A few thorny moments in the High Command
CRERAR TO MONTGOMERY:
I would never
consent to being pushed about by anyone
MONTGOMERY TO CRERAR:
Our ways must part
CRERAR TO CROCKER:
The immediate task is to advance eastward
CROCKER TO CRERAR:
The operation is “not on”
The first Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Army, General A. G. L. McNaughton, was in effect fired by the British War Office. His successor, H. D. G. Crerar had fewer difficulties with his British colleagues. The Canadian Army's official history deals with three of them here.
IN DECEMBER 1943 General A. G. L. McNaughton relinquished command of the First Canadian Army, and Lieutenant - General Kenneth Stuart took it over in an acting capacity, at the same time becoming chief of staff, Canadian Military Headquarters. London.
On 4 January 1944 the War Office wrote to Canadian Military Headquarters making formal proposals for "amending the present relationship between First Canadian Army and 21 Army Group. These proposals had already been informally discussed and agreed upon. It was now proposed that First Canadian Army should be “detailed to act in combination with 21 Army Group under the terms of the Visiting Forces Acts — that is, actually placed under its command. The War Office letter proceeded:
2. In the event of this being agreed the Commander-in-Chief, 21 Army Group, will wish to carry out certain interchanges of
formations between First Canadian Army and the British component of his force. In anticipation of this it is therefore considered desirable that certain appointments on the staff of Headquarters First Canadian Army should be filled by British officers.
3. It is further proposed that the Commander First Canadian Army should be appointed by the Canadian Government after consultation with His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.
Colonel Ralston, Canadian Minister of National Defence, told the Cabinet War Committee on I March 1944 that the form of the clause concerning the manner of appointment of the army commander was his suggestion. He said that he had considered it desirable to avoid any implication that the appointment of the Army Commander could be made otherwise than by the Canadian Government; at the same time, since so many British troops would now be included in the Army, it had seemed to him only proper that the appointment should be made after consultation with the United Kingdom.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 33
Continued from page fifteen
Montgomery to Crerar: “I’m sorry I was a bit rude ... My fault”
The War Office proposals were immediately accepted. The obvious Canadian candidate for the command of the Army was Lieut.-General H. D. G. Crerar, then commanding the 1st Canadian Corps in Italy. The British authorities agreed to this appointment, subject to a favorable report being received upon his performance in Italy. There were no major operations during his command there, and in point of fact no formal report was made, though the matter was discussed between Generals Brooke and Montgomery. On 1 March 1944 the Cabinet War Committee in Ottawa was told that General Crerar was being appointed to command the First Canadian Army, with the concurrence of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and of General Montgomery. He formally took command of the Army on 20 March. ,
In practice the proportion of British staff officers appointed to Headquarters First Canadian Army never approached the 50 percent provided in the Anglo-Canadian agreement. No British formation came under the command of Canadian Army Headquarters until after it had moved to France, and this had some effect on the question. The staff list of H.Q. First Canadian Army for 19 July 1944 shows 28 British officers out of a total of 200 listed—that is, 14 percent.
On 1 May 1944 General Stuart cabled the Minister of National Defence suggesting that official instructions should now be sent to the Army Commander, and that the Army Commander and himself should see the instructions in draft form before they were formally signed. He added, “Crerar and I consider that the following expressed as desires of the Government would strengthen our hands. The first being that except in cases of emergency the Government would like Canadian formations to work together under First Cdn. Army. The second being that when an armistice with Germany has been signed the Cdn. formations in Western and Southern Europe should be united under First Cdn. Army.”
Instructions were drafted and forwarded for comment overseas accordingly. After considerable cabled discussion the amended instructions were approved by the Cabinet War Committee. During the discussion Prime Minister King reported to the Committee that while in England he had had a discussion with General Montgomery and had assured him that although the Government felt it desirable that Canadians should serve together no “political” considerations of this sort would ever be permitted to interfere with military operations.
The instructions to General Crerar emphasized the fact that the Army Commander, and the commander of any detached Canadian force, possessed the right of reference to the Canadian Government if he considered that the welfare of his troops required it. The Army Commander, it was further pointed out, possessed the right to withdraw his force from “in combination”; but such action should be taken only in extreme cases.
8. You and the Comd. of any Canadian Force not operating under your command, either by reason of its being detached therefrom or otherwise, continue to enjoy the right to refer to the Government of Canada in respect to any matter in which the said Canadian Forces are, or are likely to be, involved or committed or in respect of any question of their administration. Unless you consider that the circumstances warrant otherwise, such reference will be made only when the remedial or other action deemed by you or by the Comd. of such Canadian Force to be necessary has been represented to the Officer Commanding the Combined Force and he shall have failed to take appropriate action.
9. In deciding whether to exercise the authority to withdraw the Canadian Force, or any part thereof under your command from ‘in combination,’ you will consider all the circumstances including, but not in any way to be restricted to, the following:
(a) Whether in your opinion the orders and instructions issued to you by the Commander Combined Force represent in the circumstances a task for the Canadian Forces which is a practicable operation of war;
(b) Whether in your opinion such task with the
resources available is capable of being carried out with reasonable prospects of
(c) Whether in your opinion such orders, instructions or tasks are at variance with the policy of the Canadian Government;
(d) Your appraisal of the extent of prospective losses to the Canadian Force in relation to the importance of the results prospectively to be achieved;
(e) The effect of such withdrawal in preventing the success of the operation as a whole;
(f) All other factors which you may consider relevant. The authority to withdraw should normally be exercised by you only after reference to the Government of Canada but, where the exigencies of the moment do not permit such reference, you have, in deciding whether or not to exercise this authority, full discretion to take such action as you consider advisable after considering all the circumstances as above.
While these instructions were in preparation, a special matter related to them was discussed by the Canadian military authorities overseas w'ith General Montgomery and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (General Brooke). It arose out of a relatively small incident, the visit of General Eisenhower to the 3rd Canadian Division on 13 May. No intimation of this visit to the Division, which, of course, was not under his operational command, was made to General Crerar until he heard of it from the Division itself that morning. The Army Commander accordingly wrote General Stuart at C.M.H.Q. remarking that under existing conditions there was “certainly a tendency on the part of SHAEF and HQ 21 Army Group” to forget the special position of Canada. Describing the incident, he wrote, "I do not propose to make an issue of this, but it would be very desirable if the proper procedure in these matters could be clarified on the political level, and explained to SHAEF. while our Prime Minister is now here. If the special position of the Commander, First Canadian Army, is not understood at the outset, I can see further and more embarrassing, incidents occurring in the future.”
As a result, after further consultation with Crerar, Stuart wrote the Chief of the Imperial General Staff on 18 May referring to the incident and making the following comment:
As you know I am not anxious to tie any strings to Canadian Formations co-operating with those of the U. K. or the U. S. There is one string, however, that we must insist upon and that is the right of reference to the Canadian Government of our senior commander in any theatre. The corollary to this is that in the Western European theatre of operations, Harry Crerar serves, in a sense, in a dual capacity. He commands the First Canadian Army and he is also the Canadian national representative in respect to all Canadian Formations and Units serving operationally in that theatre even though some may not be under his operational command. This dual role is inescapable because the Canadian Government quite rightly holds the senior Canadian Commander in any theatre responsible for all Canadian Formations and Units employed operationally in that theatre . . .
I hope you do not misunderstand me. As you know Harry and I and the whole Canadian Army have complete confidence in the commanders concerned. All 1 ask is that Harry's responsibility for all Canadians in the theatre, whether under his actual command or not, be recognized by 21 Army Group and by SHAEF. The application of this recognition would not involve any interference in the normal chain of command, it would merely call for consultation in the pre-planning stage...
On 25 May General Stuart had a long talk with General Montgomery, and subsequently he received a personal letter from Montgomery which included the following passage:
We all want to win the war as soon as we can.
I admit the right of Crerar to refer any point to
“Crocker declined to carry out the orders... Crerar asked him to put his views in writing”
his Government, whenever he likes — through you 1 presume.
I admit that Crerar is responsible for the general welfare and administration of all Canadian troops in the theatre of war.
I do not admit that Crerar has any operational responsibility for Canadian troops serving temporarily in another army.
I do not admit that Crerar has any special right to be consulted by me when making my plans for battle — apart from the normal consultation I would have with my Army Commanders at any time.
Stuart was disposed to accept this situation, but Crerar felt that the principle involved should be maintained. He added, however, that he had great faith in Montgomery as a military leader and did not believe that any trouble would ever arise in practice. Crerar's letter on the subject concluded. "To sum the matter up. while I consider that you will need definitely to maintain the principle of Canadian autonomy in your intended exchange of views with the CIGS, and to indicate that, in the last resort, my responsibility to the Cdn. Government for the employment of all Cdn. troops in 21 Army Group cannot be questioned, you would be quite safe to assure him that I have no intentions of allowing that autonomy, and that special responsibility of the Cdn. Comd., to endanger a military situation, or to cause bad personal and professional relations between Monty and myself."
On 16 June, after further detailed consultation with Crerar. Stuart again wrote the Chief of the Imperial General Stall, referring to General Montgomery's views and the Canadians' disagreement with them. The last paragraphs of his letter ran:
4. I think that the difficulty mainly arises from Montgomery's interpretation of "operational responsibility." which to him means that Crerar would require to be consulted, and to approve, orders issued by another Commander to Canadian troops not under Crerar's command. This, of course, would be quite impossible, and the last thing Crerar would desire, or accept. At the same time, any Canadian Formation Commander, temporarily serving under other higher command, has the right to. and indeed by Government instructions must, appeal through Crerar. to C-in-C 21 Army Group if such Canadian Formation Commander considers that the demands made on him and his troops are. beyond doubt, improper, and remedial action has been refused. In this national sense, and in this very remote contingency, Crerar has an "operational responsibility" from which he will not be released by the Canadian Government.
5. Crerar does not expect to be consulted more than any other Army Commander as regards operational plans, but the Canadian Government does expect Crerar to be consulted prior to any regrouping of Canadian Formations which would result in their detachment from Canadian command. In practice, no issue should ever arise because Crerar will have an opportunity to discuss any particular Canadian issues during what Montgomery describes as "normal consultation."
6. For the reasons I have given, I feel that issues will never really arise between the C-in-C 21 Army Group and the Canadian Army Commander even though the former tends to "turn a blind eye" to the latter's separate national responsibilities. In the circumstances, therefore. I do not press that these constitutional points be now clarified with Montgomery. He has immense military responsibilities at this time and nothing should be done to "take his eye off the ball " I do consider it important, however, that there should be no misunderstanding between the War Office and C.M.H.Q.. at any time, concerning the relationships and responsibilities of the Canadian Commander—hence this letter.
In reply. Sir Alan Brooke thanked General Stuart for "the very practical outlook which you have taken in approaching the case" and added. "I feel quite confident that no difficulties should arise, but should you feel that at any time there was a danger of a misunderstanding please let me know at once."
Here the matter stood, the Canadian position having been made quite clear.
The expectations of Generals Crerar and Stuart were
fully realized. The right of reference remained purely theoretical. No use was ever made of it during the campaign in northwest Europe.
At noon on 23 July Headquarters First Canadian Army became operational, though as yet it had no Canadian divisions under its command. It took over at that moment the front held by Lieut.-General .1. T. Crocker's 1st British Corps, between the Caen-Mézidon railway and the Channel. Its task had been defined in General Montgomery's directive of 21 July. In accordance with this directive. General Crerar on 22 July sent General Crocker a letter of instruction covering these operations. It ran in part as follows:
3. The immediate task of First Cdn. Army ... is to advance its left (lank Eastwards so that Ouistreham will cease to be under close enemy observation and fire, and so that use can then be made of the Port of Caen. This operation will be carried out by I Corps . . .
Mention has been made of the inherent difficulty of General Crerar's position at this time. Although he had seen much active service in the First World War. his battle experience in the Second, at the time when he took command of the Army, had been limited to a few' weeks commanding the 1st Canadian Corps in Italy on a front which at that moment was quiet. Crocker, on the other hand, while he had not had very lengthy experience of high command in action, had commanded an armored brigade in France in 1940 and the 9th Corps during a good part of the Tunisian campaign of 1942-43. These circumstances may have contributed to producing the incident which now took place.
On the morning of 24 July General Crerar. accompanied by his Chief of Staff (Brigadier C. C. Mann), visited the Headquarters of the 1st British Corps to discuss the forthcoming limited enterprise. To Crerar's considerable astonishment. Crocker began by saying that, so far as he was concerned, the operation was "not on." He did not consider that relieving the Caen Canal from close observation and fire would accomplish anything, since most of the enemy's observation was from the high ground east of the Dives. A limited advance would be useless, and (as Crerar had remarked) no resources were available for a large-scale operation. Crocker said that the attack he had been instructed to make would cause 500 or 600 casualties and achieve nothing of value. He did not propose to undertake any active operations beyond clearing up the situation around Troarn. He went on to describe the condition of his divisions, and said that apart from other factors he had no troops fit or available for the task he had been given. To state the matter succinctly, he declined to carry out the orders he had received. General Crerar asked him to put his views in writing so that they could be accurately represented to the Army Group Commander. Since there seemed to be no object in discussing the matter further, Crerar then ended the conversation.
Later in the day the Army Commander duly received from Crocker the letter he had requested, and immediately sent a copy of it to General Montgomery, along with a memorandum of the morning's discussion. Crocker, he said, had given him the impression “that he resented being placed under my command and receiving any directive from me.” Crerar proceeded, "I do not know whether this attitude is personal, or because of the fact that I am a Canadian—but it certainly showed itself." Convinced that Crocker would never "play up" as one of his subordinates, he asked Montgomery to transfer him to the 12th or the 30th British Corps and put one of the commanders of those corps (Generals Ritchie and Bucknall) in his place. Crerar knew both these officers and was certain that either would work well with him.
The following day Montgomery invited Crerar to visit him and discuss the problem. He was "very friendly and helpful." but suggested that the situation had been caused by the manner in which Crerar had handled an operational requirement with "a somewhat difficult subordinate" who had just come under his command. Crocker was "the type of man who required to be induced to see your plan rather than ordered to carry it out." He felt that it was impossible to accede to Crerar's request to transfer Crocker, because not only would this mean in effect that two corps staffs would have to be interchanged
at a difficult moment, but it was also probable that at some future time Crocker’s corps would in any case have to be put under the First Canadian Army. Crerar said that, while still convinced that Crocker’s temperament and outlook made him unsuitable to be one of his corps commanders, he was prepared to "go more than halfway in order to make the present organization a going concern."
Montgomery then suggested that Crerar send for Crocker and go over the problem again. Crerar replied that while he did not intend to maintain his personal views to the extent of interfering with operations, “it was no use me talking to General Crocker unless he was prepared to accept me wholeheartedly, without any restriction, as his operational Army Commander.” He asked Montgomery to see Crocker, straighten out the relationship in his mind, and confirm to him that what was wanted was the clearance of Ouistreham and the Caen Canal from close observation and fire as stated in Montgomery's directive and in Crerar's based upon it. General Montgomery then said that he would have General Crocker report to him the following day at 9 a.m. and would make the situation clear to him. He suggested that Crerar and Crocker could get together later that day "with the air cleared and good prospects of mutual understanding."
On these lines the matter was settled. General Crocker duly visited General Crerar at his headquarters the following evening and the proposed operations were discussed, evidently in a more amicable manner than before.
The relationship with General Crocker and his headquarters which seemed to have begun so badly developed in a much more satisfactory manner than might have been expected, and the 1st British Corps operated under the First Canadian Army through the weeks and months that followed without any serious friction and with, apparently, steadily increasing mutual regard. When the 1st Corps finally left First Canadian Army in March 1945 there was a warmly friendly exchange of letters between General Crocker and the Army Commander.
At the beginning of September General Crerar had his only serious difficulty during the campaign with the Commander-in-Chief of the 21st Army Group. Apart from other circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that the trouble should have arisen at this particular moment. Field-Marshal Montgomery had just ceased to be the de furto ground commander of the Allied forces. He found himself in disagreement both with the new' command organization set up by General Eisenhower and with Eisenhower's conception of the next phase of operations; and he was accordingly deeply involved in a controversy with the Supreme Commander which WTIS to go on for several weeks.
The Crerar-Montgomery difficulties began on 2 September. On the morning of the 1st. presumably as a result of his consultation with General Crerar the previous day. General Simonds gave his divisional commanders a directive for continuance of the pursuit on the axis Abbeville—St. (finer—Ypres. On reaching the line of the Somme, the Polish Armored Division was to advance through Hesdin—St. Omer—Ypres. keeping in touch with the armored formations of the Second British Army on its right. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division on reaching Le Tréport would destroy or capture all enemy in the triangle Le Tréport-—St. Valéry-sur-Somme—Abbeville and continue to advance up the coast on the axis Abbeville—Montreuil—Boulogne—Calais—Dunkirk. The 4th Canadian Armored Division was to reorganize east of Abbeville, while the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division would reorganize in the Dieppe area “ready to pass through 3 Cdn. Inf. Div. when ordered"; both these divisions were thus to have a period of rest.
This arrangement was not acceptable to Montgomery. On the evening of 2 September he signaled Crerar:
PI RSONAL FOR \RXIY COMMAND! R FROM C IN C.
SI.CONI) ARMY ARI NOW POSITION!:!) NT AR THF BFFGIAN FRON I H R AND W il l GO T HROUGH TOWARD HRUSSFI S TOMORROW. IT IS VI RY NFCLSSARY THAT YOUR I WO NRMI). DIN S. SHOULD PUSH FORWARD WITH ALL SPLIT) TOW ARD ST. OM I-R AND HFYOND. NOT RLPLAT NOT CONSIDI R THIS TUL TUMI FOR ANY DIV. TO HALT FOR MAINTLNANCL. PUSH ON QUICKLY.
General Crerar, evidently considering that a matter of some Canadian importance was at stake, and perhaps
somewhat nettled by the fact that the arrangement by which the British armor was to move down the Somme to Abbeville had not been carried out, replied:
PERSONAL POR C IN C FROM CDN. ARMY COMD.
. . . DELIGHTED TO LEARN THAT SECOND ARMY IS NOW POSITIONED NEAR BELGIAN FRONTIER BUT WOULD ADVISE SOU THAT UNTIL LATE 1 HIS AFTERNOON SECOND ARMY TROOPS HAVE NOT BEEN WITHIN FIVE MILES ABBEVILLE AND THAT ALL BRIDGES R SOMME NE [?NW] PICQUICNY BLOWN WITH ENEMY IN CONSIDERABLE STRENGTH HOLDING NORTH BANK. WITH ASSISTANCE FLANK ATTACK 4 BRIT. ARMI). BDE. FROM DIRECTION PICQUIGNY AND POLISH ARMD. DIV. ATTACKING ABBEVILLE ACROSS R. SOMME FROM SOUTH SIMONDS HOPED SECURE CROSSING TONIGHT.
NOT A CASI. OF MORE DIVS. ON UNE R. SOMME BUT OF SECURING A I LEAST ONE MAIN ROUTE CROSSING OF RIVER. IN ANY EVENT 2 CDN. INF. DIV. BNS. DOWN TO AVERAGE STRENGTH 525 AND IN MY OPINION A FORTY - EIGHT - HOUR HALT QUITE ESSENTIAL IN ORDER IT CAN ABSORB APPROX ONE THOUSAND REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVING TODAY.
YOU CAN BE ASSURED THAT THERE IS NO LACK OF PUSH OR OF RATIONAL SPEED CDN. ARMY. ST. OM ER AND BEYOND WILL BE REACHED WITHOUT ANY AVOIDABLE. DELAY.
In these circumstances a relatively small matter the next day led to what may be called a tiff.
On 3 September the 2nd Division held ceremonial observances at Dieppe. General Crerar being present on the invitation of the divisional commander. In the morning religious services were held in the cemetery where the Canadians who fell in the 1942 raid were buried: and early in the afternoon there was a formal march-past of most of the Division's formations and units. General Crerar took the salute. On the afternoon of 2 September Crerar had received a message from Montgomery instructing him to meet him at 1 p.m. the next day at the tactical headquarters of the Second Army. As its phrasing indicated a personal meeting rather than a formal conference. and as no new operational situation had arisen on the Canadian Army front since his last meeting with the C.-in-C. on the afternoon of the 1st, Crerar replied as follows:
UNLESS OPERATIONAL SITUATION REQUIRES MY ARRIVAL TAC. BRIT. ARMY AT 1300 HRS. TOMORROW WOULD APPRECIATE IF MEETING COULD TAKE PLACE LATER SAY 1700 HRS. HAVE ARRANGED BE PRESENT FORMAL RELIGIOUS SERVICE AND PARADE ELEMENTS 2 CDN. INF. DIV. AT DIEPPE COMMENCING ABOUT NOON TOMORROW AND FROM CANADIAN POINT OF VIEW DESIRABLE I SHOULD DO SO. WILL HOWEVER CONFORM YOUR WISHES. ADVICE REQUIRED.
Early next morning Crerar left his headquarters to meet Simonds to discuss future operations. There had so far been no message from the C.-in-C. He therefore instructed his Chief of Staff to communicate to 2nd Corps headquarters by radiotelephone, in clear, the gist of any reply which might be received. In the event of radio being unreliable, the message would be sent by an aircraft.
Up to the moment of his leaving 2nd Corps by air for Dieppe. Crerar had still received no reply. He therefore decided to go on with his own arrangements, assuming that Montgomery had met his request for a change in the hour of the meeting. However, at approximately 2.40 p.m., w'hen the troops of the 2nd Division were about to commence their “march-past" in Dieppe. Crerar was handed a message from his Chief of Staff originating at 1.30 p.m. to the effect that the C.-in-C. had advised that it was essential he attend the meeting at I p.m. As it was no longer possible to comply, he completed his part in the Dieppe ceremonial and then Hew to Tactical Headquarters Second Army. The meeting was long over. It turned out to have been a formal conference of the Commanders-in-Chief of the 21st and 12th Army Groups with the commanders of the First U. S. and Second British Armies, with himself supposed to be present. Crerar recorded next day that he had learned from General Dempsey that “apart from the breach in the formality, no operational disadvantages had resulted, as the discussion centred entirely on questions concerning actions and reactions of First U. S. Army and Second Brit. Army in the immediate and longer-term future.” Having seen Dempsey, he drove to Field-Marshal Montgomery's headquarters a couple of miles away and had an interview with Montgomery in his caravan, which Crerar recorded as follows:
On reaching the caravan, the Field Marshal addressed me abruptly, asking me why I had not turned up at the meeting, in accordance with his
instructions. I kept myself under control and briefly. with occasional interruptions, gave him the explanation. The C.-in-C. intimated that he was not interested in my explanation — that the Canadian aspect of the Dieppe ceremonial was of no importance compared to getting on with the war, that he had checked through his signals and determined that my Tac. HQ had received a message from him at 0615 hrs. that morning, instructing me to keep the appointment and that, even if I had not received it. then in default of other agreed arrangements, ] should have made it my business to be present.
I replied to the C.-in-C. that I could not accept this attitude and judgment on his part. 1 had carried out my responsibilities as one of his two Army Comds.. and as the Cdn. Army Comd.. in what 1 considered to be a reasonable and intelligent way, in the light of the situation as 1 knew' it, or appreciated it. 1 had found him. in the past, reasonable in his treatment of me and 1 had assumed that this situation would continue to prevail. The request in my message, for postponement of the hour of our meeting, had been fully explanatory and. I thought, tactful. 1 had thought it would have been acceptable to him. I had, as previously explained, a definite responsibility to my Government and country which, at times, might run counter to his own wishes. There was a powerful Canadian reason why 1 should have been present with 2 Cdn. inf. Div. at Dieppe that day. In fact, there were 800 reasons—-the Canadian dead buried at Dieppe cemetery. 1 went on to say that he should realize, by our considerable association, that 1 w'as neither self-opinionated, nor unreasonable, but that. also. 1 would never consent to be "pushed about” by anyone, in a manner, or direction, which I knew to be wrong.
The Field Marshal reiterated that I had failed to comply with an instruction issued by him and that such situation could only result in his decision that our ways must part. 1 replied that 1 assumed he would at once take this up through higher channels and that. I. in turn, would at once report the situation to my Government.
At this point Montgomery, to Crerar’s surprise, said that the incident was now closed. The Army Commander replied that he did not want it closed and "desired that it be properly ventilated through official channels.” After some further discussion, Montgomery again said that he wished to consider the matter closed and proceeded to give Crerar the gist of what had happened at the conference, none of which had any direct bearing on the operations previously assigned to the First Canadian Army. The final paragraph of General Crerar’s
memorandum of the affair runs as follows:
In conclusion. I must state that 1 received the impression, at the commencement of the interview, that the C.-in-C. was out to eliminate, forcefully, from my mind that I had any other responsibilities than to him. The Canadian ceremony at Dieppe was not of his ordering, nor to his liking. It had been the cause of an interference with an instruction which he had separately issued to me — to meet him at a certain time and place. As the interview proceeded, and he found that I would not retreat from the stand I had taken — that 1 had a responsibility to Canada as well as to the C.-in-C. —he decided to “consider the matter closed." It was not a willing decision, nor one that I can assume will be maintained. However, though our relations have obviously been strained, I trust that the situation is temporary and I shall do what I can to ease them, though without departing from what 1 consider it my duty to do, or not to do, in my capacity as a Canadian.
Montgomery's displeasure was doubtless retlected in a passage in his daily report to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff sent this day to the effect that the First Canadian Army’s operations since crossing the Seine had been "badly handled and very slow.” However, a few days later, when Crerar sent him details of the handling of his message (indicating that it was not received at Tactical H.Q. First Canadian Army until 10.20 a.m. on the 3rd and was further delayed by deciphering and being passed on to Main H.Q. where the Chief of Staff dealt with it). Montgomery wrote him a conciliatory note :
I am sorry I was a bit rude the other day, and somewhat outspoken. I was annoyed that no one came to a very important conference.
But forget about it—and let us get on with the war.
It was my fault.
There the matter ended, though it seems likely that coolness persisted until General Crerar's departure for England for medical treatment towards the end of the month. There is some reason to believe that at this period Montgomery would have welcomed a permanent change in the command of the Army. However, when Crerar returned to his command the affair had apparently been forgotten. Relations between the two commanders were unruffled thereafter to the end of the campaign, if
The Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War is published by the Queen’s Printer, Ottawa. Volume 111. The Victory Campaign, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Publications, The Queen’s Printer. Ottawa, for $4. Volume I. Six Years of War. and Volume It, The Canadians in Italy, cost $3.50 each. The set is $10.