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Biography

LGen G. Walsh, CBE, DSO, CD

Lieutenant General Geoffrey Walsh, CBE, DSO, CD, was born in Brantford, the son of Harris Leamon Walsh and Bertha Jones (Benson), on 19 August 1900. He was educated at St. Catharines Collegiate, where he was a member of the school cadet corps, the Royal Military College, Nova Scotia Technical College and McGill University.

He had joined The Lincoln Regiment as a Private soldier in 1924 and attended Annual Training in that year and the two following years and then attended RMC. On graduation in 1930 he was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Engineers.

General Walsh transferred from the Permanent Force to the Canadian Army Service Force in September 1939 and sailed for England as a Major one year later. He was posted to Force III and took part in the Spitzbergen raid in August 1941. After serving in a number of Engineer units and holding the appointment of Brigade Major, he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel in April 1942. He attended a number of professional courses in the UK, including Combined Operations training.

In 1942 he was posted to the 1st Canadian Division and served in Sicily and Italy. In September 1943 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for "Gallant and Distinguished Services in Sicily." On returning to the UK in January 1944 he was appointed Commander Royal Engineers 4th Canadian Armoured Division. One month later he was promoted Brigadier and Chief Engineer 2nd Canadian Corps.

General Walsh was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Commander of the Order of Orange Nassau (Netherlands) in 1945.

After the war he commanded the Northwest Highway System which took over control of the Alaska Highway from the Americans, for which the United States appointed him an Officer of the Legion of Merit. He was then appointed Commander of Eastern Ontario Area at Kingston, Ontario, and commanded the Area for three years. He took command of 27 Brigade on its formation and commanded it in Germany for one year. On return to Canada he became Director General of Military Training, and in September 1955 was promoted Major General and appointed Quartermaster General of the Canadian Army. He relinquished that appointment in July 1959 and was appointed General Officer Commanding, Western Command. In October 1961 he was promoted Lieutenant General and appointed Chief of the General Staff. On unification of the Forces in 1964 he was appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, an appointment he held until October 1965 when he began processing for release, which took place in July 1966.

During retirement he served as Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, 1970-1974, and as such organized the Army Cadet League of Canada.

General Walsh married Gwynn Abigail Currie of St. Catharines in 1935 and they had one son, Robert Geoffrey Walsh.

General Walsh lived in retirement in Ottawa and died there in 1999.

 

WALSH, Geoffrey, Lieutenant-Colonel - Distinguished Service Order - Engineers - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 25 September 1943 and CARO/3791 dated 6 November 1943. Educated at Royal Military College; served in Canadian Army until 1964. His postings included command of the Northwest Highway System in 1946, command of 27th Infantry Brigade in Europe (1951) and last Chief of the General Staff with rank of Lieutenant-General. Died in Ottawa, 3 April 1999, aged 90. Recommended for immediate award by Major-General G.G. Simonds, General Officer Commanding, 1 Canadian Infantry Division, on or about 24 July 1943; document with Headquarters, 30 Corps, 30 July to 1 August 1943 (supported by Lieutenant-General O.W.H. Leese); with Headquarters, Eighth Army, 3-6 August 1943 (supported by General B.L.Montgomery); with Headquarters, 15 Army Group, 7 August to 9 September 1943 (approved by General Harold R. Alexander).

During the assault of 2 Canadian Infantry Brigade on Leonforte, 21/22 July 1943, it was essential that an enemy demolition be bridged in order that supporting arms for the brigade could be moved forward. The bridging site at the time was under heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire. The operation was done in the dark by 3 Canadian Field Company, but owing to the vital importance of this bridge, Lieutenant-Colonel Walsh as Commander Royal Engineers personally supervised the effort. Some 40 Germans and three German tanks were within 50 yards of the bridging site rendering it almost impossible for infantry to secure covering positions. Lieutenant-Colonel Walsh ignored the incessant small arms fire which ricocheted off the bridge members, rushed through the construction, and as a result the bridge was open for traffic at 0210 hours, well in advance of schedule, enabling the necessary supporting arms to cross and conclude the successful drive on Leonforte.

WALSH, Geoffrey, Brigadier, DSO - Commander, Order of the British Empire - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 23 December 1944 and CARO/5235 dated 3 January 1945.

In training prior to operations in France, in the planning stage and in the execution of the engineer work within 2 Canadian Corps, Brigadier Walsh has shown exceptional ability and assiduous application to his duties. The successful bridging of the River Orne in front of Caen and the opening of roads through the town was very largely attributable to the organizational ability and personal supervision of Brigadier Walsh. His work has been very much above the average of what might ave been expected of his post.

WALSH, Geoffrey, Brigadier, DSO - Mention in Dispatches - awarded as per Canada Gazette and CARO/5801, both dated 23 June 1945.

WALSH, Geoffrey, Brigadier, CBE, DSO - Mention in Dispatches - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 9 March 1946 and CARO/6431 dated 8 March 1946.

WALSH, Geoffrey, Brigadier, DSO - Legion of Merit, Degree of Commander (United States) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 30 March 1946 and CARO/6478 dated 1 April 1946. Recommended by Brigadier J.F.A. Lister (Chief of Staff, Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster-General, First Canadian Army); document at Headquarters, First Canadian Army, 15-21 July 1945 when signed off by General H.D.G. Crerar.

Brigadier Walsh served as Chief Engineer, 2 Canadian Corps from July [1944] when it was first committed in the Northwest European theatre of operations until early in September when he was appointed Chief Engineer, First Canadian Army. He has served in the latter capacity through the balance of the campaign.

The role of the Engineers during these operations was one of great importance. Due in large part to this officer's unusual organizing and executive ability, however, this arm of the service successfully met all the varied demands which were made upon it. Under his leadership and example, moreover, its personnel displayed in the execution of their tasks the greatest gallantry, initiative and resource. This officer has throughout the campaign distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services.

WALSH, Geoffrey, Brigadier, CBE, DSO - Commander, Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords (Netherlands) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 22 March 1947 and Canadian Army Order 12/47 dated 31 March 1947.