Military Wiki
Henry Duncan Graham (Harry) Crerar
General The Honourable Henry Duncan Graham (Harry) Crerar
Born (1888-04-28)April 28, 1888
Died April 1, 1965(1965-04-01) (aged 76)
Place of birth Hamilton, Ontario
Place of death Ottawa, Ontario
Buried at Beechwood Cemetery
Ottawa, Ontario
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch  Canadian Army
Years of service 1910 - 1946
Rank General
Commands held

Director of Military Operations & Military Intelligence (1935 - 1938)
Commandant of Royal Military College of Canada (1938 - 1939)
Chief of General Staff, National Defence Headquarters (1940 - 1941)
2nd Canadian Infantry Division (1941 - 1942)
I Canadian Corps (1942 - 1944)

First Canadian Army (1944 - 1946)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Order of the Companions of Honour
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John
Canadian Forces Decoration
Other work Aide-de-Camp General to the King (1948 - 1951)
Aide-de-Camp General to the Queen (1952)
Queen's Privy Council for Canada (June 25, 1964)

Henry Duncan Graham "Harry" Crerar CH, CB, DSO, KStJ, CD, PC (April 28, 1888 – April 1, 1965) was a Canadian general and the country's "leading field commander" in World War II.

Early years

File:Henry Duncan Crerar.jpg

Henry Duncan Crerar

Harry was born in Hamilton, Ontario to lawyer Peter Crerar and Marion Stinson and died in Ottawa, Ontario. Prior to his military service, he worked as an engineer with the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, where he founded the research department in 1912. He attended and graduated from Upper Canada College and Highfield School in Hamilton in 1906, and then went to the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, Ontario. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of artillery in World War I. Unlike most officers, he remained in the army after the war.[1] He was appointed Director of Military Operations & Military Intelligence in 1935 and Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada in 1939.[2]

World War II

Major General C Vokes (4th Armoured Division), General H D C Crerar (Army Commander), Field Marshal Sir Bernard L Montgomery, Lieutenant General B G Horrocks (XXX British Corps, Attached Canadian Army), Lieutenant General G C Simonds (II Corps), Major General D C Spry (3rd Infantry Division), and Major General A B Mathews (2nd Division)

He served in World War II, initially as a Brigadier on the General Staff at Canadian Military Headquarters in England. In early 1940 he was appointed Vice Chief General Staff in Canada and later that year became Chief of the General Staff.[2]

He became General Officer Commanding 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in England in 1941, General Officer Commanding I Canadian Corps in England and then Italy in 1942 and General Officer Commanding First Canadian Army in North-West Europe in 1944.[2] Crerar was recovering from a bout of dysentery during the Battle of the Scheldt in October 1944 and his role as General Officer Commanding was assumed by Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds.

Crerar was on the September 18, 1944 cover of Time magazine. He was promoted to full general in November 1944.

He has been described as an able administrator and politically astute, assessments of his performance as a military commander range from "mediocre" to "competent".[3]


A farewell sign posted on behalf of Gen. H.D.G. Crerar to troops of the First Canadian Army departing Holland in 1945.

Return to Ottawa on 7 August 1945 of General H.D.G. Crerar D.S.O. after World War II. (L-R): Mrs. Crerar, General Crerar, Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, Mrs. H.Z. Palmer

A farewell sign posted on behalf of Gen. H.D.G. Crerar to troops of the 1st Canadian Army departing from Holland in 1945

'Here's wishing you a satisfactory and speedy journey home, and that you find happiness at the end of it. You go back with your share of the magnificent reputation earned by the Canadians in every operation in which they have participated in this war. A fine reputation is a possession beyond price. Maintain it - for the sake of all of us, past and present - in the days ahead. I know that you will get a great welcome on your return. See to it that those Canadian units and drafts which follow after you get just as good a 'welcome home' when they also get back. Good luck to each one of you - and thanks for everything. (H.D.G. Crerar) General'[4]


General Crerar

Crerar arrived in Halifax, Canada, on the troopship SS Île de France, with 980 Canadian World War II veterans on August 5, 1945.[5] He returned to Ottawa two days later. Crerar retired from the army in 1946 and later occupied diplomatic postings in Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands and Japan.

He believed the Canadian Red Ensign should remain the national flag of Canada.[6]

Crerar was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on June 25, 1964.


The Crerar neighbourhood on the Hamilton, Ontario mountain is named after him. It is bounded by the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway (north), Stone Church Road East (south), Upper Wellington Street (west) and Upper Wentworth Street (east). Landmarks in this neighbourhood include Ebenezer Villa (retirement home) and Crerar Park, also named after him. In Ottawa, Ontario a road is named after him that connects to Merivale Road, a major road in the city. Crerar Street in Regina is also named in his honour.

A boulevard in the city of Kingston, Ontario is also named in his honour. Crerar Boulevard runs south from Front Road in the Point Pleasant district, near Reddendale. The tree-lined street is bounded by Bishop Street to the East and Lakeview Avenue/Gordon Street to the West. There is also a Crerar township close to Sturgeon Falls.


  1. Harry Crerar Canada Veterans of Valour
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Crerar at
  3. The Canadian Encyclopedia online.
  4. Farewell sign
  5. "Wild Welcome Meets Crerar," Montreal Gazette, Aug. 6, 1945, 1
  6. Canadian House of Commons Debates, 17 June 1964.

Further reading

  • 4237 Dr. Adrian Preston & Peter Dennis (Edited) "Swords and Covenants" Rowman And Littlefield, London. Croom Helm. 1976.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "To Serve Canada: A History of the Royal Military College of Canada" 1997 Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1969.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "Canada's RMC - A History of Royal Military College" Second Edition 1982
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Preston "R.M.C. and Kingston: The effect of imperial and military influences on a Canadian community" 1968 Kingston, Ontario.
  • H1877 R. Guy C. Smith (editor) "As You Were! Ex-Cadets Remember". In 2 Volumes. Volume I: 1876-1918. Volume II: 1919-1984. RMC. Kingston, Ontario. The R.M.C. Club of Canada. 1984
  • MapArt Golden Horseshoe Atlas - Page 657 - Grids M13, M14
  • J.L. Granatstein. The Generals : the Canadian Army's Senior Commanders in the Second World War (Toronto, 1993). ISBN 0-7737-5728-7
  • Hillfield-Strathallan College celebrates 100 years, The Spectator. Hamilton, Ont.: Sep 8, 2001. pg. A.08
  • Juno Beach Centre - General H.D.G. Crerar
Academic offices
Preceded by
Brigadier General Kenneth Stuart
Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada
Succeeded by
Brigadier H. H. Matthews
Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Victor Anderson
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Kenneth Stuart

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).