On Oct. 11, 1941, the Regiment’s newly mobilized 1st Battalion (June 1940), not yet converted to Armour, was posted to St. John, NB, relieving the Royal Rifles of Canada, who were on their way to reinforce the British/Indian garrison at Hong Kong, It was rumored at the time, that CGG was to be sent there as well. The rumour mill was that it was a SNAFU because of the similarity of our name with the Winnipeg Grenadiers, the unit that did accompany the Rifles, as partners in “C” Force.
The rumour was true! But not because of any confusion in names. The best trained troops available in Canada at that time was the 4th. Canadian Infantry Division commanded by Major-General L.R. Page, of which we were a part. Page was asked to provide his two best Battalions, one from Eastern Canada, and the other from the West, as a “balanced” force. He selected as the Eastern unit, of course, the CGG. But he also quite rightly formally objected strongly to his formation being broken up to provide mere garrison troops. The long-range plan was for them to join the First Canadian Army to help liberate Europe.
At that point, politics reared its head. Many of the officers of the Rifles were friends or relatives of Major Charles “Chubby: Power, the then acting Defense Minister. They complained to him of their inactive role in the war to date. So, they were selected instead of us. The Winnipeg Grenadiers were chosen, because their level of training and experience was akin to the Rifles. Neither were 4th. Div. units, plus, neither was recommended for active service yet due to their level of training and fitness. But it was supposed to be mere garrison duty, and so off they went to their complete destruction just two months later when the Japanese launched their surprise attack.
Such was almost our fate.
Winnipeg Grenadiers on their way to Hong Kong.
Colour Sergeant John Dolbec, retired.
We welcome John Dolbec who for so many years who wrote many news articles about unknown historical facts about our Regiment’s history, Dolbec’s Corner’! John is quite active on Facebook where he shares his wisdom and knowledge of our Regiment. Look him up and become his friend.
We thank him for now contributing to a new medium.