Copy of Letter from Field Marshal Montgomery to No 749 General Crerar
21 Army Group.
My Dear Harry:
I feel that on this day I must write you a note of personal thanks for all that you have done for me since we first served together in this war.
No commander can ever have had a more loyal subordinate than I have had in you. And under your command the Canadian Army has covered itself with glory in the campaign in Western Europe. I want you to know that I am deeply grateful for what you have done. If ever there is anything I can do for you, or for your magnificent Canadian Soldiers, you know that you have only to ask.
V-E Message to the First Canadian Army
No 749 General H. D. G. Crerar, C.B., D.S.O.,
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief First Canadian Army
V-E Day at long last has arrived. The business we Canadians came over here to do is virtually finished. There will yet be quite a lot of tidying up to complete-but the military might of Hitler’s Germany is a horror of the past. The world definitely has been delivered from domination by Hitler and his pack of gangsters. And in this prolonged and bitter struggle, now crowned with victory, the army of Canada has played a stirring part. Canadians everywhere are entitled to be very proud of their soldiers.
I am certainly proud beyond words to count myself as one of them. It has been a great challenge to one’s capacity to be a commander of such men. I have never met a Canadian commanding officer who has regarded his responsibilities otherwise. The very best one has been able to give them has never been as complete as one would have wished.
Yet the compelling urge to be fully worthy of these responsibilities has shown itself during all our operations in the outstanding conduct of the Canadian commanders-senior and junior, brigadier and lieutenant-colonel, sergeant and corporal. They have led their men in battle. They have never spared themselves. Also they have paid the full price-knowing beforehand that whatever it might be would be worth the payment.
We have reached the time when the great and gallant company which has formed the 1st Canadian Army is about to dissolve. By group and by units, with anticipation and joy in their hearts tempered by memories of friends they have lost, the Canadians who survived will be returning home to Canada.
I believe the future of Canada rests in their hands. It will be a grand future should they be given the opportunity in peach to prove and practise their admirable characteristics they have demonstrated in war.
What makes a fighting unit, fighting division or magnificent army I will tell you in a few words. First of all, a cause worth fighting for and if necessary, dying for. Secondly, good, intelligent, strong men. Thirdly, capacity of its individuals for teamwork, which means willingness to subordinate self for benefit of side. Fourthly, determination to win through. Finally, knowing or being taught how to fight effectively. We have had these advantages inherited or obtained in the 1st Canadian Army. As a result no task, however difficult and wherever in the operations, has ever failed to have been accomplished by Canadians in this war.
The individual and collective factors I have mentioned are tremendous assets in making of a great nation. If Canada in peace can realize there fine potentialities of her citizens and can encourage their expression there is no limit to its future.
“Each for all” has been the guiding principle of the Canadian army in battle. That same principle is the essential one to which we must adhere if we are to assure the life and growth of democratic government in the worlds-the community system which has been so eloquently described by Abraham Lincoln as “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” Soldiers of Canada have worked to it in war. Citizens of Canada can do no less in peace.