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Canada's Black Watch (history - merged)

  • Thread starter RoyalHighlander
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Biography of General H.D.G. Crerar, can be found online free to read.

Around P.273-75 -81 and so on, discusses  Keller’s sacking, Monty, Croker, Cunningham  Simonds ect.

I fined it hard to swallow, Simonds showed remorse, guilt. Without Keller the Simonds witchhunt aka inquiry, to lay blame for his failures
and the sacking of many would be hard for Simonds without Keller, Crerar gives his version of events, meeting with both as he was contacted
twice to have him removed early July and around the 18th.

7th July, Monty wrote a long letter to the Canadians and made it known to Brooke he wanted Keller sacked.

However not knowing, on July 9th  Keller lost his chance in replacing Burns. Keller contacted Army HQ to report he wanted the
CO of 9th Inf. Brigade, Cunningham removed.

Keller wanted pay back for the complaints he received, and the unjustified stick poking from others. Keller had issues with Lt. -Gen. Croker 
and Cunningham. The letter and rumours among the division that “Keller was yeller” a drunk, incompetent ect ect, must of been hard to swallow.
However the USAF precision bombing took care of Monty’s problem on the 8th.

I knew them as rumours longtime ago, then led to believe it was documented or should I say account. What about the complaints concerning
daylight open field Op’s., or attacks, causing high casualties, which were supposedly very critical of Simonds incompetence?

The Black Watch role (and other Regiments) in Operation Spring is largely based on survivor testimony compiled by C.P. Stacey’s historical
section during and after the war. Stacey and his, team faced a significant challenge understanding what happened to the Watch on 25 July 44
using recollections almost exclusively. Or the challenge understanding was lost in the clutter of incoherent contradiction in the “accounts,” 
as Col. A. Duguid stated.

“Colonel A.F. Duguid acknowledged a need to be conscious
of contradictions within those accounts and between memories
and the written record. Stacey and his team encountered both of these
challenges in their work on Operation Spring.”

The battalion memory of the event insisted that Griffin had been ordered to proceed directly to the objective { On the reverse side of
the crest facing Fonetany.} This incident later became a central feature in the Normandy episode of Brian McKenna’s doc.. The Valour and
the Horror in which it was alleged that there had been a cover up. McKenna later accused C.P. Stacey, the official historian, of having a role
in this scheme to obscure the truth.

{ No startline?  Attack the front of the ridge for the Watch} which rises 37 metres over a distance of 1,000m, the point where they would
All assemble and follow a creeping barrage towards the wooded area leading to Fontenay, after all had “Fill in behind” once clearing May?
On the crest facing Fonetany after the Calgary’s advanced down route D162 S into May turn left at the crossroads, where the houses end
the road turned into a small dirt path, called “the minors road” leading to Fonetany,  pass the two quarries where the start-line, to  attack
the reverse to, crest.}

They found Griffin on Aug. 8th on the reverse side of the crest, lying among his men. The Watch and Griffin received the brunt of blame
for the “detailed execution” as failures of the infantry Regiments and C.O’s, in Op. Spring. Even though some mistakes were made by
Battalion’s and Coy C.o’s.  ect.  There’s no evidence that I’ve found to support that Griffin was responsible nor The Regiments or C.O’s ect.,
In Op. Atlantic or Spring.

It’s evident by Jerries overwhelming force from the start. The Cameron’s had one hell of a time in St. Andrea, Calgarians in St. Martine,
Factory Aera, their forward Coy’s and 1st H chopped down in May ect., not counting all the friendly fire the Regiments endured from Simonds’s
infamous artillery.

By 09:00hrs Spring, should of been called–off,  Megill and many other Officers voice same opinion according to accounts and by action taken by
many, that’s the Foulkes & Megill mutiny. Megill is also the only one I belive from Brigade that went forward to asses the situating, which he stated
was hopeless. Simonds and the Brigadiers lacked C-3 and in Us against them, the regiments were seriously outnumbered and outgunned.

However the evidence clearly show’s Griffon, is responsible for the casualties the Watch endured when he lead the attack. For his reckless actions,
resembling the battle of Magersfontein Dec. 1899. Once all were back many survivors where critical of Griffins actions, his young age, inexperience,
and lack of judgement led many to their graves needlessly, however praised his courage. Many concluded that a more seasoned leader,
the Watch would of not suffered such high casualties, and should of retreated while many were still alive ect. However all that, was sweep
immediately under the rug by the Watch’s highbrows and brass. It’s evident since survivors would only discuss the matter in privet or
away from other ears at the regiment.

At the end around 60 reached the crest and many instantly became casualties. Finally when the front gentle slopes of V Ridge laid littered with
bloody red stain hackles… Griffin got a reality check, and gave the order to retreat,,, Too little too late. He should of listen when others saw
the reality of the matter and hopeless to continue the attack. survivor, Private Montreuil, reported that Capt. Kemp, C.o. "D" Coy, urged Maj.
Griffin to call off the attack but Griffin replied "that the orders were to attack and that the battalion would therefore carry on.

Megill went on record concerning Op. Spring: "To attack uphill into a strong enemy position was bad enough, but it seemed suicidal when
every step forward exposed your flank to enemy tanks, mortar and artillery from the west bank of the Orne"

Old Sweat

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I'm sorry, but I don't understand what points you are trying to make.

However, Keller was not doing well and when Simonds confronted him, he replied that his health was not good and requested a medical board which, Keller believed, would find medically unfit for command. This did not happen and he remained in command until he was wounded on August 8th.

As for criticism of Simonds, since you are unable to provide sources, I suggest you drop the matter.

I think we may be in agreement re Spring and the RHC's part in it, but it is hard to define your logic. Foilkes and Megill are the culprits for doing nothing to influence the operation, which is within their brief as commanders.


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You stated the mutiny of Spring,  and interesting between both. Just showing that Keller wanted Cunningham sacked long before Spring and the bad blood between them and others.

After Monty requested twice for Kellers removal due to Crocker's complaints to Dempsey concerning, Keller was unfit Physically and mentally ect ect. Keller retained command because Carera ordered no official action be taken and if so it should be by a Canadian General not British. Keller helped Simonds with the sackings, he fallowed orders during the Op., and demanded Cunningham mount a new attack, which he did not since orders were ignored. And with so many sacked, if Keller’s medical problems continued eventually he would be removed according to Crerar Bio. 

As for hard to define my Logic, yes that comment might hold water. Could be I look at all 3 sides. Case and point, Foulkes and Megill are the culprits
for doing nothing to influence the operation.

Megill always gets stick poked for Spring.  He was the only one from Brigade that went forward, and not only once. Megill “discussed” (more like vigorous debate) with Foulkes, after a 7th Armoured Div. liaison officer had advised, “that his men did not seriously believe that their part in Phase II of "Spring" was possible.” Megill met with Foulkes and argued the case, Foulkes assured him they would go all out. Megill left having to accept the assurance. Once the battle began all his fears materialised,  just passing orders down from Faulkes since Simonds was ordering “to press on.” 

In the July 88 interview Megill stated;
It was perfectly clear that the attack should have been called off at a very early stage In the morning. “I suggested” this not later than perhaps 8:00 or 9:00 o'clock. Instead the Corps commander was pressing the divisional commander and he was pressing us to get on with an attack which we knew was almost hopeless.

Later Megill found out Foulkes was going to attack again, using the Maisonneuves. At 5th Brigade HQ they meet with others and Foulkes began the discussion by reporting that Simonds was "furious at the failure which had occurred."

Megill protested the decision to order the Maisonneuves into battle and a “shouting match erupted” with Foulkes demanding to know if Megill was challenging his orders.

Megill tried to change the outcome and voiced his concerns to continue the attack was hopeless.

Old Sweat

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Fair enough. Remember Spring was supposed to keep Panzer Divisions in place at the east end of the front. Given that, along with the doctrine that taught that commanders were to monitor the situation from their headquarters, and Simonds' reaction was obvious in that the battle was still in its early stages. He really did not have enough information to call off the attack, and given the communications available and sheer time and space, he probably could not have influenced the battle in time.

This policy could lead to debacles like Spring and missed opportunities like the situation at first light on 8 August during Totalize. In the latter case the better part of two armoured and two infantry brigades were on their objectives, and there was perhaps one German infantry battalion and a few armoured vehicles along with a large number of disorganized and demoralized stragglers facing them.

Nothing was done to exploit the breakthrough and within a few hours, the Germans had rigged a hasty defence. Personally I believe Simonds would have stayed with his original plan, but we will never know what he would have done, had he been forward to assess the situation.

The other unanswered question is what would he had done if he had been forward with Foulkes and Megill to see the situation shortly after H Hour on Spring? Given the way the situation was developing, he might, repeat, might have ordered a halt and reordering of the operation.

We probably have reached the point where the deceased equine has been flogged to Taco meat. I think we have differing opinions on Keller, but agree Griffin and his men have gotten more than their fair share of blame.


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While browsing videos on youtube I found this video apparently made by someone who's father was in the Black Watch before the Reg force component was disbanded. The video is 58 minutes long containing a brief regimental history and has the complete disbanding ceremony at CFB Gagetown.