challenge and turmoil of command in war -
war is one of the most intense crucibles of leadership and tests human
endurance both physically and psychologically to the maximum. This was
the challenge that Major-General Keller faced leading the Canadian 3rd
Infantry Division during the invasion of Normandy and subsequent bitter
fighting inland against some of Hitler's most fanatical troops.
Rod Keller began his military career at the Royal Military College in
Kingston, Ontario,at the end of the First World War. He served as a
member of the Permanent Force officer corps with the Princess Patricia's
Light Infantry (PPCLI) during the inter-war years. He attended the British
Army's Camberley Staff College in England before WWII having been selected
for potential senior rank.
the outbreak of WWII Keller was sent overseas as a brigade major and
he eventually rose to the command of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry
in 1941 in the accelerated pace of an army at war. A promotion to Officer
Commanding the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade followed a few months later.
Keller now a major-general served between September 8th, 1942, and August
8th, 1944, as General Officer Commanding the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.
of Juno beach from a captured German gun position
troops of the 8th Brigade move inland from Juno beach.
led the division during the initial assault on the beaches of Normandy
and as it fought inland against stubborn resistance often from elite
and fanatical SS units. Wounded on August 8th, when US bombers mistakenly
bombed Canadian troops during the opening rounds of Operation Tractable
he was relieved of command.
B-17s bombing targets in France
Keller was popular with his troops for his frank and outspoken manner
he did not have the support of many of his staff officers or superiors
as a result of several incidents that brought his leadership capabilities
into question. After being relieved Keller received no further command
Keller served as a Kelowna alderman following the war having had family
connections in the area. He also served as the Honorary Colonel of the
B.C. Dragoons until his death. Ironically he died while on a visit back
to the scenes of his last field command in Normandy in 1954 joining
many of those under his command who ended their lives in those bloodied
fields. Military command is the most demanding of tasks and those who
aspire and train for it are at the mercy of not just the demands of
war but those that reside in the human soul itself.