"And the following day, for example, my regiment fired hundreds of rounds at DF SOS tasks and held and prevented, amongst others, Kurt Meyer from breaking in and piercing that shield which was quite stretched at many times."
My name is Frederick Laporte Trench Clifford, C-L-I-F-F-O-R-D. I was born the 19th of November, 1913. My father was born in India and he was a veteran from the First [World War] -- from the Great War, and he was a civil engineer.
Before graduation in the year [1935 from Royal Canadian Military College], the summer before, I was attached to the RCHA [Royal Canadian Horse Artillery] Artillery Camp at Petawawa [Ontario], where I received some - - artillery training. And on graduation, I had - - selected to join the Regular Army and the RCHA and I joined them at Petawawa the summer of 1935. I served with A Battery in Kingston [Ontario], conducting provisional schools in various areas in the province, and in Quebec, the summertimes in Petawawa.
But before that amongst other things, I had been sent on a course to the Army Cooperation School, RCAF Army Cooperation School in Trenton [No. 3 Army Cooperation Flights, Royal Canadian Air Force]. And for a whole summer, either the one immediately preceding the war or the summer before that I was attached to the Flight of the Army Cooperation Squadron that operated from Petawawa where we carried out various exercises in cooperation with the Army, shooting and map reading and stuff like that.
I was posted to the 5 Medium Regiment as a Battery Commander [5th Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery]. And then I think I went to the Staff College. Then I went to, as a Battery Commander in the 15[th] Field Regiment in 4[th] [Canadian] Armoured Division. Then I embarked for Italy where I stayed for but a short time. There were no staff appointments to replace, so I was loaned out to 1 Brigade [1st Canadian Infantry Brigade] and attached to the RCR [The Royal Canadian Regiment] at Campo Basso where we came under shell fire for my - - first experience of it in that form. And then after that, I was returned, or returned to England to take over command of the 13[th] Field Regiment [3rd Canadian Infantry Division] in the late fall of 1943.
At that point it was focussed on training for the assault landing in Normandy [June 6th, 1944]. The regiment was in action. All the three of our divisional artillery was in action to secure the containment area which we had gained which had to be held against all attacks to permit the build-up to continue and then the night of, as I recall it, the night of D plus one [D-Day + 1]. And the following day, for example, my regiment fired hundreds of rounds at DF SOS tasks [defensive artillery fire] and held and prevented, amongst others, Kurt Meyer [a German tank commander in the Waffen-SS] from breaking in and piercing that shield which was quite stretched at many times. So it wasn’t…until, oh, a couple of weeks later, as I recall, that we were … replaced with tractor towed 25 Pounders [the Ordnance QF 25 pounder, a British field gun].
I should perhaps note that during the assault and the containment operations the field regiments were in direct support, each field regiment was in direct support of an infantry battalion (normally they would be in support of a brigade) so that the CO [Commanding Officer] was with Battalion Headquarters throughout the initial actions, certainly up to the breakout, towards Falaise and quite often thereafter [the Battle of the Falaise Pocket, 12th – 21st August, 1944].
And I was sorry to leave the regiment, but if I had to go anywhere, Frank Leese and I exchanged jobs. He, Frank Leese--Brigadier Leese-- took over Command of the 13th [Field Regiment] and I went back to doing what he had been doing.
My father had been taken seriously ill and the BRA [Brigadier Royal Artillery, First Canadian Army Headquarters], John Plow, Brigadier Plow [later Major General Chester ‘Johnny’ Plow] [at]that time, told me that the war was virtually over and that I should, if I could get home in time, I should, I opt to try to do so. So I was in England waiting somehow to get back to Canada, when the war ended.
I was posted to Ottawa to DMT [Directorate of Military Training] where I was the G1 [the officer responsible for personnel matters] for the section that looked after Armour, Artillery, Engineers and Sigs [Signals] until they formed separate directorates which made that G1 job redundant. So I, we switched to DMO & P [Directorate of Military Operations and Planning].
Where I continued in that appointment until I was appointed Canadian Military Attaché to China and was posted to Nanking.
Interview with Colonel Frederick Clifford FCWM Oral History Project
George Metcalf Archival Collection
© Canadian War Museum