Persons I have been privileged to know

[Original R.C.M.P. stamp image © Sam Spiro/Dollar Photo Club]

Sheer circumstance [or, as I personally choose to believe, “The hand of God”] has led me to meet a very wide range of people who have – at one time or another – had an impact on some part of our World.

This is not an ego-trip, for I had nothing to do with initiating these meetings: nor have any of them benefitted me or my career, other than through the impact they have had on my outlook on life and my reactions to it.

Between 1928 and 1934 there were two RCMP Officers who used to spend their holidays on our farm north of Moose Jaw.  In retrospect I am sure the attraction of our farm lay in two things: my parents loved to party; and, the Officers could party out of sight of their superiors or any civilians who might report them.

In any case, both were men of great import to Canadian history; each in his own way.

Cstbl Bob McDowell, in the company of Sgt King, had been the first to approach the “Mad Trapper of Rat River”. The trapper had shot King when he tried to separate the trapper’s dog team from theirs; and Bob had carried the wounded Sgt many miles back to base for treatment.

A Body is Missing in Action” touches on this matter and a possible identification of the Mad Trapper.

Bob was my first hero!

Cstbl Herb Upton was the second Officer, and the one with whom I more closely bonded {I was about 2 years old]. Herb was chosen to go undercover to work his way into the Al Capone gang. Moose Jaw was the end of the SOO Line and had a strong connection with Chicago – both for drugs movement and as an “escape route” for gangsters in trouble!

Herb played a large part in bringing Capone down. During his time undercover he had been obliged to take some drugs. When the operation was complete the RCMP gave him a Dishonourable Discharge because he had used drugs! My book “Loyalty Betrayed” is the full story.

I learned two valuable lessons: 1] Don’t trust superiors whose interest is in their own progress; and 2] Never join the RCMP!

Be faithful to subordinates and let superiors take care of themselves!

My postings to HQ 2 CIB in Edmonton and Soest, Germany, as Senior Liaison Officer; then HQ Northern Army Group [NORTHAG] as Operations Officer; and later my attendance at the NATO Defence College, all led me to a wide range of high level contacts.

Let me merely list them.

General “Windy” Gale who commanded the Arnhem Airborne Operations.

General Sterling – founder of the Long Range Desert Patrol Groups in the North African Campaign. He was my Commander at NORTHAG.

Baron von Richthofen – nephew of the famous “Red Baron of WWI. He was my personal host for a State dinner in Germany: held in a castle overlooking the Rhine.

Salazar, Dictator of Portugal. He was my host at a State dinner  in Lisbon Portugal – I was sick and threw up on his table! Not a good move with a Dictator!

The “Five Colonel Dictators” in Greece. They had just overthrown the King and we were invited to a cocktail party and reception with them. as they attempted to win favour with NATO. They bribed us with gifts of excellent aged brandy!

General AGL McNaughton – Commander 1st Canadian Army 1939-42. We had dinner with him at his son’s home in Shilo.

Prince Phillip – had dinner with him in London.

Richard Nixon. He threw a Reception for us in Washington when he was Vice President.

Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis. He visited us at Royal Roads. He reviewed us on the Quarterdeck.

General Lord Ismay – Churchill’s WWII military advisor. We attended a cocktail Reception together at the Cdn Embassy in Paris.

LGen  Guy Simons – Acting Commander 1st Cdn Army NW Europe. We met on many occasions including private coffee breaks with only the two of us, at the Forces Staff College.

General Adolph Galland – met at NDEFCOL Rome [ Luftwaffe, 102 kills] Had lunch together.

General Johannes Steinhof – met at NDEFCOL Rome [Luftwaffe, 172 kills]. Had dinner together.

Baron Manfred von Raden – stayed with him and the Baroness at his castle – he had been an Officer with the German Horse Artillery on the Russian Front. We compared our Horse Artillery experiences through the night. His Great Grandfather had been Gen Wolfe’s Quartermaster at the Plains of Abraham.

Admiral Cunningham, RN, Commander Mediterranean. Together with two young RN Officers I enjoyed a private dinner and evening with the Admiral in his home in Valletta, Malta.

General Ost, son of Admiral Carnaris’ Deputy whom Hitler executed “on a meat hook”. Gen. Ost was my Deputy at NATO Defence College. He was kind enough to take me personally on a tour of the German Monte Cassino defensive positions – he had been Chief of Staff of the defending Division at Cassino. Just the two of us – it was amazing how clear and detailed his memory was – right down to fox-hole positions, tank turret sites, and machine gun sitings!

Father Pietro, one of the three priests who remained in the Monastery of Monte Cassino when it was bombed by the USAF. He gave Daphne and me a complete tour of the  Chapel, in which Saint Benedictine and his sister are interred, including entry into the Sacristy – for which the Abbot raised Hell! Father Pietro was 97 years old and in remarkably good health: our conversation was all in French.

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