Lieutenant General Guy C. Simonds
Guy Granville Simonds was born in Bury St Edmunds, England. He was the son of a British officer who brought his family to Canada. Simonds attended Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario between 1921 and 1925, and joined the Canadian Permanent Force in 1926 as an artillery specialist. After some time studying in Britain, his understanding in modern mobile warfare brought him to join the staff of his alma mater Royal Military College, and published in the Canadian Defence Quarterly. As Britain became involved in WW2, he was transferred to Britain with the Canadian 1st Infantry Division in Dec 1939. He spent some time training officers at the Canadian Junior War Staff Course.
Simonds’ first combat commission was during the Allied operations at Sicily commanding the 1st Infantry Division, participating in battles at Nissoria, Agira, and Regalbuto. He was then appointed as the commander of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division for his brilliance commanding both infantry and tanks at Sicily. In Jan 1944, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and was placed in charge of Canadian troops of the II Canadian Corps for the campaign in Normandy. The II Canadian Corps reached Normandy in Jul 1944, participating in various actions in the Normandy region. During the actions in Normandy, Simonds invented the “Kangaroo”, a troop carrier made from carrier made for self-propelled guns. In Sep 1944, Simonds took over the 1st Canadian Army due to General H.D.G. Crerar’s illness. In this role, his Canadian soldiers bravely fought a bitter campaign to clear stubborn German defences at the Scheldt Estuary. With the mouth of the Scheldt cleared, Antwerp became a usable port capable of bringing large amounts of supplies for the Allied war effort. Montgomery called Simonds “only general fit to hold high command in war”.
In his book “The Normandy Campaign” Victor Brooks lists Simonds as the most effective corps-level commander of the Allied Forces in Normandy. He wrote
The corps commander among the units that comprised the 21st Army Group who most likely had the largest personal impact on the Normandy campaign was Lieutenant General Guy Simonds. This senior officer of the II Canadian Corps created one of the most effective tank-infantry teams in the Allied forces through a high degree of improvisation during the drive from Caen to Falais. This general was versatile and imaginative but was not able to generate the momentum that would have more fully closed off the Falaise gap at an earlier date. Despite this drawback, Simonds deserves credit for his effective command.
After WW2, Simonds joined the staff of the Imperial Defence College at Britain, then returned to the Royal Military College of Ontario in 1949 as its commander. Between 1951 and 1955, he served as the Chief of the General Staff of the Canadian Army.
In 1970 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He died in Toronto on May 15, 1974.