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Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller
2 October 1900 – 1954
Major General Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller.jpg
Major General R.F.L. Keller addressing Canadian troops in Normandy, August 2nd, 1944.
Place of birth Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England
Place of death Normandy
Allegiance Canada
Rank Major General
Commands held 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Major General Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller CBE (2 October 1900 – 1954) was a notable Canadian Army officer who rose to divisional-level command in the Second World War. He commanded the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division which was assigned to take Juno Beach during the D-Day invasion.

Contents

Background

Rod Keller entered the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, in the last years of the First World War. Upon graduating, he joined the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, one of the regiments of the Canadian Permanent Force. Like many other promising Canadian officers of that era, he attended Camberley Staff College in England.

War service

When Canada went to war, Rod Keller was sent overseas as a brigade major. He rose to the command of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 1941 and was promoted Officer Commanding the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade a few months later. Keller was made a major-general and, between September 8, 1942, and August 8, 1944, he served as General Officer Commanding the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Major-General Keller was popular with his troops, who appreciated his manners and outspoken language; however, a drinking problem and several breaches of security measures before D-Day cost him the support of both his superior officers and his own staff.[1 ]

During the first month ashore in Normandy, it was noted he was "jumpy and high strung". [2] His immediate superiors in I British Corps and 2nd British Army considered him unfit to command the division, but Lieutenant General Guy Simonds, who was scheduled to command II Canadian Corps upon its activation in Normandy, held off on making a decision about his relief, even refusing a resignation by Keller who himself admitted to the strain. During the Battle for Caen, Keller handled Operation Windsor poorly, sending a reinforced brigade in to handle a divisional operation and delegating the planning to one of his brigadiers.[1 ] Keller was also reportedly shell-shy by August, and rumours began to spread among the division that "Keller was yeller."[3]

Despite the continued complaints from above and below, Simonds, and General Harry Crerar, another of his admirers, refused to relieve him. Fate intervened when he was wounded by friendly fire on August 8. US bombers accidentally carpet bombed his divisional headquarters during Operation Totalize. Keller received no further active military command. He died ten years later, while visiting Normandy.

References

  1. ^ a b Reid, Brian No Holding Back.
  2. ^ C.P. Stacey, Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War Volume II: The Victory Campaign.
  3. ^ Granatstein, Jack. The Generals.

External links

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