battery) and the training of the artillery units supporting Operation OVERLORD. He received the Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Returning to Canada in 1945, he commanded Prairie Command. One year later, he was appointed Commander Canadian Joint Staff in Washington and promoted to Major-General. He retired in 1947.
He honoured The Royal Regiment, by accepting the position of Colonel Commandant, in 1948. He served The Royal Regiment in this capacity for ten years. During his tenure, he visited most Canadian Gunner units, making many gifts of Regimental plates and trophies. They said he knew more Canadian gunners than any other artillery officer.
His long career was characterized by professionalism, innovative ideas and a genuine feeling for the men of The Royal Regiment. In no small measure, he is responsible for the accomplishments of Canada’s modern gunners.
He died in Brockville, Ontario, on 8 July 1958.
LCol Norman Bruce (Ike) Buchanan, MC with 2 Bars, ED (1915-2008)
Lieutenant Colonel Norman Bruce “Ike” Buchanan was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, 16 September 1915. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada from 1934 to 1939. Buchanan graduated as a Lieutenant in the Canadian Artillery. After graduation, he served at the Partridge Island Battery in Saint John, New Brunswick, from 1939 to 1940.
He served in World War II from 1940 to 1945. In 1942 and 1943, he served in North Africa with the British Army as a Forward Observation Officer (FOO). 1943, he served with the 1st Field Regiment, RCHA, 1st Canadian Division in Italy. He then moved to the 14th Field Regiment, RCA, 3rd Canadian Division. He landed on Normandy and remained in action until the liberation of Europe.
He received his first Military Cross for actions in North Africa (Tunisia), 22 February 1943. While serving as a Troop Commander with the 1st Canadian Division, he received his first bar to his Military Cross for action in Italy, on 7 October 1943. He received his second bar to his Military Cross for efforts during the invasion of Normandy, 7 June 1944.
He received his Military Cross with two bars for three separate acts of exemplary gallantry. Only twenty-three Commonwealth soldiers have the Military Cross with two bars. He is the only graduate of the Royal Military College and the only Canadian Gunner to hold this distinction.
In 1952, he became an MLA for Charlotte County. From 1952 to 1960, he was a Minister in New Brunswick. During this time, he championed economic development and industrial growth. He applied his engineering knowledge to public works projects.
He served in the Militia and became the Commanding Officer of the Carleton and York Regiment with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He motivated and inspired his troops and led them during public events.
He excelled in amateur sport. In 1936, he was a pitcher on the championship-winning St. Stephen – St. Croix team, later inducted to the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. Of note, he pitched against Babe Ruth during an exhibition game in Halifax. After the war, he curled on his father’s team that won the New Brunswick title, and he curled in the Brier. He helped invent the fibreglass hockey stick used worldwide.
LCol Buchanan inspired many during his lifetime, serving Canada with dignity and honour. He passed away in 2008.
General, The Honourable HDG Crerar PC, CH, CB, DSO, CD (1888-1965)
One of Canada’s greatest wartime commanders, General Crerar was born and educated in Hamilton, Ontario. Graduating from the Royal Military College in 1909, he took a position with the Ontario Hydro-Electric Commission, Toronto.
At the outbreak of the Great War, he was a Lieutenant in Toronto’s 4th Battery, 2nd Brigade, the Non-Permanent Active Militia. He immediately joined Canada’s First Division, going overseas with the First Contingent. He served in France, initially with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, later as Brigade Major of the 5th Canadian Divisional Artillery. A recognized leader in the development of modern artillery, he designed the largest, most intricate and successful creeping barrage in the latter days of the war. This three-day barrage at the Canal du Nord halted the final German advance and was considered a brilliant use of artillery. His exceptional work was recognized in the award of the Distinguished Service Order. By October 1918, he was a Lieutenant-Colonel.
After the war, he remained in the army and was appointed to the General Staff, Ottawa. Following attendance at the British Staff College, he returned to Kingston as Professor of Tactics, Royal Military College. He represented Canada at the 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference and the London Imperial Conference of 1937. In 1935, he was promoted to Colonel with the appointment as Commandant, Royal Military College.
Immediately following the declaration of war in 1939, he was promoted and dispatched to Britain to prepare for the arrival of the Canadians. In July, the following year, he returned to Ottawa, a Major-General and as Chief of the General Staff. In 1941, he was promoted to Lieutenant-General.
Late in 1941, he returned to England to command the 2nd Canadian Division, reverted to Major-General. On arrival, he became a temporary Corps Commander and was promoted to Lieutenant-General for the second time. In April 1942, he was given permanent command of the 1st Canadian Corps.
“Uncle Harry,” as his senior staff affectionately called him, assumed command of the First Canadian Army, 20 March 1944, less than three months before the allied assault on Normandy. By August, after Caen had fallen, he commanded the Canadian troops in the field. 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 were to remain with him almost to the end of hostilities. During his campaign, elements of the American, Belgian, Czech, Dutch and French forces were attached to his army. He was adept at getting the best from these widely-differing forces.
After the Canadians broke the Caen “hinge”, he directed one of the great battles of the war, throwing his formations into Falaise and closing the Trun Gap. The great pursuit followed this through France and Belgium, an action that extended from Le Havre to the Scheldt estuary and Antwerp. This extended front required him to spend much of his time visiting the British divisions in Le Havre, the 3rd Canadians at Boulogne and Calais, the 4th Canadians at Bruges and Ostende, the Poles at Terneuzen, the Americans near Turnhout and the 2nd Canadians in Antwerp, which was an outstanding feat by any measure.
After the bloody battles of the Leopold Canal, the Breskens Pocket and Walcheren Island, he led his army into the Nijmegen salient to prepare for the final assault into Germany.
In February, he threw his army against the Northern flank of the Siegfried Line, a prelude to winning the great battles of the Reichswald and Hochwald forests, thereby setting the stage for the great British and American drives into the Ruhr and the plains of northern Germany.
With the addition of the 1st Canadian Corps from Italy, he launched his forces through western and northern Holland and into northwestern Germany. It was here that the war ended for the First Canadian Army. The King honoured him, appointing him to the Order of the Companions of Honour.
He was the first Canadian to gain the rank of General while on active service at the front. His contribution to the Canadian Military and the war effort was immense. Their victories had a significant bearing on the Allied advance through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany.
He retired in 1946 after serving Canada for more than 35 years. His career spanned two world wars, decorated by France, Belgium, the USA, Poland and Holland.
One of the most distinguished military leaders produced by Canada, he died in Ottawa in 1965.
Gen AGL McNaughton PC, CH, CB, CMG, DSO, CD (1887 – 1966)
General A.G.L. McNaughton was born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, on 25 February 1887. He studied at McGill University. In May 1909, the military commissioned him a Provisional Lieutenant. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree at McGill University, in 1910. That same year, he was appointed Lieutenant in the 3rd Montreal Battery, Canadian Field Artillery.
In 1911, he was promoted Captain and represented the Canadian Field Artillery in Britain. On return to Canada he resumed his studies, gaining a Master of Science and Electrical Engineering degree. He lectured at McGill in hydro-electrical subjects during 1912 – 1913, later entering private practice. On 28 May 1913, he was promoted Major and appointed to command the 3rd Battery.
In September 1914, he was appointed to command the 4th Battery and embarked for England, arriving in France on 9 February 1915. In April, he was wounded during the second battle of Ypres and invalided to England. In October, he transferred to the 2nd Division Artillery, returning to the front in January 1916 with the 6th Howitzer Brigade. He commanded the 21st Howitzer Battery, was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and given command of the 11th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery.
In July 1916, he was seconded to the Canadian Corps Headquarters as Counter-Battery Officer. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for devising innovative techniques, new equipment and the use of aircraft to locate enemy guns. His near perfect barrage at Valenciennes, where he incorporated the use of smoke and accurate use of counter-fire while taking particular care to reduce collateral damage, remain a classic example of the gunners’ art. He was credited with the invention of the “Box Barrage”, although he professed it to be more the result of evolution rather than invention. For these and other actions he was thrice Mentioned-in-Dispatches and appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath.
During the final months of the war, at the battle of Soissons, he was again wounded. On his return to Canada, he was appointed to the Permanent Force.
In 1919, he was a member of the Committee for Reorganization of the Militia, appointed Brevet Colonel and to the General List. In 1923, he became Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff and was appointed District Officer Commanding Militia District 11, in 1928.
He was promoted Major-General and appointed Chief of the General Staff, on 1 January 1929. He was seconded as President of the National Research Council. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, he was appointed to the Canadian Army Special Force in the rank of Major-General and as General Officer Commanding 1st Canadian Division.
As the Canadian Army grew, he moved on to command the Canadian Corps and the 1st Canadian Army in the rank of Lieutenant-General. In February 1944, at age 58, he returned to Canada and was promoted General.
On 1 November 1944, he was placed on the Retired List and later that same month was sworn in as Minister of National Defence. He was offered the Governor-Generalship but refused the honour believing he could, given the anticipated impending crisis over conscription, be more use to Canada as minister. He remained in this portfolio until August 1948.
Among his long and exceptional listing of accomplishments in the service of his country as a citizen soldier, scientist and statesman are the development of the Cathode Ray Direction Finder, the co-development of the Vickers Vedette flying boat, the building of Trans-Canada Airways, the development of the discarding sabot round, the establishment of the National Aviation Museum, the establishment of unemployment relief camps and service as President of the United Nations Security Council. He was keenly interested in conservation and was among the first to plead for the preservation of Canada’s energy resources.
General McNaughton was a remarkable Canadian whose legacy is felt by all citizens. His entire life was one of service. Men of his calibre are rare national treasures. The Gunners of Canada are privileged to count him, “One of Ours.”
MGen EC Plow CBE, DSO, CD (1904-1988)
Major-General Edward Chester “Johnny” Plow was born in St. Albans, Vermont, in September 1904. He received his education at Lower Canada College. In 1921, he entered the Royal Military College, where his older brother, John, previously attended. At the college, it was practice for new cadets to be referred to by their older brother’s name. Following this practice, Edward bore the name “Johnny,” for the rest of his life. He later returned to the college, lecturing in military history and gunnery.
His first posting was to B Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) in Kingston. He played a prominent role in the mechanization of the RCHA. In 1930, he brought the first Leyland trucks and Crossley six-wheeled staff cars to Kingston. He later studied mechanization in the United Kingdom. On return to Kingston, he was appointed RCHA Brigade Adjutant.
At the outbreak of war, he attended a staff course in England. He remained there to join his battery in December 1939. After a brief appointment as Brigade Major Royal Artillery, 1st Canadian Division, he commanded the 8th Army Field Regiment (Self-propelled). The following year he became the 1st Canadian Corps initial Counter-Bombardment Officer. Concurrent with promotion to Brigadier in the spring of 1942, he assumed the post of Commander Royal Artillery, 3rd Canadian Division, followed by appointment as Commander Corps Royal Artillery, 1 Canadian Corps in December 1943.
While on the Ortona front, he became concerned with the inability of the Counter-Battery Organization to deal with enemy mortars effectively. Under his guidance, a dedicated Counter-Mortar Organization was developed and fielded.
Returning to North-West Europe in December 1944, as Brigadier Royal Artillery at Headquarters First Canadian Army, he planned the deployment of the artillery assigned to support Operation VERITABLE, with more than 1,000 guns. The deployment was hampered by an early thaw, restrictions on daylight movement and complications with the immense quantities of ammunition needed. On 8 February, with only hours to spare, all guns reported ready, he smiled.
At war’s end, he commanded the artillery component of the Canadian Army Occupation Force. In October, he departed the continent to assume an appointment in England. Prior to the cessation of hostilities, he set up a committee to consider how best to recognize the contribution of Canada’s Gunners. From 1946 to 1951, his work led to a series of bursaries and grants to the Disabled Fund of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and to the erection of the National Artillery Memorial at Major’s Hill Park near Parliament Hill.
In the post-war era, Brigadier Plow organized the Directorate of Armament Development and the Directorate of Artillery at Army Headquarters. He commanded British Columbia Area for one year, followed by a two-year appointment as the Senior Canadian Liaison Officer, London, England. Concurrent with promotion to Major-General in February 1951, he was appointed to command Eastern Command, a position he held until his retirement in 1958. He enjoyed the life and the people of Halifax and quickly earned their respect and cooperation.
On 15 January 1959, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia. This vice-regal appointment was well received by the citizens of Nova Scotia and was a fitting culmination of a lifetime of service.
He died in Brockville, Ontario, on 25 April 1988.
MGen JH Roberts CB, DSO, MC, CD (1891-1962)
Major-General John Hamilton “Ham” Roberts was born in the South-Western Manitoba village, Pipestone, 21 December 1891. He was educated at Epsom College in England, University School in Victoria, Toronto’s Upper Canada College and at the Royal Military College. He excelled in sports, particularly football, tennis, shooting and cricket. He graduated in 1914 and commissioned in the Royal Canadian Artillery.
Arriving in Flanders in the summer of 1915, he won the Military Cross at the Somme in 1916. He served continuously with The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) until he was wounded in action, March 1918. On release from hospital he was employed as an instructor until the armistice.
On return to Canada, he remained in the army and was soon training the gunners of the newly organized Permanent Force. In 1924, he moved to Winnipeg to perform similar duties, later transferring to Halifax for duty with the heavy artillery. He was promoted Major in 1929 and Lieutenant-Colonel at the outset of the Second World War.
He went overseas with the 1st Field Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division. On arrival to England, this unit was reorganized as the 1st Field Regiment, RCHA. When his regiment was ordered back to England on the final collapse of France, he was the only commander in the allied forces to withdraw with all his guns. He also returned with 12 Bofors, seven predictors, three Bren gun carriers and a number of technical vehicles.
Promoted Brigadier in July 1940, he was appointed Commander, Royal Artillery, 1st Canadian Division and one year later he rose to the appointment of Commander Corps, Royal Artillery, 1st Canadian Corps. In April, the following year, he was promoted Major-General and assumed command of the 2nd Canadian Division.
In August 1942, he was appointed military commander of Operation “JUBILEE”, the ill-fated Dieppe Raid. The force was composed of large elements of two 2nd Canadian Division brigades. He was the logical commander. He conducted the entire operation from the bridge of a destroyer, while under heavy enemy fire and with grim resolve, he mounted the assault. For conducting himself with “ability, courage and determination,” he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. France recognized his merit and gallantry, awarding him the cravat of Commander of the Legion of Honour and the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
In 1942, he commanded the Canadian Reinforcement Units in the United Kingdom. He retired from the army in 1945, with 35 years of service. After the war, he accepted a post with the Imperial War Graves Commission. He fully retired in 1950.
A decorated and highly competent officer, he silently accepted the consequence of command on that fateful day in August 1942. A humane and caring man, he served Canada, the Canadian Army and The Royal Regiment long and well. Major-General Roberts died at his home in Jersey, The Channel Islands, on 17 December 1962.
Maj C Smythe OC, MC (1895-1980)
Conn Smythe was born, raised and educated in Toronto. Although small in stature, he excelled in sport, particularly hockey. His aggressive, determined play and hard work combined to make him a formidable opponent. He was elected captain of the 1914-1915 Varsity Juniors.
When war broke out in Europe, Conn, then nineteen, tried to enlist in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Mistaking his diminutive size for youth he was gruffly advised, “no children allowed in this battalion!” He subsequently joined the 25th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. Earning a commission in 1915, he was invited to join the 40th Battery, popularly known as “the Sportsman’s Battery.”
Part of the 3rd Canadian Division Artillery, his battery arrived in England in March 1916. By mid-July, they occupied a gun position on the Ypres Salient, participating in a series of legendary battles, The Somme, Courcelette, Mont St. Eloi and Arras. In this latter battle, artillery observers accompanied the infantry for the first time. Young Lieutenant Smythe went ‘over the top’ with the Cape Breton Highlanders. During this trench raid he earned the Military Cross. The Canada Gazette citation read:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He organized some men and led them forward with great dash, thereby dispersing an enemy party at a critical time. He himself accounted for three of the enemy with his revolver. He has previously done fine work.”
After the Canadian triumph at Vimy Ridge, Lieutenant Smythe transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an artillery observation pilot. On 18 October 1918, he was shot down and wounded at Passchendaele. He spent 14 months as a Prisoner of War, returning to Toronto in February 1919.
Although unable to compete due to his war injuries, hockey remained his passion and he soon found his niche as coach and manager of the Varsity Grads, winning the 1927 Allan Cup and representing Canada at the 1928 Olympics. This success led him to the National Hockey League as coach of the fledgling New York Rangers. After a brief tenure, he moved to the Toronto Pats, and by the end of 1927, owned the team. He immediately renamed the team the Toronto Maple Leafs, adopting as team insignia the Maple Leaf cap badge of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In late 1931, amid the despair of the Great Depression, he opened Maple Leaf Gardens and won the Stanley Cup the following spring.
At age 44, war once again entered his life. By July 1940, he was a Captain in the Canadian Officer Training Corps. Encouraging members of his organization to enlist, he soon had 25 of his employees in uniform. Unable to get overseas, he recalled his First War experience and orchestrated a reincarnation of “the Sportsman’s Battery.” In September 1941, the 30th Battery of the 7th Toronto Regiment was formed attracting athletes from many sports. In the spring of 1942, while he was attending a Battery Commander’s Course in Petawawa, the Maple Leafs lost the first three games of the Stanley Cup final to Detroit. In an unprecedented turnabout, they recovered and won the Cup taking the final four games!
After manning anti-aircraft defences on both Canadian coasts, his Battery sailed for England in October 1942. Initially deployed to Colchester they soon moved south and later, near Dover to support the Normandy invasion.
Five weeks after D-Day, Conn led his battery into action. They were soon tasked to support Operation “SPRING,” the 2nd Canadian Corps breakout from Normandy. Assigned to protect the Orne bridges in Caen, the battery received intense bombing and shelling by the Luftwaffe. With many vehicles damaged and burning, Major Smythe organized fire fighting parties and saved most of his vehicles. The bombardment continued for two nights leaving four dead and 14 wounded, including Conn who received a severe shrapnel wound to his back and spine.
Evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station, he spent the night in great agony, calling for help that only arrived the following morning. He began to hear disquieting stories of seriously undermanned units, of untrained men and decimated units sent into battle as reinforcements. While convalescing at the No. 1 Canadian Neurological Hospital, he compiled grim facts corroborating these stories. When invalided to Canada, he found the Canadian public unaware of this serious state of affairs. He informed The Globe and Mail and a scathing editorial appeared. Reaction was immediate. The Defence Minister visited Normandy and confirmed the shortage of trained reinforcements. This sad episode ended Conn’s military career.
After recovering he returned to hockey, his team winning the Stanley Cup in 1945, 1949 and 1951. His wound left him with a marked disability, inspiring him to aid the less fortunate. He immersed himself in philanthropic activities, working for the Ontario Society for Crippled Children, the annual Easter Seal Campaigns, Scarborough’s Variety Village, the Crippled Children’s Centre and the Ontario Community Centre for the Deaf.
Conn Smythe’s contributions to Canada, his community and to sports were recognized in 1980 with his appointment to the Order of Canada. Major Conn Smythe, businessman, soldier and sportsman, a builder of the Canadian nation and valued member of The Royal Regiment, died in his sleep on 18 November 1980.
MGen HA Sparling CBE, DSO, CD (1907-1995)
A native of Toronto, Major General Hebert Alan Sparling, received his early education at Ottawa and Saint John, New Brunswick. He entered the Royal Military College in the summer of 1925, graduating four years later, with the nickname “Sparky,” as his brother had before him.
Upon graduation, Lieutenant Sparling posted to B Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) in Kingston, where he served in a variety of appointments. From October 1932 until August 1933, he attended the Artillery Staff Course (Canada) and undertook the United Kingdom’s year-long Gunnery Staff Course. On completion, in November 1934, he became an Instructor-in-Gunnery at the Royal Canadian School of Artillery in Kingston. In March 1935, he was appointed to similar duties in Winnipeg, serving until the spring of 1938. Before attending Camberley Staff College in January 1939, he serviced as a 3rd Grade Staff Officer in the Directorate of Military Operations and Intelligence. They terminated the Camberley Staff College on 3 September 1939, when Great Britain declared war on Germany.
Returning to Canada, he served in the Adjutant General’s Branch and on promotion to Major, served several months in the Directorate of Military Training and Staff Duties. In April 1940, he served as a Brigade Major, Royal Artillery, at the artillery headquarters of the 2nd Canadian Division. He embarked with the Division in August and continued to serve there until promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in May 1941.
Once again returning to Canada, as the Directorate of Military Training in Ottawa, until his return overseas in September 1942. The following month, he commanded the 13th Field Regiment, a post he held until May 1943. Many appointments followed, General Staff Officer on the staff of the Brigadier, Royal Artillery with attachment to 21 Army Group Mission in North Africa, attachment to the staff of the Brigadier Royal Artillery, Headquarters 8th Army for the assault on Italy. He was an observer to the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade in Sicily, called back to the United Kingdom to report on the operations in Sicily, observer to Headquarters 8th Army and in the same capacity to Headquarters 13 British Corps in Italy. He was recalled to the United Kingdom in October 1943.
On arrival in England, Brigadier Sparling commanded the Royal Artillery, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. In December, he returned to Italy to assume the same appointment with the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, serving there until December 1944. He transferred to Headquarters 1st Canadian Corps, in Italy, and appointed Commander Corps Royal Artillery, a post he held both there and in North-West Europe until after VE Day. In June 1945, he returned to Canada to command the 6th Canadian Infantry Division Artillery, then forming for service in the Pacific Theatre. Following the surrender of Japan, he returned to Europe as Commander Royal Artillery, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Canadian Army Occupation Force in Germany.
In May 1946, with the 3rd Division’s return to Canada, he became the District Officer Commanding, Military District Number 2, headquartered in Toronto. The following year on the reorganization of the Army, he assumed the appointment of Officer-in-Charge Administration at Headquarters Central Command. The summer of 1947 brought him command of the Western Ontario Area. In July, he again returned to Army Headquarters to serve as Deputy Chief of the General Staff. The following year, he attended the one-year course at the Imperial Defence College. In November the same year, he was called back to Canada, promoted to Major-General and assumed the duties of Vice-Chief of the General Staff.
In December 1955, he went to Washington to fill the dual appointments of Chairman, Canadian Joint Staff and Canadian Representative to the Permanent Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In September 1958, he returned home to become General Officer Commanding Central Command. In June 1962, Major-General Sparling commenced retirement leave and retired to pension early the following year.
Active in retirement, he worked as a member of the Ontario Police Commission for 16 years. For ten of these years, he was Executive Officer of the Toronto Redevelopment Advisory Council, a voluntary group advising on Toronto’s downtown development. Maintaining his close association with The Royal Regiment, he chaired the Royal Canadian Artillery Association’s History Committee, guiding the production of the definitive two-volume Regimental history, The Gunners of Canada. In January 1969, he accepted the appointment of Colonel Commandant of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, a role he undertook until early 1975.
Major-General Sparling received the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. He also received the United States of America Legion of Merit Officer Grade.
He resided in Oakville, Ontario, from 1962 until his death in 1995.
Brigadier PAS Todd, CBE, DSO, ED, CD (1898-1996)
A native of Ottawa, Brigadier Percy Arthur Stanley Todd graduated from the Ottawa Collegiate Institute. In 1915, he was one of 200 eager young men who undertook a seven-day examination to compete for one of the fifty-three positions at the Royal Military College. After winning a place, he completed the intensive wartime one-year course. In 1916, he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery and embarked for the United Kingdom.
After training in England, he went to Egypt in July 1917. After more than one year in Egypt and Palestine, he contracted diphtheria. The British military transferred him to Cairo and then to England. In 1919, he left the British Army and returned to Canada.
After a brief relapse with his illness, he became the City Manager for an insurance company, all the while continuing to serve in the Governor General’s Foot Guards of the Non-Permanent Active Militia. In January 1921, he transferred to the 1st Field Brigade, Royal Canadian Artillery, where he continued to serve until the outbreak of the Second World War, rising to command the Brigade as a Lieutenant-Colonel.
Early in 1940, he volunteered for active service, reverting to the rank of Major to do so. After seeing his Gunners off to England, he spent six months instructing at the Canadian Artillery Training Centre in Kingston. He was soon appointed to command a battery of the 5th Field Regiment. In November 1941, he was a Brigade Major at Headquarters, Royal Canadian Artillery, 2nd Canadian Division. In late 1942, he received the Order of the British Empire and commanded the 4th Field Regiment. He held command for a full year, until his appointment in January 1943, as Commander, Royal Artillery, 3rd Canadian Division with concurrent promotion to Brigadier.
He was responsible for the training, preparation, and implementation of the massive tri-service fire plan, supporting the 3rd Division D-Day assault on Normandy. He coordinated the fire support from the bridge of H.M.S. Hilary. The need to fire artillery from the deck of pitching landing craft in rough seas and the unique control measures necessary presented many challenges. The success of the landings was clear evidence of his meticulous preparations. He received the Distinguished Service Order in recognition of his work.
In November 1944, he commanded the Corps Royal Artillery, 2nd Canadian Corps. He then commanded the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade (often referred to as the Canadian Berlin Brigade) until June 1945. After the war, he returned to Canada and left the Permanent Force.
Returning to civilian life, Brigadier Todd assumed the appointment of General Manager of the Hamilton Street Railway, maintaining his long association with the army. He was appointed Commander, Royal Artillery, 1st Division (Militia) in January 1946, a position he held until September 1954, when he transferred to the Supplementary Reserve. He served as Honourary Colonel of the 18th Field Regiment from 1954 until 1959, and as Honourary Colonel Commandant of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery from 1958 until 1962. In this latter role, he represented all Canadian Gunners.
Brigadier Todd played a key role in the reopening of the Royal Military College after the war and served as Chairman of the Conference of Defence Associations. He has a long and distinguished record of service to his country and to The Guns.
Brigadier Todd died in 1996.
MGen AE Walford CB, CBE, MM, ED (1896-1990)
Major-General Alfred Ernest Walford was born in Montreal on 20 August 1896. He received his education at Westmount, Quebec. Employed as an accountant with the family firm, he later accepted a financial advisor and secretary-treasurer position with the firm of James A. Ogilvie and Sons of Montreal.
In September 1914, he enrolled in the local unit, the 58th Westmount Rifles and served as a signaller. One year later, he enlisted in the 3rd Canadian Siege Battery of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and went overseas in December 1915. In June 1916, the battery, (often referred to as “Cape’s Battery” after its first commander), was in action at the Somme. Here, as a Corporal with the 12th Canadian Siege Battery, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field and gained promotion to Warrant Officer Class II. He continued to serve with the 12th until the Armistice.
On return to Montreal, he continued to serve in the Non-Permanent Active Militia as Battery Commander of 7th Medium Battery from 1927 until 1934. On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded the 2nd Medium Brigade until the outbreak of the Second World War. He was immediately appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant General of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and in December 1939, he once again went overseas.
While in the United Kingdom, he served as Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General (AA & QMG) with the 1st Division and on promotion to Brigadier, in a similar capacity at Canadian Corps Headquarters. Later, when the First Canadian Army trained for the invasion of Europe, Brigadier Walford assisted at Headquarters. He was mentioned-in-Dispatches for his work on the Normandy campaign. In the fall of 1944, he gained the rank of Major-General and the position of Adjutant General.
In late 1944, he received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In early 1945, he received the Legion of Merit by the United States. Before his retirement in early 1946, Major-General Walford received the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.
Returning to the world of business, Major-General Walford headed Henry Morgan Company Limited of Montreal, a large company with interests in finance and real estate. In 1947, he accepted the appointment of Honourary Colonel of Headquarters 3rd Canadian Division.
As an active leader in his community, he held many positions, serving as Governor of McMaster University, Treasurer of the Montreal Board of Trade and Commissioner of the Montreal Metropolitan Area Boy Scouts. He became the first Canadian President of the Federation of Commonwealth and British Chambers of Commerce.
Major-General Walford died at age 94 in Montreal, after a life of service to his country and to his Regiment.
Brigadier WS Ziegler CBE, DSO, ED (1911-1999)
An Alberta native, Brigadier William Smith Ziegler was born in Calgary and received his early education at the Strathcona High School in Edmonton. He later attended the University of Alberta, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering.
He enlisted in the 61st Field Battery of the Non-Permanent Active Militia in 1926. He earned his first chevron in 1928 and by 1931 was Battery Sergeant-Major. Commissioned the following year, he rose to the post of Adjutant 20th Field Brigade by 1938.
In 1939, while still attending university, he was mobilized with the 1st Canadian Division, and in January 1940, he went overseas. He served as Battery Captain 61st Field Battery and later in the same position with X Super Heavy Battery. Selected because of his considerable experience, he returned to Canada to become the first Brigade Major Royal Artillery of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. He shortly found himself heading to the United Kingdom once again, this time to attend the Camberley Staff College. On completion, he was appointed to the staff of the First Canadian Army as General Staff Officer (Grade 1), Royal Artillery.
In May 1943, he commanded the 13th Field Regiment. During his tenure as Commanding Officer the Canadian Artillery, his unit worked hard at mastering the intricacies of handling and using artillery. From October 1943 until February 1944, he served as “Colonel GS Staff Duties and Training” at Canadian Military Headquarters in London. Early in 1944, he left the regiment and was promoted Brigadier to fill the appointment of Commander, Royal Artillery in the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, then on Italy’s Ortona Winter Line. By the end of April, the Canadian guns were out of action and ready to assume the spring offensive. Ahead of them on the road to Rome lay the Liri Valley with its three fortified defence lines: The Gustav Line anchored on Monte Cassino, the Hitler Line hinged at Mount Cairo and the Caesar Line some thirty kilometres South-East of Rome.
Ziegler’s skillful use of artillery and his masterful fire plans during the Liri Valley operations contributed to the success of the advance to Rome and resulted in his appointment to the Distinguished Service Order. At the end of operations in Italy in early 1945, the Brigadier accompanied his gunners to North-West Europe and a role in the final defeat of the Third Reich. In September 1945, he received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the grade of Commander.
At the end of hostilities, Brigadier Ziegler served with the British Foreign Office (German Section). He was Deputy Commander Hannover Region with the Control Commission for Germany and later, until 1950, served as the Regional Administration Officer, Land in Niedersachsen.
Leaving the army in 1950, he joined the Canadian National Railway where he served in many senior positions across Canada until 1956. He then joined Inland Cement Industries and worked in many senior management positions until his retirement in 1971.
Active in a wide variety of community-related activities, he served as an advisor to the University of Alberta School of Commerce, as Governor of the Arctic Institute of North America, as Director of the Alberta Chamber of Resources, on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and as a member of the Alberta and Northwest Territories Council, the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Canada.
Brigadier Ziegler’s contributions to the Royal Regiment and Canada will inspire future generations of Canadian Gunners to the service of Canada. He died in Edmonton in 1999.