Brigadier Angle

Air Vice Marshall Ockenden

Colonel MacGregor

Major Hadgraft


Lieutenant-Colonel Jamieson

Captain Finestone

Sergeant Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith


Major-General Hoffmeister

Flying Officer
Les Perkins

Captain King, RCNR

Rear Admiral Leir
Captain Jonathan Snyder






































































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Okanagan Military Museum


Former BCD Honourary Colonel

(8 Nov 1997- 4 Mar 2006)

Former BCD Honourary Colonel Bernard J. Finestone, CD, C de G


Italy Star
French Croix de Guerre (WWII)

Honorary Colonel Finestone was born in Sacramento, California, USA on the 24th of July 1920. He began his military career in the Canadian Officer Training Corp in the Active Militia of Canada on the 8th of March 1937 where he served with the McGill University COTC while qualifying as a Lieutenant in the Infantry and Artillery, retiring with the rank of Company Sergeant-Major. 2nd Lieutenant Finestone transferred to Camp Borden in January 1940 to the Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle Training Centre where he completed his armoured training in September 1941.On the 11th of January 1941 Lieutenant Finestone transferred to Active Duty when he joined the 9th Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Dragoons) and served with the Regiment overseas in a variety of junior officer appointments, including Battle Captain of an armoured squadron.

Canadian infantry fighting in Italian cities during WWII

During 1944, he was involved in heavy action during fierce resistance by the enemy at Casino, the Moro River and Ortona on the Adriatic coast in eastern Italy.In April and early May, as part of the British Eighth Army, the 1st Canadian Corps was moved west from the Adriatic coast to join in the US 5th Army’s struggle for Rome. Because, as in WW1, the Germans had come to associate the presence of Canadians with an impending offensive, the transfer had to be made in secret. Finestone was among those Canadians moved west in secret. In the battle to free Rome, Finestone led his tank detachments as the Battle Captain in B Squadron, against the fiercely defended Hitler Line, located on the north side of the Liri River, just before it was finally breached. He was forced to move his planned point of attack to a second location for crossing the Liri River.

German 88 mm Flak artillery in action during WWII.

On May 30th 1944, when returning to his tank from reconnoitering the best place to cross against the Hitler line, he was struck with almost the full force of an exploding 88 mm shell. Captain Finestone was hospitalized from 25 September 1944 to 22 January 1945 returning to active duty with the Regiment on the 23rd of January 1945 where he continued to serve in a variety of appointments until the end of World War II and his transfer to the Supplementary List on the 8th of September 1945.

Canadian soldiers taking shelter from artillery shells, Gari River valley, May 22nd, 1944. Photo by Alexander M. Stirton

Captain Finestone couldn’t praise the men of the medical corps and the stretcher bearers too much, "They were right behind the front lines and often right on the line or ahead of it if they were needed there and they have plasma and drugs right with them. They don’t waste any time", he said. "At 11 a.m., I was given plasma at a place at which, at 5:00 a.m. was three miles ahead of our lines". After repatriation Captain Finestone was treated at Queen Mary Veterans’ Hospital in Montreal and was discharged from the army in September 1945. In recognition of his distinguished and courageous wartime service, the government of France decorated him with the Croix de Guerre.

Medical staff treat wounded Canadian soldier on WWII battlefield.

Honourary Colonel Finestone returned to the service of his Regiment, The British Columbia Dragoons, on the 16th of May 1990 when he was appointed as the Honourary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Regiment, serving in this capacity until the 7th of November 1997. Upon completion of his service, Honourary Lieutenant-Colonel Finestone was appointed as Honourary Colonel of the British Columbia Dragoons on the 8th of November 1997 in which capacity he has served the Regiment to 4 March, 2006.

BCD Hon.Col Bernard J. Finestone with a reporter at VE Day celebrations

In conjunction with serving with his Regiment, Honorary Colonel Finestone has held many other appointments including; Honourary President of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association (Calvary), Major and Commander of the Fort St. Helen Garrison of the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Secretary and Chairman of the Honourary Colonels of Canada, President of the Montreal Port Council, Vice Chairman of the Montreal Port Authority, President then Chairman of the Montreal Board of Trade, President and currently Honourary President of the Jewish General Hospital, and founding Vice President of the Combined Health Appeal. Throughout this busy schedule of duties Honourary Colonel Finestone maintained a close tie to his Alma Mata by remaining a member of the McGill COTC Military Cross Country Ski Racing Team.

Honourary Colonel Finestone has during his career received many awards for his contributions to country and community including, the Queen's Jubilee Medal, the Croix Du Combattant De L'Europe, the Canadian Forces Decoration, the Croix de Guerre (France) and the Canadian Efficiency Medal for wartime service in Europe. In addition, Honourary Colonel Finestone was awarded the 1993 Citation Award for Citizenship by the Government of Canada and the Bronfman Medal from the Canadian Jewish Congress.

During his long period of service as the Honourary Lieutenant- Colonel and Honourary Colonel of the BCDs and especially while serving as the Chairmain of the Honourary Colonels of Canada Association, he served ably in representing the needs of Canada's Army Reserves during a time of major transformation within the Canadian Army.

CBC reporter James Cudmore interviews Hon. Col Finestone during VE Day events.

Honourary Colonel Finestone is married to Ms Rita Shuchat and currently divides his time between his residences resides in Montreal, PQ and Palm Desert, CA. He has two sons and four grandchildren.


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