Saturday, 25 August 2007
Colonel Strome Galloway - A true patriot
Colonel Strome Galloway and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo plant a tree on the occasion of the 100th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Ottawa, Canada, August 2000.
Fellow members watching the tree planting.
I was reminded today that this month marks the 3rd anniversary of the death of Colonel Strome Galloway: soldier, monarchist, heraldist, author, raconteur and all-round renaissance man. Strome was a good friend and mentor. Colonel of the Royal Canadian Regiment and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Governor General's Footguards, he had a fund of stories of encounters with various fascinating characters.
I did not have a blog three years ago and I was therefore unable to pay tribute to him at that time. I therefore choose to do so now.
The obituary below was printed in The Telegraph (London), November 2004:
Colonel Strome Galloway, who has died aged 88, was a battle-hardened infantry officer, a prolific if unsubtle writer and a co-founder of the Monarchist League of Canada; with his bristling moustache, he was one of the Canadian Army's "characters", noted for legendary coolness under fire as well as for the maintenance of social standards and the care of his men.
Galloway's battlefield initiation had occurred in 1943 when he was sent with other Canadian officers to gain experience with the British First Army in Tunisia. Attached to the 2nd London Irish Rifles, he was commanding a company when his CO saw paratroopers from the Hermann Goering Division advancing on a large farm, and ordered him to seize it.
Rising to his feet, Galloway yelled "Fix bayonets", then roared "Charge" as he led his men across an open field under tracer fire, by which only one man was hit. They found no Germans on reaching the stables and living quarters of "Stuka Farm". But minutes later the enemy was hurling stick grenades through the windows; and for several hours the London Irish occupied one room while the Germans battled with them from next door. When the Germans finally retired, Galloway discovered that, in the chaos of the battle, the Allied leadership was preparing to take the farm again; he judiciously withdrew several hundred yards to the safety of a slit trench containing
Andrew Strome Ayers Carmichael Galloway was born at Humboldt, Saskatchewan, on November 29 1915. His family later moved to St Thomas, Ontario, where in 1932 he joined the Elgin militia regiment on 50 cents a day. He was commissioned two years later.
In 1936, Galloway published himself his book, The Yew Tree Ballad and Other Poems. It contained, he admitted in later life, "rather rotten poetry". But after paying printing and postage costs he made a profit of $190, which he invested in a trip to Britain for the coronation of King George VI. After a 16-day voyage aboard a foul-smelling cattle boat, young Strome landed to buy a bowler hat and an umbrella. He filed a story to the St Thomas Times-Journal in Ontario about the shouts of "bloody Nazis" and booing in Trafalgar Square at the carriage containing a German field marshal; but soon he ran out of money, and had to work his passage back to Canada.
Galloway worked as a newspaper sub-editor, and enjoyed saluting the King with drawn sword during the Royal tour of the Dominion in 1939 shortly before being called up; he transferred to the RCR shortly before the outbreak of war. After being advised to take a pair of gumboots with him, he was dispatched to Britain in 1940. There he started the practice, which he maintained long after the war, of having his collars laundered in Britain.
On returning to the RCR following his two months with the London Irish, Galloway led his company on to the beaches of Sicily on July 10 1943. While escorting some German prisoners to the rear, he stopped for a moment to chat with another officer when enemy mortar bombs began exploding near the road. As his prisoners dived for cover Galloway laid into them with his stick shouting: "Get out of that ditch, you bastards - they're your mortars."
In December 1943 the Royal Canadian Regiment was engaged in the costly advance from the Moro River in Italy to the coastal town of Ortona. As they launched two companies in an attack a mile southwest of the port, the artillery barrage which preceded it began falling, due to faulty maps, on a flanking battalion. The guns then ceased firing, and the advancing RCR found themselves face to face with entrenched enemy paratroopers whom the barrage had left unscathed. Murderous cross-fire cost them all their officers. Galloway took over command.
Throughout the following night, with its strength reduced to 178 officers and men, the regiment held its position under mortar fire and sniping. Then, bringing forward every man who could be spared from his support platoons, Galloway formed three companies of 65 men each, who advanced the next day behind an intense barrage to find the opposing German 1st Parchute Regiment had withdrawn back into Ortona.
From his arrival in Italy until the end of the war, Galloway took part in 25 of the 27 actions in Italy and northwest Europe for which his regiment was awarded battle honours, commanding it for short periods at Ortona, in the Gothic Line battles and during the winter fighting west of Ravenna. Although wounded at Motta Montecorvino in September 1943, he was away from the battalion for only five weeks.
With the return of peace, he served in various staff and instructional appointments, being promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1951 to instruct at the staff college at Kingston, Ontario. He took command of the newly formed 4th Battalion, Canadian Guards; then, having attended the National Defence College, he commanded the winter warfare establishment at Fort Churchill, and became military attaché in Bonn.
After retiring, full of disgust at the ill-advised unification of the Armed Forces, Galloway was for 10 years the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Governor-General's Foot Guards; in 1989, he was appointed Colonel of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
When Pierre Trudeau barely disguised his republican inclinations in proposals for a new Canadian constitution in late 1969, Galloway became a founder member of the Monarchist League of Canada. He then played a leading part in helping to destroy the attempt to reduce the Queen's importance by transferring her powers to the Governor-General.
Galloway produced nine books, including an autobiography, The General Who Never Was, in which he drew on his diaries to recount his experiences in camp and battle. Although these were hardly classic tales, they contained a wealth of detail, recounting some of the less well-known aspects of soldiering, such as the punishment of officers found in the men's brothels in North Africa, the Arabs' preference for payment in tea rather than money, and the problems involved in writing citations for medals.
In the 1972 general election, he ran unsuccessfully against John Turner, the future Prime Minister, and was amusedly conscious of cutting an absurd figure in progressive eyes. Yet Galloway was an able speaker. Despite his romantic nature, he was also a realist in dealing with contemporary issues, even willing to use the language of public relations.
Strome Galloway died on August 11. He married, in 1950, Jean Love, a journalist, who predeceased him, and is survived by their two daughters."
The obituary fails to mention one of Strome's greatest interests: heraldry. Strome was a founder member and fellow of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. His revised edition of Beddoe's Canadian Heraldry is one of the most important works on the subject.