“B” Company – Sketch History and List of Battle Commanders
“B” Company, sometimes referred to phonetically as “Beer” Company, or in the last years of the war by the new phonetic “Baker” Company, was organized as a standard rifle company. Two of the commanders of “B” Company – Wynn Lasher and Sherwin Robinson – had served together in the 15th Light Horse before the war.
The following two articles are taken from the July 1945 issue of the regimental newsletter “The Glen”. Some historians may be inclined to dismiss these “souvenir” articles as a simple form of high school yearbook for soldiers, and therefore unsuitable for reproducing on a website. The webmaster feels it is fitting that the officers and men who comprised these companies in action should have their voice preserved in this manner – and that while some hyperbole should be taken with a grain of salt, the significance of certain events – just as the death of Major Nixon – are revealed in no uncertain terms as the important and noteworthy events they were to these men. Each company had its own character, generated by the personalities of the men on its rolls. “B” Company was apparently proof of the adage of an army travelling on its stomach.
In fairness to the original authors of these pieces, they were probably requested by the highest level to put together some words regarding their companies for this souvenir edition. Fighting men – especially those who have seen 11 months of continuous operational service – are not necessarily the best ones to expect literary genius from. In traditional yearbook style, some of what is written below may indeed include in-jokes or other observations indecipherable to the modern reader. But for what they are worth, below are reprinted the articles, in the words of those who were there, with slight editing of abbreviations. Note also the concentration on the happy times; in addition to the cooks, many of the other “non-combatant” personnel of the company such as the clerk, the drivers and the cobbler are mentioned. Little emphasis is placed on the horrors that the majority of the company saw, including the riflemen, light machinegunners, section commanders, platoon commanders, and weapons team members manning the PIATs or 2-inch mortars.
Highlights on…..Baker Company by Captain H.J.S. “Sandy” Pearson
“B” Company has come a long way and has seen a lot of changes in personnel since they first landed in Normandy on 6 July 1944.
In the first attack the Calgary Highlanders made on July 19, at Hill 67, “B” Company was left assault company. Major C.C.A. Nixon led them through a very difficult action and there the Company made a name for themselves which has never changed.
From there came a succession of hard and heavy actions up to the Falaise Gap: May-sur-Orne, where Major Nixon was killed, charging a machine-gun post, then to Ifs, where Major Wynn Lasher took over and Tilly-la-Campagne, which was probably the toughest show the Company ever saw. Brettevile, Clair-Tizon, Orbec, Foret de la Londe, Rouen, Loon Plage are all names which will be discussed for years.
From Loon Plage the Company moved through to Wommelghen and took part in the crossing of the Albert Canal. Major Ross Ellis took command here and led the Company through the fighting up through Holland, where “B” Company excelled themselves at Hoogerheide. It was the only Company to gain its objective on time, and could help the other Companies in. Major Ellis left us to command the battalion, while Major Robinson led the Company through the dyke fighting and out on the causeway to Walcheren Island.
Then came a long period of sitting in trenches near Nijmegen, at Groesbeek, Malden and Bergen-en-Dal. This difficult period only made the Company more anxious to tangle with the Jerries and when finally the chance came on February 8 at Wyler, Germany, they did a job which clearly showed that the period of waiting didn’t lessen their fighting ability a bit. During the drive to clear the west bank of the Rhine, through Moyland, the Hochwald Forest, Xanten and Birten, “B” Company never failed to turn in an excellent job.
After a short rest at Berg-en-Dal, the Company was away again across the Rhine back to Holland, through Doetinchem, and the fast pursuit which was to end in Groningen. Here the Company took 250 prisoners, setting a record for the Battalion.
Major Robinson left the Company in Doetinchem and the Company was very sorry to see him go. He was with the Company longer than any other Company commander “B” Company had had and proved himself a very capable man.
During the final stages of the war in Germany, the fighting was easier and when the “Cease Fire” came in Oldenburg on May 5, it was no wholly unexpected.
The hardest part of the war came with the conversion from war time soldiering to peace time soldiering. Everyone put his heart into the “Spit and Polish” routine and by working together made things much easier. The fine spirit of cooperation, both in war and peace, has made for “B” Company the name it holds today. No man who worked or fought with the Company has ever let it down.
The Calgary Highlanders have as fine a name as any unit overseas and “B” Company has contributed in no small way to making it so. Those who gave their lives for us will never be forgotten and their deeds will be remembered.
Capt. H.J.S. Pearson
|Major Cyril C. A. Nixon||6 Jul 1944||25 Jul 1944||Killed|
|Captain Edgar W. “Wynn” Lasher||Jul 1944||13 Aug 1944||Wounded|
|Captain Frank “Nobby” Clarke||Aug 1944|
|Major Ross Ellis||late Sep 44|
|Major S.O. Robinson||Oct 44|
|Captain Frank “Nobby” Clarke||Feb 45||Commanded at Wyler|
|Major S.O. Robinson||Apr 45||Wounded on 20 Feb but not evacuated|
|Captain H.J. “Sandy” Pearson||VE Day|
“B” Company Glen Notes
Just a word to remind the battalion that “B” Company is doing the same mad things as peace-time soldiers, as we did when we were “the cream of Canada’s fighting army.” We’ve had a lot of worries, a lot of sorrow, a lot of fun and lots of M&V1 in the past year, and needless to say, we are quite happy to be preparing for our trip home. We have been rather lucky as a Company in action, always having a swell gang of lads who were always ready to go anywhere, whether it be into a scrap or into town to buy cognac from the black market.
As is customary in the army, our biggest beef all the way from Canada to Varel, Germany, has been the food, especially that “Haricot Oxtail Stew” as served by our good old cook. Joe Felcel sure could boil those cans! Seriously though, our cooks have done a darn good job all the way through, in fact we have been ably supported by F-1 Echelon at all times. Guys like Kirkwood, Vert, Phelps, Wookey, Burrows, and Garrick have been slinging some pretty fair hash for some time – granted, they do slip once in a while. Then of course, our “Boots” have kept us walking on fairly good leather. Then there are our drivers; quite a few of them have returned home, among them, Ron Eyre – we still wonder what happens to Ron’s legs when rum or cognac is available. A well-run Company, like Baker Company, must always have a well-run office, run by a very capable clerk, which we have always had.
Now for the platoons – 10 – 11 – 12 – all we can say to the boys of the platoons is this: you have all done a grand job and we wish you all the success in the world, back home.
The platoons were always ably led in action by such men as CSM Baker, Sergeant Sterling, Clark, Coe, Hately, Hopkins, Deans, Morris, Jones, Wheeler and many others, and to top this list we could add hundreds of Corporals who carried us through to the top. What about Privates, you say? Well, you lads know yourselves that you did all the work, all the beefing and all the fighting, so what more can we say?
Some things to remember about “B” Company:
A raiding party in Malden which acquired many chickens – lovely chickens – nobody ever did pin that on us but now we admit it.
A fishing party in Ten Platoon in Malden – “Oh boy! ’36’ Grenades2 are the best to go fishing with.”
The shooting up of a Regiment de Maisonneuve patrol by Ten Platoon in December 1944.
The ball-game 12 Platoon had at Christmas time in the front lines.
The patrol by a certain platoon which ended up in a Belgian pub.
The two Jerries who did not get shot by a certain officer and Corporal in spite of their efforts and not to mention the proximity of the Jerries. Some marksmen! Maybe this is the same officer who tried in vain to shoot a Jerry who merely looked with a mixture of contempt and pity at his vain attempt to fire the gun, calmly walked right by him and surrendered to a man in the rear!
We could go on for some time with all kinds of stories but if we did that you lads would have nothing to tell your families when you get back home.
One other thing we must record for posterity is the day we made the Jerry officer dig that hole in Varel.
Having just come back from a bath parade, with clean clothes on it is fun to remember those twenty-eight days in the Reichwald, when you were ladylike if you had less than four days beard and looked any other color but black.
We may not have won the VC but we sure tried hard.
1. M&V = “Meat and Vegetable” – a component of the standard “Compo Ration” that Canadian soldiers were issued in the field. Consisting of canned food, veterans do not recall M&V very fondly, insisting that the cans held little in the way of edible samples of either meat or vegetables.
2. Also known inaccurately as the “Mills Bomb”, the Number 36 Grenade was the standard issue grenade during the Second World War.