1970 > Great Gunners

Col, The Right Honourable RGB Dickson PC, CC, KStJ, CD (1916-1998)

Photo of Col, The Right Honourable RGB Dickson

Robert George Brian Dickson was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, 25 May 1916. He later joined Scouts, enjoying the mock courts at camp.

After enrolling in Regina, he entered directly into second year Arts at the University of Manitoba. He left its Law School in 1938, first in his class, earning the Gold Medal. He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1940.

Canada was mobilizing for war, when he joined 38 Field Battery in June 1940. That August, he volunteered as a lieutenant for active service. In February 1941, he sailed for Britain, with the 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

His disciplined intellect and hard work were noticed. He was chosen for staff training. He took a course in Canada early in 1943. Staff training was enlightening for him. The lessons in team problem-solving remained with him for life.

He did a tour in British Columbia, as a Brigade Major with the Royal Canadian Artillery. He volunteered to return to Europe in May 1944, as a Captain.

Posted to 2nd Canadian Army Group, Royal Artillery, he distinguished himself in Normandy and was Mentioned-in-Despatches. Near Falaise, they came under an Allied air attack in error. The brigadier asked him to disperse the vehicles to avoid damage. Captain Dickson was directing the work when he was severely wounded in the right leg. He was taken to an aid post and rushed into treatment. They could not save his leg. He returned to England in late August, weeks after arriving in France. By November, he was well enough to return to Canada. He was discharged, by April 1945.

Back in Winnipeg, he joined a leading law firm where his intellect, ability to organize and appetite for work brought him professional success and prominent corporate directorships. On the urging of a law partner, with the assurance that it would only involve a few meetings a year, he became head of Manitoba’s Red Cross in 1950. The same year that the Red and Assiniboine Rivers set flood records. He took charge of relief work for evacuees and support of the flood fighters. With a small staff, he mobilized 4000 volunteers, evacuated thousands of people, providing comfort to those working the dykes. He did not see his office for six weeks, by his admission, he ran the volunteers like an army.

He involved himself in his community, church and law practice. When the Chief Justice asked him to sit on a short‑handed Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in 1963, he accepted. This raised eyebrows among partisan members of the Bar, due to his invisible politics. His approach, set him apart. He wrote a large number of judgments and showed a progressive streak. He judged the Criminal Code vagrancy section unreasonable. When police charged a couple for exercising their marital prerogatives in their living room, he ruled the case an invasion of privacy. Such cases earned him the nickname, “Red Judge,” and notice in Ottawa.

In 1973, when government policy was the creation of a “just society,” Prime Minister Trudeau appointed him to the Supreme Court of Canada. He was often the non-Quebec judge on panels hearing Quebec cases, thanks to his effort to learn French.

In Ottawa, he renewed his ties to the military. In 1983, he accepted the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonelship of the 30th Field Regiment, RCA, and was its Honorary Colonel from 1988 to 1992.

In 1984, Mr. Trudeau was replacing retiring Chief Justice Laskin, wanting a vital, hard-working justice at the helm of the Court, as it dealt with challenges to the Charter of Rights. Mr. Trudeau disregarded the custom of alternating English and French and gave Dickson the job. He came to national attention by speaking out and giving lower courts an idea of how he saw the Court implementing the Charter. He often led its justices to unanimous decisions.

When he retired in 1990, to March Township near Ottawa, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada to recognize his service. He was behind judgments that changed old laws based on Victorian values to modern ones. His leadership of the Court in interpreting the Charter made both relevant to the citizenry.

He came out of retirement, to recommend changes to the Canadian Military justice system, in 1997. His report was the basis for reforms to the National Defence Act that will ensure the viability of military justice in Canada well into the future.

Canadians for many generations will benefit from his love of justice, diligence and country. He passed away in 1998.

BGen EMD Leslie DSO, CD (1918-1979)

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The son of another distinguished Canadian Gunner, Brigadier-General Edward Murray Dalziel “Teddy” McNaughton, was born in Guildford, Somerset, England, in October 1918. To comply with the terms of an inheritance, he later changed his last name to Leslie. He was educated in the United Kingdom and at Montreal’s Loyola College. As a Gunner, he enlisted in the 1st Field Battery of Ottawa. Earning his commission in 1938, he enrolled in the Permanent Force the following year, initially serving with “B” Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

He went overseas in December 1939, serving in the United Kingdom as an Instructor-in-Gunnery at the Canadian Army School of Artillery (Overseas), in Italy with the 5th Medium Regiment and in North-West Europe as Brigade Major, Royal Canadian Artillery, 5th Canadian Armoured Division. Promoted to Major in 1942, he was Mentioned-in-Dispatches on three occasions and awarded the United States’ Bronze Star. In 1943, he was selected to attend the Camberley Staff College.

Returning to Canada in 1945, he trained with the Pacific Force (6th Canadian Division) and later returned to Europe for duty with the Canadian Army Occupation Force in Germany.

In 1951, he was promoted and appointed to command the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA), leading the regiment to Korea in the spring of 1952. By 5 May, the 1st Regiment was fully in place and in action supporting the Commonwealth Division. His example of leadership, technical gunnery skills and personal courage were inspirational to his officers and men. His fire plans were cited on numerous occasions by his supported army commanders, as the decisive factor in their operations. His consistent, unflagging efforts to provide the best possible fire support were recognized in the award of the Distinguished Service Order. He led his regiment home to Winnipeg, after firing more than 300,000 rounds. Relinquishing command in 1955, he was assigned to Army Headquarters, Ottawa.

After training at the US Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, he was appointed Staff Planner with the NATO Standing Group in Washington. In March 1961, he was promoted Colonel and assumed command of the Royal Canadian School of Artillery at Camp Shilo, Manitoba. His considerable leadership skill and love of artillery had a profound influence on the thousands of Gunners who passed through the school. In August 1966, he was promoted to Brigadier and appointed Commander 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, Petawawa, Ontario.

In the summer of 1968, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the United Nation’s Force in Cyprus, the first Canadian officer to hold that position. His energetic and professional manner rapidly earned the respect of other national contingents and the trust of the opposing factions.

Returning to Canada in July 1972, he commanded Canadian Forces Base Borden, until his retirement in November of that same year. In January 1975, he accepted the appointment of Colonel Commandant, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, a task he undertook until his death on 3 August 1979.

He was a passionate advocate of Canada. He was deeply committed to his profession, to his Regiment and his soldiers. He is remembered fondly by three generations of Canadian Gunners for his unique character, love of life and dedication to his “Gunner Family.”

Col, The Honourable JR Matheson OC, KSTJ, CD, QC, LLD (1917- )

Photo of Col, The Honourable JR Matheson

John Ross Matheson was born in Arundel, Quebec, on 14 November 1917. He grew up as the only son and eldest of four children to parents Reverend Dr. Dawson and Gertrude Matheson of Quebec City. He enlisted in May 1937, in 57th Field Battery RCA, Quebec City. He served in this unit as Gunner, Bombardier and Sergeant until September 1939. He received training by RMC and RCHA personnel. He was commissioned on 6 June 1940, in 1st Field Brigade RCA. He was posted to Camp Petawawa, then overseas to Camp Borden. Once in England, he was assigned fire control duties on the south coast.

He is the only officer to have served during the war in all three Batteries of 1 RCHA. Firstly, at the guns in B Bty in October 1941. Then to 1st Div HQ as an Artillery Intelligence Staff Officer (IORA) in July 1942. When he found his name posted to return to Staff College in Canada, he asked for a transfer. In February 1943, he returned to 1 RCHA. The war had not been going well, and he wished to serve the Guns in battle.

Capt Matheson participated in the 1st Canadian Division’s landing during Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily. At that time, he was a FOO in A Battery, 1 RCHA, landing at Pachino beaches. Matheson served as a FOO throughout the Sicilian Campaign and was one of the first FOOs to land on the Italian mainland at Reggio di Calabria. He continued to control the fire of the guns of 1 RCHA in support of some of Canada’s most celebrated regiments, as they moved north along Italy’s Adriatic coast. He worked with the R22eR, the PPCLI, the RCR, the 48th Highlanders, the West Nova Scotias, the Hastings and Prince Edwards and the Loyal Edmontons, the Seaforth Highlanders and the Carleton and Yorks. He saw action with all of the nine battalions of the 1st Canadian Division and with units of the British Malta Brigade. He experienced the vicious fighting of the Italian campaign. While preparing to cross the Moro River and move into battle with the West Nova Scotias, an artillery shell wounded him. They hospitalized him for several months in numerous British and Canadian facilities. His next move was to embark on a legal and political career.

In four parliaments as MP for Leeds Riding, from 1961 to 1968, he chaired the then Standing committee on External Affairs, and served as Prime Minister L.B. Pearson’s Parliamentary Secretary, and as a member of the Special Defence Committee. He was particularly interested in defence and intelligence. Canada sent him as an observer to the United Nations in 1961. Then he went on several missions to Europe and Asia on behalf of the Prime Minister. During this period, Prime Minister Pearson assigned him the task of being responsible for Canadian symbolism. John Matheson worked very hard with others to develop both the Maple Leaf flag and the Order of Canada.

In 1972 in Ottawa, he rejoined the militia and serve in honorary capacities and to participate in many Conferences of defence Associations. He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration in 1977 and was retired from the 30th Field Regiment of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in 1982, with the rank of Colonel.

He is perhaps best known for his contribution to Canada’s Flag and the development of the Order of Canada. He died in 2013.

Chief Warrant Officer (Master Gunner) E.E. Patrick, CD (1930-2021)

Chief Warrant Officer (Master Gunner) E.E. Patrick, CD

Chief Warrant Officer (Master Gunner) Errol Eric Patrick CD was born in Montreal, Quebec, on 27 April 1930. He grew up in Trinidad under the care of his grandfather before returning to Canada at age sixteen to Surrey, British Columbia, where he graduated from Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in 1949.

In August 1950, against his father’s advice, he enrolled in the Canadian Army intending to prove that he could plot his own path in life. He had planned to fight in the Korean War and then return to civilian life and attend university. Instead, he served with distinction for thirty-five years in The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, reaching the rank of Chief Warrant Officer and filling for five years the appointment of senior non-commissioned advisor to the Director of Artillery.

Following recruit training at the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (RCSA) in Shilo, Gunner Patrick was posted to 2 RCHA. He served with both that Regiment and 1 RCHA in Korea, from January 1952 to March 1953. He regarded his wartime service as demanding work yet greatly rewarding. He was grateful to the seasoned veterans of the Second World War in his battery, who taught him how to survive on the battlefield. In a recorded interview with Veterans Affairs Canada (https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/video-gallery/video/8908), he recalled using sub-standard equipment and ammunition recovered from the sea; the hazards posed by landmines; the difficulty of digging gun pits in rocky terrain; the art of “scrounging” for required supplies; the rigours of the harsh climate; and, the intensive firing of the Commonwealth Division’s artillery in support of the defence of Hill 355 (“Little Gibraltar”) against attacking Chinese and North Korean forces.

In 1953, after his return from Korea, Gunner Patrick joined 1st Light Battery (Para), RCA (later redesignated Z Battery 1 RCHA), where he earned his parachute wings and was promoted sergeant.

He also served with 1 RCHA in Germany, at Hemer, from 1957-60 before returning to the RCSA for the arduous year-long Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery (AIG) Course. Sergeant Patrick spent six years as an AIG in Shilo until 1966, when he was promoted Staff Sergeant and posted back to 1 RCHA for a further three years in Hemer. During this time he advanced to Warrant Officer Class II (WO2) and was appointed a Battery Sergeant Major.

Returning to Canada in 1969, he served with both 2 RCHA and 4 RCHA in Petawawa before his promotion to CWO in 1972 and attendance on the Master Gunner Course, after which he assumed the appointment of RSM of 3 RCHA in Shilo.

From 1975-79, he served as Sergeant Major Instructor-in-Gunnery (SMIG) at the Artillery School in Gagetown before completing his career in Ottawa as life cycle manager of the M109A1 howitzer fleet 1979-80 and CWO Artillery (RSM RCA) from 1980-85.

After he retired from the Army in 1985, Mr. Patrick worked for the Department of Public Works as a building inspector. He was also active in the Royal Canadian Legion, serving in various executive roles, including President, in Branch No. 632. He was known for his advocacy of veterans’ welfare and his devotion to the significance of Remembrance Day and the Poppy Fund. “Every day is Remembrance Day”, he would say.

A Korean War veteran, a paratrooper, a member of four RCHA regiments, an Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery, a Master Gunner, and three times an RSM, Mr. Patrick did indeed chart a remarkable path through life. Along the way, his diligence, skillfulness, leadership, and gentlemanly ways earned him the profound respect and admiration of his comrades. He blazed a trail for Black Canadians wishing to serve the guns of The Royal Regiment and set an enduringly admirable example for all members of The Regiment by virtue of his soldierly merit, dignified character, and devotion to his fellow Gunners, his Regiment, his community, and his country.

Chief Warrant Officer (Master Gunner) E.E. Patrick died in Ottawa on 5 January 2021 at the age of ninety, having lived a full, accomplished, proud and meaningful life. His memory will live on as one of Canada’s Great Gunners.

WO 1st Class (RSM) FL Saunders CD (1910-1993)

Photo of WO 1st Class (RSM) FL Saunders

Frank Lewis Saunders was born in Gosport, Hants, England, on 28 November 1910. Six years later, on the death of his father, arrangements were made to place both he and George, his younger brother, in a London orphanage. At the last moment, an aunt and uncle took the boys in to join their own seven children. It was a difficult, spartan life, but knowing no other, it was accepted readily.

Attending state-funded schools in England, young Frank completed the top class, Standard VII, and immediately was apprenticed to the shoemaking firm of Russell and Bromely. He undertook additional jobs to augment his meager income, sometimes working as a laborer and lumberjack.

During the late 1920s the Anglican Church sponsored a program to promote immigration to Western Canada. In return for passage, the immigrant would repay the fare by labouring on one of the cooperative farms. Young Frank saw an opportunity to improve his lot and found himself working on a modest farm near Wauchope, Saskatchewan. The work was hard but tolerable. Here he was to develop a deep love for animals, particularly horses.

After working off his debt, he set off to satisfy his curiosity about his newly adopted country. After saving for the train fare to Winnipeg, he went in search of work and adventure. After several days in the city he happened to be on the streets of Winnipeg when C Battery of The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) paraded through the city. The splendid horses, the jangling harness, the gleaming guns and the “smashing” uniforms lit a fire in young Frank Saunders. On 29 May 1929, he enlisted in C Battery to begin a career and an association with The Royal Regiment that would last some 63 years.

He served at Fort Osborne Barracks in Winnipeg, until December 1939, when he sailed for England. During the Second World War, he saw service in Sicily, Italy, France, Holland and Germany. By war’s end, he had risen to Battery Sergeant-Major, three days after VE Day he returned home to Winnipeg. With the raising of the Special Force in response to a United Nations request for Canadian assistance, he volunteered and served with the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Korea, from April 1952 until May 1953.

He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class I on 20 June 1960. He served three years as Regimental Sergeant Major of the Royal Canadian Artillery Depot. In 1963, he was posted back to Winnipeg on Instructional Staff duties and two years later, on 18 July 1966, he retired to pension.

After a short period of leave, he joined the Royal Bank of Canada where he worked 10 years in the Winnipeg Computer Processing Centre. He retired for a second time in September 1976.

A strong supporter of Canadian Gunner institutions, he served for 21 years as president of the Winnipeg RCHA Association. He was a member of the Monarchist League of Canada and a member of Branch 100, the Royal Canadian Legion. He was also active in the Masonic Lodge and was a frequent contributor to The Quadrant, one The Royal Regiment’s “in-house” journals. His recollections, military vocabulary and unique way of looking at army life gave a special life and character to his stories of soldiering.

After a short illness, he died in Winnipeg, 14 January 1993. He is buried in the military section of Brookside Cemetery.

LGen GG Simonds CC, CB, CBE, DSO, CD (1903-1974)

Photo of LGen GG Simonds

A third generation career officer, Guy Granville Simonds was born in Ixworth, Sussex, England in 1903. He was brought to Vancouver at age 9 and subsequently attended Ashbury College in Ottawa. At age 18, he was admitted to the Royal Military College in Kingston. He soon gained a reputation for excellence, achieving a “Distinguished” grading in half his subjects.

On graduation in 1925, he was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA). After seven years as a regimental officer, he was selected to attend the Gunnery Staff Course in the United Kingdom. On return to Canada, he was employed as an Instructor-in-Gunnery in the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (Mobile) until he was selected to attend the United Kingdom Staff College in Camberley, the first post-war RCA officer to do so. His knowledge and abilities as an instructor gained him the post of Associate Professor of Artillery at RMC and later the post of Instructor in Tactics. By 1939, his potential was clear.

At the outbreak of war, Major Simonds went overseas with the 1st Canadian Division and commanded the 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. In 1941, he organized and commanded the first Canadian Junior War Staff Course overseas.

In 1942, General Montgomery ordered all officers under his command to undergo a program of special courses. Brigadier Simonds advised Montgomery that Canadian officers had been taking courses for more than two years and their pressing need was more contact with their men. To everyone’s surprise, Montgomery said, “Of course. Quite right!”. This encounter marked the beginning of a strong, lasting friendship.

In the spring of 1943, he was appointed to command the 2nd Canadian Division and two weeks later promoted. As Canada’s youngest Major-General, he assumed command of the 1st Canadian Division, preparing to fight in Sicily. His campaign was swift and successful. He took the division to Italy and later was recalled to Europe, promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed to command the 2nd Canadian Corps, training in England for the invasion of Normandy.

Lieutenant-General Simonds conducted a series of successful campaigns. The Walchern Island battle and the opening of the Scheldt to allied shipping were preludes to the Caen-Falaise battle. Commanding 150,000 men of the 2nd Canadian Corps in 1944, he was ordered to close the northern half of the Falaise Gap – a possible route of escape for the retreating German armies. His innovative, aggressive initiatives have become textbook examples of generalship. At the end of 15 days, the enemy was in disorder. Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, pronounced the victory to be one of the three most decisive battles in Europe.

At the end of hostilities, Lieutenant-General Simonds commanded the Canadian Forces in the Netherlands and the Canadian Army Occupation Forces in North-West Germany. Following a period of leave, he was appointed to the Imperial Defence College in Britain. In 1949, he assumed command of the National Defence College and the Canadian Army Staff College. After two years, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff, a position he held until his retirement to pension in 1956.

Lieutenant-General Simond’s many accomplishments were recognized by his Sovereign, the governments of France and Poland, and by Canada. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the Bath, awarded the French Legion of Honour and Croix de Guerre, the Polish Order of Military Virtue and in 1970 made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He was the epitome of a soldier: lithe, erect, immaculate and displaying self-discipline in all things. His constantly appraising eyes and well-clipped mustache marked him as a professional army officer.

He was much in demand as a speaker in civilian life. He objected to the destruction of historic buildings and lamented the country’s failure to develop secondary industries.

On leaving the army, he became president of Toronto Brick Company, and vice-president and director of Commercial Life and Halifax Insurance companies. He was active in his community, serving as National Chairman of the Veteran’s Service Committee of the Red Cross, as a member of the Toronto Arts Foundation and as president of the National Ballet Guild.

Brigadier-General W.W. Turner, CD (1921 – 2016)

Photo of Brigadier-General W.W. Turner, CD

Brigadier-General William Wiglesworth Turner was born in Winnipeg on 17 September 1921. His father, the late Colonel M.W. Turner, OBE, CD was badly wounded on the Somme in the First World War and repatriated to Canada where he would go on to serve 35 years as an officer in the Canadian Army.

Brigadier-General Turner’s military service began with his enrollment as a gunner in 56th Heavy Battery, 5th (British Columbia) Coast Regiment, RCA of the Non-permanent Active Militia in Victoria in 1938 at age seventeen. In 1940, he entered the Royal Military College in Kingston, a member (College No. 2816) of the last class to enter the College before it closed in 1942 for the duration of the war. After commissioning, and additional artillery training in Petawawa, he proceeded overseas in July 1943 as a member of 23rd Field Regiment (Self-Propelled), RCA.

Lieutenant Turner landed in Normandy with his Regiment, part of the 4th Armoured Divisional Artillery, in the third week of July in 1944. Employed as a Gun Position Officer, he immediately went into battle as part of the Canadian main effort to capture Caen and close the gap at Falaise. Following the Battle of Normandy and the clearance of the Channel ports, he was promoted to Captain in December 1944 and transferred to 15th Field Regiment, RCA where he served as a Forward Observation Officer participating in the clearance of the German Army from the Scheldt Estuary and Hochwald Forest, and then the Rhine crossing before closing out the war in Germany near Wilhelmshaven. His wartime experience included close combat and manning observation posts usually within a few hundred yards of the objective and often under continual shelling and machine gun fire, while continuously directing accurate and effective fire on enemy positions.

After the fighting ceased in Europe, Captain Turner volunteered to join the Canadian Army Pacific Force intended for the invasion of Japan. He had returned to Canada and was in Toronto when the war in the Pacific ended with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan’s subsequent unconditional surrender.

He remained in the Regular Army after the war joining 1st Field Regiment, RCHA from whence he was selected, in 1946, to attend the Long Gunnery Staff Course at the Royal School of Artillery in Larkhill. On attaining his IG qualification, he taught for three years at the Royal Canadian School of Artillery in Shilo including the task of training the first draft of recruits selected for service in Korea with the newly formed 2nd Field Regiment, RCHA. From 1951-53, he was the first Canadian Exchange IG at Larkhill. He attended the Canadian Army Staff College in 1954-55 followed by a posting to Western Command Headquarters in Edmonton. He commanded 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, RCA in Victoria from 1956-57.

In 1957, he was appointed the Chief Operations Officer, United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization in Palestine stationed first in Gaza and then Jerusalem. While working with the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission, he and Lieutenant-Colonel George Flint, PPCLI, came under fire on Mount Scopus. While attempting to evacuate wounded Israeli police officers during a ceasefire and while waving a white flag, Lieutenant-Colonel Flint was shot and killed. Major Turner was pinned down for several hours and only after darkness fell, was he able to make his way over to recover Lieutenant-Colonel Flint’s body.

From 1959-61, he served as Brigade Major of 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group (4 CIBG), then part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and stationed along the inner German border. The Cold War was at its height and 4 CIBG was an exceptionally strong formation considered by many the equivalent of a light division. Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1961, he took command of 3rd Regiment, RCHA in Hemer, Germany, and quickly turned a poorly performing regiment into one of the best, winning every single BAOR Divisional Artillery competition. He commanded for four years including leading the Regiment to its new home in Winnipeg in 1964.

In 1967, he was promoted Colonel and was posted as Commander of the Canadian Contingent and Deputy Chief of Staff of the United Nations Forces in Cyprus. After a stint as Director of Operations at NDHQ, he was selected, in 1969, to attend the Imperial Defence College Course in London. He returned to Canada, to Kingston, to join the Directing Staff at the National Defence College.

In 1973, he was promoted Brigadier-General and appointed Commandant of the Royal Military College, Kingston. There, on explicit orders from the then Chief of Defence Staff, General Jacques Dextraze, he worked tirelessly to put the ‘Military’ back into RMC. This he did with a single-minded determination to turn out first-class officers for the Canadian Forces. His term as Commandant and his mandatory retirement age were both extended, so that he could see the College through its Centennial Year celebrations in 1976.

Brigadier-General Turner ended his illustrious Regular Force career at the Royal Military College in 1977 where it had started 37 years earlier.

In 1979, he was appointed Colonel Commandant, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. His initial term was extended by a further three years. During his tenure as Colonel Commandant, General Turner visited every gun detachment in Canada and abroad at least once and made a point of speaking with as many young Gunners as he could. He worked diligently on issues of importance to The Royal Regiment and was one of its most respected advocates. He introduced the RCA Junior Officers Course for all newly commissioned officers as a way of imparting knowledge of The Regiment’s rich history and heritage and inculcating its time-honoured ethos and values.

Brigadier-General Turner’s time in uniform spanned 48 years. His leadership and mentorship during war, in the service of NATO and the UN, at home and abroad, in demanding appointments from Brigade Major to Commanding Officer, to Commandant of the Royal Military College, and finally, to Colonel Commandant of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, serve to inspire others. His soldierly virtues of courage, honour, dignified character, and devotion to his country and Regiment, have had an outstanding and lasting influence on several generations of Canadian and international officers and soldiers.

General Turner is the author of a book, “Memories of World War II – 1939 to 1945”, a personal account of his experiences in war, written for his family.

For his service he was awarded the following: 1939-1945 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (with clasp), War Medal 1939-45, Special Service Medal, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, UN Truce Supervisory Organization in Palestine Medal, UN Forces in Cyprus Medal, Canadian Centennial Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Canadian Forces Decoration (with three clasps). The Government of France also honoured him by naming him a “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur”.

After retirement from the Army, Brigadier-General Turner worked in the private sector as Vice President of the Urban Transit Development Corporation and, later, as a Development Manager with Homestead Land Holdings in Kingston, Ontario.

He was a lifetime member of The Royal Military College Club of Canada, was a Past President of its Kingston Branch and served as his Class Secretary for many years. He belonged to the Royal Canadian Artillery Association, the RCHA Brigade Association and Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 560. He was an Honorary President of Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 9 and was a Past President of the Royal Kingston United Services Institute.

After a rich and full life, Brigadier-General W.W. Turner passed away in Kingston, in December 2016 at the age of 95.

CWO LJ Vallee OMM, MM, CD (1923-2000)

Photo of CWO LJ Vallee

Leo Joseph Vallee was born in Carleton Place, Ontario, on 15 December 1923. His father worked in a spinning mill and raised Leo and his younger brother after his wife’s death in 1928. As a youth, Leo excelled in sport and outdoor activities. He attended school in Carleton Place and Renfrew.

In February 1940, at age 16, he joined the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment and attended his first summer camp in Petawawa. The following March, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery and trained at Peterborough and Petawawa. The possibility of adventure, challenge and a broad general education appealed to young Gunner Vallee.

In July 1941, he embarked as a member of the 14th Field Regiment, RCA on the Empress of Canada, bound for Britain. During the three years spent with his unit preparing to invade France, he mastered the duties of a driver, gun number, signaller, and technical assistant, as the unit learned to use its self-propelled howitzers.

Gunner Vallee played his part in the historic assault. After a month and a half in Normandy, he earned the Military Medal for “gallant and distinguished services in the field” by his actions in a gun position fire, which ignited charge bags and spread to a gun.

He served in North-West Europe as a bombardier, until the hostilities ended. He then volunteered for the Canadian Army Pacific Force. On repatriation, he joined the 1st Canadian Field Artillery Battalion RCA, Petawawa, but never deployed to the theatre.

At the end of the Pacific war in August 1945, he was posted to the 71st Field Regiment RCA in Petawawa. In September 1946, he married and joined the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA) in Camp Shilo, Manitoba.

In early 1947, he attended the Unit Air Transportability Course at the Joint Air School, Rivers, Manitoba, beginning a long association with airborne forces. He went to B Light Battery (Para) 1 RCHA, as a Group III instructor in the spring of 1949, qualifying as a parachutist.

The following September he joined the 2nd Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery as it prepared for service in Korea. In October 1950, he was sent to Korea with its Advance Water Party. He returned to Fort Lewis in December 1950, to rejoin the Regiment as it trained.

After six months of training at Fort Lewis, his unit boarded the American ship, General Edwin D. Patrick, arriving on 4 May 1951 in Pusan, Korea. Now a Warrant Officer 2nd Class, he served in Korea until 27 December. He found himself, once again, at Shilo and the Gunner School. He qualified as a Field Branch Artillery Instructor (Group IV) and went to 1st Light Battery (Para) as a Battery Sergeant Major.

In late 1957, as part of the normal three-year rotation of regiments to the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group with the British Army of the Rhine, Sergeant-Major Vallee, now with the British Drill and Duties Course and a three-month attachment to the Royal Horse Artillery under his belt, joined the 1st Regiment to serve as Battery Sergeant-Major (BSM) of B Battery. After three years in Europe, he returned to Petawawa’s 4th Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery where he became BSM of L Battery. In September 1963, he became Regimental Sergeant-Major (RSM). After three busy years, he again travelled West to join Manitoba District’s Instructional Staff, although he was soon attached to Canadian Forces Base Shilo. In January 1968, he returned to Eastern Ontario for employment at Canadian Forces Headquarters, Ottawa.

In November 1968, he was RSM at 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Germany. He played a key role in guiding the unit’s conversion from light towed to medium self-propelled guns. His experience of 25 years and of service on similar equipment during World War II provided valuable insight into the employment of the 155mm M109.

In September 1971, he was appointed RSM for an unprecedented third time, this time with the Canadian Airborne Regiment. He seemed to be everywhere, talking to soldiers, listening to their concerns, sharing risks and hardship, and setting an example. He accompanied the Regiment across Canada, into the Arctic, to the U.S. and Jamaica. He parachuted with the Regiment’s sub-units at every opportunity.

In late 1973, he left the Canadian Airborne Regiment and assumed the duties of Artillery Chief Warrant Officer with the Director of Artillery at National Defence Headquarters.

In 1974, Canada recognized his unique contribution to The Royal Regiment with the Officer of the Order of Military Merit award. He retired to pension on 30 December 1975, with 35 years of service, spanning two wars.

Not content to end his service, he worked from 1978 to 1983 as Officer in Charge of CFB Petawawa’s Corps of Commissionaires detachment. His unwavering service to The Royal Regiment and concern for Canada’s soldiers remain a paragon for future generations.

Chief Warrant Officer Vallee died in Ottawa in 2000.