- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Oct 1945, p. 13-29
- Foulkes, Lieut.-General Charles, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The speaker addresses the audience as a former Corps Commander, about the battle in which the Corps he commanded really had a chance to use its full power. The address is enhanced with diagrams on a presentation board. Going back to Field Marshal Montgomery's last Conference, about the 20th of March. How Field Marshal Montgomery conducted these Conferences. His indication that this battle would end the war. The general plan of Field Marshal Montgomery in accordance with General Eisenhower's master plan. The main plan to isolate the Northern edge of the Ruhr from the rest of Germany, using the 9th American Army. The 2nd British Army and the 1st Canadian Army to form a deep bridgehead across the Rhine, into which the Field Marshal would pour his reserves and his administrative units, ready for a thrust across the North German Plain, with the ultimate objectives of Hamburg and Bremen. Details of the operation follow. A look at how the plan worked out. The German reaction to the plan. Intelligence received during the operation. A detailed description of the battle. Truce talks with the German delegation. The only outcome of the conference that the Germans agreed that they would not interfere with the food being taken by the Swedish Red Cross, and the Swedish Red Cross guaranteed that they would look after the distribution of food. The 1st Canadian Corps to take the food inside the German lines. Difficulties in unloading the food. Success in persuading the Germany Army to surrender. Terms of the unconditional surrender. Negotiations of Field Marshal Montgomery with the German High Command for surrender. Dealing with the German Army which came under control of the speaker's command. Problems to be faced: taking these 130,000 and disarming them; continuing to feed the Dutch population; making sure that essential services did not break down during this period. The speaker's concern that now that the war was over, not one Canadian soldier lose his life. Alternatives in dealing with the problems and how they were dealt with. The task completed by the first of July; all the Boche disarmed and marched across the Zuider Zee. An idea of the booty which was taken from the Boche, and returned to the Dutch. Paying tribute to the steadfastness and long-suffering of the Dutch people. The hope for continued good relations between the Canadians and the Dutch. Paying tribute to the contribution made by the militia of Canada. A word about the returned soldier.
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- 4 Oct 1945
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THE LAST CANADIAN BATTLE AND THE SURRENDER OF THE GERMAN ARMY
AN ADDRESS BY LIEUT.-GENERAL CHARLES FOULKES, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O.
Chairman: The President, Mr. Eric F. Thompson
Thursday, October 4, 1945
MR. THOMPSON: I deem it a great pleasure indeed to rise on behalf of the Empire Club of Canada and welcome our most distinguished guest Q# today, in the person of LieutenantGeneral Charles Foulkes, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., who comes to us in his capacity as Chief of the General Staff in Canada.
General Foulkes, though born in England, was brought up in this country, having his early education in London, Ontario, later attending the Military Staff College at Camberley, England. He was first commissioned in the Canadian' Militia as an officer of the Machine Gun Corps in 1923, transferring to the Royal Canadian Regiment as 4, Permanent Force Officer in 1926.
Prior to the commencement of World War 2, he held many important staff appointments in Canada, proceeding overseas at the outbreak of hostilities with the rank of Brigade Major. He returned to Canada in 1941, to accompany the 3rd Division overseas, following which, he was given command of the Regina Rifles subsequently being made Commandant of an Infantry Brigade in the First Division. In April, 1943, he was appointed Brigadier, General Staff, First Canadian Army.
In January, 1944, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, in command of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, which he took to France and fought through the historic battle of Falaise. In November, 1944, he was promoted to his present rank of Lieutenant-General and placed in command of the 1st Canadian Corps in Italy, which corps he took to Holland early this year in time to play the leading role in the final battles which brought about the collapse of the German Army.
Gen. Foulkes has kindly consented to tell us today about "The Last Canadian Battle and the Surrender of the German Army". Gentlemen--General Foulkes.
LIEUT.-GENERAL CHARLES FOULKES : Mr. President, Gentlemen: I deem it a great pleasure and a privilege to come here to talk to you today. This is the first talk that I have given in Canada since assuming the appointment of Chief of the General Staff.
I want to say it is very appropriate that my first talk should be in Toronto. I spent six very happy years as a very young soldier in your city in. Government-occupied Stanley Barracks; and also because of the tremendous war effort which has been put into the Canadian Army by the people from Toronto and the surrounding area. I will have more to say to you about the contribution which this area has made to the Canadian Army.
Now in the short time I have today, I want to give you a picture of what I have termed "The Last Canadian Battle and the Surrender of the German Army". It was not the most spectacular battle of the war, but it was the only battle in which the Corps which I commanded really had a chance to use its full power. So I am going to talk to you today, not as Chief of the General Staff, but as a former Corps Commander, and I would suggest that 'during my remarks that you watch the diagram on the board which will demonstrate what I have to say.
Now in speaking about the last Battle, perhaps the most appropriate place to begin would be at Field Marshal Montgomery's last Conference. About the 20th of March Field Marshal Montgomery called together all the Division Generals in the group of Armies which he commanded and he said, more or less in these words, "Gentlemen, this is my last Battle Conference. This battle will end the war." And it did.
Now at this Conference Field Marshal Montgomery, as was his usual practice, went through the whole plan of the battle in more or less detail. His idea was that if every General knew what was in his mind, then if the battle went much faster than had been anticipated, every General on his own, could carry out the Field Marshal's intention. And that did stand us in very good stead, for the tempo of the battle did go faster than was anticipated.
Now the general plan of Field Marshal Montgomery in accordance with General Eisenhower's master plan. As you will remember, the First Canadian Army early in February and March had cleared the Boche from the left side of the Rhine, and the American Army had secured a bridgehead at Remagen across the Rhine.
Now the main plan was, first of all, to isolate the Northern edge of the Ruhr from the rest of Germany and they proposed to do so by using the 9th American Army, which was then placed under the command of Field Marshal Montgomery. This 9th Army was to make its thrust on the northern side of the Ruhr and so isolate that area from the rest of Germany.
And then the 2nd British Army and the 1st Canadian Army, which was under the command of General Crerar, was to form a deep bridgehead across the Rhine, and into that deep bridgehead the Field Marshal was going to pour his reserves and his administrative units, ready for a thrust across the North German Plain, with the ultimate objectives of Hamburg and Bremen.
Now this North German Plain was a very satisfactory area for the operation of Armoured Divisions. For this operation the Field Marshal had three Armies and a total of about 6,000 tanks, and it was his idea to loose these 6,000 tanks from this bridgehead and make straight for Hamburg and Bremen and finally on towards Berlin.
Now General Crerar's plan was for the 1st Canadian Army to form the left flank of this bridgehead preparatory to a thrust to the North and Northeast covering the left flank of the 2nd British Army.
Now all through the war the 1st Canadian Army has been on the left flank, and again we found ourselves on the left flank, for the job of covering the left flank, and forming the left half of the bridgehead.
Now General Crerar's outlined plan was for the 2nd Canadian Corps, which was under the command of General Simonds, to cross the Rhine at Emmerick, and cover the left flank of 30 Corps and then capture Zutphen, Hengelo and Deventer.
Now General Simond's plan was not to force a crossing at Emmerick, but to put the 3rd Canadian Division under command of the Br. 30th Corps across at Rees, and then to attack Emmerick from behind. And the Boche hates to be attacked from behind.
Now this plan was not unique, because all through the whole war Canadian Divisions have operated under British command, British divisions have operated under Canadian command, American divisions have operated under British command, British divisions have operated under American command, Canadian divisions have operated under American command, and American divisions under Canadian command. And in that way advantage could be taken of crossings made by other forces, so that we could reap the benefit of turning movements, like this one planned by General Simonds.
Now the 4th Canadian Division. was to follow the 3rd Canadian Division at Rees, and cover the right flank while the 3rd Canadian Division was to clear the left side of the River Jissell then we were to construct a bridge at Emmerick. When that bridge was constructed then the 3rd Division was to come back under the command of General Simonds, and at that same moment the 1st Canadian Army was to take over the operation from the 2nd Army.
The 1st Canadian Corps was to secure the bridgehead west of Issel, including Appledoorn, Ede, Wagingen, and we were to open up the main road from Arnhem to Zutphen, and this route was to supply the Canadian Army during the course of attack into Germany.
Now if you will look at the diagram, that bridgehead left a big gap between the north head of the bridgehead and the Zuyder Zee. This was done because we wanted to invite the 25th German Army to come from the bridgehead and save us the difficulty of digging them out.
Now I want to go into a little more detail of the 1st Canadian Corps plan, which was the Corps I commanded at that time. As you will remember, the Germans were very sensitive about Arnhem. You will recall that the 2nd British Army, with all the paratroops at their disposal, attacked at Arnhem in September, and that unfortunately failed. Ever since that date, the Germans had been very sensitive at Arnhem. They anticipated we would cross at Arnhem, so the Boche had done a lot of preparations and he was able to overlook the ground between the Rhine and the Maas called the Island, and by blowing the dikes, he was able to flood the ground. When I took over the command of this sector, half the area was under water. The Boche had a water barrier of 2y2 miles between ourselves and his Army on the other side of the Rhine.
My plan was, first of all, to clear the Boche off the Island, and that was to be done at the same time that General Simonds cleared Pannenden. Then we were to put an attack in across Issell toward Appledoorn. I had hoped that that attack would draw all the enemy reserves from Arnhem to the north, and as soon as those reserves had moved it was my hope to then force a crossing of the. Rhine and secure a bridgehead across the Rhine near Arnhem. Therefore, by an enveloping movement I hoped to trap the German 25th Army between those two attacks.
The attack at Appledoorn was to be done by the 1st Canadian Division, in which the 48th Highlanders played a prominent part. Before this attack the 1st Canadian Division was placed under the Command of General Simonds, for the commencement of the operation. As there was complete confidence between Simonds and myself I was quite prepared to let Simonds start the attack, and I would take over as soon as communications allowed.
So the 1st Canadian Division was put under General Simonds for'the initial part of the attack. '
Now the 49th W. R. British Division was under my Command, and the 5th Armoured Division, under the command of General Hofmeister, was held in reserve, so that we could use it towards Ede, or to put the 5th Armoured Division across at Arnhem and go straight through to the Zuyder Zee, and cut off all Boche between the Zuyder Zee.
Now that, roughly, was the plan.
Now let's look at how the plan worked out. The course of the battle was very encouraging, as you will all 'remember. The Paratroops were very successful, and within the first three days the 2nd British Army and the 9th U. S. Army had secured adequate bridgeheads across the Rhine, and within a week the 9th American Army had isolated the northern face of the Ruhr and along with the 12th Army group in the next two weeks succeeded in isolating the Ruhr.
At this time the progress was going so well, that the Field Marshal decided to abandon the plan to form a bridgehead, and the thrust towards Hamburg and Bremen was continued. So that things were looking very well about the 27th of March.
That required some adjustment to the Canadian Army plan. The 2nd Canadian Corps was then ordered to clear the west side of the Issel, and launch the Appledoorn attack. I was ordered to continue to clear the Island. About the 3rd of April both attacks went in and the Island was cleared without much opposition.
By that time the flood waters had receded and we had a chance to see what the roads were like.
Now about this time the Germans showed a serious reaction to our plan. Hitler had issued his famous order, which prohibited any withdrawals except upon a definite order from Hitler himself. In the last stages of the war, the best Commander the Allied forces had was Hitler, because he insisted on all his forces standing where they were, and that was exactly what we wanted. This meant that the ' 25th Germany Army were not going to take advantage of the escape route which we had left open for them, and it was quite evident they were going to stay in Holland and fight it out.
This required some adjustment in the Canadian plan. After we got to looking at the Island, I found that the roads on the Island, which had been under flood for about six months, would not stand the traffic which was necessary to support a corps of three divisions if we attacked across the Island.
I also found out that the Boche was moving his main reserves toward the left side of Arnhem. I laid a smoke screen all along the line, to draw his attention to the fact that perhaps we might be doing something in that direction. However, I felt it was necessary to gain surprise, therefore decided to change the point of attack, as General Simonds had cleared the right bank of the Issel, I decided to put my attack in at Westervoort and to take Arnhem from the right.
There were several advantages. One was I would gain surprise, and secondly, the Rhine was 254 feet across at Arnhem but the Issel was only 145 feet. My chief engineer, Brigadier Colin Campbell, recommended that we could build a bridge at Nimegen, and swing it into position across at Westervoort. That would mean if I was successful that I would have a tank brigade across the river within eight hours. Of course that was an advantage which every Commander hopes to get, to be able to launch tanks across into bridgehead in the first 24 hours, and the battle is really yours. So it was decided to carry on the attack at Westervoort.
We piled ammunition, moved guns and fired barrages, and had a lot of movement on the island.
The 49th Division were moved across at night and established at Westervoort. The 5th Army Division were moved across at Emmerick, so that as soon as the bridge was swung across, we would be able to push on to the Zuyder Zee.
The 1st Division put their attack in across the Issel on the 11th of April towards Appledoorn. The initial attack was successful, and they formed the bridgehead without much trouble. When they got across to the other side they were counter-attacked by some of the best German troops, and they had a very sticky time on the outskirts of Appledoorn.
On the 12th of April I launched the 49th Division across the Issel at Westervoort. The initial attack was quite successful. We used all the amphibians, Buffalos, L. C. A's, L. C. T's, and also naval landing craft, and about four o'clock in the afternoon we had a complete brigade across and by midnight a complete division fighting in the streets of Arnhem.
On the next night the decision was made to loose the 5th Division. They were pushed across the bridge and assembled on the outskirts of Arnhem. On the next morning the 5th Division was launched, with a directive they were to capture Ede, and then go straight through Barnevelt to the Zuider Zee. They were to cut off any Germans in that area.
This attack of the 5th Armoured Division cut off the Germans, and as soon as we cut the road going from Ede to Appledoorn, the Germans started to bolt from Appledoorn, down the main road to Ede and Utrecht.
During the night I received information that there were German columns moving on these two roads. At that time General Hoffmeister's headquarters were established at Otterloo. The headquarters was attacked seven times during the night. Everybody from the Division Commander down was out with rifles and guns of every description, and they fought off seven counter-attacks during the night. The next morning there were more dead lying around General Hoffmeister's headquarters than I have seen on any battle field since the days of Caen and Falaise. It was very amusing the next morning to hear the batmen vying with their officers as to who killed the most Boche the night before.
During the same night a battery of the 17th Field Regiment put up a very commendable show. They were at the left of Hoffmeister's headquarters, and they again were attacked some seven or eight times. They used up all the ammunition they had, and they finally beat off the Boche with spare barrels, crowbars, etc. I think it is the only case during the war in which a battery of artillery was overrun. They never lost a gun. (Applause.)
Now the result of these battles: The 49th Division moved on its axis and cleared the Boche, and took over from the 5th Division at Ede. The 1st Division moved on its axis to Hardwicke and Otterloo.
The 5th Division went straight through to the Zuider Zee, and got to Hardwicke just too late to cut off the remnants of the Germans. Unfortunately Seyss-Inquhart was in one of these boats which got away. The effect of this battle was that over 12,000 Boche were captured, many were killed and wounded, and the back of the 25th Germany Army was broken in this action.
The action of the Fifth Armoured Division was in my opinion the best action I have ever seen. The Armour went into the attack with all the zest and zeal for which it is known, and the two Brigade Commanders followed suit, and they destroyed every German in their path and cut them off between the Issell and the Zuider Zee.
It was very unfortunate that immediately after this battle the 5th Armoured Division was taken from under my command to go and clean up the Frieseland and Gronegin area and left me without an Armoured Division.
The picture from there: The first Canadian Division took over the area in the north of the Greebe line, which was the next German line, and the 49th Division took over the area in the south, and we patrolled up to the flooded area. I realized there was very little use in continuing this attack with two Divisions.
At this time we were getting a lot of information that the Boche intended to blow the dikes, flood Holland, withdraw behind the flooded area and fight it out. Now if you will look at the map, those areas marked in blue are the areas which could be flooded.. At this particular period I had very, very good information. The Dutch had telephone lines running from my headquarters through to Amsterdam and The Hague, and they were passing information to us all the time; and this, with captured information, led me to believe that the Boche intended to blow the dikes, flood Holland, and retire behind the flood walls.
We also found out that the Commander of the 25th German Army, General Christiansen, had decided to abandon his post. However, I learned it too late, and he was replaced by General Blaskovitch who arrived after the Boche had decided to retire.
During this time we had rumours of food shortages in Holland, and that negotiations were going on between the Swedish Red Cross and the Boche to allow the Allies to push food into Holland, to prevent mass starvation.
At this time I was asked about further attacks in Holland, and it appeared there was too much to risk in attacking the Grebbe line because if the country was flooded with sea-water it would be useless for agriculture for a period of ten years. At that time things were going so badly in Germany that it was evident the Boche could not hold out much longer, so the decision was taken that we would stay on the line and patrol.
About the 27th of April the 1st Canadian Division picked up on the air a wireless message from the 25th Germany Army suggesting that they would like to have a parley to discuss putting food into Holland. This had previously been discussed on a high level, and Field Marshal Montgomery gave authority for the parley on the food question, and on the 29th of April a conference was held at Acheveld between the two lines.
The German delegation arrived outside of our line. We called a truce. The delegates were met, blindfolded, and brought in to the Conference. General Beadle Smith represented General Eisenhower, General T. W. DeGuig, General Montgomery.
There is one incident that may prove interesting and amusing to you. The head of the German delegation, a Dr. Schwabel, who had a portwine nose which must have cost him a couple of bottles of port a day to keep in bloom, arrived blind-folded. Across the table from him was a Russian representative, who was about 6 ft. 6 in. in height, and about as wide, with the ugliest face I have ever seen, and he sat on the other side of the Conference table. As the handkerchief was removed from Dr. Schwabel's eyes, he broke into a cold sweat and he was of very little use during the whole conference.
During this conference the Boche were very difficult to deal with, and the only satisfactory results we had was arranging a further conference, in which it was insisted that Seyss-Inquhart, who was the Reich Commisar, should come to the Conference himself.
At that time they had sent along a soldier who commanded the Paratroops, to arrange with me for the safe conduct of Seyss-Inquhart, one named Plocker, who was the stupidest soldier I ever dealt with. He refused to do anything without referring to the Reich Commisar.
After a great deal of negotiation the talks were carried on for another 48 hours. On the next day, the Monday, the Conference got under way. Seyss-Inquhart and his entourage were brought in, and it was really quite amusing. Prince Bernhardt had just acquired Seyss-Inquhart's car, which was a very nice MercedesBerg car, and still had the Reich Commisar's number on the front. We brought Seyss-Inquhart in a jeep and as he got out of the car he was faced with Prince Bernhardt driving his own car, which he apparently did not relish.
During this conference not much was accomplished. Seyss-Inquhart would not agree to anything. General Beadle Smith lost his patience, and pointed out that after all, we were going to shoot Seyss-Inquhart some day. He said, "That leaves me cold," to which General Beadle Smith responded: "We will see you are cold."
The only outcome of that conference was that the Germans agreed that they would not interfere with the food being taken by the Swedish Red Cross, and the Swedish Red Cross guaranteed that they would look after the distribution of food. So it was agreed that the 1st Canadian Corps would take the food inside the German lines, and there dump it down. 240 vehicles were given to the Dutch Red Cross to cart it away. We had anticipated this, and that day we put in the first hundred tons of food.
We had considerable difficulty with the Germans because they did not want to continue the truce. And I was very anxious to continue the truce because I felt if I once got the German Army stopped fighting, the Commanders would not get it started again. The Germans would not agree to a complete truce. They wanted a corridor to bring the food in. I pointed out I was not able to carry on a battle between 4 and 6, and carry on peace the other time. I pointed out I would not carry on any fighting, but if the Germans created an incident, we would reply tenf old.
We had no difficulty with the Germans putting the food in. Our main difficulty was that the Dutch civilians, who were going to unload the vehicles, were in such a poor state of health and malnutrition, that after working for twenty minutes, they had to stop, and it was very difficult to get the vehicles unloaded.
After these initial food talks, we had several more talks to try and get a better arrangement with the Boche to put the food in.
It was after one of these talks that we persuaded the German Army to surrender.
We were discussing ways and means of not creating any incidents, and I had suggested it would be much easier if we had a telephone line between my quarters and those of General Blaskovitch, so that if he decided to surrender we could accomplish it much quicker. He agreed and a telephone line was laid.
During the conference on the 3rd of May, it had been suggested by the Higher Command that perhaps General Blaskovitch did not understand what the real situation was--I produced from my pocket a map of Europe in which I had marked the small areas which were still in the hands of the Boche. I pointed out the ridiculousness of the 25th German Army in Holland and the few Huns hanging on in Denmark. They were rather impressed with the map, and I told them to take it away with them, and I suggested now was the time to surrender. Then General Reinkelt made a very impassioned speech, in which he said they were ready to blow the dikes, destroy the country and fight to the last man, rather than be made prisoners and sent to Russia as slave labor.
This annoyed me. I told them there was no intention of putting the German army into Russia; that 'we had already reserved a place for them north of the Elbe. That I considered if they flooded Holland they would be war criminals, and I pointed out if, after my warning, they blew the dikes and flooded Holland, I would see that there names were inscribed on the roll of war criminals, and they would be punished accordingly. This rather shook the Germans and they agreed to surrender, provided I would give them an undertaking that they would not be sent to Russia.
I pointed out that my instructions were "Unconditional Surrender".
That night we got instructions from Field Marshal Montgomery that he was having negotiations with the German High Command for surrender, and he sent down a copy of the terms of surrender. I got on the telephone and ordered General Reinkelt to come at 11 the next morning to Wageningen and receive the terms of surrender. I dictated the surrender terms to him, and sent him back to bring Blaskovitch and Seyss-Inquhart to sign. He was very truculent. However, after some argument he agreed, and on the 5th of May these terms were signed and the German Army came under our control.
That created a great problem. Blaskovitch had under his command about 125,000 soldiers. I had some 25,000 Canadian soldiers. The Germans had removed every Dutchman that was not a collaborator from office, so that every Burgomeister and engineer was a Nazi or had sworn allegiance to the Nazis. Therefore the problem I had to face was to take these 130,000 and disarm them, to continue to feed the Dutch population, and to make sure that the essential services did not break down during this period.
I was also particularly anxious that now that we had ended the war that not one Canadian soldier should lose his life.
Now the alternatives which I was faced with-the first one was to take the Boche as prisoners-of-war, and if we did take them as prisoners-of-war it meant we were tied by the Geneva Convention, which meant we would have to feed them with the rations according to the Protocol, and those scales were about ten times more than we could bring in for the Dutch population. So I decided to deal with them as capitulated troops: that is, have them stay with their own Commanders, force them to feed themselves, so that if there was any shortage of food, the Germans went short.
This plan seemed to work all right. I immediately placed all the Germans, soldiers, sailors, air men and civilians, under the command of General Blaskovitch. We dispensed with all civil authority. With every German Corps Commander I placed a Canadian Divisional Commander, and with every German Divisional Commander I placed a Canadian Brigadier, to see that my orders were carried. Blaskovitch issued those orders to his subordinates, and my subordinates were there to see it was carried out. In the main it worked out all right.
However, Blaskovitch pointed out he was not in a position to get orders through to all his Commanders within twenty-four hours, and I was afraid we might have an incident. For that reason I delayed the march into Holland by the Canadian troops for 24 hours. I have been severely criticized by some members of the press for the delay. However, if I had to do it again, I would take the same procedure; I would not risk one Canadian soldier's life to please all the press in the world.
Now the next problem. The Germans had laid 2,000,000 mines in Holland, and these mines were laid all along the Coastal belt and along the rivers. I decided that those who laid them must pick them up. So the German engineers, some 4,000 of them, were given the task of picking up their mines. It was unfortunate. We used to have 14 or 15 casualties a day. However, there were still plenty of Germans to do it.
That was the smallest part of the problem. We now had to feed the whole of Holland, get the Boche disarmed and march him from his positions in Holland up to the north, across the Zuider Zee, across Northern Holland into Germany, and I decided that they would all march-officers and men, and they would march with the minimum of transport, and only the sick and wounded would be transported. We had some difficulty with this, but we put the Boche on five horse-drawn vehicles, and anyone of you mixed up with the war would know that that is a minimum, to carry the food. And during this trip they were searched for loot, and as you all know, the German is the best looter in the world. They had systematically looted the whole of Holland. Hardly a thing was left with the German Army when we finished.
Now the Army had to set about to feed the population. The Army Service Corps turned into Grocers and Butchers, and into distribution centres. The Engineers got the waterworks and sewage plants going. The Catering Advisors had to run Soup Kitchens. The Medical Corps had to superintend and supervise hospitals. There were over 40,000 Dutch people who suffered from malnutrition.
Now by the first of July our task was completed. All the Boche were disarmed and marched across the Zuider Zee, except for the few engineers who were still required to pick up the mines. To give you some idea of the booty which we took from the Boche, and returned to the Dutch
20,000 Radios; 30,000 Bicycles; 259 Barges and Boats; 400 tons of Food; 5,000 Cars and Motor Vehicles; 800 tons of Medical Supplies; 5,000 horses; 2 Million Cigars, and 60,000 Litres of Spirits.
In closing this little talk, I would just like to pay a tribute to the steadfastness and long-suffering of the Dutch people. They had been suffering great privation for over a year, and yet there was not one untoward incident. Not one Canadian soldier was molested, not one civilian made a complaint about his food, and I sincerely hope that those good relations established in Holland between the Canadian troops and the Dutch people, may continue, and that we may foster between that hardworking long-suffering population, a bond of friendship for Canada: we have very much in common.
I would now like to pay a tribute to the contribution that the militia of Canada made. As you know, at the beginning of war we started out with 3,000 regular soldiers, and of the 3,000 regular soldiers--they were not all good ones. We had to expand until we had over 280,000 in action in Holland. And the contribution which has been made by the citizens of Canada who, during the difficult days of the war, learned the art of soldiering, proved themselves in action to be second to none, and this particular community here, the City of Toronto, has provided us with some of the greatest leaders in our. Army. I might mention one or two.
There are the Regiments, like the 48th, who fought in Italy and Holland, and never once did they fail to take their objective. There was the other unit, the Irish Regiment, not with all the tradition of the 48th, but who fought with valor throughout the whole war.
Then you produced Division Commanders like Bruce Matthews, Brigadiers like Ian Johnston, Ian Cumberland and Eric Haldenby. All these men are business men who went into the Army.
Now in closing, I would like to say one word about the Returned Soldier. As a former commander of men, I want to say one or two things about what we can do for the returned soldier. The task has been well done. No soldier has been found wanting: they have all gone through hardship, suffering, and above everything, lived a generally unnatural life. They have been away from their relatives and friends for five years. I believe the schemes the Government has for rehabilitation are quite satisfactory, but that does not go far enough. What I want to appeal to you now for, is to be long-suffering, to be tolerant toward these men. You want to remember that it was Crerar, Simonds, myself and many others who, for the past five years, have been teaching these men to be tough, to be blood-thirsty, grafting, vicious, to kill in cold blood, to scheme and deceive the enemy, and you can not change that over night by an Order-in-Council. I hope the majority of these men will settle down; I am sure they will. But there will be break-ups in family relations, there will be untoward incidents, which none of us will condone. But I do appeal to you to be patient, to be tolerant and helpful, remembering it was these men who risked, and some of them lost, their lives in order that you and I can be here today.