Montgomery Place Street Signs
In 2004 the Montgomery Place Community Association embarked on a project to explain the choice of names for Montgomery Place streets. The research and writing were undertaken by Kevin Gooding who was MPCA Finance Director at the time, with help from MCPA President Jim Earle.
The signs were produced at Abe’s Sign Design Group of Saskatoon, with owner Gerry Tunicliffe giving the Association his whole-hearted support. Gerry even offered the Cassino Avenue sign free-of-charge, since his father had fought at the Battle of Cassino. With interest and dedication, Gerry was also a great help to Kevin tracking down photos for the signs.
On September 22, 2007 Kevin Gooding, Jim Earle and MPCA Vice-President Dave Price, along with MPCA Secretary Larry Rempel, MPCA Communications Director Gary Berg and resident Don Janzen, rented an auger and then dug, filled, tamped and installed the first 16 signs. Three more were installed later.
Photos of intallation of signs – Sept. 2007
Map of sign locations
1. Cairn/Monument/National Historic Site Plaque
2. Montgomery Sign
Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery
Bernard Montgomery, the hero of El Alamein and North Africa, was one of the most inspirational military commanders of World War Two. Montgomery was also the senior British military commander at D-Day and retained that position within the west European sphere of the war until the war ended.
Bernard Montgomery was born in 1887, the son of a Bishop. He was educated at St. Paul’s School and Sandhurst and in 1908, aged 21, he gained a commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. During World War One, Montgomery served on the Western Front. A highly efficient young officer, he was given a succession of command posts both in Britain and in India and by 1938, he had been promoted to the rank of major-general.
At the outbreak of World War Two, Montgomery was part of the British Expeditionary Force that had to withstand the might of the Wehrmacht’s ‘Blitzkrieg’. Montgomery was given the command of the Third Division (BEF) which had to be evacuated at Dunkirk.
After Churchill’s sacking of Field Marshal Auchinleck after the failure of the first battle at El Alamein, Montgomery was given command of the Eighth Army in North Africa. He was likened to being like a ferret and being as popular as one! However, unlike many senior officers of the day, he went out of his way to meet the soldiers under his command. He lived a lifestyle that was not typical of a general. Though his command base was a large and luxurious North African house, Montgomery lived in a caravan in the garden. Strictly teetotal and anti-smoking, he made sure that his men had a reasonable access to cigarettes. There is no doubt that he was popular with the men in the Eighth Army.
His victory at El Alamein was to turn the tide of the war. The defeat of the Germans at El Alamein, was the first they had experienced and within North Africa, the Germans could only retreat and they quit North Africa in May 1943. It is difficult to overstate the importance of Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein.
At D-Day, Montgomery commanded the British and Canadian units that were given the task of taking on the main bulk of the German forces at Normandy. This enabled the American Twelfth Army Group to move deeply into France and head the breakout from Normandy. Montgomery wanted a full-scale rush on Berlin via the Ruhr, but this was overruled by the Allies Supreme Commander, Dwight Eisenhower. Montgomery and Eisenhower had a solid professional relationship but ‘Monty’ did not always agree with the overall strategy of Eisenhower who he believed too frequently favoured the plans of the Americans – including the maverick General George Patton.
On September 1st 1944, Montgomery was promoted to field marshall, the highest rank he could reach in the British Army. By now Montgomery commanded the 21st Army Group that succeeded in taking the vital port of Antwerp in Belgium but was involved in the failure at Arnhem. The 21st Group was also deeply involved in the Battle of the Bulge – Germany’s ill-fated attempt to push back the Allies. Montgomery’s group crossed the River Rhine on March 24th 1945. He accepted the formal surrender of the German military at Luneburg Heath on May 4th 1945.
After the end of the war, Montgomery consolidated the status he had. From 1946 to 1948, Montgomery served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and from 1951 to 1958, he was Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe.
History writes two different books on Field Marshall Montgomery. His supporters highlight his pivotal defeat of Rommel and the German army machine in North Africa. He was revered by front line forces as he related and communicated well with them. His detractors say that his historical success in North Africa had more to do with the build up of American war equipment and munitions, and remind us of his failures at the Falaise Gap, Arnheim, and the planning of Dieppe. His arrogant and egotistical way with peers and mid level commanders invited contempt.
In 1946 Montgomery was granted a peerage and he took the title Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, in recognition of the part he played in the war. He is remembered as one of the British Army’s most successful generals. He died in 1976.
3. Merritt Sign
4. Rockingham Sign
Brigadier General John Meredith Rockingham (1911-1987) commanded the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the campaign in Northwest Europe during the last year of WWII.. “Rocky”, as he was affectionately called, was recalled service in 1950 as the senior Canadian soldier in the Korean War. His masterful tactics, and determination that the Canadian Army would not shirk from its assigned duties, was instrumental in the success that the Canadian Army contributed to Korea.
Major General Rockingham began his military career in 1935 as a lieutenant in the Canadian Scottish Militia Regiment. During the Second World War he achieved the rank of brigadier. On return to Canada he assumed command of the 6th Canadian Pacific Force. When the Japanese surrendered he retired from the Regular Force and accepted a Reserve Force appointment as Commander 15th Canadian Infantry Brigade.
In August 1950, The Minister of National Defence recalled “Rocky” from civilian life to organize and train the 5,000-man Canadian Army Special Force to serve in Korea. He commanded the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade from 9 August 1950 to 27 April 1952. When he returned to Canada he served at National Defence Headquarters, then in 1953 appointed Commander, 3rd Infantry Brigade and in 1954 Commander, 1st Canadian Infantry Division. In 1957 he served as General Officer Commanding Quebec Command and in 1961, GOC Western Command.
General Rockingham died on 16 July 1987.
5. Currie Sign
6. Crerar Sign
7. Caen Sign
8. Ortona Sign
9. Lancaster Sign
Lancaster Boulevard/Lancaster Crescent
The Avro Lancaster Bomber
The Avro Lancaster was a British four-engine Second World War bomber aircraft made initially by the A. V. Roe Company for the British Royal Air Force (RAF). It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley-Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF and squadrons from other Commonwealth and European countries serving within RAF Bomber Command. The “Lanc” or “Lankie,” as it became affectionately known, became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, “delivering 608,612 tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties.” Although the Lancaster was primarily a night bomber, it excelled in many other roles including daylight precision bombing, and gained worldwide renown as the “Dam Buster” used in the 1943 Operation Chastise raids on Germany’s Ruhr Valley dams.
The Lancaster was born with superb handling characteristics, relatively high speed and the capability of hauling a heavy load over a long distance. If empty of bombs it could fly on one engine, although losing height. On two engines it could maintain level flight. It could be handled like a fighter aircraft, being able to dive sharply to over 400 mph. These characteristics helped a lot of bomber crews reach their targets and get home again.
The majority of Lancasters built during the war years were manufactured by Avro at their factory at Chadderton near Manchester and test flown from Woodford Aerodrome in Cheshire. Other Lancasters were built by Metropolitan-Vickers, Armstrong Whitworth and Victory Aircraft. The aircraft was also produced at the Austin Motor Company works in Longbridge, Birmingham later in the Second World War and postwar at Chester by Vickers-Armstrongs.
Of later variants, only the Canadian-built Lancaster B X manufactured by Victory Aircraft in Malton, Ontario was produced in significant numbers. A total of 430 of this type were built, earlier examples differing little from their British-built predecessors, except for using Packard-built Merlin engines and American-style instrumentation and electrics. A total of 7,377 Lancasters of all marks were built throughout the duration of the war, each at a 1943 cost of £45-50,000 (approximately equivalent to $2.6 – 3.0 million in today’s Canadian currency).
The most famous use of the Lancaster was probably the 1943 mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, to destroy the dams of the Ruhr Valley. The mission was carried out by the 617 Squadron in modified Mk IIIs carrying special drum shaped bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. The story of the mission was later made into a film, The Dam Busters. Another famous action was a series of attacks using Tallboy bombs, including one carried out by No. 617 Squadron from a temporary base at Yagodnik in the Soviet Union sinking the German battleship Turpitz.
With the end of hostilities both in Europe and the Far East, the Lancaster was by no means finished in its service to the various Air Forces who operated them. The RAF continued to use the aircraft in various rolls including photographic and maritime reconnaissance up until October 1956. The Royal Canadian Air Force, who flew back many of the surviving Mk.X’s to Canada, also continued to use the aircraft again in photographic and maritime rolls until the late 1950’s.
10. Bader Sign
The fascinating story of Douglas Bader, one of the more colourful characters that whose name is honoured in the streets of Montgomery Place. Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader, (Feb. 21, 1910 – Sept. 5, 1982) was a successful fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Bader is upheld as an inspirational leader and hero of the era, not least because he fought despite having lost both legs in a pre-war flying accident. His brutally forthright, dogmatic and often highly opinionated views (especially against authority) coupled with his boundless energy and enthusiasm inspired adoration and frustration in equal measures with both his subordinates and peers.
Bader joined the RAF as a Cranwell cadet in 1928. He was an above-average pilot and an outstanding sportsman; he played rugby union for Harlequin F.C. coming close to national team selection. Commissioned as a pilot officer in 1930, Bader was posted to Kenley, Surrey, flying Gloster Gamecocks and soon after, Bristol Bulldogs.
On 14 December 1931, while visiting Reading Aero Club, he attempted some low-flying aerobatics at Woodley airfield in a Bulldog, apparently on a dare. His plane crashed when the tip of the left wing touched the ground. Bader was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where, in the hands of the prominent surgeon Leonard Joyce, both his legs were amputated – one above and one below the knee. In 1932, after a long convalescence throughout which he needed morphine for pain and relief, Bader was transferred to the hospital at RAF Uxbridge and fought hard to regain his former abilities now that he had a new pair of artificial legs. In time, his efforts paid off and was able to drive a specially modified car, play golf and even dance.
Bader got his chance to prove that he could still fly when, in June 1932, Air Under-Secretary Phillip Sasson arranged for him to take up an Avro 504 which he piloted competently. A subsequent medical examination proved him fit for active service. However, in April the following year, he received notification that the RAF had decided to reverse the decision on the grounds that this situation was not covered by the King’s Regulations. In May, Bader was invalided out of the RAF, took an office job with the Asiatic Petroleum Company and, in 1935, married Thelma Edwards.
When war broke out in 1939, Bader used his RAF Cranwell connections to rejoin the RAF. Despite official reluctance on the part of the establishment to allow him to apply for an A.1.B. – full flying category status, his persistent efforts paid off. Bader regained a medical categorisation for operational flying at the end of November the same year and was posted to the Central Flying School, Upavon, for a refresher course on modern types of aircraft. Starting with the Avro Tutor, Bader progressed through the Fairey Battle and Miles Master (the last training stage before experiencing Spitfires and Hurricanes). Bader retained the rank of Flying Officer, that which he held on his retirement in May 1933.
Bader’s first operational posting was in February 1940 to No. 19 Squadron based at RAF Duxford, near Cambridge, where a close friend from Cranwell days, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson, was the Commanding Officer, and it was then that he got his first glimpse of a Spitfire. At 29 years of age, Bader was considerably older than his fellow pilots. It was thought that Bader’s success as a fighter pilot was partly due to having no legs; pilots pulling high “G” in combat turns often “blacked out” as the flow of blood from the brain drained to other parts of the body – usually the legs. As Bader had no legs he could remain conscious that much longer and thus had an advantage over more able-bodied opponents.
The following April, he left 19 Squadron to become a Flight Commander with No. 222 Squadron, also based at Duxford, commanded by another old friend of his, Squadron Leader Tubby Mermagen, and it was during this phase of Bader’s flying career that he had his first taste of combat. While patrolling the coast near Dunkirk in his Spitfire at around 30,000 ft, he came across a Bf 109 in front of him, flying in the same direction and at approximately the same speed. Bader believed that the German must have been a novice, taking no evasive action even though it took more than one burst of gunfire to shoot him down. His second encounter was with a Dornier a day or two later, in which he narrowly avoided a collision while silencing the aircraft’s rear gunner during a high-speed pass. Shortly after Bader joined 222 Squadron, it relocated to RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, just south of the Humber.
After flying operations over Dunkirk, he was posted to command No. 242 squadron as Squadron Leader at the end of June 1940; a Hurricane unit based at Coltishall, mainly made up of Canadians who had suffered high losses in the Battle of France and had low morale. Despite initial resistance to their new commanding officer, the pilots were soon won over by Bader’s strong personality and perseverance, especially in cutting through red tape to make the squadron operational again. Upon the formation of No. 12 Group RAF, No. 242 squadron was assigned to the Group while based at RAF Duxford.
As a friend and supporter of his 12 Group commander Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Bader joined him as an active exponent of the controversial “Big Wing” theory. Bader was an outspoken critic of the careful “husbanding” tactics being used by 11 Group commander Keith Park, and Bader vociferously campaigned for an aggressive policy of assembling large formations of defensive fighters north of London ready to inflict maximum damage on the massed German bomber formations as they flew over southeast England. As the battle progressed, Bader often found himself at the head of a composite wing of fighters consisting of up to five squadrons. Achievements of the Big Wing were hard to quantify, as the large formations often overclaimed aircraft shot down, but there is no doubt that Bader and Leigh-Mallory contributed to the departure of both Fighter Command commander Air Marshal Hugh Dowding and Air Vice Marshal Keith Park after the battle was over.
In 1941, Bader was promoted to Wing Commander and become one of the first “Wing Leaders.” Stationed at Tangmere, Bader led his wing of Spitfires on sweeps and “circus” operations over northwestern Europe throughout the summer campaign. These were missions combining bombers and fighters designed to lure out and tie down German Luftwaffe fighter units that might otherwise serve on the Russian front. One of the Wing Leader’s “perks” was permission to have their initials marked on their aircraft as personal identification, thus “D-B” was painted on the side of Bader’s Spitfire. These letters gave rise to his radio call sign “Dogsbody.”
During 1941 his wing was re-equipped with Spitfire VBs, which had two Hispano 20mm cannon and four .303 machine guns. However, Bader flew a Spitfire Va equipped with just eight .303 machine guns, as he insisted that these guns were more effective against fighter opposition.
By August 1941, Bader had claimed 22 German planes shot down, the fifth highest total in the RAF. On August 9, 1941 Bader was shot down and taken prisoner. Although he believed for years that he had collided in mid-air with a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Le Touquet, recent research shows no “Bf 109 was lost to a collision that day and he may have been shot down by a Bf 109F of II/JG26 flown by Feldwebel Meyer. As he tried to bail out, his right prosthetic leg became trapped in the aircraft, and he only escaped when the leg’s retaining straps snapped.
More recently, in a Channel 4 documentary “Who Downed Douglas Bader?”, aired on August 29, 2008, research by air historian Andy Saunders now suggests that he may have been a victim of ‘friendly fire’, shot down by one of his fellow RAF pilots after becoming detached from his own squadron. RAF combat records indicate Bader may have been shot down by F/L “Buck” Casson of No. 616 Squadron RAF, who claimed a “Bf-109 whose tail came off and the pilot bailed out.” Bader was flying at the rear of the German fighter formation, alone, and his squadron were the opposite side of the Germans. “Buck” only had a few seconds in which he saw Bader and mistook his Spitfire for a Bf 109. Ironically, Casson was also shot down and made prisoner that same day. Whether Bader devised the collision story to cover for a fellow pilot is left unresolved.
Bader was captured by German forces, who treated him with great respect. General Adolf Galland, a German flying ace, notified the British of his damaged leg and offered them safe passage to drop off a replacement. The British responded on August 19, 1941 with the ‘Leg Operation’- an RAF bomber was allowed to drop a new prosthetic leg by parachute to St Omer, a Luftwaffe base in occupied France, as part of Circus 81 involving six Blenheim bombers and a sizeable fighter escort. The Germans were less impressed when, task done, the bombers proceeded onto their bombing mission to Gosnay power station near Bethune, although bad weather prevented the target being attacked.
Bader tried to escape from the hospital where he was recovering, and over the next few years proved as big a thorn in the side of the Germans as he had been to the RAF establishment. He made so many attempts at escape that the Germans threatened to take away his legs. Initially held at Stalag Luft III at Sagan, his “goon-baiting” of the camp guards reached such heights that he was finally dispatched to the “escape-proof” Colditz Castle Oflag IV-C, where he remained until the spring of 1945 when it was relieved by the 1st US Army. When Bader subsequently arrived in Paris, true to form, he requested a Spitfire so that he could rejoin the fighting before the war was over, only to be refused.
After his return to England, Bader was given the honour of leading a victory flypast of 300 aircraft over London in June 1945 and was later promoted to Group Captain. He remained in the RAF until February 1946, when he left to take a job at Royal Dutch/Shell. Bader resumed playing golf, an enthusiasm developed after his amputation, achieving a handicap in the low single figures.
Never a person to hide his opinions, Bader also became controversial for his political interventions. A staunch conservative with traditional Victorian values, his trenchantly-expressed views on such subjects as juvenile delinquency, apartheid and Rhodesia’s defiance of the Commonwealth (he was a staunch supporter of Ian Smith’s white minority regime) attracted much criticism. His association with figures on the radical right fringes of British politics contributed to a perception that he was a closet extremist and racist – an impression that in the case of the politically unsophisticated Bader was almost certainly incorrect.
Following the death of his first wife, Thelma, Bader married Joan Murray.
In 1976 Bader was knighted for his services to amputees and his public work for the disabled. His workload was exhausting for a legless man with a worsening heart condition, and, after a London Guildhall dinner honouring the 90th birthday of the Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, Bader died of a heart attack on September 5, 1982 at the age of 72. Bader had previously suffered a “minor heart attack” three weeks earlier after a golf tournament in Ayrshire.
Bader attributed his success to the belief in the three basic rules that had been tried and tested by earlier fighter pilots:
• If you had the height, you controlled the battle.
• If you came out of the sun, the enemy could not see you.
• If you held your fire until you were very close, you seldom missed.
Quote; “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”
Quote; “Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.”
Quote; “I am not one of those who see war as a cricket match where you first give anything to defeat the opponent and then shake hands.”
11. Walker Sign
Lt. Col. D. Walker Park
12. Mountbatten Sign
13. Cassino Sign
Cassino Avenue/Cassino Place
Battle of Monte Cassino
Following initial British and Canadian beachheads in Calabria and the American invasion of the Salerno/Naples area, the Allied drive north toward Rome proved hard to do. Both the west coast route and the Route 6 central mountain route were blocked by the Germans. In late 1943, after a fierce battle at San Pietro, a stalemate developed south of the German Winter Line, a set of three defensive perimeters of interlocking bunkers and fortifications that sealed off southern Italy. In addition to German defenses, severe weather during December 1943 – January 1944 created tens of thousands of casualties in the harsh Italian mountain terrain.
The Gustav Line, the northernmost and most formidable of three German Winter Line defensive belts, was anchored by Monte Cassino and the Garigliano and Rapido Rivers. The town of Cassino, about 85 miles southeast of Rome, was a mile east of Monte Cassino.
The Germans built heavily fortified emplacements and observation posts next to the St. Benedict Monastery walls on Monte Cassino, taking full advantage of the terrain and Allied reluctance to attack the Abbey. Allied planners had to treat the entire hilltop as a key military target, dominating the Cassino valley, and the obstacle to their objective of cracking the Gustav Line.
First Battle of Cassino
The Allies launched their offensive on the Gustav Line on 12 January 1944, with the French Expeditionary Corps assaulting Cassino and the British 10 Corps attempting to exploit previous gains on the Garigliano River. Neither attack succeeded in breaking through, although limited progress was made. One week later, on 20 January, the U.S. II Corps attacked in the center of the Fifth Army front, attempting to cross the Rapido River. After two days of bitter fighting and heavy losses, the II Corps’ 36th Infantry Division was forced to break off its attack. The expected rapid breakthrough became a bloody war of attrition. The U.S. 34th Division lost 2,200 men attempting to penetrate German prepared defenses on the Rapido River, failing in attempts to cross the river valley under German fire directed from Monte Cassino. The other Allied forces did a little better, crossing to the north of the Rapido, but were ultimately forced to withdraw.
Second Battle of Cassino
After considerable debate and delay due to fear of offending Christians worldwide, the Allies decided the monastery had to be bombed to dislodge the Germans. After trying leaflets urging the Germans to abandon the site, on 15 February 1944 American bombers dropped 1,150 tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs on the Abbey, reducing the entire top of Monte Cassino to smoking rubble. A simultaneous ground assault went on for three days, attempting to reach the high ground of the monastery. The Germans held on to the mountain top, although the Commonwealth troops from New Zealand and India were successful in capturing some ground in and around Cassino. However, with the Germans continuing to hold the high ground of Monte Cassino, there was little chance of expanding the gains. The Germans actually had suffered very heavy casualties, but this was unknown to the Allies at the time.
Third Battle of Cassino
For another month, inconclusive ground fighting in wet weather continued around Hill 516, leading to another bomb run, this time with 500 planes dropping 1,400 tons of bombs on Cassino and the mountain on 15 March 1944. The town of Cassino was flattened by the bombing and artillery bombardment. Despite the heavy damage, again the German defenders clung to the ruins, actually improving their defenses in the rubble left by the bombings. About 75% of the town was in Allied hands by this time, but Allied troops could not fully overcome the stubborn resistance that went on building by building in town and yard by yard in the surrounding rugged terrain. German positions remained intact and were vigorously defended. Mechanized war with tanks was impossible in the rugged terrain and amid the bombing debris, forcing hand to hand combat by soldiers supplied by mules.
Fourth Battle of Cassino
Cassino was finally taken in Operation DIADEM, the Allied spring 1944 offensive in Italy, beginning on 11 May under the overall command of General Sir Harold Alexander. Using a well coordinated combined force of infantry backed up by bombing and artillery, the Gustav Line was finally breached on 14 May. US Fifth Army to the south and west and the British Eighth Army in the center combined in a dual strike while VI US Corps at Anzio finally broke out along the coast and to the rear of the Gustav Line. Eighth Army succeeded in cutting Highway 6, the main road linking the south of Italy to Rome.
On Monte Cassino itself, two divisions of the II Polish Corps battled the German 1st Parachute Division for the mountain. After days of attacks and counterattacks in hand to hand fighting, on the night of 17 May the German garrison abandoned Monte Cassino as part of a general German retreat from the Gustav Line to new defensive lines to the north. At 10:30 in the morning, 18 May 1944, the Polish flag was raised over the Monte Cassino rubble, ending the battle.
Allied troops continued the drive north, capturing Rome on 4 June 1944.
It is estimated that there were 20,000 Allied casualties in the series of battles. The Monastery itself was reconstructed after World War II and was reconsecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1964.
14. Simonds Sign
Simonds Avenue/Lt. Gen. G.G. Simonds Park
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.
15. Dieppe Sign
The Raid on Dieppe
The Allied situation in the spring of 1942 was grim. The Germans had penetrated deep into Russia, the British Eighth Army in North Africa had been forced back into Egypt, and in Western Europe the Allied forces faced the Germans across the English Channel.
Since the time was not yet ripe for mounting Operation Overlord, the full-scale invasion of Western Europe, the Allies decided to mount a major raid on the French port of Dieppe. Designed to foster German fears of an attack in the west and compel them to strengthen their Channel defences at the expense of other areas of operation, the raid would also provide an opportunity to test new techniques and equipment, and be the means to gain the experience and knowledge necessary for planning the great amphibious assault.
Following an earlier aborted attempt, due to weather, the attack upon Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The troops involved totalled 6,100, of whom roughly 5,000 were Canadians, the remainder being British Commandos and 50 American Rangers. The raid was supported by eight Allied destroyers and 74 Allied air squadrons (eight belonging to the RCAF).
The plan called for attacks at five different points on a front of roughly 16 kilometres. Four simultaneous flank attacks were to go in just before dawn, followed half an hour later by the main attack on the town of Dieppe itself. Canadians would form the force for the frontal attack on Dieppe and would also go in at gaps in the cliffs at Pourville four kilometres to the west, and at Puys to the east. British commandos were assigned to destroy the coastal batteries at Berneval on the eastern flank, and at Varengeville in the west.
As the assault force approached the coast of France in the early hours of August 19, the landing craft of the eastern sector unexpectedly encountered a small German convoy. The noise of the sharp violent sea fight, which followed, alerted coastal defences, particularly at Berneval and Puys, leaving little chance of success in this sector. The craft carrying No. 3 Commando were scattered and most of the unit never reached shore. Those who did were quickly overwhelmed. One small party of 20 commandos managed to get within 180 metres of the battery and by accurate sniping prevented the guns from firing on the assault ships for two-and-one-half vital hours before they were safely evacuated.
At Puys the Royal Regiment of Canada shared in the ill fortune. The beach there was extremely narrow and was commanded by lofty cliffs where German soldiers were strategically placed. Success depended on surprise and darkness, neither of which prevailed. The naval landing was delayed, and as the Royals leapt ashore in the growing light they met violent machine-gun fire from the fully alerted German soldiers. Only a few men were able to get over the heavily wired seawall at the head of the beach; those who did were unable to get back. The rest of the troops, together with three platoons of reinforcements from the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, were pinned on the beach by mortar and machine-gun fire, and were later forced to surrender. Evacuation was impossible in the face of German fire. Of those who landed, 200 were killed and 20 died later of their wounds; the rest were taken prisoner the heaviest toll suffered by a Canadian battalion in a single day throughout the entire war. Failure to clear the eastern headland enabled the Germans to enfilade the Dieppe beaches and nullify the main frontal attack.
In the western sector, meanwhile, some degree of surprise was achieved. In contrast to the misfortune encountered by No. 3 on the east flank, the No. 4 Commando operation was completely successful. According to plan, the unit went in, successfully destroyed the guns in the battery near Varengeville, and then withdrew safely.
At Pourville, the Canadians were fortunate enough to achieve some degree of surprise, and initial opposition was light as the South Saskatchewan Regiment and Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada assaulted the beaches. Resistance stiffened as they crossed the River Scie and pushed towards Dieppe proper. Heavy fighting then developed and the Saskatchewans, and the Camerons who supported them, were stopped well short of the town. The main force of the Camerons, meanwhile, pushed on towards their objective, an inland airfield, and advanced some three kilometres before they too were forced to halt.
The Canadians lost heavily during the withdrawal. The enemy was able to bring fierce fire to bear upon the beach from dominating positions east of Pourville, and also from the high ground to the west. However, the landing craft came in through the storm of fire with self-sacrificing gallantry and, supported by a courageous rearguard, the greater part of both units successfully re-embarked though many of the men were wounded. The rearguard itself could not be brought off and, when ammunition ran out and further evacuation was impossible, surrendered.
The main attack was to be made across the pebble beach in front of Dieppe and timed to take place a half-hour later than on the flanks. German soldiers concealed in clifftop positions and in buildings overlooking the promenade waited. As the men of the Essex Scottish Regiment assaulted the open eastern section, the enemy swept the beach with machine-gun fire. All attempts to breach the seawall were beaten back with grievous loss. When one small party managed to infiltrate the town, a misleading message was received aboard the headquarters ship that suggested that the Essex Scottish were making headway. Thus, the reserve battalion Les Fusiliers Mont Royal was sent in. They, like their comrades who had landed earlier, found themselves pinned down on the beach and exposed to intense enemy fire.
The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry landed at the west end of the promenade opposite a large isolated casino. They were able to clear this strongly-held building and the nearby pillboxes and some men of the battalion got across the bullet-swept boulevard and into the town, where they were engaged in vicious street fighting.
Misfortune also attended the landing of the tanks of the Calgary Regiment. Timed to follow an air and naval bombardment, they were put ashore ten to fifteen minutes late, thus leaving the infantry without support during the first critical minutes of the attack. Then as the tanks came ashore, they met an inferno of fire and were brought to a halt stopped not only by enemy guns, but also immobilized by the shingle banks and seawall. Those that negotiated the seawall found their way blocked by concrete obstacles that sealed off the narrow streets. Nevertheless, the immobilized tanks continued to fight, supporting the infantry and contributing greatly to the withdrawal of many of them; the tank crews became prisoners or died in battle.
The last troops to land were part of the Royal Marine “A” Commando, which shared the terrible fate of the Canadians. They suffered heavy losses without being able to accomplish their mission.
The raid also produced a tremendous air battle. While the Allied air forces were able to provide protection from the Luftwaffe for the ships off Dieppe, the cost was high. The Royal Air Force lost 106 aircraft, which was to be the highest single-day total of the war. The RCAF loss was 13 aircraft.
By early afternoon, Operation Jubilee was over. Conflicting assessments of the value of the raid continue to be presented. Some claim that it was a useless slaughter; others maintain that it was necessary to the successful invasion of the continent two years later on D-Day. The Dieppe Raid was closely studied by those responsible for planning future operations against the enemy-held coast of France. Out of it came improvements in technique, fire support and tactics, which reduced D-Day casualties to an unexpected minimum. The men who perished at Dieppe were instrumental in saving countless lives on the 6th of June 1944. While there can be no doubt that valuable lessons were learned, a frightful price was paid in those morning hours of August 19, 1942. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 907 Canadians lost their lives.
16. Normandy Sign
The Battle of Normandy
By the end of Spring of 1944, Germany had conquered most of Europe, including France. The Allied forces; Canada, Great Britain and the United States knew that to prevent expansion of Germany’s army into Great Britain, they needed to strike fast and hard on the northwest coast of Europe. After months of bombing the region, on the night of June 5, three battalions of paratroopers dropped from the sky into the region of Normandy. The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was among them with over 450 troops.
The Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, followed with the amphibious Allied landings at Normandy, France, early in the morning of June 6, 1944, and continued into the following weeks with a land campaign to establish, expand, and eventually break out of the Normandy bridgehead. In the English-speaking world, it remains the best-known battle of World War II and the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in then German-occupied France.
The Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach faced 11 heavy batteries of 155 mm guns and 9 medium batteries of 75 mm guns, as well as machine-gun nests, pillboxes, other concrete fortifications, and a seawall twice the height of the one at Omaha Beach. The first wave suffered 50 percent casualties, the second highest of the five D-Day beachheads.
Despite the obstacles, within hours the Canadians were off the beach and beginning their advance inland. The 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) was the only Allied unit to meet its June 6 objectives, when it crossed the Caen–Bayeux highway over nine miles (15 km) inland.
By the end of D-Day, 15,000 Canadians had been successfully landed, and the 3rd Canadian Division had penetrated further into France than any other Allied force, despite having faced such strong resistance at the beachhead. The 21st Panzer division launched the first D-Day counterattack between Sword and Juno beaches, and the Canadians held against several stiff counterattacks by the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend on June 7 and 8.
D-Day and the Battle of Normandy was one of Canada’s most significant military engagements, leading to the end of the Second World War. The armies of the Nazi regime had suffered a resounding defeat, one in which Canadian regiments played a major role. In the process, Canada’s troops had been forged into a highly effective army.
17. Haida Sign
The story of Canada’s most productive warship. HMCS Haida is a Tribal-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943-1963.
Haida is arguably the most famous warship to have ever served Canada, having sunk more enemy surface tonnage than any other Canadian warship. She is the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer out of 27 vessels that were constructed between 1937-1945 for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Haida was among the first batch of her kind ordered by the RCN in 1940-1941. The RCN based this order upon the successful use of the Tribals during the early years of World War II and the vessels were ordered with modified ventilation and heating systems for North Atlantic winter service.
She was launched on 25 August 1942 and commissioned into RCN service on 30 August 1943. She underwent workups under her first and most famous commanding officer, H.G. DeWolf before reporting to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in October 1943.
Haida worked with the Royal Navy in Arctic Russia that fall, providing convoy escort for relief of the Spitsbergen garrison into Kola and Murmansk.
On 10 January 1944, she was reassigned to the 10th Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth and took part in the Operation Tunnel sweeps in the Bay of Biscay. Haida was damaged by the German Elbing-class torpedo boat T-29 on the night of 25-26 April but pressed the attack and sank the T-29 in what was Haida’s first victory.
Haida took part in Operation Hostile sweeps on 28-29 April in company of HMCS Athabaskan . The Athabaskan was torpedoed by another Elbing, the T-24, with the loss of 128 crew while 83 became prisoners of war and Haida recovered 44 survivors. Haida is credited with attacking yet another Elbing that night when she forced the T-27 aground and set it afire with shelling; it was later sunk by rockets fired from Beaufighters the following day.
Haida continued the Operation Hostile sorties in company of sistership HMCS Huron (G24) during the months leading up to Operation Overlord. On June 8, Haida was part of Task Force 26 which is credited with sinking the destroyers ZH1 and Z32. On 24 June, Haida is credited with helping HMS Eskimo and aircraft in sinking U-971. On 15 July, Haida and two other vessels with the 10th Destroyer Flotilla intercepted a group of German ships at Lorient. The battle saw two trawlers UJ1420 and UJ1421 destroyed, one merchant ship sunk and two others left afire.
Haida experienced one of the last RCN engagements of World War II when she escorted convoy JW66 in its return to the United Kingdom from Vaenga. The convoy was attacked and Haida and Huron received near-misses from torpedoes fired by U-boats. In the skirmish, 2 U-boats were sunk, along with the frigate HMS Goodall, and the convoy escaped in a snowstorm. Haida and Huron returned to Scapa Flow on 6 May and was assigned to relief operations at Trondheimfiord, Norway on 17 May.
Haida was in mothballs for approximately 1 year but was prepared for reactivation in 1947.
The launch of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 saw Haida once again activated for war duty. She was converted to a destroyer escort and began refit in July 1950 which saw various new armaments and sensors and communications systems. She was recommissioned on 15 March, 1952 .
Haida relieved Nootka on 18 November off the west coast of Korea and had an uneventful patrol, returning to Sasebo to replenish on 29 November. She patrolled off the east coast of Korea beginning on 4 December and took part with USS Moore (DE-240) in shelling of a railway yard in Songjin as well as a coastal battery and North Korean troops. On 18-19 December, Haida attacked an enemy train but missed the escaping locomotive which hid in a nearby tunnel, thus not joining the exclusive “Trainbusters Club”. Haida returned to patrol on 3 January 1953 and escorted aircraft carriers as well as performing coastal bombardments. On 29 January, Haida entered the “Trainbusters Club” after attacking a train north of Iwon and also detonated a drifting anti-ship mine on her return to Yang do.
She departed Sasebo on 12 June, heading west through the Suez Canal and arrived in Halifax on 22 July 1953.
Haida departed Halifax for a second Korean tour on 14 December 1953, passing through the Panama Canal. Despite the cease fire, infractions by North Korea and China were occurring, thus the need for a naval presence around South Korea. She departed the Korean theatre on 1 November 1954 and headed for Halifax via the Suez Canal once again.
Following the Korean operations, Haida embarked on Cold War anti-submarine warfare duties with other NATO units in the North Atlantic and West Indies.
HMCS Haida retired on display in 1965 on Toronto’s waterfront for 40 years. She is now a National Historic Site of Canada and is a museum ship on the Hamilton waterfront.
18. Arnhem Sign
19. McNaughton Sign
General Andrew George Latta McNaughton. Born February 25, 1987, he was an army officer, politician and diplomat before his death, July 11, 1966.
Born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan (at the time in the Northwest Territories), McNaughton was a student at Bishop’s College School in Lennoxville, Quebec. He earned a B.A. from McGill University in Montreal in 1910 and an M.Sc. in 1912. He enlisted in the militia in 1909 and went to Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. While there he helped make advances in the science of artillery, and was wounded twice. By the end of the war he was in command of all of the Canadian Corps artillery. In 1920 he enlisted in the regular army and became Chief of the General Staff in 1929. In 1935 he became president of the National Research Council of Canada.
In 1939 he led the Canadian army into World War II, and was originally considered for the position of Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force until the Americans threatened to withdraw from the war unless General Dwight D. Eisenhower was chosen. McNaughton becomes commanding officer of the First Canadian Infantry Division. Under his leadership, the Division grows and is reorganized as a corps (1940), and then as an army (1942). McNaughton’s contribution to the development of new techniques is outstanding, especially in the field of detection and weaponry, including the discarding sabot projectile. He is however criticized for his poor judgement regarding military strategy especially his approval of the ill-fated operation against Dieppe. His obstinate opposition to the fragmentation of Canadian troops stationed in Great Britain antagonized both the British senior Staff and the Canadian government. Pressured by critics and weakened by health problems, McNaughton resigned his command in December 1943.
McNaughton strongly supported voluntary enlistment rather than conscription. This view was also held by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, who wanted to make McNaughton the first Canadian-born Governor General of Canada. Instead, McNaughton became Minister of National Defence when the standing Minister, James Ralston was forced to resign after the Conscription Crisis of 1944. McNaughton was soon pressured into calling for conscription despite King’s wishes, a popular move for some Canadians but an equally unpopular one for many others. McNaughton was unable to win a seat in Parliament and resigned in 1945.
After the war he served on the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission and as Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, as well as many other international committees, until his death in 1966.
Xavier “Louie” Gougeon came to Saskatoon, North West Territories first in 1881, returning a few years later with his wife and first child. He was a young man in his late twenties at time. He played a role on the steamship at Fish Creek during the Northwest Resistance in 1885. He came to Saskatoon as engineer aboard a steamship, deciding to file on a homestead once he arrived. He filed on land on the east half of 22-36-6-W3rd. This homestead was just west of present-day Gougeon Park, where 11th Street west meets Highway 7 today. When Saskatoon reached town status, Gougeon sat on the first town council from 1903 to 1904. A man of many skills, Gougeon was a contractor operating a lime kiln to make mortar for bricks and stone. He dug the basement of the Flanagan (now Senator) Hotel. Gougeon and his wife Mary Ann raised their family of one daughter and four sons in Saskatoon. The children attended the little stone school, Saskatoon’s first Victoria School. The family witnessed Saskatchewan becoming a province in 1905. Xavier Gougeon died in 1930; Mary died in 1941. Both are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. Gougeon’s granddaughter described him as “a real pioneer, humble, modest family man.”
In 1967, to honour Xavier Gougeon’s pioneer contribution to Saskatoon, City of Saskatoon officials named the park south of St. Dominic School – Gougeon Park.
August 10, 1991 Saskatoon Star Phoenix Article
In 2015 North Ridge Development Corp. held a contest to name their new townhouse construction in the 3200 block of 11th Street West. Dalton Males from Ortona Street won the contest with his suggestion of Highlander Ridge. The name honours the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, a Vancouver-based infantry regiment that saw action in Sicily, Italy and the liberation of the Netherlands in the Second World War.