The Weight of Command
312 pages, 6 x 9
16 b&w photos
Release Date:01 Aug 2016
Release Date:01 Aug 2016

The Weight of Command

Voices of Canada’s Second World War Generals and Those Who Knew Them

UBC Press

Three-quarters of a century after the Second World War, almost all the participants are gone. This book contains interviews with and about the Canadian generals who led the troops during that war. Edited and introduced by one of the foremost military historians of our time, this carefully curated collection brings to life the generals and their wartime experiences.

The interviews are based on lengthy conversations that J.L. Granatstein had with the surviving generals, their key staff officers, fighters under their command, and their families. Generals McNaughton, Crerar, Simonds, Foulkes, and Burns are among those discussed. The content is revealing and conversations frank. Peers and subordinates alike scrutinize key commanders of the war, sometimes offering praise but often passing harsh judgment.

Canada’s army rose from nothing in 1939 to become “the best little army in the world” in 1945. It was an astounding feat, given that most senior officers received only on-the-job training to fight the war. In this book, we learn how and why so much was accomplished from the memories of those who were there. We also learn of the mistakes made and the high cost paid in lives and suffering.

This book will be of interest to all interested in military studies, Canadian history, and leadership. It will also be a core reference book for scholars in the field.

The attitudes and experiences of the Canadian senior officer cohort were strikingly similar to other Dominion armies during the war: the feuds, jealousies, and occasional hatreds; insufficient capacity to wage war during the early years; and ambivalent relations with the British. J.L. Granatstein’s ‘360-degree appraisal’ – gained from conversations with commanders, subordinates, and staff – creates a riveting portrait. Jeffrey Grey, author of The War with the Ottoman Empire
Histories of the Second World War Canadian Army have largely been based on personality-driven evaluations, usually by British officers. The Weight of Command will exhilarate readers with the discovery of something new. J.L. Granatstein weaves together interviews with commanders and fighters, as well as behind-the-scenes staff, providing an unparalleled record of the personal memories of those closest to the war. Stephen Harris, co-editor of Warrior Chiefs: Perspectives on Senior Canadian Military Leaders
The ultimate compliment is to tell someone, ‘As usual you have nailed it!’ That’s what J.L. Granatstein has done in his presentation and analysis of the intimate, often colourful, interviews he conducted with generals and their staff – both the good and not so good – who led Canada’s efforts during the Second World War. Lewis Mackenzie, Major General (ret’d), Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and author of the bestseller, Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo
J.L. Granatstein, OC, FRSC, is a Distinguished Research Professor of History Emeritus at York University. For fifty years he has published extensively in Canadian military, political, and foreign policy history; his most recent book is The Best Little Army in the World: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945. He taught at York University for thirty years, was Director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum, and has served on government commissions.



Major-General Bert Hoffmeister

Major-General George Kitching

Major-General Harry F.G. Letson

Major-General Bruce Matthews


Brigadier H.P. Bell-Irving

Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Bennett

Major-General M.P. Bogert

Colonel J. Allan (“Ding”) Calder

Major-General W.J. Megill

Lieutenant-General Robert Moncel

Major-General Roger Rowley

Major-General J. Desmond B. Smith

Major-General James Tedlie

Lieutenant-General Henri Tellier

Major-General C.B. Ware

Brigadier-General Denis Whitaker


Brigadier G. Edward Beament

Lieutenant-General William A.B. Anderson

Brigadier George Pangman

Major Giles Perodeau

Finlay Angus Morrison

Major-General N. Elliot Rodger

Lieutenant-General Geoffrey Walsh

Major-General Robert P. Rothschild

Lieutenant-General S.F. Clark

Lieutenant-Colonel J. Douglas Crashley

John W.H. Bassett

Harold Morrison

Colonel H.O. Moran

Lieutenant-Colonel E.T. Winslow

Major-General H.A. “Sparky” Sparling

Colonel Robert Raymont

Brigadier John D. (Jack) Christian

Colonel Ernest A. Côté

Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Mingay

Brigadier P.A. Stanley Todd

Colonel W. Clement Dick

Brigadier-General R.T. Bennett

Brigadier Frank Lace

Brigadier Beverley Matthews

Brigadier William Ziegler

Rt. Hon. J.W. Pickersgill

Lieutenant-Colonel Trumball Warren


Mrs. Margaret Palmer

Peter Crerar

Group Captain Victor C.H. Stuart

Marguerite Stuart Shortreed

Dr. Mary Burns

Joseph Pope

Major W.H. Pope

Mrs. Simonne Pope Fletcher

Tony Foster

Peter Hertzberg

Thea Hertzberg Gray

Mrs. Dagmar Hertzberg Nation

Mrs. Sherwood Lett

George Montague

P.K. (Patricia Katherine) Page

Mrs. Helen Price Perodeau

Mrs. Mary Plow

Mr. Justice Joseph Potts

Mrs. Betty Spry

Malcolm and Atholl Sutherland-Brown

W.F.R. Stein

Colonel Malcolm Turner

Major Fred Vokes

Harvie Walford

Peter Worthington

Mrs. Clara “Larry” Worthington

William Young


List of Canadian Generals of the Second World War

Table of Army Ranks and Responsibilities

Selected Readings


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