Crerar

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by canuck, Oct 9, 2012.

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  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I found this document highly interesting as it pertains to the ongoing tension between Crerar and Monty.
    Written 2 weeks before D-Day, it offers insights into the scope of the political role played by Crerar as the 'national' commander in chief. Always difficult to serve two masters!



    TOP SECRET
    H.Q.TS.8809 FD.24
    24 May 44*
    Lieut.-General H. D. G. Crerar, CB, DSO,
    General Officer Commanding in Chief,
    First Canadian Army.
    1. You have been appointed to command the First Canadian Army with effect from the 20th day of March, 1944.
    2. The Government of Canada has approved the detailing of First Canadian Army (less 1 Cdn Corps and ancillary troops now serving in the Mediterranean theatre) and the Canadian elements of Airborne, GHQ, L of C, Base or other troops now serving in the United Kingdom to act in combination with the Military Forces of His Majesty raised in the United Kingdom or any other part of the British Commonwealth now or hereafter serving under command of 21 Army Group.
    3. Authority has been granted by Order in Council P.C. 3464 of 29 Apr 43 made under Section 6 (5) of the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, Chapter 21 of the Statutes of Canada, 1933, and under the War Measures Act, Chapter 206 Revised Statutes of Canada, 1927, and by the Designations of the Minister of National Defence of Canada made under the said Order in Council on 29 Apr 43 and 23 Feb 44 respectively for the issue of the necessary Orders of Detail to place the said Forces in combination accordingly.
    4. By letter dated 6 Jan 44 it has been further agreed in accordance with the terms of War Office letter 79/HD/2082 (S.D. 4) dated 4 Jan 44 that in the event of the said Forces being placed in combination with 21 Army Group the Commander in Chief, 21 Army Group, may carry out certain interchanges of formations between First Canadian Army and the British component of his Force and that in anticipation of this certain appointments of the staff of Headquarters, First Canadian Army, not to exceed 50 per cent, may be filled by British Officers by mutual agreement between the Commander in Chief, 21 Army Group, and the General Officer Commanding in Chief, First Canadian Army.
    5. It is noted that action has already been taken to give effect to the approval and agreement referred to by the issuance of Orders of Detail No. 9 and No. 10 dated 7 Jan 44 and 20, Mar 44 respectively.
    6. The Government of Canada has further approved the participation of the said Canadian Forces in the forthcoming invasion of enemy occupied Europe as contemplated by your reports transmitted in C.M.H.Q. telegrams COS 60 and COS 70 dated 25 Apr 44 and 1 May 44, respectively.
    *This directive was originally transmitted to General Crerar in draft under date 19 May 44. On 24 May 44 the War Committee of the Cabinet approved it, substituting however a new paragraph 11 for that in the draft. The date here given, accordingly, is that of the final approval and the text is as finally approved. The original paragraph 11 read as follows:
    • "At the request of the Government of Canada certain formations of the First Canadian Army were despatched to the Mediterranean theatre with the objects of increasing at that time the effectiveness of the Canadian participation in the war and obtaining battle experience. Now that these objects have been gained the Government of Canada regards it as highly desirable both from a national point of view and from the point of view of making in the present circumstances the most effective contribution and because of administrative advantages that, as soon as military considerations permit, such formations now serving in the Mediterranean theatre as well as field formations and units elsewhere, should be grouped under unified Canadian Command."
    7. It has further approved the employment of a Canadian Division and a Canadian Armoured Brigade with the necessary ancillary troops as contemplated by your reports referred to in paragraph 6 hereof in operations which while under command of 21 Army Group will not be under your direct operational command. It will be a matter for you to issue to the officer or officers commanding such Forces appropriate instructions to enable such action to be taken as may be necessary in respect to such Forces when circumstances do not permit prior reference to you.
    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. Any such reference from any Canadian Commander in the Western European theatre will be made through you. Any such reference from G.O.C. 1 Cdn Corps in the Allied Armies in Italy will be made through the Chief of Staff, C.M.H.Q. In the case of references made to the Chief of Staff it will be his responsibility to obtain the views of the Army Commander for transmission to the Government of Canada in respect of such matters as have significance to the Canadian Field Army as a whole.
    9. In deciding whether to exercise the authority to withdraw the Canadian Force, or any part thereof under your command from 'in combination' with which authority you are vested under the terms of the Designation of the Minister of National Defence dated 23 February 1944 authorized by Order in Council P.C. 3464 dated 29 April 1943, you will consider all the circumstances including, but not in any way to be restricted to, the following:
    • 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;
    • Whether in your opinion such task with the resources available is capable of being carried out with reasonable prospects of success;
    • Whether in your opinion such orders, instructions or task are at variance with the policy of the Canadian Government;
    • Your appraisal of the extent of prospective losses to the Canadian Force in relation to the importance of the results prospectively to be achieved;
    • The effect of such withdrawal in preventing the success of the operation as a whole;
    • 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.
    When a Canadian division or other junior formation not operating under your command is operating under the orders of the G.O.C. in C. 21 Army Group, or pursuant to orders issued under authority delegated by him the considerations set out above in this paragraph will apply equally with respect to the withdrawal of such division or junior formation from 'in combination'. The Officer Commanding such division or other junior formation has not in himself the power to withdraw and this, if necessary, can be effected only by you on reference to you by such Officer Commanding which reference the latter has power to make under paragraph 8 of these instructions.
    10. As the Forces referred to in paragraph 7 are serving in the same theatre of operations as First Canadian Army the Government of Canada considers that only the urgent requirements of military operations should justify the continuance of detachment of such forces and the resultant loss of the obvious practical advantages resulting from unified Canadian control and administration.
    11. At the request of the Government of Canada certain formations of the First Canadian Army were despatched to the Mediterranean Theatre with the objects at that time of increasing the effectiveness of the Canadian participation in the war and obtaining battle experience.

    Now that those objects have been gained the Government of Canada regards it as highly desirable that, as soon as military considerations permit, such formations now serving in the Mediterranean theatre as well as field formations and units elsewhere, should be grouped under unified Canadian command.
    12. Instructions with regard to the exercise of powers of discipline and on the subject of honours and awards have already been issued to Canadian Military Headquarters for transmission to you and you will act in accordance with such instructions subject to such amendments thereto as may from time to time be notified to you.
    13. You will keep the Minister of National Defence constantly informed as to the foregoing matters.
    14. Your channel of communication on all questions including matters of general policy will be to the Chief of the General Staff through the Chief of Staff at Canadian Military Headquarters, London.
    J. C. Murchie
    Lieut.-General,
    Chief of the General Staff
     
  2. martin14

    martin14 Senior Member

    I found this document highly interesting as it pertains to the ongoing tension between Crerar and Monty.


    In what way ?

    It seems the document points out that Crerar would not have operational control
    of 3rd Division for D-Day, which for me is ok, Monty was overall ground commander,
    and would control I Corps (British), which in turn controlled our 3rd Division.

    2nd Division didnt arrive until July, which would have activated II Corps ( CDN )staff.

    Then 1st Army would have landed along with 4th division in late July,
    taking operational control of all Canadian units in France.

    Our guys in Italy would have been at best run by I Corps ( CDN ) staff
    until they left Italy and joined everyone else in Belgium / Holland.

    It wouldnt make sense to me to basically bust Crerar down to Divisional
    Command, then bump him to Corps, and then back up to Army.

    There were other men who had those responsibilities.


    So help me out here. :)
     
  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Martin,
    My point had nothing to do with which particular formations fell under Crerar's command but more to the political nature of his assignment. Crerar had responsibilities and a degree of autonomy that no equivalent British commander enjoyed. While it may never have been exercised, the conditions outlined in paragraph 9 clearly set out his unilateral ability to opt out of any joint operations for the variety of reasons listed. Crerar's primary responsibility was, not surprisingly, to the Government of Canada, so despite his personal opinion of Crerar, Monty always had to weigh that dynamic in his dealings and direction of Canadian formations. That Crerar remained in command until the end of hostilities, despite Monty's disdain, is the most telling aspect of the limits of his power relative to Canadian command decisions.
     
  4. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Canuck doesnt it also state Crerar had power to override operational orders not deemed to be in the National interest [whatever that might mean] regarless of his not being in command of the formations at the given time.
    Matt
     
  5. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Point #8 above refers to that authority.
     
  6. martin14

    martin14 Senior Member

    Martin,
    My point had nothing to do with which particular formations fell under Crerar's command but more to the political nature of his assignment. Crerar had responsibilities and a degree of autonomy that no equivalent British commander enjoyed. While it may never have been exercised, the conditions outlined in paragraph 9 clearly set out his unilateral ability to opt out of any joint operations for the variety of reasons listed. Crerar's primary responsibility was, not surprisingly, to the Government of Canada, so despite his personal opinion of Crerar, Monty always had to weigh that dynamic in his dealings and direction of Canadian formations. That Crerar remained in command until the end of hostilities, despite Monty's disdain, is the most telling aspect of the limits of his power relative to Canadian command decisions.

    Ahhh ok, I understand now.. thanks :)
     
  7. martin14

    martin14 Senior Member

    Crerar had power to override operational orders not deemed to be in the National interest [whatever that might mean]



    ****coughcoughDieppecoughcough****


    Canada losing 2 battalions at Hong Kong probably didn't help either.
     
  8. Larry61

    Larry61 Professional liar

    ****coughcoughDieppecoughcough****


    Canada losing 2 battalions at Hong Kong probably didn't help either.


    Yeah, well, that would be ironic since Crerar was substantially responsible for sending them there...

    http://www.wlu.ca/lcmsds/cmh/back%20issues/CMH/volume%203/issue%201/Dickson%20-%20Crerar%20and%20the%20Decision%20to%20Garrison%20Hong%20Kong.pdf

    Canuck, do you know if a similar document to the one you've posted existed for ELM Burns? I'm thinking of his dustup with Leese after the Liri Valley battle. I've just re-read Prof Bill McAndrew's paper

    http://www.wlu.ca/lcmsds/cmh/back%20issues/CMH/volume%202/issue%202/McAndrew%20-%20Fifth%20Canadian%20Armoured%20Division%20-%20Introduction%20to%20Battle.pdf

    where he suggests Leese tried to replace Burns with a British corps commander and then to break up the corps, but gave up when Burns reminded him of the "political implications".

    I got there after reading Para 11 above and its suggestion that Canadian units in the Mediterranean had gained enough experience to warrant bringing them back to Northwest Europe, junket accomplished. First Division and the independent armoured brigades maybe but 5 CAD didn't fight as a whole division until May 1944!
     
  9. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    The dynamics between Leese and Burns were quite complex.
    From all that I have surmised, Burns was put into a role he was totally unsuited for. In this instance, Crerar made a bad decision and fought to save face. Burns was by all accounts quite clever, had experience and quite likely would have performed well in a senior staff role. While he had no command failures he also had no friends among either British or Canadian officers.


    The following is a fairly well balanced assessment:

    E.L.M Burns – A Crisis of Command
     
  10. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    ****coughcoughDieppecoughcough****


    Canada losing 2 battalions at Hong Kong probably didn't help either.

    Dieppe could more correctly be laid at the feet of McNaughton although Crerar shared in his support of the operation.
    With the political pressures to engage Canadian troops at the time, they probably backed themselves into a corner. After lobbying for action it would have been exceptionally difficult to back out over operational concerns. Not that either of those two was advocating that.

    Hong Kong was pure ignorance and perhaps excusable but it likely played a large role in Canada's policy not to allow it's units to be employed piecemeal with British formations.
     

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