Canada’s 25 Most Renowned Military Leaders

May 1, 2011 by Dan Black

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With help from Canadian military historians, we’ve come up with a list of some of this country’s most renowned military leaders; limiting ourselves to 25 names for a pictorial salute that will surely generate debate—something we welcome in the interest of getting these names out there and promoting public awareness in Canadian military history. From the start, selecting that one word to use as a title was problematic. “Influential”, “Best”, “Famous” and “Renowned” all have connotations that can or cannot be applied to everyone on the list because some were famous while others were less celebrated, but more influential. We also need to point out that those considered for this list were either born in or resided in Canada before they made a name for themselves in the Canadian military. Helping us out with their personal picks were historians J.L. Granatstein, Marc Milner, Doug Delaney, Hugh A. Halliday, Terry Copp and John Boileau—not to mention numerous books of reference. Enjoy.

ARMY

GENERAL WILLIAM OTTER
Born: Goderich, Ont., 1843  •  Died: 1929

GENERAL WILLIAM OTTER [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—C020010]

GENERAL WILLIAM OTTER
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—C020010

Canada’s first real battlefield commander never wavered from the belief that training and discipline turned men into strong and efficient soldiers. He joined the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1861 and took command of one of three columns during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. In the South African War (1899-1902) he commanded the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Otter’s steadfast insistence on proper training and discipline was a theme that carried on into and beyond the First World War.

GENERAL A.G.L. McNAUGHTON
Born: Moosomin, N.W.T. (later Saskatchewan), 1887  •  Died: 1966

GENERAL A.G.L. McNAUGHTON [PHOTO: LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES]

GENERAL A.G.L. McNAUGHTON
PHOTO: LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES

His best moments came during the First World War when he helped develop the Canadian Corps’ sophisticated and highly successful counter-battery operations. Utilizing the full scope of his technical and scientific genius, air observation, flash-spotting and sound-ranging were used to destroy 83 per cent of the enemy’s artillery at Vimy Ridge. This saved the lives of many during the infantry assault. With charisma he commanded First Canadian Army in the Second World War, although with great difficulty, partly because he had little time for field exercises or the regular training of senior commanders. By the end of 1943, he was removed from command. His public service, however, continued well after a brief stint as defence minister, 1944-1945.

GENERAL SIR ARTHUR CURRIE
Born: Strathroy, Ont., 1875  •  Died: 1933

GENERAL SIR ARTHUR CURRIE [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA166584]

GENERAL SIR ARTHUR CURRIE
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA166584

Widely considered to be Canada’s greatest military commander, he taught school and sold real estate before joining the militia in 1893. What he lacked in charisma he made up for in intelligence. Criticized at 2nd Ypres in 1915 for leaving his post to collect reinforcements, his orders during the chaos and chemically-poisoned field of battle established a defence that suffered, but did not break. After studying French tactics at Verdun, his advice helped transform the Canadian Corps, resulting in doctrine that emphasized reconnaissance, individual and platoon-level awareness and initiative and the incorporation of fire and movement with various specialists. These changes led to victory at Vimy Ridge, 1917. As corps commander, Currie displayed genius at Hill 70, and in 1918 during the Hundred Days campaign when the Canadian Corps defeated the Germans at Amiens and fought on to Mons, Belgium. With a solid cadre of Imperial staff officers assisting, he left a legacy of victory for the Canadian army.

GENERAL H.D.G. CRERAR
Born: Hamilton, Ont., 1888  •  Died: 1965

GENERAL H.D.G. CRERAR [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA001370]

GENERAL H.D.G. CRERAR
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA001370


A complex and ambitious leader, Crerar built and led the Second World War Canadian army from a force that had been largely forgotten in the interwar years. Not known as a skilled field commander, where he relied heavily on his staff and subordinate commanders, he knew how to weigh into bureaucratic battles. A veteran of both world wars, his planning in 1941 led to the First Canadian Army, comprised of five divisions and two armoured brigades. He urged the sending of troops to Hong Kong in 1941 and deployed Canadians to Dieppe in 1942. Both ended in disaster, but neither decision affected his career. Many times his relations with high-ranking leaders were strained to the breaking point. During the bloody Rhineland battles of 1945, he led an army of 350,000 men, the largest force ever to serve under a Canadian general.

GENERAL JEAN VICTOR ALLARD
Born: Sainte-Monique-de-Nicolet, Que., 1913  •  Died: 1996

GENERAL JEAN VICTOR ALLARD [LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES]

GENERAL JEAN VICTOR ALLARD
LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES


A major proponent of expanding the use of the French language within the mostly anglophone Canadian military command structure, Allard remained devoted to this important cause as chief of defence staff, 1966-1969. He was CDS when Defence Minister Paul Hellyer unified—amid boiling controversy—the branches of the Canadian military into the Canadian Armed Forces. It was a rocky period, but Allard’s skills in the hot political arena were as sharp as his command skills on the battlefield, from Italy, to northwest Europe to Korea to leading a British division in West Germany.

GENERAL JACQUES ALFRED DEXTRAZE
Born: Montreal, 1919  •  Died: 1993

GENERAL JACQUES ALFRED DEXTRAZE [GORDON JOLLEY, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA162048]

GENERAL JACQUES ALFRED DEXTRAZE
GORDON JOLLEY, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA162048


They called him “Mad Jimmy”, and later “Jadex”. They also called him one of Canada’s best soldiers. During the Second World War, where he commanded an infantry battalion, he earned two Distinguished Service Orders. His stellar service continued in Korea while commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment, and later in the Congo while chief of staff to the United Nations operation. During his stint as chief of defence staff, 1972-1977, Dextraze succeeded in convincing the government to purchase new equipment, including the Leopard I main battle tank.

MAJOR-GENERAL BERT M. HOFFMEISTER
Born: Vancouver, 1907  •  Died: 1999

MAJOR-GENERAL BERT M. HOFFMEISTER [PHOTO: LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES]

MAJOR-GENERAL BERT M. HOFFMEISTER
PHOTO: LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES


Hoffmeister suffered a nervous breakdown before fighting his first combat mission, but with his anxieties behind him, he rose to major-general and along the way—from Sicily to Northwest Europe—earned a fearless reputation. He did not, however, push his men into battle, he led them; earning more awards than any other Canadian officer in the Second World War. More importantly, he won the respect of his men who considered him an exemplary battlefield commander. He succeeded because he understood, more than most, the complex, but everyday human side of military command, and this alone helped him become a great motivator on the field of battle, especially when men were expected to achieve the impossible.

MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN MEREDITH ROCKINGHAM
Born: Sydney, Australia, 1911, but moved to Canada in 1930.  •  Died: 1987

MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN MEREDITH ROCKINGHAM [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA132779]

MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN MEREDITH ROCKINGHAM
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA132779


It took Rockingham just three years to rise from reserve lieutenant to brigade commander. He went overseas with the Canadian Scottish and was soon promoted to major and transferred to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. “Rocky”, as he was known, earned the trust of his men by leading from the front as evidenced at Verrières Ridge in July 1944 when he earned the Distinguished Service Order. A month later he was in charge of 9th Brigade, which he led through fighting in the Channel ports and Scheldt Estuary. His unit was one of the first Canadian units to cross the Rhine in 1945. In 1950, this superb officer returned from civilian life to lead the Canadian Special Service Force, renamed the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade which served with distinction during the Korean War.

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL CHARLES FOULKES
Born: England, 1903, but moved to Canada as a youth.  •  Died: 1969

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL CHARLES FOULKES [PHOTO: LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES]

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL CHARLES FOULKES
PHOTO: LEGION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES


It was Foulkes, commander of the 1st Canadian Corps, who accepted the surrender of German forces in Holland on May 5, 1945. His rise from captain to commander of 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in 1944 was impressive. For a while he even served as acting commander of 2nd Canadian Corps. In Italy, he led 1st Canadian Corps from November 1944 to the end of the campaign in February 1945. When war ended he became chief of the general staff, overseeing army demobilization and later preparations for the Cold War and Korean War, and then Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Another major achievement was persuading the Diefenbaker government to accept the North American Air Defence Agreement in 1957.

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GUY SIMONDS
Born: England, 1903, but moved to British Columbia, 1912.  •  Died: 1974

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GUY SIMONDS [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA133972]

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GUY SIMONDS
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA133972


Intelligent and tenacious, Simonds impressed many and infuriated others during his meteoric rise during and after the Second World War. He had no time for the weak, and promoted the strong. His appearance and intensity earned him the nickname “the Count”, and his military mind put him on a fast track to success at the outbreak of war. Simonds’s innovative operational planning while in command of 2nd Canadian Corps, contributed greatly to the success of the Normandy Campaign. While filling in for Crerar in 1944, he directed the struggle to clear the Scheldt. From there, 2nd Corps moved into the Rhineland and onto the Netherlands. In the 1950s, he became chief of the general staff and presided over the largest peacetime expansion of the Canadian army and the deployments to Korea and West Germany.

GENERAL RICK J. HILLIER
Born: Campbellton, Nfld., 1955

GENERAL RICK J. HILLIER [PHOTO: SGT. YVAN DELISLE, NATIONAL DEFENCE]

GENERAL RICK J. HILLIER
PHOTO: SGT. YVAN DELISLE, NATIONAL DEFENCE


Much more than a breath of fresh air, Hillier can be described as “an atmospheric change” within the Canadian Forces while serving as chief of defence staff, 2005-2008. His passionate, abrupt and no-nonsense style earned wide respect among military personnel, and appealed to the general public and the media. The CF’s reputation as a capable fighting force (not just peacekeeping) grew in leaps and bounds, mostly due to his hard work and media-friendly public statements on troop support and budgetary issues. Hillier’s frankness also landed him in the hot seat. Other major achievements: commanding military operations during the 1997 Winnipeg flood and 1998 ice storm; a multinational division in Bosnia-Herzegovina; the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan; directing a major overhaul of CF command structure.

NAVY

REAR-ADMIRAL SIR CHARLES KINGSMILL
Born: Guelph, Ont., 1855  •  Died: 1935

REAR-ADMIRAL SIR CHARLES KINGSMILL [PHOTO: WILLIAM TOPLEY, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA042541]

REAR-ADMIRAL SIR CHARLES KINGSMILL
PHOTO: WILLIAM TOPLEY, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA042541


He looked every bit the part: bearded with a serious, but appreciative stare. Kingsmill was the founding director of the Naval Service of Canada, May 4, 1910. He came to the job after many successful years with the Royal Navy, much of it commanding battleships. Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier liked what he saw in the 53-year-old visionary, and in 1908 he became commander of the Fisheries Protection Service, forerunner of the Naval Service and Royal Canadian Navy. With little to work with, he made the most of it; creating a St. Lawrence patrol in response to the First World War U-boat threat; cobbling together a small, but expanding naval force (yachts and trawlers); kick-starting a naval air service.

REAR-ADMIRAL LEONARD MURRAY
Born: Pictou County, N.S., 1896  •  Died: 1971

REAR-ADMIRAL LEONARD MURRAY [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA141630]

REAR-ADMIRAL LEONARD MURRAY
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA141630


Widely considered to be Canada’s most important operational commander, Murray was the only Canadian to command a theatre of war during the Second World War. His sea-smarts and the abiding respect and concern he had for his sailors were his key leadership attributes. Murray’s major wartime operational commands included commodore commanding, Newfoundland Escort Force and commander-in-chief of the Canadian North-west Atlantic Command. At the height of the war, he exercised command over hundreds of warships and aircraft, ensuring protection of convoys used to deliver vital supplies to the United Kingdom. He was forced into retirement after naval and civilian officials held him responsible for the VE-Day Halifax riots in May 1945.

REAR-ADMIRAL WALTER D. HOSE
Born: At Sea, 1875, and transferred to Canadian Navy, 1912.  •  Died: 1965

REAR-ADMIRAL WALTER D. HOSE [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA198510]

REAR-ADMIRAL WALTER D. HOSE
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA198510


Born with sea salt in his blood, Hose had two good reasons for joining the Royal Canadian Navy. The first was the opportunity for promotion, and the second had everything to do with making an impact on the young service. After transferring from the Royal Navy to the RCN in 1911, he rose to become Director of Naval Service by 1921, a position he held for 13 years, through five different cabinet ministers. Under his guidance, the navy built its plans around what the government would support, established a nationwide footprint through the reserve system, built a tough little fleet of destroyers and established a clearer vision of itself, supported by smart policy. In short, he laid the groundwork for the navy as it prepared for the Second World War.

VICE-ADMIRAL PERCY WALKER NELLES
Born: Brantford, Ont., 1892  •  Died: 1951

VICE-ADMIRAL PERCY WALKER NELLES [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA064568]

VICE-ADMIRAL PERCY WALKER NELLES
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA064568


The son of an army officer, the persistent and industrious Nelles built Canada’s Second World War fleet, even though he lacked some skills to influence the corridors of power. While chief of the naval staff in the 1930s, Nelles fought to keep the navy alive during the Depression. Under his leadership the RCN grew from 2,000 regulars to more than 100,000 men and women in 1944. A power struggle, and a long dispute with the minister of defence for naval services over training standards led to his firing in 1944, and appointment as senior Canadian flag officer overseas.

COMMANDER J.D. “CHUMMY” PRENTICE
Born: Victoria, B.C., 1899  •  Died: 1979

COMMANDER J.D. “CHUMMY” PRENTICE [PHOTO: HERB NOTT, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA141695]

COMMANDER J.D. “CHUMMY” PRENTICE
PHOTO: HERB NOTT, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA141695


Energetic, colourful and forthright, Prentice was the perfect man to make the most of the nearly impossible task of turning new, but partially equipped corvettes and raw ships’ companies into fighting ships in the early stages of the Second World War. Known for his zeal and intellect, as senior officer Canadian corvettes he advanced innovative tactics and technological change while serving with distinction in the North Atlantic. He admonished his officers to “think in terms of destruction of submarines” and conduct themselves on the basis of what “will give them the greatest chance of a kill.” Prentice himself was also Canada’s most successful U-boat hunter (along with Cdr. Clarence King, RCNVR) with four confirmed kills by war’s end.

VICE-ADMIRAL HARRY G. DeWOLF
Born: Bedford, N.S., 1903  •  Died: 2000

VICE-ADMIRAL HARRY G. DeWOLF [PHOTO:  LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA151743]

VICE-ADMIRAL HARRY G. DeWOLF
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA151743


Seasickness was an ongoing struggle for the most decorated Royal Canadian Navy officer of the Second World War. Graduating from the Royal Canadian Naval College in 1921, DeWolf served in Royal Navy ships before returning to the Royal Canadian Navy. After a four-year stint on HMCS St. Laurent in the North Atlantic, he took command of the new Tribal-class destroyer Haida, escorting convoys to Murmansk, Russia. But it was in the spring of 1944 that Haida distinguished herself in the English Channel, sinking 14 enemy ships and rescuing survivors of HMCS Athabaskan. Arguably Canada’s best destroyer captain, DeWolf commanded aircraft carriers before becoming chief of the naval staff in 1956.

REAR-ADMIRAL WILLIAM LANDYMORE
Born: Brantford, Ont., 1916  •  Died: 2008

REAR-ADMIRAL WILLIAM LANDYMORE [PHOTO: DND]

REAR-ADMIRAL WILLIAM LANDYMORE
PHOTO: DND


Paul Hellyer’s nemesis during the crisis over unification of the Forces in the 1960s. Landymore, an experienced veteran from the Second World War, openly defied the minister of National Defence’s plans to unify Canada’s three services into a single force, with a common green uniform. He held a number of high-ranking meetings to rally opposition. When Hellyer demanded Landymore’s resignation, he declined, and was subsequently fired. Cheers from navy personnel and civilians greeted him on his return to Halifax. When the controversial unification bill passed, the Royal Canadian Navy was no more, but Landymore’s reputation as a fighter remained.

REAR-ADMIRAL KEN SUMMERS
Born: St. Thomas, Ont., 1944

REAR-ADMIRAL KEN SUMMERS [PHOTO: DND IMAGE—ISC91-4148-16]

REAR-ADMIRAL KEN SUMMERS
PHOTO: DND IMAGE—ISC91-4148-16


Summers is the only Canadian admiral to command a “total” national contingent in war, a distinction that began in August 1990 when he assumed command of the Canadian Naval Task Group ordered to the Persian Gulf in response to the Gulf War. He was appointed commander Canadian Forces Middle East, and established Joint Headquarters in Bahrain. From there he commanded Canadian naval, air and land forces which distinguished themselves  throughout the Gulf War. During his long career, which began in the 1960s, he fulfilled numerous high-ranking sea appointments on both coasts, including commander Second Canadian Destroyer Squadron and Chief of Staff at Maritime Forces Pacific.

AIR FORCE
AIR MARSHAL ROBERT LECKIE
Born: Glasgow, Scotland, 1890, immigrated to Canada 1908.  •  Died: 1975

AIR MARSHAL ROBERT LECKIE [PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA166416]

AIR MARSHAL ROBERT LECKIE
PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA166416


Courage and brilliance were hallmarks of Leckie’s wartime and interwar service. During the First World War he flew patrols over the North Sea and in 1918 shot down the lead airship in a Zeppelin force headed to England. In the interwar years his influence helped establish the Air Board which ensured orderly development of civil and military aviation. His work with the board helped establish trans-Canada airmail and passenger service. Leckie’s brilliance also shone during the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in 1940. Rising to chief of the air staff in 1944, he had the thankless, postwar job of shrinking the force.

AIR CHIEF MARSHAL LLOYD BREADNER
Born: Carleton Place, Ont., 1894  •  Died: 1952

CHIEF AIR MARSHAL LLOYD BREADNER [PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19700174-011]

CHIEF AIR MARSHAL LLOYD BREADNER
PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19700174-011


Sharp and very practical, this First World War fighter pilot displayed a lot more than just exceptional flying skills, although it was those same skills that landed him a job as a licensed examiner with the Canadian Air Board. Driven, but also quite jovial, he soared into the top echelon of the air force, and was named chief of the air staff in May 1940, a post he held until 1943. He is widely credited with turning the RCAF into one of the most powerful air forces in the world. On his retirement, he was promoted Air Chief Marshal, the first Canadian to hold this rank.

AIR MARSHAL HAROLD ‘GUS’ EDWARDS
Born: England, 1892, but immigrated to Canada (Cape Breton) 1903  •  Died: 1952

AIR MARSHAL HAROLD ‘GUS’ EDWARDS [PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19900192-047]

AIR MARSHAL HAROLD ‘GUS’ EDWARDS
PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19900192-047


From trapper boy in a Cape Breton coal mine to the highest rank in the wartime RCAF, Edwards fought in two world wars, a revolution in Russia against the Bolsheviks, and contributed greatly to the RCAF’s amazing wartime growth. His First World War experience included being shot down over France, and very nearly escaping captivity. Between the wars he participated in aerial mapping of Manitoba and development of RCAF Station Dartmouth. Courageous and compassionate, his rise from group captain (1939) to air marshal (1942) was meteoric, and besides fighting the enemy, he pushed hard to keep Canadian air crews together instead of scattered throughout RAF units.

AIR VICE-MARSHAL CLIFFORD McEWEN
Born: Griswold, Man., 1896  •  Died: 1967

AIR VICE-MARSHAL CLIFFORD McEWEN [PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19700174-010]

AIR VICE-MARSHAL CLIFFORD McEWEN
PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19700174-010


This First World War hero was a significant figure in the interwar RCAF, both in air surveys and training. He held numerous posts in the expanding wartime RCAF, before taking up the post of Air Officer Commanding, No. 6 Group—the largest RCAF combat formation overseas. As part of Bomber Command, No. 6 Group was tightly controlled by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, and so McEwen had less opportunity to shine than one might expect. However, he matched competency with charisma and maintained morale when casualties were truly horrendous.

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL WILLIAM CARR
Born: Grand Bank, Nfld., 1923

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL WILLIAM CARR [PHOTO: CANADIAN FORCES]

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL WILLIAM CARR
PHOTO: CANADIAN FORCES


A distinguished war record (photo reconnaissance) and impressive postwar work, including command of No. 412 Squadron, VIP transport unit, are among the “Father of the Modern Air Force’s” major credits. He was increasingly influential from 1973 onwards, when as deputy chief of defence staff he set out to undo the “handiwork” of Paul Hellyer by unscrambling air force formations and functions and consolidating them as Air Command, created in 1975. His was a delicate task, but with intelligence, great leadership and acumen Carr persuaded a Liberal government to reverse the mistakes of a previous Liberal government.

AIR MARSHAL WILFRED CURTIS
Born: Havelock, Ont., 1893  •  Died: 1977

AIR MARSHAL WILFRED CURTIS [PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19770650-010]

AIR MARSHAL WILFRED CURTIS
PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM—19770650-010


Building on his excellent First World War combat record (more than 13 kills), Curtis began to shine in 1932 when he was one of the leading lights in organizing the RCAF Auxiliary. His Second World War services were those of an extremely loyal, diplomatic and competent staff officer. As chief of the air staff he presided over the most dramatic peacetime expansion of the RCAF, and while circumstances made his job relatively easy, he ensured efficiency and realism while promoting the Canadian aircraft industry. Described as the “popular father of Canada’s revitalized air force” he guided the RCAF through the Korean War and recommended policy for Canada’s NATO commitment.

Email the writer at: writer@legionmagazine.com

Email a letter to the editor at: letters@legionmagazine.com

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  • Dancy Lawrence

    Thanks for this excellent historical overview of Canada’s military leaders!

  • bmatkin

    If you just remove Guy Simonds I think the list is correct. If you replace with Tommy Burns our leaders are exceptional in every regard.

  • Dave Williams

    I can’t believe you left out Brigadier General Sydney Valpy Radley-Walters CMM, DSO, MC, CD. “Rad” not only was the first to recognise the fatal weakness of the German tanks in Normandy that allowed the out-armoured and out-gunned Allied tanks to stand a chance against the superior German armour, he was also the Ace of Aces of the western Allies in WWII. He was respected and revered by all who fought with him, and even by many who fought against him.

  • cjm

    Robert Moncel, a brilliant commander of the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade, during the race for the Seine River and Northwest Europe. He earned the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) during the battle of Hochwald Forest in Operation Blockbuster in 1945.

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  • Dave Higgins

    This is only my opinion, but to include Rick Hillier amongst these great men is, from my perspective an insult to the truly great leaders depicted in this list. Hillier was indeed well received by the rank and file, but his myopic rationale and characteristically poor decisions and advice to government were not often absurd, they proved quite dangerous. While he did indeed have the troops’ interests at heart, he was a grandstander, who wanted Canada to take on a combat, rather than reconstruction-team mission in Afghanistan, despite the Canadian Forces being woefully under-equipped and ill-prepared to do so. Although it is apparent that his intention was to reestablish the military as a priority for the government, is neverthless my opinion that his insistence upon this role cost Canadian lives. I also found his lack of understanding of joint operations and international affairs, including legally-binding security regimes appalling. For example, his dismissal of Canadian proliferation security operations and decision to stand down arms control verification resulted in nearly two years of staffing in order to ‘put straight’ the mayhem he created. To me, Hillier is living proof of the dangers fraught with leaders possessing superficial knowledge and understanding.

  • Bob Heale

    Radley-Walters, a glaring omission

  • R PM

    I suggest you read a history book.
    Crerar was a miserable hen….universally despised by the troops…An unexceptional political appointment..mired in the mindset of a junior artillery officer of 1918.
    Tommy Burns?….There’s another chapter for you to catch up on.

  • Dawn

    What…not one woman made the cut. I do not believe it. What about our women leaders???!!!

  • Mad Dog

    Think about how long women have had a significant role in the Canadian Armed Forces, then re-think that statement.

    How many of the men listed were not high ranking officers during combat? 1. How many women were in high ranking positions during combat in the Canadian military? The only opportunity was Afghanistan so the fact that women are missing is not sexist, it’s just they have not been there long enough to have made the cut.

    Give it time. There will be some.

  • Bill

    Of course there are no women on this list: wars are fought and won by men.

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