written by Stewart Brown
Trumbull Warren’s headiest brush with history came on May 4th, 1945 with the unconditional surrender of German forces in Holland, Denmark and northwest Germany to hurry up the end of the Second World War.
As personal assistant to Montgomery -- one of the outstanding Allied commanders of the Second World War -- Trumbull Warren was the man who fetched the Germans to Montgomery’s caravan on May 3rd to hear Monty’s terms, and on May 4th to sign the surrender, ending more than five years of hostilities.
It provided an indelible memory for the Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel, a Hamilton businessman after the war, who died in Guelph on Sept. 12th at the age of 86.
described the events in Monty, the three-volume biography of
The senior German officer was General Admiral von Friedeburg, commander-in-chief of the German fleet. General Kinsel,
chief of staff of the German army was “a magnificent looking officer about 6'
5" ... complete with monocle -- a real professional Prussian,”
“The German delegation went across to the tent, watched by groups of soldiers, war correspondents, photographers, and others -- all very excited. They knew it was the end of the war.”
“I had the surrender document all ready. The arrangements in the tent were very simple -- a trestle table covered with an army blanket, an inkpot, an ordinary army pen that you could buy in a shop for two pence. There were two BBC microphones on the table.”
More surrenders followed on May 7th, prior to Victory-in-Europe (VE Day) on May 8th.
For most of the
Second World War, Trumbull
Warren commented on Montgomery for a 1997 documentary by Norflicks Productions of Toronto, which was shown on Vision TV.
“I’m of the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that nobody
could be more sarcastic than an educated Englishman when they wanted to be,
and this guy was a past master at it,”
Mostly, there was a genuine admiration between the
general and his aide. At one time,
During the 1950’s, Montgomery periodically visited Hamilton -- where Viscount Montgomery elementary school is named after him -- and stayed with the Warrens -- Trumbull, wife Mary (Wigle, whom he married in 1939), and their three daughters, Mary, Ann and Joan, at their Markland Street home.
“He was a kind and thoughtful man,”
Indeed, his own
father -- also named Trumbull, who’d left his job as president of the Gutta Percha Rubber Company to
join the Toronto-based 48th Highlanders -- had died less than three months
before his son was born. Captain
Growing up in Toronto, Trumbull Warren Jr. attended private schools such as Crescent School, Upper Canada College, Lakefield College and Ridley College before taking a job as an office boy with Gutta Percha in 1934, the same year he joined the 48th Highlanders as a reserve militia soldier.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Warren was part of an advance party that went overseas to prepare for the unit’s arrival to England in December of 1939.
He stayed with the 48th regiment through training
Warren stayed with Monty for three months,
then, hoping for advancement, returned to
Monty had one word of caution: “If you accept, you can never return to your regiment. You must stay with me to the end of the war.” And that’s precisely what the Canadian did.
In 1945, Warren was made a military Member of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) and received the American Bronze Star medal for his liaison work between the British 8th and American 5th Armies over dangerous war fields in Italy.
With the end of the war,
Meantime, he continued a number of other
interests. These included the 48th
Highlanders, where he became honorary colonel from 1973 to 1976. He had a long association with the Royal
Winter Fair, serving as president in 1974 when Princess Anne and husband Mark
Phillips opened the show and visited
Besides running Rheem,
In the 1960’s, Warren built a country home called Corwhin Acres -- named after
a local railway intersection -- on 90 acres (36 hectares) in the
Puslinch/Aberfoyle area. There, his
pride and joy was the huge evergreen forest he planted and watched grow over
35 years. The
Trumbull and Mary Warren moved to
A well-attended funeral service with full military
honours took place Sept. 14th at Christ’s Church Cathedral in
“I think Trum epitomized the standards of the regiment and the family strength more than almost anyone,” says Geordie Beal, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 48th Highlanders.
"One of the things that the family will remember is the strong relationship between Trumbull and Mary,” adds son-in-law John Lang. “They were committed to each other over many years, through the war and everything.”
“The other great legacy -- particularly in the business world -- is the leadership quality he had with younger men. A number of men came up and said that Trumbull was either their first client or their first business contact when they were young pups getting started, and they always remember the guidance and confidence he gave them.”
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