Sir John Valentine Carden Survives. Part 2.

I seem to recall that Harry Crerar was considered next in line behind Monty as Commander of 21st Army Group if Monty was incapacitated or promoted out.
Possible but still not at the top level - if the war was longer then maybe. Anyway that was based on seeing how generals performed.
In this timeline now only the British have experience plus Blamey so Australia could get a combined army command, note MacNaughton was not considered good by Brooke and I suspect by his predecessors so only would be allowed to command Canadians.
 
Possible but still not at the top level - if the war was longer then maybe. Anyway that was based on seeing how generals performed.
In this timeline now only the British have experience plus Blamey so Australia could get a combined army command, note MacNaughton was not considered good by Brooke and I suspect by his predecessors so only would be allowed to command Canadians.
MacNaughton wasn’t great. A good Artillery man (he and Brooke served together in the Artillery attached to the Canadian Corps in WW1) and a good technical officer. But not the best CAS and not a very good field commander.

Crerar was much better, and if there is any major commitment of Canadian troops Crerar will likely end up replacing MacNaughton as head of the Canadian contribution.
 
MacNaughton wasn’t great. A good Artillery man (he and Brooke served together in the Artillery attached to the Canadian Corps in WW1) and a good technical officer. But not the best CAS and not a very good field commander.

Crerar was much better, and if there is any major commitment of Canadian troops Crerar will likely end up replacing MacNaughton as head of the Canadian contribution.

Is there any way you could elaborate @ArtosStark ?

As a Canadian, usually our military leaders are mentioned as afterthoughts after more in-depth coverage is provided on US, British and even Russian leaders.
 
Given the current drift of the thread it might be worth noting that Crerar had a division of Polish armour and a whole British Corps under his command of the 1st Canadian Army. Commonwealth forces were traditionally accustomed to serving within mixed forces. As an aside, the South African (and one time Boer enemy commander) Jan Smuts was a possible replacement for Winston Churchill should the need arise. Probably not the first choice but he was one of those who might be called upon.
 
Is there any way you could elaborate @ArtosStark ?

As a Canadian, usually our military leaders are mentioned as afterthoughts after more in-depth coverage is provided on US, British and even Russian leaders.
Sure.

After WW1 the Canadian government followed its regular playbook and disbanded basically everything. Very little of the highly developed military and organizational experience gained in WW1 would be preserved for WW2 and a lot of lessons (tactical and organizational particularly) had to be re-learned. As is often the case when your army is Militia based, the only limited exception was the Artillery.

Andrew McNaughton had gone to McGill university where he had studied under Ernest Rutherford, and been singled out by Rutherford as a man to watch. He got a B.A in physics and Engineering. He was a militiaman and joined the artillery of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914. He rose quickly through the ranks, being selected personally by Julian Byng as Counter Battery Staff Officer for the Canadian Corps, a very important position in the last years of the war. Alan Brooke was also attached to the Canadian Corps as a primary artillery staff officer at the time, and I understand he and McNaughton did not really get on. Regardless, McNaughton would be named GOC Canadian Corps Artillery the day before the Armistice. He was well liked by his men, and contributed to advances in sound ranging and flash spotting that were critical to late war artillery tactics. By wars end he was considered by some to be the best artilleryman in the world.

He joined the permanent force after the war and rose to become Chief of the Army Staff (CAS) in 1929. He actually did fairly well there, significantly modernizing the army and increasing funding for the RCAF and Corps of Signals.At the same time he continued his scientific work, being credited with the invention of the cathode ray tube and a cathode ray tube direction finding device that was an early precursor to radar. However, his bias for technical officers increased the number of senior and staff positions held by technical background officers from 50% in 1922 to almost 100%. He also tried to abolish the RCN, and nearly succeeded, leading to bitterness between the RCN and Canadian Army for decades.

On the whole McNaughton shared the common Canadian hostility to a professional army and thought that the permanent Militia should be primarily instructors for the citizen militia that would defend the country. He did not see the need for operational training, believing that scientific training and general education of the nation (who would form the army in war) was all that was needed. He cut training for cavalry and infantry officers while increasing that for signals, artillery and engineers.

When war broke out McNaughton was the best known and most senior Canadian officer and was tapped to lead the CEF. Especially important for PM Mackenzie King was McNaughton’s vocal opposition to conscription, which King wanted to avoid due to the political mess that was the Conscription Crisis of WW1. McNaughton commanded the First Canadian Division in England but never saw combat. He was well liked by all but extremely obsessive. He once called the Minister of Defence to complain that Canadian Military trucks were too ugly, and request ones that were more aesthetically pleasing. He commanded the CEF as it grew from Division to Corps and Corps to Army and was involved in scientific exploration such as the development of discarding sabot rounds. But between King’s desire to keep Canadians out of combat to avoid a conscription decision and McNaughton’s refusal to allow any Canadian divisions to serve separate to the whole, the Canadian Corps remained in Britain “guarding against invasion”. He was finally persuaded to allow some troops to Italy when King began to fear that the war would end without significant Canadian involvement.

But what really showed his command issues was the Spartan War Game. The Canadians were supposed to break out over the Thames and “take” Huntington. McNaughton showed a complete lack of understanding of operations, sitting in front of his map table and hesitating on what orders to issue, giving orders to Corps with wholly insufficient time for them to execute them, then issuing new orders before those were completed, and leaving his command post for a night to personally supervise the construction of a bridge across the Thames, leading to command paralysis due to a distraction with technical matters and an inability to delegate.

He was finally removed due to his continued resistance to splitting Canadian formations off. King intended to make him Governor-General but used him to replace his pro-conscription war minister instead. When McNaughton could not get enough volunteers through strength of personality the Staff gave their assessment that the only way to get the required numbers was through conscription. King played this as a “generals revolt”, made McNaughton take the blame for conscription coming in and set him up to fail later on by having him campaign for an MP position in a riding he would never have been able to win. Nice guy our PM back then.

Harry Crerar, meanwhile, was a hydro-electric engineer in Ontario before joining the artillery in WW1. He commanded a battery at Vimy, before joining the Canadian Corps artillery staff and working closely with Alan Brooke (who he got along very well with, calling him “Brookie”) as well as McNaughton. When Brooke was assigned out his replacement was immediately put on staff course and Crerar filled his position until he returned, later becoming Counter Battery Staff Officer when McNaughton was promoted.

In the interwar he joined the Active Militia and gained one of the seats at Camberley Staff College set aside for Canadians, where he learned under Ironside and alongside Brooke and Fuller. After graduating he served for two years as a staff officer in the British Army under Archie Wavell and a few more in the Canadian Horse Artilley. He was Professor of Tactics at the Royal Military College (RMC) and at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) on the General staff under McNaughton. He then went to the Imperial Defence College, with Brooke as instructor, and was stated to have “outstanding ability”. He rejoined NDHQ as senior army planner for several years before being made commandant of the RMC.

At the outbreak of war he was put in charge of the Canadian Military Headquarters in London, before being called back as Vice Chief of the General staff to Ottawa and was then immediately promoted to CGS. He was responsible for much of the Canadian Army growth over the next few years. However he wanted a field command and took a demotion to command Second infantry Division. In the event he would end up commanding the Canadian Corps while McNaughton was on medical leave and when 1st Canadian Army was formed he stayed as Corps commander and as Lt Gen. The Corps came under Montgomery’s SE command where Crerar followed Monty in instituting an extensive training program. In War Game Spartan his performance gained praise from Paget (C-in-C home forces), Brooke and McNaughton. He pushed for Canadian troops to serve in N Africa, which McNaughton resisted but was finally able to get 1st Division into Husky. When this was upgraded to I Corps Crerar went with it. By this time It had already been determined that McNaughton needed to be replaced and it had to be by a Canadian. Crerar was selected but remained in Italy for the time being to gain experience. He would lead 1st Canadian Army from shortly after Normandy. In Operation Veritable he fought in what was possibly the worst conditions found on the Western Front in WW2 and won, taking 15,000 casualties to the Germans 75,000.

Crerar was not necessarily the most brilliant General, but he was good, and perhaps most importantly he learned and improved as he went along. Even when he disagreed with his peers he could generally maintain a good working relationship with them. He did not inspire love the same way McNaughton did but he did a much better job of commanding in the field.

So, after that long explanation, my basic point is that McNaughton caused concern among allied leadership very early on, as to his abilities in the field. Crerar was best placed to succeed him and a much better field commander and would likely have replaced him when actual combat was expected or shortly after his deficiencies were shown.

However, if you are looking for the best field commander in the Canadian Army in WW2, you are probably looking for Guy Simonds, who would likely have succeeded Crerar if he had been killed or promoted, though he would have been too junior when Crerar first took command. Also Simonds was a bit of a hothead while Crerar was a better diplomat.
 
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However, if you are looking for the best field commander in the Canadian Army in WW2, you are probably looking for Guy Simonds, who would likely have succeeded Crerar if he had been killed or promoted, though he would have been too junior when Crerar first took command. Also Simonds was a bit of a hothead while Crerar was a better diplomat.
That article improves my knowledge - I knew about the exercise but thanks for the details.

I remeber a timeline on usenet soc.history.what-if (I think) where D-Day failed and the next invasion was lead by Simonds.
 
Huh, so it could be possible to get Canadian troops in NA if personnel at the top changed?
Possible but difficult. King wanted to keep casualties as low as possible, thus avoiding having to decide on whether to implement conscription or pull Canadian support. Neither was a good political option. So he would have been resistant to it. But if McNaughton had not been in command and the top commander (Crerar or one of his contemporaries, maybe Stuart) had supported it then a division or even I Corps could possibly have been sent.
 
However, if you are looking for the best field commander in the Canadian Army in WW2, you are probably looking for Guy Simonds, who would likely have succeeded Crerar if he had been killed or promoted, though he would have been too junior when Crerar first took command. Also Simonds was a bit of a hothead while Crerar was a better diplomat.
I would nominate Bert Hoffmeister but he would be far too junior for senior command, only becoming division commander in 1943 in Italy. Probably Canada's best armour commander win WWII.
 
Possible but difficult. King wanted to keep casualties as low as possible, thus avoiding having to decide on whether to implement conscription or pull Canadian support. Neither was a good political option. So he would have been resistant to it. But if McNaughton had not been in command and the top commander (Crerar or one of his contemporaries, maybe Stuart) had supported it then a division or even I Corps could possibly have been sent.
If memory serves a lot of the Canadian conscription woes as well as supply woes came from Sam Hughes and his cronies in WW1.

Heck if memory serves I think the first Canadian formation into Europe in WW1 was a privately raised and organised Quebec unit though I could be wrong.
 
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Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
If memory serves a lot of the Canadian conscription woes as well as supply woes came from Sam Hughes and his cronies in WW1.

Heck if memory serves I think the first Canadian formation into Europe in WW1 was a privately raised and organised Quebec unit though I could be wrong.
Princess Patricia's Light Infantry?
 
If memory serves a lot of the Canadian conscription woes as well as supply woes came from Sam Hughes and his cronies in WW1.

Heck if memory serves I think the first Canadian formation into Europe in WW1 was a privately raised and organised Quebec unit though I could be wrong.

The first Canadian contingent to proceed overseas in WW1 was a 30,000 strong force known as the First Contingent and nominally a division. There were no French Canadian battalions, mainly because Hughes, a senior Orange Lodge member, was vehemently anti-Catholic. There were Quebec based battalions but they were Anglophone units with the 1000 or so Francophones scattered amongst the Anglo units.
 

Ramontxo

Donor
The first Canadian contingent to proceed overseas in WW1 was a 30,000 strong force known as the First Contingent and nominally a division. There were no French Canadian battalions, mainly because Hughes, a senior Orange Lodge member, was vehemently anti-Catholic. There were Quebec based battalions but they were Anglophone units with the 1000 or so Francophones scattered amongst the Anglo units.
Which I am sure did wonders when the draft crisis happened
 
Which I am sure did wonders when the draft crisis happened
It didn’t help, but the cracks were pre-existing. The war, and the perception that French Canadians were not contributing, did make things worse though. Helped along by the fact that the pre-existing French Canadian militia units were not called up and the units created for WW1 rarely had Francophone officers. The 22nd Regiment (vingt-deux, anglicized to the Van Doos) was privately funded and it took considerable pressure, along with Robert Borden realizing how hard it would be to maintain an army of half a million from a nation of 8 million, to get it created.

If memory serves a lot of the Canadian conscription woes as well as supply woes came from Sam Hughes and his cronies in WW1
He certainly didn’t help. But Conscription was always going to be a problem. You are not going to maintain an Army the size that Canada contributed through heavy attrition for years from volunteers in a nation as small as Canada was. And the divide between Anglo and Francophone Canada was well established, though not always as acrimonious as it became. The war, along with the army organization he Hughes created and helped maintain, merely set some shaky bridges alight.

Heck if memory serves I think the first Canadian formation into Europe in WW1 was a privately raised and organised Quebec unit though I could be wrong
Princess Patricia's Light Infantry?
I thought that the PPCLI were a western unit. Vandoos would be more likely.
The Princess Pat’s were the first to reach France in December 1914, having been formed in August and reached England with the rest of the First Contingent in October. They were privately raised and almost entirely made up of former British regulars and veterans of the Boer War. Originally these came from all across Canada, but post war they were headquartered in the West and generally have taken the bulk of their recruits from there ever since.

The Van Doos were formed a little later, under public pressure due to the lack of Francophone units in the CEF and the scattering of the few Francophones among other English units. It was authorized in October 1914, and went to France in September of 1915. Both gained distinction during the war and were among the few units maintained in the interwar period. The Van Doos still take the bulk of their recruits from Quebec and New Brunswick.
 
Thanks for the clarification Artos I not the biggest fan of Sam Hughes even at the best of times and really view him in the same light as MacArthur but worse in some respects.
 
Thanks for the clarification Artos I not the biggest fan of Sam Hughes even at the best of times and really view him in the same light as MacArthur but worse in some respects.
Oh he was bloody horrible. Arrogant, bullying, prejudiced, entitled, bloodyminded. You can basically assume that things get worse when you add Hughes to the picture. He is like a negative force multiplier.

As bad as he was though, we can’t blame everything on him. He was a product of pre existing conditions somewhat and even many of the things he made worse were not of his own creation. In other words he didn’t start every fire he added gasoline to.

EDIT: I suppose I should be fair. Hughes covered up Arthur Currie’s embezzlement of regiment funds and put him in command of a unit in the CEF due to his friendship with Hughes son. This put Currie in position to be recognized by British trainers and commanders of the CEF as a top notch commander. So his nepotism and obstruction of justice did have a positive effect at least once.
 
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I thought that the embezzlement happened post war. Canada was fortunate to have Arthur Currie as a commander and was also lucky in that both wars a good British general was assigned to train them, Julian Byng and Montgomery.
 
I thought that the embezzlement happened post war. Canada was fortunate to have Arthur Currie as a commander and was also lucky in that both wars a good British general was assigned to train them, Julian Byng and Montgomery.
The embezzlement was in July 1914. Currie had bet big on the real estate boom in Victoria after 1908. In 1912 this started to turn around and by 1913 he was in bad shape. After becoming commander of the new 50th Regiment Gordon Highlanders of Canada he was given a little over $10,000 to pay for new uniforms. He used it to cover his debts instead. The regiments honorary colonel had promised to give the regiment $35,000 and Currie intended to use this to buy uniforms. But that money never came. Hen war broke out he ended up joining the CEF and was given command of a brigade. When his replacement with the 50th wrote him about the status of the grant money he ignored the letter and sailed to Europe with his brigade.
 
EDIT: I suppose I should be fair. Hughes covered up Arthur Currie’s embezzlement of regiment funds and put him in command of a unit in the CEF due to his friendship with Hughes son. This put Currie in position to be recognized by British trainers and commanders of the CEF as a top notch commander. So his nepotism and obstruction of justice did have a positive effect at least once.

The corollary to this is that when, later in the war, Currie passed over Hughes son for a promotion, Hughes turned on Currie and started calling him a butcher that sacrificed his men. Hughes was a real piece of work. Tim Cooks book "The Madman and the Butcher" goes into the good and bad points of each man and their relationship. It's on my (unfortunately massive) pile of "Books To Read..... eventually" list.
 
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