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Young lieutenant who survived the killing grounds of the Scheldt Estuary later commanded a Black Watch battalion and became a brigadier-general

By BUZZ BOURDON - Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, December 17, 2004 - Page S9

OTTAWA -- As a 21-year-old lieutenant not long out of RMC, Gordon Sellar faced danger on a daily basis as a scout officer in the Second World War battlefields of Northern Europe. Commanding 12 scouts and eight snipers, he took his men across no-man's-land and penetrated enemy lines. Moving stealthily by night, they were usually seconds away from capture or death.

The job required ice-cold nerves, a sound grasp of tactics and aggressive patrolling skills. He thrived on it, surviving almost a year in action without being wounded. A graduate of the Royal Military College in Kingston, he fought in all but a few of the 22 actions in which the Calgary Highlanders won battle honours.

On Nov. 1, 1944, Mr. Sellar displayed coolness under fire during the battle of Walcheren Island. The first battalion of the Highlanders had suffered 19 dead and 45 wounded in an engagement that was part of the overall battle for control of the Scheldt Estuary.

The Germans had spared no effort in fortifying the 1,200 metre-long causeway leading to the island. They knew that losing Walcheren meant the Allies could move on to attack the key Belgian port of Antwerp. Concrete bunkers at both ends of the causeway anchored the German defences, while three 88-millimetre anti-aircraft guns swept it with fire and artillery from miles around had its range. In the middle of the causeway lay a large crater to prevent Allied tanks from easily crossing.

As the Calgary Highlanders soon found out to their cost, the causeway became a killing ground. The day before, Mr. Sellar had watched grimly as a Montreal unit, the 1st Battalion, Black Watch, launched an attack that was stopped cold 75 yards before reaching the island.

Then it was the turn of the Calgary Highlanders. Just after midnight, B company led an assault through intense enemy fire. Their attack stalled at the crater and was beaten back. At 6 a.m., the Highlanders tried again. With a creeping artillery barrage providing some cover, D company advanced down the causeway. By 9:50 a.m., the men reached the end and started to fan out onto the eastern side of the island.

Soon afterwards, A and B companies began suffering heavy casualties from enemy machine guns, heavy mortars, artillery and snipers. The infantrymen dug slit trenches on both sides of the causeway and took cover. By the middle of the afternoon, matters appeared serious. Mr. Sellar, accompanied by Major Ross Ellis and Major George Hees (later to become a Tory cabinet minister), went to the causeway to see what was happening. Ignoring the heavy German fire, they moved from trench to trench, talking to the exhausted men. Years later, Mr. Sellar described that walk as the "longest of my life."

Despite their heroic efforts, the assault failed and the Highlanders withdrew from the bridgehead some hours later. Over all, the battle of the Scheldt Estuary had cost Mr. Sellar's unit 107 killed and 327 wounded. A week later, British commandos captured the island.

Even so, that wasn't the end of Mr. Sellar's war. He and his battalion fought on for six long months before Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. Mr. Sellar volunteered to fight in the Pacific but the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war against Japan before he got there.

Mr. Sellar decided to stay in the regular army, serving with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry before transferring to the 2nd Canadian Highland Battalion in 1952. After graduating from the army's staff college, he served in Korea with his new unit, now renamed the 2nd Battalion, Black Watch (RHR) of Canada.

Ten years later, in April, 1963, Mr. Sellar assumed command of the Black Watch's 1st Battalion. Retired colonel Bentley MacLeod of Kingston, Ont., knew Mr. Sellar well, having served as his operations officer in during field exercises. "We all worked very hard for Gordon, who was a fair, calm and balanced leader. He was not given to histrionics but led by example. He got the best effort from all ranks."

After promotion to brigadier-general in 1972, Mr. Sellar served three years in Ottawa as Director-General of Land Forces Reserves and Cadets and then retired to Kingston with his wife Gloria.

Over the next 30 years, Mr. Sellar spent much of his time indulging his life-long love of horses by participating in horse shows in Canada and the United States. Athletic from an early age, Mr. Sellar first competed in horse shows and polo at the age of 11, as well as tennis, badminton and football. At RMC, he made the varsity teams in hockey and football and had excelled as a marksman.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Sellar were stalwarts of the Ottawa Valley Hunt and the Frontenac Hunt, where he was senior master for 25 years. Unlike their British counterparts, the clubs use scented drags and do not hunt live prey. In 1976, Mr. Sellar was named Canadian representative to the Masters of Foxhounds of America and Britain. He regularly showed his horses at Toronto's Royal Winter Fair and bred a pack of prize-winning fox hounds.

Gordon Harper Sellar was born in Calgary on Nov. 15, 1923.
He died in Kingston, Ont., on Oct. 1. He was 80. He is survived by his wife Gloria; daughters Robin and Susan; and son Rodney.
My condolances to his friends and family..this truly was a great man..
Ottawa's last First World War vet had 'duty' to help others remember
Jennifer Campbell; With files from Graham Hughes
[urlhttp://www.canada.com/components/printstory/printstory4.aspx?id=9f8632d2-3149-43a2-99f4-96f66eba3ab1=]The Ottawa Citizen, Monday, December 27, 2004[/url]

The smell of warm blood oozing across the fields and roadways of battlefields was Paul Metivier's most vivid -- and horrifying -- memory of the First World War.

He was just 16 when he enlisted but he, along with so many others, lied about his age, telling authorities he was 19. Mr. Metivier, who lived long enough to be among Canada's handful of surviving Great War veterans, died last Wednesday, aged 104.

With his death, Canada has only six surviving First World War veterans. He was Ottawa's last.

Mr. Metivier had been in failing health over the past several months, said his daughter, Monique, of Ottawa, "but he still insisted on going to the Cenotaph at the National War Memorial for the celebration of Nov. 11, then insisted on accepting an invitation to the Governor General's for tea afterwards."

When talking to Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson "he was well enough to tell her that when he read criticisms of her that he was strongly disapproving and he thought she was doing a wonderful job."

His daughter said Mr. Metivier "may have been holding on just to do that, because he felt it was his duty to represent the First World War veterans whenever he could."

A classic gentleman, Mr. Metivier lived out his days in a tidy suite at the Sandy Hill Retirement Residence on Friel Street, not far from where he brought up his children on the corner of Chapel and Osgoode streets. Even in his final years, he got dressed every day in a natty cardigan and dress shirt complete with cufflinks.

His day bed was big enough for his small, still-mobile frame. In one corner he had his armchair and his television, but positioned more prominently was the magnifying reader machine that he used to read the newspaper and documents he had to sign. While he was talking to a reporter in 2003, his son-in-law dropped in with a passport application. Mr. Metivier was headed to California with his daughter to see her three U.S.-based siblings.

The room also accommodated an organ on which he played a full repertoire of songs, entirely by ear. Sheet music didn't exist. Rather, he had a pad of paper that listed songs with their beginning lyrics so he'd remember how they went. A word or two was all it took to get him playing a bouncy version of Lily Marlene.

"I'm a pianist, but I play by ear," he said at the time, as he sat down to play for a photographer.

"He was always positive," his daughter said yesterday.

"He was in the home and people often complain, but he just thought everybody was so great to him. He was so grateful and he would thank them and he'd be sure that when someone came to remove a tray from his room that they had candies on there -- that sort of thing."

Mr. Metivier grew up in Montreal and enlisted there. He joined the 4th Division Ammunition Column and used mules to carry ammunition to the guns behind the front lines.

"I did the things you can do with horses," he said, adding that he earned $1.10 a day and sent $20 a month home to his mother in Montreal.

See Metivier on PAGE C2

Metivier: kjhg jkhg

Continued from PAGE C1

Mr. Metivier was awarded the French Legion of Honour for his service in France.

When he returned to Canada, he studied mapmaking in Montreal. In 1920, he secured a job with the Department of the Interior in Ottawa and spent 45 years in the public service as a mapmaker. In 1921, he went home to propose to Flore, the girl who lived next door to his family in Montreal, a girl he'd known since he was 10 years old. The two married in 1921 and celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary here before she passed away in 1993 at 90.

"I kissed her goodnight one night and she said 'Thank you for the 72 years,'" he recalled. "That was a couple of nights before she died."

Mr. Metivier credited her with his longevity.

"She told me your body needs certain things so you make sure it gets them," he recounted. "We took vitamins A, B, C, D and E, zinc, copper, iron and magnesium. The result is I'm the oldest Metivier that ever lived."

In his suite, a picture of her with a grandchild hung on the wall. Their wedding picture, "taken at the very beginning of photography," was at one end of the piano. On the other was a black-and-white portrait of his son Roland, who was killed in action in 1942 while serving as a Canadian flier in the Second World War. The circumstances of his death are still unknown.

"We knew nothing at all," he said. "He used to fly across waters, watching for submarines. This was his mission and one day we received a letter saying he didn't return.

"A month later, we received a letter saying he was presumed dead."

For a long time, they hoped the 20-year-old had been picked up in France and was still alive but couldn't get in touch.

"Our hope disappeared after the war ended and we still hadn't heard from him," Mr. Metivier said.

At the age of 103, Mr. Metivier had poor eyesight and hearing but had no serious health problems. He still took 30- to 90-minute walks regularly. He liked to shop at the Rideau Centre, buy his books at Chapters and peruse the vegetable and flower stands in the Byward Market.

Veterans Affairs officials said he never refused an invitation to represent First World War veterans. He went to Vimy Ridge with as part of a Veterans Affairs pilgrimage to France in 1998. He was among the youngest of 17 veterans of the Great War who went on the trip to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the war's end. He also accompanied Canada's unknown soldier on his return from France to Canada in 2000.

He showed up every year for Remembrance Day ceremonies at the War Museum and the National War Memorial and regularly made appearances in the House of Commons. When acknowledged by the Speaker, he would stand up in the gallery and respond humbly to the whoops, cheers and claps from Members of Parliament.

Speaking about his role in countless Nov. 11 ceremonies, he said: "When I'm there, I think of my son, I think of the past and I hope that the care we take for veterans and the remembrance will continue. They gave their lives for Canada so it seems to me that they deserve to be remembered."

A staunch pacifist as a result of the horrors he witnessed in France, he called then-prime minister Jean Chretien to thank him for pushing for a United Nations resolution to avoid an attack on Iraq.

"UN resolutions should be backed by everyone, including the United States," he said. "If you don't submit to some rules, you don't have law and order."

He said he didn't think U.S. President George Bush would have called the war if he had to lead it.

"If he'd seen what I saw, he wouldn't have done it," he said. "War really is going back to being savages. We say we're defending our country and our honour but really we're doing what savages do -- killing innocent people."

Mr. Metivier is survived by his children Monique, Pierre, Jean Paul and Jeanne, 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

A funeral mass will be held Jan. 5 at 10 a.m. at Canadian Martyrs Church.


WWI vet Paul Métivier, 104, carted shells to frontLied about age to enlist and earned $1.10 a day

Only six Great War veterans left in Canada

Toronto Star, Dec. 28, 2004. 01:00 AM

OTTAWAâ ”The smell of warm blood oozing across the battlefields and roadways was Paul Métivier's most vivid â ” and horrifying â ” memory of World War I.

He was 16 when he enlisted but he, along with so many others, lied about his age, telling authorities he was 19.

Métivier, one of Canada's seven surviving WWI veterans, died Wednesday at 104.

He had been in failing health over the past several months, said his daughter Monique Métivier, a judge on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

"But he still insisted on going to the cenotaph at the National War Memorial for the celebration of Nov. 11, then insisted on accepting an invitation to the Governor-General's for tea afterwards," she said.

Métivier lived his final days in a suite at an Ottawa retirement home. He was born on July 6, 1900, in Montreal and enlisted in March, 1917, two years short of legal service age.

"He was poor, he'd been fired from a foundry he'd been working at because he passed out from the heat," his daughter said.

Métivier joined the 4th Division Ammunition column, and as a gunner led horse- and mule-drawn ordnance wagons to front-line batteries in Belgium and France, spending 15 months carting shells.

"I did the things you can do with horses," he once recalled, adding that he earned $1.10 a day in the army and sent $20 a month home to his mother in Montreal.

He was assigned to the Canadian Boys' Battalion in 1918 after his mother informed officials of his true age, and was sent home from his 10-month Boys' Brigade assignment in England in October, 1918, a month before hostilities ended.

Métivier moved to Ottawa in 1921 where he got a job as an apprentice photographer.

He worked the rest of his career in the map-making branch of the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, rising to chief of reproduction before his 1965 retirement.

"He was a wonderful father and really an extraordinary man," his daughter told the Toronto Star's Joseph Hall earlier this year. He was dedicated to his children and "madly in love" with his wife Flore â ” who died in 1992 after 72 years of marriage, she said.

As well as being awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal, Métivier was awarded the French Légion d'honneur for his service in France.

Like all of the surviving vets from that war, Métivier possessed a "remarkably positive attitude on life" that precluded much dwelling on horror and carnage, his daughter said.

It wasn't until she began looking for records of his service in 1998 that he was seized upon by Veterans Affairs to participate in their various ceremonies â ” including a repatriation of Canada's World War I "unknown soldier" from Europe six years ago.

Veterans Affairs officials said Métivier, whose son Roland was killed in action in 1942 during World War II, never refused an invitation to represent veterans of the first war.

He showed up every year for Remembrance Day ceremonies at Ottawa's War Museum and the National War Memorial and regularly made appearances in the House of Commons.

Speaking about his role in countless Nov. 11 ceremonies, Métivier once said: "When I'm there, I think of my son, I think of my past and I hope that the care we take for veterans and the remembrance will continue.

"They gave their lives for Canada so it seems to me that they deserve to be remembered."

Métivier leaves four children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. 


General Sellar was to be the guest of honour at our Walcheren Causeway dinner in November but unfortunately passed away. 

Bit of dramatic license with the story there, but overall accurate. 
(denizens of Moss Park Armoury might be interested to know his connection to the Good Shepherd Refuge on Queen Street East)

Shot down over the North Sea, he made a pact with God, accepted the German surrender in Denmark and then came home to take his vows and work among hardened criminals. Later, he starred on 100 Huntley Street as a evangelical priest

Special to The Globe and Mail,  Saturday, Jan 29, 2005

No one wants to be the last man killed in a war.

Hitler had just four days to live when Bob MacDougall found himself floating in the dark in the North Sea. Flying Officer MacDougall had about another 60 years to live, most of them as a Jesuit priest, but all he knew then was that the Second World War was almost over and his situation was desperate.

Minutes before, he had been the tail gunner in a Halifax bomber, carrying war material to the resistance in Denmark. The crew was with 644 Squadron and had left their base in Dorset in England at 10 p.m. on April 26, 1945. To remain undetected by German radar, the plane flew between 50 and 100 feet above the water. "When we hit the west coast of Jutland, we had to climb," remembered Father MacDougall in an interview in 1988.

A short while after they made their drop, they were hit by fire from the ground. According to Sandy Barr, a pilot who now runs the Squadron's historical website, their pilot ditched the plane just off the coast. All six crew members -- one Canadian, three New Zealanders and two Brits -- made it out alive.

The frigid water numbed his legs. Later in life, vascular problems would confine him to a wheelchair. Father MacDougall wasn't particularly religious then, but as he struggled in the water, he formulated a pact. Years later, he told his brother Ian that he had made a promise to God. "He said, 'Save me from this and I'll spend my life doing good.' He was saved, and he kept his promise," said Ian MacDougall.

After a spell in the water, the crew was picked up by Danish fishermen. As soon as the crew members landed, they left the fishermen, since the Germans shot anyone who helped a downed airman. Father MacDougall wandered for a day or so, following instructions from the fishermen to look for a church steeple, since there he might find a sympathetic minister.

"I came to a brook and crossed over, but failed to see a German sentry on the other side. He raised his gun and brought me to a halt," recounted Father MacDougall. He and at least one other crew member were arrested and put in a prisoner of war camp. Their internment didn't last long. On May 7, 1945, far away at a schoolhouse in the French city of Rheims, senior representatives of Hitler's defeated forces signed a ceasefire and the war in Europe was over.

In Denmark, the Germans wanted to surrender, but not to the Russians, who were fast approaching from the East and had already occupied an offshore island. The German command resolved to surrender to a British or American officer, preferably a general or even a colonel. They scoured their prisoner of war camps and all they could come up with was a 21-year-old Canadian flying officer who only days before had been swimming about in the North Sea. His officer rank was the second-lowest in the RCAF, equal to a lieutenant in the army.

And that is how Bob MacDougall came to accept the surrender of the German garrison in Denmark. He was carried through the streets of Vejle, the town nearest his PoW camp, and hailed as a liberator. At that moment, no one was more surprised than he. A month later, the picture of the celebration found its way back home and the face and name of "F/O Robert MacDougall of 107 Henry St., Halifax," was splashed across the front page of the Halifax Chronicle.

Father MacDougall grew up in Nova Scotia but was born in Saskatchewan, where his father worked as a bank manager. The family moved to Halifax when he was a tot. Ralph MacDougall was a businessmen, and although not rich, he was successful enough to raise a brood of children and send them all to university. He was a Presbyterian but his wife May Webb was a Roman Catholic, so young Bob went to St. Thomas Aquinas elementary school and St. Patrick's high school.

His mother died when he was quite young and his father married Gertrude Macneil, also a Catholic. Together, they raised his six children, as well as two more the couple would have together.

Bob MacDougall joined the RCAF from high school. He was the third member of his family to join, and all three went overseas -- his brother Bill as a soldier in the army and his sister Betty as an army nurse. Like everyone who joined the air force, he hoped to be a pilot. Instead, he became a tail gunner, the most vulnerable crew position on a Second World War bomber.

On his return to England from Denmark, he visited his sister at the hospital where she worked. In their happiness, a rather raucous party developed during which "he wrecked my bicycle," she recalled.

When he reached Halifax, Bob MacDougall decided to attend St. Mary's University, where he was active in organizing the hockey team and also played football. Mindful of his promise to God, he considered becoming a journalist and instead opted for the priesthood. In 1950, he joined the Jesuits, the largest of all Roman Catholic religious orders. Many of his friends bet he wouldn't last.

"It was tough for a war veteran who had seen the world to settle into that routine," said Elmer MacGillivray, who attended the Jesuit Novitiate with Father MacDougall. "He was older than everyone else and the rules were tough for him."

Life was lived in silence, from rising at 5:30 a.m. to chapel at 5:55 a.m., followed by prayer from 6 to 7 a.m., a mass, and then breakfast 30 minutes later. "You could ask for sugar, but otherwise it was total silence," said Mr. MacGillivray, who later gave up the priesthood.

Because of his age and experience, Bob MacDougall was ordained after 11 years instead of the usual 13. One of his first assignments was Loyola High School in Montreal. There he coached sports teams and taught several subjects, including Latin.

In one session, the boys learned to conjugate scio, the verb to know. In Latin, the words "I know," "you know," "he knows" are scio, scis, scit, with the "c" pronounced as an "h." His 14-year-old pupils fell about laughing at the sound of scit. To help them get over it, Father MacDougall had them conjugate the verb aloud 30 times. The giggles soon disappeared.

Father MacDougall had a varied life. He taught in schools, worked in parishes, was the priest at a veterans hospital and even worked as a missionary in South America. For several years, he served as the chaplain at Stoney Mountain Penitentiary near Winnipeg. There, he started a choir and convinced parishes in the area that his singing prisoners posed no danger. One of those he convinced was Elmer MacGillivray, who was then the parish priest at St. Ignatius of Winnipeg.

"On one trip, he stopped and he lost one prisoner when he escaped for a while. He was embarrassed about that," said Mr. MacGillivray who now lives in Edmonton.

Working at the maximum-security jail was tough and Father MacDougall sometimes found it depressing to deal with hardened criminals. Often dismissed by cynical and intractable convicts as just another man in a dog collar to offer them empty promises and meaningless rituals, Father MacDougall came to believe he was a failure and that the promise he made on that black, North Sea night had come to nothing. He was convinced he was a catastrophe as a prison priest and had not done good or helped any in his congregation. The truth, of course, was quite different. Until he learned otherwise, he grappled with more immediate demons at Stoney Mountain and found himself drinking too much. In the end, Father MacDougall succeeded in conquering both depression and alcohol.

Perhaps the most astounding part of Father MacDougall's religious life was his born-again status as a Christian evangelist. That occurred while working in a parish north of San Diego, California. Afterward, he remained a Roman Catholic and a Jesuit but embraced the scripture, the words of the Bible, and became the only Roman Catholic priest to preach on 100 Huntley Street, the Toronto-based evangelical Christian television channel.

He appeared on hundreds of television shows and started his own Food for Life program. Many conventional Catholics found his evangelism shocking and lodged complaints, but he persisted. "There are Catholic evangelicals, and he served them," said Rev. Jacques Monet, the archivist at Jesuit headquarters in Toronto.

Father MacDougall was unapologetic about his evangelism. "I know God wanted me to be an evangelist to the world -- my Roman Catholic world," he said. A natural performer, he appeared on television and at prayer meetings, sometimes in his Roman collar, other times in an open-necked shirt.

Even his brothers and sisters, all of them religious Catholics, were sometimes startled at what their brother was up to. For all that, they are intensely proud of the homeless mission he set up in Toronto.

"I think one of the highlights of his life was setting up the Good Shepherd Refuge on Queen Street East near Parliament [in Toronto]. He wanted to feed the street people, and he worked at gathering food from local restaurants to feed them" said his brother Ian. "He started it in the mid 1970s and it's still open."

He made good on that promise.

Robert Leonard MacDougall was born in Saskatoon, Sask., on Feb. 27, 1924. He died on Dec. 26, 2004. He was 80. He is survived by his brother Ian of Brampton, Ont., his brother Lorne of Truro, N.S., and by his sisters Bette Colford and Margaret Boudreau of Halifax.
Soldier, lawyer, MNA, judge
Colonel Redmond Roche was a prominent Montreal lawyer and a civic-spirited Quebec Court of Sessions judge who commanded the Maisonneuve Regiment in the Second World War, served two terms as a member of the National Assembly and was the president of the Royal Canadian Legion in the 1970s.
Just wanted to post about Papa who passed away earlier tonight, since the army was his life(this is all from what I recall, its been awhile since we talked about this.) He joined when he was only 16, and had 2 or 3 birthdays oversea's, and was a part of the New Brunswick Hussars(I'm pretty sure that was it, a tank reg.) He was a machine gunner on a Sherman tank. I recall one story of where he was hit by a ricochet off the tank(in the leg), fell off of the tank and the they kept moving, he got up and ran all the way back to his tank and crawled back onto it. His CO said thats the fastest he has ever seen anyone run(even after being shot.) After the war he ended up with 3 wounds, the ricochet and 2 from straight bullets. I cant remember all of the medals he has and the rank, but I'm sure I'll see them in the weeks to come and Ill post more info. He was a tour guide at the Oshawa Military museum for a long time, and then stopped that a bit ago. If you live in Oshawa and went to the museum in the last 15 years or so, you probably where guided by my Papa. He also was at the regiment allot and the armouries. I'm sure during WW2 he wouldn't of seen himself living till 2005, letalone living till the end of the war. Now hes up there with all of his buddies that he lost touch with some 62 years ago. R.I.P Douglas Smart :salute:

I wasn't sure where to post this, move at will though, I apologize for any inconvenience.
Greg_o said:
... I wasn't sure where to post this ...

Don't worry - you post about Papa belongs right here, along with all our other fallen comrades.
On behalf of Army.ca, our condolences go out to you.
Douglas Smart,you have served your country well in War and Peace.
Enjoy your rest with your freinds and may your God go with you. :cdn: :salute:
The Reverend Donald Peyton Jones was a Marines Officer of renown!  He was always there for members of the Corps.  He was the Founder of the "Special Boat Squadron", then named the "Special Boat Service".

The Reverend Donald Peyton Jones
(Filed: 14/01/2005)

The Reverend Donald Peyton Jones, who has died aged 90, was a founder of the Royal Marines' Special Boat Service before he became a clergyman, emanating a salty and down-to-earth belief in the Almighty.


As vicar of the North Devon fishing village of Appledore he wore a green Marines beret, white cassock and sandals. He liked to do his parish visiting on horseback, often leaving hoof prints in gardens, and allowed his two cream labradors to enter his church immediately before and after services. He was also an enthusiastic user of pubs where, he used to say, there was often more fellowship and more joy than in church. "A pub is a sort of confessional," he claimed. "People communicate freely after a few drinks; they tell you their personal problems."

"PJ", as he liked to be called, advocated burial at sea, church blessings for divorcees and christenings conducted in lighthouses. His success in getting Lundy Island incorporated into his parish reconciled his love of God with his need to be on the water. If bad weather broke the one telephone connection with the island, he used carrier pigeons to tell his wife that he was delayed, though the GPO warned him that he was infringing its monopoly.

PJ was not always emollient. When a woman told him that the only thing she remembered about her marriage was that the vicar had worn sandals, he replied: "Can't be much of a marriage." But Daniel Farson, hardly a natural sympathiser, concluded in a Sunday Telegraph article that, paradoxically, it was PJ's strict, personal discipline which allowed him to break free from convention rather than an apparent, light-hearted approach to his calling.

Donald Lewis Peyton Jones was born in Australia into a naval family on September 22 1914. His great-grandfather was a captain in charge of a convict settlement on Tasmania in the 1840s; his father served in the RAN and RN before becoming a tomato grower on Guernsey. Donald's younger brother Loftus won a DSO in 1942 for his attack in command of the destroyer Achates on the German heavy cruiser Hipper, and his cousin Loftus William Jones was awarded a posthumous VC for leading an attack on a torpedo-destroyer at the Battle of Jutland.

PJ went to Eastbourne College, and was commissioned into the Royal Marines in 1933. Sailing was then frowned upon as a sport for career-minded officers, but PJ immediately teamed up with the future cockleshell hero and transatlantic yachtsman "Blondie" Hasler to buy old hulks to develop their nautical and navigational skills.

When Italy invaded Abyssinia in 1935 PJ was ordered to join a mobile naval base defence organisation, which was to defend Alexandria by mounting 6in guns and mines. While waiting for the Italian fleet to attack, PJ and his friends pooled their uniform allowance to buy materials to build a 21ft gaff cutter, Sea Vixen, which afterwards was shipped home with the guns and mines.

Specialising in gunnery, PJ was sent at the outbreak of war to the anti-aircraft cruiser Coventry in which he served for the next three years. His first major action was in the Norway Campaign of 1940, when his guns gave cover to his friend Hasler who was landing French Foreign Legionnaires at Narvik. When Coventry was sent to the Mediterranean, PJ took part in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, including an action off Cape Spartivento between the Italian fleet and Admiral Somerville's Force H, and in the evacuation of Crete.

Coventry was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Neghelli, and had to limp into Alexandria for repairs. But a few weeks later the submarine was sunk in the Aegean, and her commanding officer, Carlo Ferracuti, was brought on board Coventry; he believed that he had already sunk the British cruiser. But when, with Peyton-Jones's gin in his hand, he discovered the truth he declared his delight at having been mistaken, and apologised for any inconvenience caused. During the withdrawal from Tobruk in September 1942, Coventry was set on fire by dive bombers, and had to be scuttled. PJ was awarded the DSC.

Appointments to the Eighth Army as naval liaison officer and in the cruiser Kent followed; he was officer of a flotilla of landing craft firing rockets at beaches, and assistant beachmaster on Sword Beach in June 1944.

After the war, PJ took over from Hasler the command of the Small Raids Wing, which had been melded into a team from a group of strong individuals, without breaking their characters. He devised many training methods which are still used, and turned the wing into No 1 SBS.

A German pilot who had helped to sink Coventry asked him after the war when he decided to become a priest. "When you were bombing me," PJ replied. On leaving the Marines as a major in 1959, he trained for the ministry at St Boniface College, Warminster. He served first as a curate at Wythecombe Raleigh, then moved to Salcombe Regis, where he championed local hippies.

He won election to the local council to fight their case, and did not enhance his popularity when his horse kicked the bicycle of his leading opponent, who had to wheel it home while the vicar's horse clip-clopped past. The open-air candlelit services, the scanty dress and dope-smoking by the worshippers present led to complaints and petitions.

Despite the responsibilities of a large family, which he ran like a ship's company, PJ continued to sail competitively; he could be seen using the weight of a baby-filled pram to trim a whaler to improve its windward performance, and was still unbeatable. He was a watch officer in the Sail Training Association's schooners and honorary chaplain to the Royal Naval Sailing Association, in whose journal he would propound his views on the Almighty's interests in seafarers.

On retiring as a vicar, he moved with his large family, all of whom played musical instruments while he thumped on the bongo drums, to Cawsand, near Plymouth. There he devoted himself to the Mission to Seamen. He tried to visit every merchant ship anchored in Plymouth Sound, frequently sailing alongside single-handedly in a Drascombe longboat laden with Bibles in many languages. In the winters he liked to do similar work in Sri Lanka, Western Australia, San Marino and Marseilles.

Despite the loss of his wife and two children, and the amputation of both legs, PJ's mischievous sparkle never dimmed. He drove himself in his electric wheelchair to the pub and old comrades' reunions, before returning to the care of the nuns of Nazareth House.

PJ, who died on December 23, married Anne Coode in 1938; she died in 1984. He is survived by four of their children.
John he must have been one character to meet and sup with.

I'm still laffing,
I like his remark why he chose the cloth.

Ah some may say crazy or ex centrich or just another nutty Brit.
Sorry,I'm still having a good giggle but I guess he would wish that we enjoy his life rather than weep over his death as I see it from his Obit.

But most of all his visiting Merchant Ship's and looking out for Seaman.


I don't have to say your God is with you because you are with him.

Must have been one hell of a Man!! :salute:
A good Marine alawys watches out for his mates and a good Officer never stops looking after his men!
big bad john said:
A good Marine alawys watches out for his mates and a good Officer never stops looking after his men!
BBj, it should be the norm for all never mind what Service we serve in. :salute:
I am saddened to report that Col (ret'd) T.R. (Thumper) McCoy, formerly Commanding Officer of 1RCR and, later, Commandant of the Royal Canadian School of Infantry passed away over the weekend after a brief illness.

Col. McCoy was a tough old character who cared, until the end of his days, about soldiers and soldiering.   He made sure, from the depths of retirement, that his Regimental Association looked after troops in field â “ sending letters, care packages and the like to remind them that they were in the thoughts of the Regimental family.

Officers feared him, sergeant majors ducked behind cover when he was on one of his rambles, but the soldiers liked him - they enjoyed his rough good humour and they shared his obvious love of the infantry and its business.

I will post the obit when it is published.
Colonel Geoffrey Powell
(Filed: 14/02/2005)

Colonel Geoffrey Powell, who has died aged 90, won an MC leading 156 Parachute Battalion at the Battle of Arnhem; later he served in MI5 and became a notable writer on military history.


Brigadier "Shan" Hackett's 4th Parachute Brigade was dropped north-west of Arnhem on September 18 1944 in the second lift of "Market Garden", an audacious attempt to capture the road and rail bridges over the Rhine. The Brigade had the task of moving into Arnhem to establish a defensive perimeter on the high ground to the north of the town in order to block the movements of German forces from that direction.

As Powell - then a major in command of C Company - left the Dakota, the Germans were on the dropping zone shooting up at him, and one of the bullets grazed his fingers. On the ground, the lightly equipped paras, without artillery, armour or air cover, found themselves confronted by determined, well-armed German troops in strong defensive positions.

A dawn attack by C Company the next morning was successful, but assaults by A and B Companies, with the objective of capturing a dominating feature, were repulsed with very heavy casualties. In the first 36 hours, two-thirds of the battalion was lost and food and ammunition were running short.

Amidst the carnage, there were acts of the greatest gallantry. Powell said afterwards that one of the Dakotas that had flown over them had been hit and was on fire; it was rapidly losing height, but the RASC dispatchers stood in the doorway throwing out supplies until it was too late for them to jump. The pilot was awarded a posthumous VC.

As the Brigade attempted to move from the woodland into the Oosterbeek Perimeter, it encountered ferocious German attacks from machine-gun fire and mortar bombs which burst in the trees with deadly effect. An attack by Messerschmitts on the Brigade HQ caused more casualties.

After his CO and second-in-command were killed, Powell took command of the remnants of 156 Battalion and elements of Brigade HQ, leading them out of the dense woodland towards Oosterbeek. When he took cover in a house, a round of solid shot came through the wall, passed over his head and exited through the other, showering him with debris and leaving a hole a foot in diameter.

Facing virtual annihilation, Powell led one bayonet charge to clear the enemy from a hollow in a wood and afford a brief respite for the beleaguered survivors. Then, Hackett led another to break through the encircling Germans and reach Oosterbeek, where 1st Airborne Division was clinging to a small bridgehead north of the Neder Rijn.

For the next six days, Powell and what was left of his battalion fought a rearguard action to defend the eastern sector of the perimeter. Here they saw some of the most bitter fighting of the week. Most of the British anti-tank guns had been destroyed, and German armoured vehicles were able to stand off out of range and smash each building in turn, compelling the defenders, by now hungry and exhausted, to fight from slit trenches in the gardens.

When orders were given to evacuate, Powell led the survivors downstream in darkness and pouring rain, guided by lines of parachute ropes, each man holding on to the smock of the man in front. At the riverbank, the first boat that he saw was riddled with bullet holes and its sapper crew dead.

As his men started to swim across a boat appeared, and Powell put half his group on board and waited for it to return, before departing with the remainder. Harassed by scarlet tracer from the German spandaus and with shells dropping around them, they reached the southern bank.

Powell formed up his 15 men and marched them, bayonets fixed and rifles at the slope, five miles back to the reception area. Although recommended for a DSO, he was awarded an MC. The citation stated that his bravery was an inspiration to all around him. Brigadier Hackett described him as a great fighting man in a great tradition; competent, courageous and self-effacing.

Geoffrey Stewart Powell was born at Scarborough, Yorkshire, on Christmas Day 1914, a few days after the German naval bombardment of the town. After attending Scarborough College, he started work with a firm of estate agents, but decided that it was not for him and was commissioned as a regular subaltern into The Green Howards in 1939.

Powell served with the 2nd Battalion at Ferozepore in the Punjab before transferring to 151 British Parachute Battalion (later 156 Parachute Battalion) in 1942.

Promoted major and given command of C Company, he served in Palestine and Tunisia, but broke a leg in a night drop and missed the invasion of Italy.

Arnhem was the end of Powell's participation in the Second World War. After attending Staff College, Camberley, he was posted to Java, and subsequently Malaya as brigade major of 49 Indian Infantry Brigade; he was mentioned in dispatches.

In 1954 Powell returned to the 2nd Battalion Green Howards to command C Company in the Canal Zone and then in operations against Eoka terrorists in Cyprus.

The next year, he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and appointed to the planning staff of the CIGS, Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer.

Powell commanded the 11th Battalion King's African Rifles in Kenya in 1957 and then moved to the MoD. In 1962, in his final appointment in the Army, he served as Brigade Colonel Yorkshire Brigade. He then applied for an appointment in the Security Service, took the Civil Service Commission examination and, having passed out close to the top, was accepted. For the next 12 years he worked for MI5, initially on security policy and then on counter-espionage.

In 1977 Powell moved to Chipping Campden and was able to devote more time to writing. He founded and ran the Campden Bookshop and helped to start the Campden & District Archaeological and History Society. He lectured on Army Staff College battlefield tours of Arnhem, and he was proud of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

As a young man, he enjoyed polo, hunting and beagling. In his latter years, he took to climbing and was a vigorous walker into his eighties.

Powell published a number of books, among them Men at Arnhem (1976); The Devil's Birthday: The Bridges to Arnhem (1984); Plumer: The Soldier's General (1990); and Buller: a Scapegoat? (1994). The History of The Green Howards (1992) was updated in collaboration with his son, Brigadier John Powell, Colonel of the Green Howards, and republished in 2002.

Geoffrey Powell died on January 5. He married, in 1944, Felicity Wadsworth, who survives him with their son and daughter.
Tim McCoy's obit; my emphasis

MCCOY, Colonel T.R. (Tim) Retired 1918 - 2005

Passed away peacefully Sunday, February 13, 2005 surrounded by his children Terry, Susan and Cathy and grandchildren Sofie, Tamira and Timo at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa. Predeceased by his beloved wife Elizabeth Munroe and survived by his dear brother George. Fondly remembered by his niece Barb and nephews Larry and Doug in the Hamilton area and by his many friends around the world.

Distinguished veteran of WWII, Dieppe survivor and career Army officer. His military career began with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry at the beginning of WWII. He was wounded in action during WWII and after the war he joined The Royal Canadian Regiment in London and was subsequently appointed Commanding Officer of the First Batallion RCR. Later in his career he was appointed Commandant of the Canadian Infantry Training School in Camp Borden, Ontario and served as a Senior Staff Officer at Headquarters Northern Army Group (NATO) based in West Germany.

Following his retirement from the military in 1971, he contributed for many years to international development, as Executive Director of the Canadian Hunger Foundation, as well as project director for CIDA in Dominica and as a volunteer.

He was also an active member of the RCR Association (Ottawa Branch), the RCMI and other organizations. He is fondly remembered by the many people whose lives he touched as a person who loved life and lived it to the fullest with zest, generosity, a sense of humour and incredible determination.

A Funeral Service will be held at All Saints Anglican Church, 347 Richmond Road, Ottawa, on Friday, February 18 at 11a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ottawa Heart Institute or the Intensive Care Unit at the Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus.
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd) John Hardy was, amongst other things, the Honorary Dominion President of the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada.   (An older relative of the Legion; see: http://www.anavets.ca/ ).   John passed away this week.
John Hardy was born in Perth, Ontario and was a member of the 187th Cadet Corps and the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish (Militia). Upon graduation from the Perth Collegiate institute in 1944 he joined the Canadian Army active service force. He was posted overseas as a re-enforcement to the 1st Battalion of the Hastings and Price Edward Regiment and served in Italy and in the liberation Holland. After VE Day he volunteered to serve in the Pacific but the war ended before he left North America.

After World War II, he was off to Victoria College in the University of Toronto where he graduated with a BA degree and was qualified as a Captain Militia, and regular forces Lieutenant. He accepted a position as management trainee with Moore corporation/Moore business forms and continued to serve as transport officer of the Toronto Scottish. He joined the Royal Canadian Regiment in Brockville in 1949 as a Lieutenant.

With the 1RCR he qualified as a parachutist and was engaged in training 2 RCR troops for Korea. Promoted to Captain in 1951, he served for a year in Germany as Adjutant of the 1st Canadian Highland Battalion of the 27th Infantry Brigade. Upon return he was posted as the Resident Staff Officer and student advisor to the President of the University of Toronto. Many interesting postings followed; Graduate of the Canadian Army Staff College Kingston, ON; the Cdn Senior Officers Course; Staff Officer HQ's 1st Cdn Infantry Division under Gen. Rockingham; tours with 1st and 2nd Battalions, the Black Watch (RHR) of Canada in Gagetown; UN Chief Economics Officer UNFICYP HQ's Cyprus; Assistant Chief Instructor, Royal Canadian School of Infantry; and, Staff Officer in the office of the Vice Chief of Defence.

John was seconded to External Affairs in the Military Affairs and Peacekeeping Division. He briefed Prime Minister Trudeau each morning before, during and after the FLQ crisis. Back to National Defence HQ, he then worked in the section responsible for aid of civil power, internal security and anti-terrorism, and staffing for establishing JTF2. He was the Canadian Secretary of ABCA-Z before retiring from the Army in 1975.

Upon retirement from the Military, he became busily engaged in volunteer work. Serving as commissioner of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, Federal District; President of the Ontario Amateur Football Association, North Eastern Region. An active member in the regimental associations of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, the Toronto Scottish Regiment, The Royal Canadian Regiment, The 1st Canadian Highland Battalion and the Black Watch (RHR) of Canada. He also served on the Central Committee of the Army Benevolent Fund.

In addition, he has done interesting contract work for the Federal Government, the longest being 11 yrs with the Secretary of State as Director of Operations for 1st July Canada Day Celebrations. He also worked as an adviser on International Security and Anti-Terrorism.

John Hardy enjoyed everyone he came in contact with as well as fishing, target shooting, horse back riding, sailing, and wild animal and bird watching.

Alasdair Ferguson
(Filed: 21/02/2005)

Alasdair Ferguson, who has died aged 85, commanded one of the landing craft which carried Canadian soldiers into a hail of fire at Puits during the Dieppe raid on August 19 1942.


As second-in-command of the 10th Landing Craft Assault Flotilla, he had the task of landing on Blue Beach, on the eastern outer flank of the main landings. But, after launching from the converted Belgian ferry Princess Astrid, Ferguson's boats went in the wrong direction, with the result that they arrived 16 minutes late. Dawn was breaking, and the element of surprise had been lost.

Ferguson felt his boat scrape the bottom as enemy machine-gun fire poured down from a cliff, penetrating the thin hull. Then, crying "Down ramp!", he urged the men of the Royal Regiment of Canada and the Royal Canadian Artillery into the water. Some were cut down on the ramp, where their bodies piled up. Others fell as they struggled to cross the pebbled beach to the sea wall 40 ft away.

Seven craft made the first landing; but when Ferguson was sent back to Puits a few hours later to rescue survivors, only four were now available. Two of these were hit and sunk, and, when he saw that there was no sign of life on the beach, Ferguson reluctantly obeyed an order to withdraw.

At about 10.30, all available craft were sent to the main beach at Dieppe, which was still under intense fire from mortars and machine-guns. As Ferguson grounded his boat, he could see no movement on the beach, so he stood up to shout. A soldier ran towards the craft, and Ferguson handed him the only weapon he had, a Lewis gun, with which the soldier fumbled as he fired over the prone bodies. Ferugson did not notice that the man was wearing German uniform, and was clearly attempting to desert.

By now so many troops were rushing his craft that it was swamped and, as Ferguson headed out to sea, his boat was hit by a shell and capsized. He helped his passengers board another craft, and the shocked sailors and soldiers returned to Newhaven.

The allies learned valuable lessons, but the Canadians had suffered appalling casualties: on Blue Beach alone, 485 out of 545 Canadians were killed, wounded or missing. For the rest of his life Ferguson measured everything by Dieppe, saying that nothing else could possibly worry him. He was mentioned in dispatches.

Alasdair Forbes Ferguson was born on April 11 1919 at Bearsden, Glasgow, where his father was a property developer. He was educated at Loretto, where he was head boy and captain of athletics, swimming, rugby and boxing. His Engineering studies at Clare College, Cambridge, were interrupted by the war.

During the Munich crisis, Ferguson borrowed his mother's car and drove to the recruiting office in Glasgow to ask how he could become a naval officer. The recruiting officer told him: "You won't have to pass any test, because I know you and your father." A few months later, having had no training, Ferguson found himself a midshipman in the battleship Royal Oak at Scapa Flow. However, his captain, William Benn, was horrified, and ordered Ferguson back to Cambridge; a short while later, Royal Oak was torpedoed in her anchorage at night with the loss of 833 lives.

Ferguson fretted at university until Dunkirk in June 1940, when he insisted on being allowed to rejoin. Passing out top of his class, he was promised the choice of appointments and volunteered for destroyers or motor torpedo boats. Instead, he was sent to a flotilla of eight 25-ft long Yorkshire cobbles, in which he started to train for the invasion of France. Ferguson reckoned he was quite safe: if the Germans saw him coming in these open fishing boats, they would be unable to open fire for laughing.

Later, his flotilla was re-equipped with American, 36-ft-long "Eureka" boats and, in early 1942, with the 41-ft-long, British-built landing craft in which Ferguson specialised for the rest of the war.

After Dieppe, Ferguson took command of the renamed 60th LCA and was sent to the Mediterranean, where he landed American troops at Arzeu in North Africa from the Canadian Pacific liner Duchess of Bedford. In March 1943 he began his very successful association with British 50th Division, taking part in the invasion of Sicily, the crossing of the Messina Strait, and the landings at Salerno and Anzio. He was awarded the DSC.

At Normandy in 1944, Ferguson, now a lieutenant and in command of 524th LCA, launched his flotilla from its parent ship, Empire Arquebus, some seven miles off the coast and led the first wave of assault craft, with the 1st Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment embarked, to land on Gold Beach at le Hamel. He was awarded a Bar to his DSC for his gallantry, skill and determination.

Ferguson left the Navy in 1945 and, six years later, began a lifelong association with the then ailing Hamworthy Engineering company at Poole. After the firm had grown at the rate of 50 per cent per annum, he and his brother Nick bought a small company, Bourne Steel, which he sold to its employees in the 1980s; it is now one of the south coast's biggest construction and engineering companies.

He also ran an English and a Scottish property company, took an interest in the Parkstone Boys' and Girls' Club and turned the Bourne Valley Club into a successful residential activities' centre for the young.

Ferguson was a keen sailor throughout his life, though his sister recalled that, as a boy, "he always fell in and we had to take dry clothes with us". His yacht, Swan of Arden, was as well known on the French coast as in the Western Isles, but he could not cook, and the crew's rations consisted entirely of fruit cake.

In 1972 Ferguson helped found the Poole Maritime Trust. When an early 16th-century Spanish wreck was discovered on the notorious Hook Sands in Studland Bay, he took the lead raising money for its conservation.

Alasdair Ferguson, who died on December 26, was appointed MBE in 1984 and became a Deputy Lieutenant for Dorset in 1995.

His first wife was Miranda Domvile, daughter of Admiral Sir Barry Domvile; she died in 1981. He married, secondly, Heather Baggley, who died in 1995; and thirdly, in 1997, Patricia Richards (née Johnson), who survives him with three daughters of the first marriage, a stepson and two stepdaughters.

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This link just shows how many of those who have served  before us "Young Sprog's" are dying  off so fast!!

Thanks all for passing on the little known Histories of our former Warriors. :salute: