Oral Interviews of Military Colleges alumni

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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.

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2796 William Harry Pope M.C. (RMC 1942)

2796 William Harry Pope M.C. (RMC 1942) was the second son of General Maurice Pope. He was the grandson of Sir Joseph Pope and great grandson of Sir Henry T. Taschereau. Harry was basically bilingual. Though initially raised in English, the kids ordinarily spoke French to their mother. When his father was stationed in Quebec City they attended a French language school. He was an RMC graduate (1942). He served briefly with the Voltigeurs de Quebec, the Royal Montreal Regiment (English-speaking). He served in the United Kingdom and at length with the R22R in Italy. He was a Prisoner of War, and escapee in Italy. After he escaped, he made his way back to Allied lines after 7 weeks as a guerrilla. He served as LGen E.L.M. Burns’ ADC in Italy. He was awarded an M.C. from the Korean War. He left the army in 1959. He ran for the New Democratic Party vs Harkness. He wrote ‘Leading From the Front: The War Memoirs of Harry Pope’ with an introduction by David Bercuson. He died on 12/25/2000.

On RMC:

Gen. Maurice Pope (1889-1978) had no use for the Royal Military College as such, but he wanted his son Harry to go into the army through the front door. Gen Pope saw RMC as a club, one he wasn’t part of, and felt excluded from the esprit of cadets. Harry Pope felt that the only thing the RMC experience did was offer good training. After you’d gone through recruiting at RMC, you could cope with anything. Harry had seen the anti-French bias at RMC.

On LGen Edson Louis Millard Burns (RMC 1915):

After Harry escaped as a POW, Burns called him in and asked him to be ADC out of friendship with the Pope family. Harry refused, but he couldn’t be used in the line as an escapee, so Burns made him ADC anyhow. Once HP tried to get himself behind German lines with a radio to be an artillery spotter, but Burns wouldn’t allow. How could he explain that to Mrs Pope? As it was, Harry lasted only 50 days as ADC before being sent back to R22R. Still that kept him out of the Gothic Line battles, which were very hard.
Harry said that when he was Burns’ ADC in Italy, there were 9 of 15 members of A Mess at Corps Head Quarters who were ex-cadets. Burns was decent, hardworking, but couldn’t get his divisional commanders to push as hard as they had to. Essentially he was a staff officer and couldn’t dominate others. Burns would give minor officers hell but couldn’t to Major Generals. Probably he lacked the battle experience that gave confidence in his own ability. He had little personality. Harry said that once in battle, promotions could only come from those who had fought. LGen Burns came in at the top and this didn’t work.