Prose and Music of The Calgary Highlanders
As a Highland Regiment, The Calgary Highlanders must maintain standards in many areas of endeavour. Skill at arms is primary for an infantry regiment, but there are many secondary considerations. For example the musical talents of the Regimental Pipes and Drums are always taken quite seriously. The ability of the Regiment to keep its own stories alive also requires the skill of talented authors, poets and songwriters. The Regiment has not been idle in pursuing these goals, as the following examples will attest.
Regimental Histories and Memoirs
The history of the Regiment has been well chronicled by several distinguished military historians and many memoirs, published and unpublished, also make up part of the Regiment’s written record.
The first regimental history to be published was Roy Farran’s work History of The Calgary Highlanders 1921-54. Roy Farran was highly decorated as a Special Air Service officer during the Second World War, earning both the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross.
A more recent volume concentrating solely on the Regiment in the Second World War is Battalion of Heroes: The Calgary Highlanders in World War Two. Dr. David Bercuson, a distinguished labour historian and military author, penned this volume after extensive interviews with surviving veterans and examination of period archival documents.
The history of the Tenth Battalion was very ably written by the late Daniel Dancocks. Gallant Canadians: The Story of the Tenth Canadian Infantry Battalion 1914-1919 chronicles in detail the formation, war service, and post-war history of the Fighting Tenth.
The Brigade by esteemed Canadian author Terry Copp examines the history of the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade, with whom the Calgary Highlanders served in the Second World War.
In addition to the many unpublished memoirs in the Regimental Archives, an excellent source of information, self-published is A Backwards Glance: An Infantry Signaller in The Calgary Highlanders by Frank Holm. Mr. Holm joined the battalion as a replacement signaller in Holland, and his memoir is a vivid and readable reminiscence of his time with the unit in Northwest Europe.
Far From Home is the work of distinguished historian Jeffery Williams, who served with the Calgary Highlanders in the Second World War. This book, published in 2003, has many excellent photos of his wartime service with the Regiment, as well as pre- and post-war. He went on to serve in a variety of positions until 1970.
The Long Left Flank: The Hard Fought Way To The Reich by Jeffery Williams is a study of the entire post-Normandy Northwest Europe campaign in World War Two, however Williams admittedly uses many quotes by Calgary Highlanders, as he himself served in the Regiment during the Second World War.
Slagveld Sloedam (“The Causeway Battlefield) was written by R. E. Hoebeke of The Netherlands, in Dutch, and chronicles both the fighting at the Walcheren Causeway in 1940 during the German invasion, and the actions of the 2nd Canadian Division and 52nd (Lowland) Division of the British Army to liberate the area in October and November of 1944. The Calgary Highlanders played a leading role in the Causeway fighting and consider that action to represent all the battles they fought in the Second World War. One of the cover photos shows Private William R. Van Horne of the Calgary Highlanders being attended to at an advanced medical station after being wounded on the Causeway during the fighting.
Welcome to Flanders Fields by Daniel G. Dancocks is rich with historical detail, ‘Welcome to Flanders Fields’ recreates the atmosphere and events of The Second Battle of Ypres, and gives voice to the soldiers who, in a baptism by fire, gave their hearts and their lives in the Allied cause.
St. Julien: Ypres by Graham Keech. The village of St. Julian figured in several battles of the First World War, but this new volume in the Battleground Europe series concentrates on the site’s darkest moment: the first use of poison gas as a weapon of war. The St. Julian region saw many acts of courage in the face of unknown and deadly weapons. Maps, photos and sketches cover all the major units and actions at the site, including all eight Victoria Crosses, and provide a guide to the area as it is today.
As a gesture of farewell marking the end of his tour of duty as Regimental Sergeant Major of The Calgary Highlanders, Chief Warrant Officer Kent J. Griffiths, CD donated two plaques to the regiment in September 2004; one to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess, and one to the Junior Ranks Club. The following poem was inscribed on the plaques:
THERE’S A LEGEND THAT EVERY STAR
BURNS WITH THE VALOR IN A SOLDIER’S HEART
AND IT’S ALSO SAID THAT HIGHLANDERS
KEEP THE NIGHT SKY FROM GOING DARK
THERE IS BOUND WITHIN THE WEAVE OF THE CLOTH
TRADITIONS AND AN IMAGE SO STRANGE
THAT STRIKES FEAR IN THE FOE AND DEMANDS THE RESPECT
OF THOSE WHO BEHOLD AND COMRADES IN ARMS
WITH THE RESONANCE OF PIPES IN THE WIND
AND A CLAMOR OF THE DRUMS SOUNDING CHANGE
APPREHENSION BUILDS OF THE ENCOUNTER THEY FACE
AND A FLAVOR OF FEAR IS ON THE RIVAL’S TONGUE
IT’S A STANDARD IN THE CALGARY CLAN
THAT THEY BE SOLDIERS EVERY WOMAN AND MAN
AND THEY CARRY WITHIN THE DISTINCTION ACQUIRED
SINCE THE OLD TIMES WHEN THE COUNTRY WAS YOUNG
THERE’S A FACT THAT MANY SCHOLARS HAVE KNOWN
THE ROOT OF HONOUR GOES DOWN TO THE BONE
AND IT’S JUST THIS TRAIT IN THE TARTAN CLAD
THAT COMMANDERS HAVE ALWAYS DESIRED
SO ASK NOT WHICH WAY YOUR COLOURS BLOW
JUST FOLLOW THEM WHEREVER THEY GO
FOR THE DUTY OF A HIGHLANDER
IS TO MARCH, FIGHT AND SOMETIMES DIE
CWO KJ Griffiths, CD
Regimental Sergeant Major, 2004
During his service as Regimental Bard, Mister Jack Whyte provided the unit with a lasting set of tributes to the men of both the Tenth Battalion, CEF and the First Battalion, Calgary Highlanders. The two tributes, reproduced below, were performed by Mister Whyte on the commercially produced recording “EIGHTY YEARS OF GLORY: The Regimental Pipes, Drums and Bard of The Calgary Highlanders.” Also included below are the lyrics Mr. Whyte penned to Highland Cathedral, the unofficial regimental hymn.
St. Julien Wood
The Battle of St. Julien is commemorated annually by The Calgary Highlanders and the sacrifices of the Tenth Battalion – predecessor unit to the Regiment – are remembered with special pride. The battle is described in detail elsewhere on this site. Mister Whyte composed this touching piece of prose to honour the “Glorious Memory of the 22nd of April” and recites this piece on the recording “Eighty Years of Glory.” On the recording, the Refrain is sung to the tune of “The Black Bear”, a traditional pipe tune and one of the favourites of the Regiment.
Five hundred yards to the front, a black silhouette stood
Outlined by the flickering gunfire; St. Julien Wood.
The land between had been blasted and shattered and raped
And, concealed between black, smoking craters, the gates of Hell gaped.
Canadian soldiers stood, waiting for word to advance,
Their minds drinking in this grim vision of beautiful France
While their ears cringed in mental discomfort and physical pain
At the noise of the barrage that screamed around Ypres again.
The time came, and they moved out, advancing in alternate waves
Each two companies strong; each one moving as water behaves,
Flowing forward in silence to find its own level, around
All the upflung confusion of shell-tortured, treacherous ground.
In spite of the darkness of midnight, the going was good
So that, still undetected, their front rank came close to the Wood
Until, just as the forest developed a visible edge,
They ran into the French farmer’s border – a strong, healthy hedge!
What to do? There was no way around it, and time was their foe
Just as much as the Germans: smash through; there’s nowhere else to go.
So they tried, and they died, row on row, as though caught in barbed wire
As the enemy, startled alert, laid down murderous fire.
Decimated – each tenth man laid dead – was a word coined in Rome,
And the Tenth would have happily settled for that, and gone home,
But the hedge all around them confined them, and try as they would,
They had no way but forward to go … To St. Julien Wood.
They were out of the hedge now and into the enemy trench
Swinging bayonet and rifle butt, covered in mud, blood and stench,
And they out of the trench and on, up to the edge of the trees
Where the enemy, hidden by tree trunks, could snipe them with ease.
But the surging Canucks were demented by now — men possessed
By one single and burning incentive — to clean out this nest
Of demonic and venomous hornets; this devil-spawned brood
Who were trying to stop them from taking St. Julien Wood.
And the Hun staggered backwards, his dead lying heaped on the ground;
Hundred tried to surrender, appalled by the fury they’d found
In these madmen who fought like blind Furies unleased by the gods
Coming forward, and winning, in face of incredible odds!
But then, somehow, the stunned German infantry rallied again
And perceived that the demons who tore at them really were men,
And from enfilade points they set up a new withering fire
That would force these Canadian berserkers to stop and retire.
Those first three hellish hours dragged on to become sixty four;
Almost three solid days of exhaustion, gas, gunfire and gore,
And only one hundred of eight hundred and sixteen men
Came back out of St. Julien Wood into sunlight again.
What they did in that wood, amid carnage and slaughter and strife,
Moved their General to say that the thing he most prized in his life
Was the “Canada” armlet displayed with such pride on his sleeve,
And the honour he felt just to know what his men had achieved.
For, as machine guns spewed at them
And shellfire chewed at them
The tired survivors had no water and no food
Because for sixty hours
They’d defied the powers
Of the Kaiser’s crack battalions at St. Julien Wood.
The place had been the test of them; It saw the best of them
Blown into glory in the battle’s bitter feud,
And the oak leaf medallion
Of the Tenth Battalion
Is the symbol of its glory at St. Julien Wood.
Loud sing the bugles that sound in November,
Calling the Living to pause and remember
Arthur; Lowry; Ormond; Boyle; Comrades resting after battle’s toil.
So when the mess kit’s sparkling
And the pibroch’s darkling
Melody brings gooseflesh and a tingling in the blood
You know the rank and file and Brethren of the Highlanders
Are reliving the Glory of St. Julien Wood.
The Battle at Walcheren Causeway is also remembered annually each year by the Regiment with a full battalion parade and religious service. Mister Whyte’s prose, reproduced below, is also performed by him on the Eighty Years of Glory recording.
I recall I sat on the porch that night, Sipping whisky, straight and neat
Watching tiny goblins and lanterns bright Flitting up and down the street,
But I don’t recall his approach at all; He just suddenly came into view,
Walking straight and tall by my garden wall And I greeted him as I would you.
“Good evening, soldier. God save the Queen! ” I toasted him.
“Slake your thirst With some good malt Scotch, for it’s Halloween, October the thirty first.
The kid’s are all out in the neighbourhood
And I’m drinking some lonely toasts
To the wee folk, there, to my own childhood,
To the darkness and the ghosts!”
He turned and eyed me – I’d never seen His face in my life before.
“Sure,” he said. “I’ll be happy to toast Halloween – Halloween, nineteen forty four.”
He crossed the lawn and he shook my hand
And I cheerfully poured him a glass.
I assumed from his clothing he played in a band;
He was kilted and glittering with brass.
He proposed “The Calgary Highlanders!” We downed it. I poured us one more.
“To the Walcheren Causeway!” he said. “Halloween, Nineteen hundred and forty four! ”
“To the what?” I enquired, and his eyes went blank
And a strange look came over his face
And, embarrassed, I flushed and my self-esteem sank,
For I felt myself, somehow, disgraced.
“The Walcheren Causeway.” He said it again.
“It’s a roadway; a long, narrow belt
Of a road built out over the water and fen To a Dutch island, out on the Scheldt.
Just a high, built-up roadway; flat; narrow; exposed
To the wind and the rain and the sleet.
God! The first time we saw it, we never supposed
We’d be crossing the thing on our feet.
“It was two thousand yards long, and each exposed foot
Of it made it a breeze to defend
For the Germans who held it; you see, they could shoot
From the roadblock they’d built at their end.
“I know two thousand yards may not seem much by day
when you’re taking a stroll with your sons,
But at night, in a fight, it’s a long, long way
When you’re facing an enemy’s guns.
“They had told us at first we’d be crossing in boats
To assault Middelburg ‘cross the Slooe,
But the mud was as thick as the fear in our throats
And it stuck our assault craft like glue.
“Yet we had to cross over; we had to attack;
And by land, there was only one route
And that route was the Causeway;
straight, long, bare and black.
“Well, the Highlanders moved in on foot
Under cover of darkness with no place to halt;
No surprise; no maneuvering room; Just a mad, midnight dash;
a straight frontal assault Into blackness, confusion and doom.
“Jerry’s mortars and field guns were well zeroed in,
And the roadblock machine guns, as well,
But we had to approach them, engage them, and win,
So we charged them, like bats out of Hell!
“All the guns, theirs and ours, turned the night into day
And the shell splinters, bullets and stone
Fragments turned the air solid and slaughtered men lay
Where they fell, lifeless, limp and alone.
“Twelve Platoon of B Company took the full force
Of a hellish, defensive crossfire;
They were out in the front, unprotected, of course,
And B Company had to retire.
“Daybreak came, and the sight of that shell shattered road
Would have riven an archangel’s brain,
But D Company moved forward and took up the load
And the whole place erupted again.
“How they did it, God knows, but they went all the way
Where no human could hope to survive,
And they captured the roadblock; they carried the day
And the rest of us crossed there alive.
“Like the Light Brigade charging the jaws of death,
Riding into the mouth of Hun,
They smelled the stink of the Demon’s breath
As they friends and their messmates fell.
“Like their Highlander forbears who fought with pride
On the rolling Zulu veldt,
They faced extinction and stemmed its tide
On that Causeway over the Scheldt.
“Like their Sister Regiment’s Thin Red Line On the Balaclavan clay,
They defied false gods for the narrow spine Of the Walcheren Causeway.
As the Calgary men took St. Julien
In the War that had gone before,
These ones captured the Causeway to Walcheren
And distinguished the oakleaf they wore.”
His voice tailed away and he stared at me
And between us, a silence hung;
As I reached for the bottle to charge his glass,
I was thinking he looked too young
To have seen the things he said he’d seen;
But then shock unhinged my jaw,
For the chair sat empty, where he had been
And the night had turned cold and raw.
I jumped up and ran to the garden wall
And I searched the empty street
But I saw no sign of him at all
And I heard no sound of feet.
Then his voice said, clearly, “To Walcheren:
Don’t forget!” inside my head,
And I shivered and turned, and went slowly in
To a sleepless, comfortless bed.
The melody played by the pipes was originally written in Germany in the 1880’s by Roever/Korb specifically for the bagpipes. Several pipe bands have recorded it and the Regimental Pipes and Drums first became familiar with the tune in 1989 at the Nova Scotia International Tattoo, where it formed part of the required performance repertoire. In 1990, Jack Whyte put words to the melody which was rearranged slightly by Pipe Major Henderson. The tune may be heard on the recording “Eighty Years of Glory” and has become a traditional part of the annual St. Julien’s church service, with the Pipes and Drums playing to the accompaniment of the organ at the Cathedral of the Redeemer in Calgary.
Lyrics by Jack Whyte, Melody written by Roever/Korb
Look to the mountains when you turn to pray;
Think how they reach to Heaven every day,
Lifting their snowy heads and shoulders broad;
Offering all they are to the eyes of God.
Misty and mystic in the morning light;
Painted with colour in the noonday bright;
Golden and purple in the evening air;
All day and every day mountains stand in prayer.
Lift your eyes and see where they rise
Higher and higher, steeple and spire;
Buttress, gable and soaring tower,
Dwarfing Man’s earthly power!
These are Cathedrals that no man could build;
Awesome and glorious and wonder-filled;
Each is a masterpiece, each one unique,
Living a prayer, ‘though lacking a voice to speak.
So look to the mountains when you turn to pray;
See how they strive for Heaven every day,
Lifting their snowy heads and shoulders broad,
Offering all they are to the eyes of God.
Private George Gilmore was born in London, England on 5 January 1876, and before the war was married and worked as a book-keeper. He also served for many years with the 7th Royal Fusiliers, the 100th Regiment (Winnipeg Grenadiers) and the 90th Regiment (Winnipeg Rifles) in the Canadian Militia. He was attested for overseas service in September 1914, with his attestation signed by Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle, Commanding Officer of the Tenth Battalion, CEF. At 38 years and 9 months, he brought considerable life experience to the unit, and a poem of his, to the Glorious Memory of the 22nd of April, was published in War Illustrated. The following is reproduced in the Tenth Battalion’s published history Gallant Canadians.
O! Canada, Mistress of snows and of mountain,
Tears are the dew of thy prairies to-day;
Thy blood has gushed forth as if it were from a fountain,
‘Neath Belgium’s sweet soil thy noble sons lay.
Gallant the “Charge” that made the world-story,
Fierce were the odds, but they knew not dismay,
Ever their fame will reflect in the glory
Of self-sacrifice, as they fell on the way.
– Private George Gilmore, Tenth Battalion
Private George William Frost (information collected from the website http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/202/300/inditer/2001/06-04/frost/default.htm, and information posted there by great-grandson, Les Frost of Ottawa, Ontario, and great-granddaughter, Marian (Frost) Nurse of Victoria, British Columbia. Thanks to Mr. Frost for his permission to use this information on this site.
George William Frost was born August 29, 1872 at Newsham Station, Blyth, England, and was signed onto a sailing ship as a young boy. His mother died while he was at sea, and he lost contact with his father. He married Mary Furniss in 1896 in England. He volunteered to fight with the Americans in the Spanish-American War in Cuba, then fought in the Boer War with the 69th Imperial Yeomanry. In 1904-05 he served as a seaman on a troopship during the Russo-Japanese War. In 1905 he emigrated to Canada. By 1914 he was homesteading in Alberta; he installed his wife in Red Deer and travelled to Calgary to join the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) from where he was taken on strength as a Lance Corporal with the Tenth Battalion and given Regimental Number 20477.
Frost was taken prisoner during the Battle of St. Julien in April 1915, and worked in camps at Meschede, Friedberg, and Essen in Germany. In November 1917 he was part of a prisoner exchange in Switzerland. He was discharged from the military in February 1919, returned to Alberta, and moved to B.C. in the 1920s. In the 1930s the family moved to California, and towards the end of World War Two they returned to Canada, living in Winnipeg, then Vancouver. He passed away 26 February 1953 and is buried in the Field of Honour, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia.
His poetry was written under the pen name “Pat Riot” (patriot) and also under his own name. He was granted a copyright for his book “Poetical Soliloquies of a Prisoner of War” published in 1932.
Post Mortem Praises
I’ve noticed when a fellow dies no matter what he’s been.
A saintly chap or one whose life was deeply steeped in sin.
His friends forget the bitter words they spoke of him yesterday.
But now they find a multitude of pretty things to say.
I fancy when I go to rest someone will bring to light
some kindly act or worldly deed long buried out of sight.
But if it’s all the same to you no matter what is said,
so kindly throw your bouquets now and knock me when I’m dead.
It may be nice when one is dead to have the folks talk so,
and have the flowers come in loads from relatives you know.
It may be nice to have those things from those you leave behind.
But just as far as I’m concerned, I really do not mind.
I’m quite alive and well today – just give to me instead
your bouquets while I’m living and your knocking when I’m dead.
Just give to me one kindly word while I linger here alone
and don’t save all your eulogy to carve upon a stone.
For what do I care if when I’m dead the Bloomingdale Gazette
gives me a write up and a cut in mourning borders set.
It would not flatter me a bit and while I linger here
alone lend me a helping hand; at times a word of cheer.
– just change the game a little bit and likewise change the deck.
For I will be no judge of flowers when I pass my check.
According to his family:
“His poetry reflects his values and his great respect for friends and family. He was very disheartened by the conditions found by Canada’s veterans returning from the first world war to a country soon to be ravaged by a deep depression. Jobs were scarce and men starved and struggled to get by. After the glory of a victory at war, their hopes for a better life were dashed and many of their spirits broken. This and many varied life experiences were the fodder for George’s poetry.”
Some of his poetry may be found at the following website: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/202/300/inditer/2001/08-25/frost/poems.htm
The Glen is the news magazine of the Calgary Highlanders and is published by the Regimental Funds Foundtion with assistance from the Calgary Highlanders Regimental Association. It began in 1939 as a weekly paper and went to war with the 1st Battalion Calgary Highlanders. Publication ceased with the end of the Second World War in 1945. It was revived as a monthly newspaper from 1954 to 1959 before once again beginning publication in 1974 on an annual basis. During the Fall of 2011 the Glen moved to a digital magazine format, which allows full-colour publishing, several times per year.
For more information on submitting articles or subscription, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Past Issues (electronic format)-
Vol. 4 Iss. 1
Vol. 4 Iss. 2
Vol. 2 Iss. 1
Vol. 2 Iss. 2
Vol. 2 Iss. 3
Vol. 1 Iss 1
Vol. 1 Iss 2
Vol. 1 Iss 3
Regimental Historians and Authors
The Regiment has had excellent books published about its history; service in the regiment has also inspired its own soldiers to write and be published in the field of military history. This is a list of those known historians and authors.
Major Roy Farran, DSO, MC
Roy Farran was born in England in 1921, attended school in India, and after service in the Second World War retired to Calgary (at the age of 31) to raise cattle. His Second World War exploits could (and have) fill volumes; Farran was a Commando officer, serving in the now famous Special Air Service. He first saw action in North Africa with the 3rd Hussars before joining the SAS, commanding a troop of tanks. Farran was moved to Crete where he was wounded in action and taken prisoner. After recuperating in a Greek hospital, Farran escaped by boat and were adrift for nine days before being rescued by a British destroyer. After joining the SAS he led many raids behind enemy lines, large and small, and was highly decorated. He won the DSO twice and the Military Cross three times, as well as the US Legion of Merit.
He remained in the SAS after the Second World War, being wrongfully accused of the murder of a 16 year old Jewish terrorist in Palestine while serving there. When a mail bomb sent to “R. Farran” at his mother’s home killed his brother Rex, he decided to leave the Army.
Once in Calgary, Farran founded the North Hill News in 1954 (at about the same time he wrote the Calgary Highlanders’ history), and served as city alderman between 1961 and 1971. Elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, he served as Solicitor General from 1975 to 1979.
Roy Farran’s account of the Calgary Highlanders (known widely to the regiment as “The Green Book”) was published ten years after the conclusion of the Second World War. The book today is a collector’s item, long out of print and fetching large sums on the used book market.
The History of the Calgary Highlanders 1921- 1954 (Bryant Press, Calgary, AB, 1954)
Daniel G. Dancocks
Daniel Dancocks was a graduate of the University of Alberta, and also widely published in the subject of Canadian military history, including a volume on the subject of Canadian prisoners of war. His interest in the First World War led to visits to the Ypres Salient, and the highly acclaimed book Welcome to Flanders Fields: The First Canadian Battle of the Great War: Ypres, 1915.
His research into the Ypres battle, in which the Tenth Battalion played such a vital role, made him a natural candidate when the Regimental Funds Foundation commissioned an author to write the Regiment’s First World War history. Gallant Canadians, produced two years after Welcome to Flanders Fields, may be considered one of the best Great War era regimental histories yet written. Dancocks went on to produce an excellent summary of Canadian involvement in Italy in the Second World War (D-Day Dodgers), and unfortunately plans to write the Second World War history of the Regiment went unfulfilled in the wake of his untimely death.
Gallant Canadians: The Story of the Tenth Canadian Infantry Battalion 1914-1919 (Calgary Highlanders Regimental Funds Foundation, Calgary, AB, 1990). 252pp ISBN 0-9694616-0-7
Doctor Terry Copp
Terry Copp has been published extensively on the subject of Canadian military history, including volumes on battlefield psychology, operational research, the fighting in Normandy and Holland, and co-authorship of a regimental history of the Royal Regina Rifle Regiment. Terry Copp is a professor of history, and also contributed regularly to Legion Magazine.
His book The Brigade is unique in being the first published volume to examine Canadian military history from the level of an infantry brigade. The brigade he selected was the Fifth Canadian Brigade, to whom the Calgary Highlanders belonged during the Second World War.
The Brigade: The Fifth Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1939-1945 (Fortress Publications, Stoney Creek, ON, 1992 ISBN 0-919195-16-4
Doctor David Bercuson
David Bercuson, born in Montreal in 1945, has become a leading name in Canadian history. A graduate with honours of Sir George Williams University, he finished his MA at the University of Toronto in 1967, and his PhD in 1971. After years as an assistant professor, he became a full professor at the University of Calgary in 1978 and in 1989 was made Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies there.
After early experiences in radio and editing the Canadian Historical review, Bercuson has moved on to contributing a regular column to The Calgary Herald, as well as commentary appearances on CBC and CTV newscasts.
Bercuson’s other published works are diverse, from True Patriot: The Life of Brooke Claxton, to Canada and the Birth of Israel. Other military works include Significant Incident: Canada’s Army, the Airborne, and the Murder in Somalia and Blood on the Hills: The Canadian Army in the Korean War.
Battalion of Heroes: The Calgary Highlanders in World War Two (Calgary Highlanders Regimental Funds Foundation, Calgary, AB, 1994) ISBN 0-9694616-1-5
Lieutenant Edward Patrick Ford
Ed Ford arrived served with the Calgary Highlanders as a platoon commander in Normandy, and though briefly evacuated in August with battle exhaustion, remained with a rifle company until 19 September 1944, when he took over the duties of Intelligence Officer of the battalion. He held the position until 2 November 1944, when Captain Keller, MM took over the position.
Lieutenant Ford’s duties as IO included keeping the battalion’s War Diary. While the diary has not been published in a formal sense, Lieutenant Ford’s entries were very notable for the level of detail that went into them and make for fascinating reading as well as being an invaluable documentation of the battalion’s history.
After his period as Intelligence Officer, he went on to command 14 Platoon in action, and survived the war. He passed away at age 90 on 28 August 2004.
The following is a list of soldiers who have served in the Calgary Highlanders and published a memoir:
Jeffery Williams, CD
Jeffery Williams was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1920 and served with the Calgary Highlanders both before the Second World War, and after Mobilization in the First Battalion, later serving in staff duties in Northwest Europe. After WW II he commanded a company of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Korea. He has taught at the Staff College and held military appointments in Germany, in the Canadian Embassy in Washington and the Canadian High Commission in London. He retired from the Canadian Forces in 1971.
His awards for writing included the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the University of British Columbia’s Canadian Biography Award, the latter for his biography of Lord Byng, the Governor General of Canada and commander of the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge.
In 2003, the University of Calgary Press published his autobiography Far From Home: A Memoir of a 20th Century Soldier Containing 374 pages and many rare photos, the book covers his entire life and is needless to say very well written and engaging. ISBN: 1-55238-119-6
Other works most directly related to The Calgary Highlanders include:
The Long Left Flank : The Hard Fought Way to the Reich, 1944-1945 (Toronto, Ontario: Stoddart, 1988). 384pp ISBN: 0773721940
A 348 page book covering the fighting in Northwest Europe from the end of the Normandy Campaign to VE Day. Many quotes from Calgary Highlanders and good coverage of all the fighting seen by Canadian soldiers in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany from September 1944 to May 1945.
The Capture of Walcheren Island, 1944 (Roosevelt Study Center, 1994). 24pp
A pamphlet on the capture of Walcheren Island.
Additionally, Mister Williams has published a regimental history of the PPCLI as well as a biography of Hamilton Gault, founder of that regiment.
Private Frank P. Holm
Frank P. Holm served as a signaller with the Calgary Highlanders from September of 1944 to April of 1945 and was a direct participant in many of the Regiment’s most famous actions including Walcheren Causeway and Groningen.
In 1989, ex-Private Holm published a succinct but highly detailed and well-written account of his service.
A Backward Glance: The Personal Story of an Infantry Signaller with the Calgary Highlanders in World War Two (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario: Self Published, 1989)
Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Linford
Chris Linford served for 8 years in The Calgary Highlanders as a snare drummer, earning the rank of Sergeant and the appointment of lead drummer. In 1988, he left for the Regular Force to be commissioned as a nursing officer. His career in the Regular Force spanned 24 years and included operational tours in Rwanda, the first Gulf War, and Afghanistan, where he was executive officer of the NATO Role 3 Combat Surgical Hospital at Kandahar Airfield. He commanded several medical units, including 1 Field Ambulance. His autobiography is a well-received book about his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Warrior Rising: A Soldier’s Journey to PTSD and Back (Friesen Press, Victoria, BC, 2013) ISBN 978-1-4602-1993-5 (paperback edition)
The following is a list of those who have served in the Calgary Highlanders and been published in the field of Canadian military history.
Darrell Knight served as a Canadian Forces paratrooper during the Cold War era, in addition to training with military forces in Israel and Belize. In addition to military consulting for the National Post and CBC, he became a founding member of the Calgary Military Historical Society in 1978. His first book was entitled Pete Knight: The Cowboy King and published a history of the wartime Air Observation Post Squadrons entitled Artillery Flyers at War: A History of the 664, 665, and 666 ‘Air Observation Post’ Squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force. (Merriam Press, ISBN 978-0-557-32964-9)
Mr. Knight also edited the book History of the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion, C.E.F. which was re-published in 2006.
Corporal Michael A. Dorosh, CD
Michael Dorosh joined 2137 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps (The Calgary Highlanders) in 1985 while in high school. In 1987 he was taken on strength with the Regimental Pipes and Drums, where he served until 1996 when he was forced to remuster to the Finance Clerk trade, followed by another remuster to Resource Management Support Clerk following the amalgamation of the Finance and Administration clerk trades throughout the Canadian Forces. Service in the Battalion Orderly Room, “A” Company and “B” Company followed, as a clerk, company piper, and driver/signaller. Corporal Dorosh’s first book on the subject of Second World War Canadian Army uniforms was published in 1995, , followed by a second volume on the same subject in 2001.
Corporal Dorosh co-founded the 10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association Heritage Section in 1995, an organization which remained active until 2006. As a member of the Centennial Committee, he authored and published a tour guide that accompanied the Battlefield Pilgrimage that formed part of the regimental 100th anniversary events in 2010.
CANUCK: Clothing and Equipping the Canadian Soldier 1939-45 Volume I: Battledress, Weapons and Equipment (Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, MT, 1995) 156pp, ISBN 1-57510-005-3
Dressed to Kill (Service Publications Inc., Ottawa, ON, 2001) 88pp ISBN 1-894581-07-5
Captain Kenneth A. McKenzie
Kenneth A. McKenzie was born in Calgary, and graduated from law school at the University of Alberta in 1939. He was hired by the Attorney General of Alberta to assist the Legislative Counsel in revising the Statutes of Alberta and enlisted in the Canadian Army two years later, commissioned through the Canadian Officers Training Corps following training in Calgary. He returned to Edmonton where he served in the 3rd Battalion, The Edmonton Regiment, approximately twenty of whose officers went to a battalion of The Edmonton Fusiliers mobilized for service with Pacific Command on the west coast. He saw many fellow officers sent to Europe with the CANLOAN program, where surplus junior officers in Canada were sent to active postings in the British Army as either infantry or ordnance officers. He eventually embarked on an overseas draft, though he described his three month tour as Aide-de-camp to Major General George Pearkes, VC as a “wonderful experience.” The Adjutant of the reinforcement depot was an old friend from law school, and so he became assistant adjutant; battle drill training followed and in mid-1944 he arrived overseas as a reinforcement officer.
The Edmonton Regiment had no requirement for junior officers, but The Calgary Highlanders had suffered heavily in Normandy and the Scheldt. When Lieutenant Donald Patton “D.P.” McDaniel was killed on December 1st, 1944, at the age of 27, he was brought in to replace him. McDaniel had been a fellow Edmontonian. McKenzie took over his platoon in the Nijmegen Salient, where conditions were cold, wet and muddy. There, McKenzie contracted diptheria; recuperation in a British care facility was extensive, lasting several months. After the war in Europe had concluded, the Army did an extensive and sophisticated search of its personnel for anyone that had been admitted to the bar. McKenzie joined No. 1 Canadian Court-Martial Centre and with several teams of military lawyers attacked the backlog of courts-martial cases still on the books as the Canadian Army rapidly demobilized. He spent about a year in Europe with this group, under control of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).
Ken McKenzie returned to Edmonton and rejected an offer by the Attorney General to become Legislative Counsel of the Provincial Legislature, determined to become his own boss. He was hired, along with Clifton Purvis, to share the job of City of Edmonton Police Court prosecutor, hoping to earn an income at the same time as building up a private practice. He found the demands on his time burdensome given Purvis’ own private practice demands. McKenzie was almost a full time prosecutor when the Attorney General of Alberta once again offered a job, which he accepted in 1948. For four years, he drafted all the province’s legislation including that stemming from the discovery of oil at Leduc. In December 1952, an old friend from law school named Ted Bishop discussed forming a partnership. McKenzie helped guide the partnership through major changes; when major oil companies began relocating to Calgary, they refocused Bishop & McKenzie to become a broader based corporate commercial practice; as astute businessmen, they groomed articling students as potential partners and associates. McKenzie was made Queen’s Counsel in 1955 and by 1957, boasting two Q.C. appointees, the firm had become one of Edmonton’s most prestigious. Ken McKenzie retired in 1984, but presided over the Mind Bender Roller Coaster Inquiry, the last of five Royal Commissions he served as either counsel or chairman over the course of three decades.
In 2008, Michael Dorosh located a manuscript that Ken McKenzie had deposited in the regimental archives, consisting of photographs taken of road signs along the Lines of Communication in Northwest Europe in 1945. The book Signs of War was published shortly after with both names on the cover.
Signs of War (canadiansoldiers.com, Calgary, AB, 2008) 76pp, ISBN 978-0-9782646-9-7
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