Life and death of Guy Granville Simonds, the facts
Who was Lieutenant General Guy Granville Simonds (April 23, 1903 Bury St Edmunds, England - May 15, 1974)? Lieutenant General Guy Granville Simonds was a Canadian Army officer who commanded the 2nd Army Corps (Canada) during World War II. He was also temporary commander of the Canadian First Army, due to the illness of Lieutenant General Harry Crerar, during the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944. In 1951 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff, the highest position in the Canadian Army.
In 1939 Major Simonds became a staff officer 2nd class in the 1st Infantry Division. In June 1940 he was appointed commander of the 1st Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery, then just returning from Dunkirk after the battle and evacuation there. Already in November 1940, he was appointed by General A.G.L. "Andy" McNaughton to set up an officer training program called the Canadian Junior War Staff Course. In 1941 he was appointed staff officer 1st class in the 2nd Infantry Division, followed by an appointment as commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade. In the spring of 1943, Major General Simonds was appointed Commanding Officer of the 1st Infantry Division. In that position he led the division in several battles during the campaign in Sicily.
After the Sicilian Campaign, Simonds was commander of the 5th Armored Division for a few months. At the end of January 1944, however, he was recalled to England to take charge of the Canadian 2nd Corps, succeeding Lieutenant General Ernest William Samsom. His job there was to train and prepare the troops for D-Day.
Soon after the Normandy landings, the 2nd Corps took part in the Battle of Caen. Several operations were required to take Caen. Simonds planned Operation Atlantic and then dispatched the 2nd Infantry Division and 3rd Infantry Division to surround Caen. The attack was not entirely successful as the ultimate goal of Verrières Ridge was not reached due to heavy opposition from the 1. SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler and 12. SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend. Despite some other offensives, including Operation Spring, the area remained in German hands until the general Allied advance forced the abandonment of the positions.
In August, Simonds launched Operation Totalize to break through to Falaise. Here he first used the Kangaroo. This was an armored personnel carrier created from the obsolete M7 Priest that could carry 12 men. These were also used for Operation Tractable closing the Pocket of Falaise. The Polish 1st Armored Division was also involved in this battle.
In September 1944 Simonds temporarily took over command of the Canadian 1st Army when General Harry Crerar was temporarily disabled by dysentery. As such, he commanded this army during the Battle of the Scheldt. He returned to the 2nd Army Corps when Crerar recovered enough to take command again. After a relatively quiet winter, his corps withdrew to liberate the east and north of the Netherlands. However, this still required the battles of Groningen and Delfzijl.
Born: 23 April 1903
Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Engeland
Died: 15 mei 1974 (aged 71)