I think I just did what I was supposed to be doing. Making sure the smoke screen was produced when it was wanted and where it was wanted. And very often that was done under fire. It came under fire more in the various canal crossings after we had crossed the Rhine.
James C. Bond went to England in 1942 as General Frank Worthington’s aide-de-camp and later became an operations staff officer at HQ 1 Canadian Corps. Due to his background in chemistry, he was transferred to HQ 2 Canadian Corps as a technical staff officer (chemical) where he was responsible for planning and implementing the principal smoke screens used by the Corps. He was awarded a Military Cross for his actions.
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I then went down as a Lorne Scots [Peel, Dalton and Halton Regiment] with the Fourth [Canadian Infantry] Division, which was then the Fourth [Canadian] Infantry Division at Debert [Nova Scotia], and I had the defence and employment platoon for the Division Headquarters. And in addition, because the officers were under training, I also had the defence platoons for the three infantry brigades of the Fourth Division. Then came the great day, in the beginning of ’41 when the division became armoured. And I met up for the first time with General Worthington [Major-General Frederic Frank Worthington, considered the father of Royal Canadian Armoured Corps] who asked me if I wanted to be a reinforcement officer back in Camp Borden [Ontario] or did I want to transfer to the Armoured Corps? And those who know General Worthington know that you don’t waste a chance to go active with him. And that’s what I did. So I came up to Camp Borden briefly to qualify as an Armoured Corps officer and then back up to divisional training at Debert until we went overseas in August of 1941.
Right at the end of the year, my past caught up with me. A gentleman by the name of lieutenant, the then Lieutenant Colonel, Reg Sawyer at Canadian military headquarters went through files to try and find some people who were educated in chemistry. And having found me, I was plucked out from 1 [Canadian] Corps and put on the strength of [1 Canadian] Army Headquarters at Leatherhead, [England]. But I was really sent down to Salisbury area to the British Chemical Warfare Establishment, Porton Down [England], and learned how to, theoretically at least, be a technical officer of chemical warfare. That lasted about six weeks and then I went back to army headquarters, arriving just in time for the notorious exercise Spartan [March 1943, a large-scale General Headquarters exercise, goals were to breakout of an established beachhead and make the transition to traditional warfare, because of shortcomings that arose three Canadian generals lost their commands] when I reverted to becoming a motor contact officer or a liaison officer because there was no chemical warfare work to do. And then we started in -- my first experience with smoke screens [which] was an attempt made by Reg Sawyer to do a smoke screening exercise in the northern Kent area around Edenbridge [England] to cover a theoretical river crossing. We learned a great deal even though the actual exercise was a disaster.
Rick Sawyer loaned me to the colonel, a Royal Armoured Corps colonel who was the Armoured Corps advisor at army headquarters. And I learned a good deal about organization and the changes that were going on in the organization of armoured regiments and in particular the armoured delivery squadrons which were the units created to supply tank crews to armoured units in battle. So working that colonel, and I can’t remember his name, gave me a pretty good, basic education in what was changing in the way of armoured tactics. Spartan was…I call it a disaster because the staff work and higher-level direction was not of the highest caliber and really the strategy of the exercise was badly planned.
Winning the Military Cross
Well, it was such a surprise to me. I don’t think it was any one particular action. I think I just did what I was supposed to be doing. Making sure the smoke screen was produced when it was wanted and where it was wanted. And very often that was done under fire. It came under fire more in the various canal crossings after we had crossed the Rhine [River, Germany].
Interview with James C. Bond CWM Oral History Project
George Metcalf Archival Collection
© Canadian War Museum