Native Canadian Cree Code Talkers in North West Europe???

Discussion in 'General' started by Quis Separabit, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Evening all

    Somewhat unusual one this time, as one of the few stories my Dad shared in later life was told to my sister and is summarised as below (with additional comments from me in italics):

    During the advance towards Germany (possibly in Holland late in 1944 or Germany itself early in 1945) he was tasked with going out and finding some cigarettes to maintain morale for his Brigade during a lull in their action. (I'm assuming this was because as he was Camp Commandant at 9th Brigade Headquarters he was responsible for providing prodection to Brigade Headquarters and also ensuring there were adequate supplies etc for the 3 British Battalions attached to the Brigade - including 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles).

    So he and his "batman" went out in a motorbike and sidecar with a bag of money towards the front line to find nearby Canadian/American troops as they were known to always have plentiful supplies of cigarettes and the first people he came across were Canadian "Native American Indians" who were high up in the trees with radios. (A point my Dad would have undoubtedly remarked on as he suffered from vertigo...)

    They were apparently welcomed in and they spent the night there, drinking and smoking with their new found trading partners, leaving the following morning with the sought after supply of cigarettes.

    They nearly didn't make it back to the British lines as they promptly crashed in to a ditch on the way back, narrowly avoiding serious injury, an accident put down to the unusual drink and/or smoking of the previous evening which left them feeling "very strange"......

    This story unfortunately had a sad ending as, when his unit pushed forward a couple of days later, they came across the same unit that had been decimated by enemy fire and they had to bury the very people who he had spent the evening with only a short time before.

    I only heard the full story recently second hand from my sister (as my Dad rarely spoke about the war) and, since she has been known to be a bit "creative" in her personal story telling and I had never heard of Native Canadian Indians being involved in the war, I thought it unlikely ................ until earlier today I stumbled across the page at Code talker - Wikipedia which in turn led me to the short film at about Checker Tomkins.......

    It seems that the Cree Indians (from Canada) all enthusiastically volunteered for the War and joined the Canadian army and some of them were assigned to be trained as signallers to pass on aircraft and troop movement messages in their native tongue as as it would be impossible for the Germans to crack their "coded" language. Some of these were also assigned to the American 8th Air Force.

    I know that the American 8th Air Force were involved in North West Europe and the Canadian 3rd Division were never that far away from the British 3rd Division in the advance from Normandy to Germany so it is quite possible that he met them during the advance.

    I've contacted the owners of the website Cree Code TalkerCree Code Talker to see if they are aware of any records of 2 or more of the Cree from the same unit being killed/injured on any one day around this time as this could indicate who he met, where and when and am currently awaiting a response......

    It all sounds very strange and, whilst I was slightly dubious at first, my sister managed to independently identify the people he met as Native Canadian Indians with radio sets so it would seem to potentially match with the Canadian Cree Code Talkers who were quite possibly in a similar area at the same time.

    So my next saga is to try and trace several Cree casualties serving with either the Candian Army and/or American 8th Air Force who were killed/injured on the same day and then try to narrow down the location and time of where they became casualties so that I can then try and match that against 9th Infantry Brigade movements at the time.....

    All a bit random but any suggestions as to where I might start my search would be very welcome.

    Many thanks.

    Quis Separabit

    Relevant Links

    Cree Code Talkers | The Canadian Encyclopedia

    Code talker - Wikipedia
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  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    There were also Mohawk code talkers but I don't know whether any of them served with Canadian forces.

    Last of the Mohawk code talkers dies after finally being hailed a war hero

    I suppose you might try to contact any First Nations-specific veteran associations.

    You might also try asking the director of Cree Code Talker if she can point you towards any researchers? Or the authors mentioned in "Further Reading" in the Canadian Encyclopedia?

    (the director)
    ALEXANDRA LAZAROWICHAlexandra Lazarowich
  3. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  5. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  6. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

  7. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Excellent, thanks .. Something to get stuck in to during the now inevitable self isolation ...
  8. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Covers those with US and not Canadian forces - but worth taking a look at Indians in the War published by the Office of Indian Affairs in 1945 which shows the number of different nations that took part and the theatres in which they served. A very limited print run but a copy available on the web. Unfortunately I can't post a link as I tend to down load material rather than save links (which can evaporate) but if you can't find it send me a PM with an e mail and I'll send you a PDF
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  9. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Were any of the indigenous people of Melanesia or Australia used as code talkers?
  10. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    It couldn't be in a safer place than

    Indians In The War : United States. Bureau of Indian affairs : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
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  11. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    The Mohawk tribes straddled the border with numbers in both Western New York and Ontario.

    I believe the Canadian code talkers were Plains Cree although other Cree tribes lived from coast to coast. Given that there were originally 30 different geographical dialects of this Algonquin language, it probably mad sense to recruit the code talkers from a select area.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The Canadians were using some first nation code talkers in WW1 when it was discovered that the ground return used by the British trench telephone system was compromised and could be/was being tapped remotely. However the numbers were small and were men who already happened to be serving in France anyway and was very ad hoc but it would mean that the possibility was already known in Canada well before WW2
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  13. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

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  14. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Thanks both... does indeed only show US rather than Canadian but also shows just how many were involved from the number of casualties...
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  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Mohawk iron workers really were legendary in NYC. When I was a little boy we really thought they had some type of genetic gift that gave them superhuman abilities to walk on I beams 50 stories up. Of course we didn't know what genetic meant at that age but you get the idea.

    Mohawk Ironworkers, Walking High Steel
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  16. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    There were American code talkers stationed in Australia but the only record of Antipodean code talkers I can find are Maori and from an earlier war. According to Noah Riseman and Timothy C. Winegard, The New Zealand Pioneer Battalion were using the Maori language on the Western Front as a code as early as 1916*. This is well before the US Army's use of Choctaw and may well be the first use of an "Indigenous" language as a code in modern warfare and the real forerunners of the WW2 Code Talkers. It would be interesting to know if Maori was used in the same way in WW2

    *Indigenous Experience of War (British Dominions) , in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
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  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    One obvious place to look is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Around 5,000 Canadian soldiers died between 1 Dec 1944 and 1 April 1945, which sounds like the bracket where we might find a cluster of soldiers who meet the description. About 500 are buried in Germany and 2,000 in the Netherlands You can download the data and sort by regiment. The family dsetails are likely to mention if they were from a first nation

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