Oral Interviews of Military Colleges Alumni

e-Veritas has been given permission to publish excerpts of 5105 Doctor J. L. Granatstein’s (CMR RMC 1961) interviews (1991-1993) for “The Generals: the Canadian Army’s Senior Commanders in the Second World War”. 5105 Doctor J.L. Granatstein fonds are at the National Defence HQ Directorate of History and Heritage. Other work from 5105 Doctor J.L. Granatstein

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2253 Ware2253 Ware2253 Major General Cameron Bethel Ware, DSO, CD (RMC 1931) was interviewed in Victoria on 24 Feb 1992. He was an RMC graduate who went into the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment on graduation from RMC in 1935. His first posting saw him do the Mil Staff Course in Winnipeg and he stood first on it. He sweated blood on promotion exams, and it took two years to get set for the lieutenant/captain exams. You then had to be recommended on three confidential reports for Staff College. Studying was a lieutenant’s lot. He rose to Colonel during the war. He was on attachment to the Rifle Brigade in UK when the war started and was sent back to Canada. As a PPCLI officer he had never seen B Coy until he got back, his service being in the east. He served as the fifth Commandant of Canadian Services College at Royal Roads from 1952 – 1954.

On Permanent Force
MGen Ware agreed that drink was the Permanent Force curse–if a bottle was there you finished it and the PF was full of incompetents. Still the PF trained, trained and trained. The Non-Permanent Active Militia (NPAM), he thought, was full of duds and retreads but the goods ones stood out. He didn’t believe in the Permanent Force old boy net.

On Royal Military College
MGen Ware recalled that in the interwar years, the order came down that there were too many RMC officers and others had to be brought in. Col. Ware brought in [Gen] Charles Foulkes and [MGen] D.C. Spry came in from NPAM too. But RMC grads, he said, did stick together.

Major-General George R. Pearkes, was an instructor at RMC pre-war. He could have commanded a brigade in action and a division and Ware hoped he’d get the corps. His orders were clear and he knew what he was doing. He appealed to troops and commanders. Like UK generals, [and unlike some Canadian generals], Pearkes had a nice personality. This mattered, Ware said, as troops were more prone to criticize if the Corps Commander had no personality.

Major General Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller (RMC 1917) was the Physical Training and infantry instructor at RMC pre-war. During the war, Keller was Pearkes Brigade Major. He’d been adored by Cadets at RMC. He was great fun in a blustery way, and he commanded the PPCLI when Ware was a Company commander. He was seen to be rising.

On Major-General Hardy Nelson Ganong CBE, EDV
When CO of the Carleton and Yorks, in a state before a General Andrew McNaughton inspection: “I’m just a poor chocolate maker from New Brunswick-if anyone wants this command he can have her”.

On General Bert Hoffmeister: He was the best brigade commander Ware ever had. When he took the brigade, it was a breath of fresh air. He gave precise orders, was always up front and knew what was happening at the height of the battle. He created confidence and there was no sign in him of PF/NPAM tension. One officer said of BH: “he’s German, he’s good.”

Gen Charles Foulkes: The Foulkes’ lived next door to the Wares in London. Col. Ware thought him a comer. Ware was briefly his Brigade Major in 1942 and he grasped things quickly.

Lieutenant-General Guy Granville Simonds, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O. (RMC 1903): He recalled astonished soldiers being handed cigarettes by LGen Guy Granville Simonds from his jeep. Simonds was brilliant and you had confidence in him in battle. Ware knew him from CDQ pre-war and he was regarded as a comer. He recalled Simonds calling in 1 Division officers when he took over. He projected confidence and told them that the story was that he was the only staff officer without regimental training. But that wasn’t so, he said. “I have had 12 yrs regimental training since RMC”. He impressed people even if he wasn’t gregarious. You liked working for him–you knew what he wanted and you didn’t screw it up. His briefings were good even if he wasn’t a great success at calling troops around his jeep.

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