Henry “Harry” Duncan Graham Crerar (1888–1965) was born in Hamilton, Ontario. He attended Upper Canada College and the Royal Military College and then worked as an engineer for the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario. He was commissioned into the Canadian Militia in 1910, and rose to the rank of Major before the war. He enlisted at Hamilton on August 8, 1914, making him one of the first to volunteer to fight for Canada. Crerar served in England and France with the 11th Battery, 3rd Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. He was never wounded. He was mentioned in despatches by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig on April 9, 1917, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June 1917. Crerar ended the war as a Lieutenant-Colonel. Unlike most veterans, Crerar remained in the army after 1918, and occupied a number of important posts. During the Second World War he was one of Canada’s most important military leaders, as Chief of the General Staff in Ottawa and then Commander of the First Canadian Army in Europe.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: April 28, 1888 (Dunedin, Hamilton, Ontario)
Date of Attestation: September 25, 1914
Age at Enlistment: 27 years, 5 months old
Prior Military Service: Yes – Currently an active member of the Canadian Militia
Height: 5 feet, 8 inches
Weight: 148 pounds (at discharge)
Description: Dark complexion, hazel eyes, medium brown hair. Mole above umbilicus. Three vaccinations in left arm. Church of England.
Home Address: Hamilton, Ontario
Married: Not at the time of enlistment, though he would marry while on leave in Canada in 1916
Next of Kin: Mother, Marion E. Crerar, living at 217 Poplar Plains Road, Toronto, Ontario. Wife, Marion Verschoyle Crerar.
Theatre of War: England and France
- May 23, 1915 –Crerar is experiencing dental problems. (Page 7)
- September 18, 1915 – A note indicates that he was promoted to the rank of Temporary Major. (Page 7)
- February 25 to March 12, 1917 – He is hospitalized and operated on for a skin tumour (neuroma) on his left arm. (Page 15)
- February 1919 – He has surgery and treatment for haemorrhoids. (Pages 15 and 92)
- March 5, 1919 – Discharge documents indicate that he had been suffering from haemorrhoids since March 1918 and that they were caused by conditions in the field. (Page 93)
Interesting Details from the Service Record
- January 14, 1916 – A note indicates that he was granted leave to Canada for the period of December 24, 1915, to February 22, 1916. (Page 7)
- March 30, 1916 – A Separation Allowance card shows that he married “Marion V.” (Verschoyle) during his leave, on January 14, 1916. (Page 59)
- 1917 – A stamp indicates that he was “mentioned in despatches” of The London Gazette (LG 30107). (Page 82)
- March 1919 – A note indicates that he sailed for Canada on the SS Celtic on March 10, 1919. (Page 11)
The London Gazette
Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)
In 1891, at age three, Henry Crerar lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with his parents, Peter Duncan Crerar (32) and Marion E. Crerar (31), and two sisters, Lillian (12) and Violet M. (6). His father, who was born in Scotland, worships in the Church of England and is employed as a barrister. His mother, who was born in Ontario, also worships in the Church of England. His older sister Lillian was born in England, while he and Violet were born in Ontario. The household also includes two English servants: a 40-year-old governess named Jennie Stovin and a 36-year-old maid named Rebecca Lloyd, who was Baptist.
In 1901, at age 12, Henry still lives with his family in Hamilton. He now has two younger brothers, Alistair J. (5) and Malcolm C. (2). There are, in addition, three new members of the household: Betta Carruthers (20), Matilda Ayres (27) and Caroline Jordan (26). Jennie and Rebecca are no longer with the family.