- Mark Forsdike
Today being ‘Anzac’ Day, I was thinking of the contribution the commonwealth made to the war effort, particularly in NW Europe.
Though no Australian or New Zealand soldiers fought with the Battalion, Canada made an important contribution by loaning officers to serve with under-strength British infantry battalions. Under the ‘CANLOAN’ scheme, five Canadian officers served with the 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment between D-Day and VE-Day.
Captain Ralph Brown, served as 2IC (Second in Command) of the Reinforcement Company on D-Day and became 2IC of ‘C’ Company at the Chateau de la Londe. He had to return to Canada in October 1944, following the death of his father.
Captain John Buchanan joined the Battalion in June 1944 and commanded 13 Platoon, ‘Company Company. He was badly wounded at Tinchebrai in August and did not return. His wounds were so grievous that it took him two years to recover.
Captain John Midwinter, landed on D-Day with ‘C’ Company but was wounded on a patrol in Le Mesnil wood in late June. He recovered and returned in August, but was wounded again in Holland a month later.
Lieutenant Arthur Lawrence joined the Battalion in January 1945 and briefly commanded ‘B’ Company at Hallen-Seckenhausen. He left the Battalion in Belgium in September 1945.
Lieutenant William Ayers joined the Battalion in August and commanded a platoon of ‘C’ Company for the remainder of the war. He was the only CANLOAN Officer to accompany the Bn to Palestine in late 1945.
It was noted later how they gave sterling service and that ‘by their gallant co-operation and sincerity, helped so much to win the fair name gained by the 1st Battalion. Judging from their letters on their return home, they were happy serving with us. As ambassadors to Canada, the success of each one of them remains unrivalled by trained diplomats”
The battledress blouse shown here is that worn by Lieutenant William ‘Jack’ Ayers during his time with 1/Suffolk.