Trumbull Warren of Corwhin Acres

written by Stewart Brown


(from the Hamilton Spectator newspaper for Wednesday October 3rd 2001.)


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.

Warren was in the conference tent of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery -- popularly known as “Monty” -- when five German officers signed the surrender at Lüneburg Heath, south of Hamburg, Germany.

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.

Warren later described the events in Monty, the three-volume biography of Montgomery by British author Nigel Hamilton.

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,” Warren noted.  Next was Rear Admiral Wagner, flag officer to the admiral of the fleet.  And Major Friedl, who had “the cruellest face of any man I have ever seen.” A fifth officer -- a Colonel Pollok -- joined the group for the signing.

Warren continued his description:

“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 was on the personal staff of Montgomery as an aide-de-camp, then personal assistant.  As such, he saw all sides of Monty, including the difficult.

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,” Warren said then.

Mostly, there was a genuine admiration between the general and his aide.  At one time, Montgomery wrote to Warren that: “I often wish you were my son.”

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,” Warren’s wife recalled in the 1997 documentary video called Gentle Monty. “He would get down on his hands and knees and crawl all about the house with Joanie, our youngest, on his back.”

When Montgomery died in 1976, the Warrens attended his military funeral in London.

For Trumbull Warren, the armed forces were an early reality.  He was born in Montreal on Aug. 1st, 1915, when the First World War was already under way.

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 Warren was an early casualty at the second Battle of Ypres in Belgium, not from the chlorine gas introduced in warfare there, but from a piece of shell from a 42-centimetre siege howitzer that ricocheted through a plate glass window.

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 and into France in June, 1940 as part of the 1st Canadian Division.  Back in England, Warren was approached to be one of Montgomery’s five military aides -- and the only Canadian one -- when the general was head of the Southeastern Command in England, in anticipation of a German invasion.

Warren stayed with Monty for three months, then, hoping for advancement, returned to Canada for a four-month staff training course at Royal Military College in Kingston.  He rejoined Montgomery and the British 8th Army which defeated the Germans and General Rommel at El Alamein, then chased them across North Africa to their surrender in Tunisia.

Warren then served in Italy with the 1st Canadian Division under General Guy Simonds.  Next, Montgomery, knowing he would be running the Allied European ground war under Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, asked Trumbull Warren to be his personal assistant.

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, Warren organized Rheem Canada Limited, which made steel drums, then hot-water heaters, on Barton Street in Hamilton.  He ran the company from 1946 to his retirement in 1976.

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 Hamilton.

Besides running Rheem, Warren was a director on the board of Argus Corporation, Hollinger Inc. and Hendrie and Company, the Hamilton-based truckers.  He was a president of Ancaster’s Tamahaac Club, where he was a skeet sharpshooter.

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 Warrens hosted the occasional hunt there and loved to welcome the lads of the 48th for a day of Highland Games.

In 1999, Trumbull and Mary Warren moved to Riverside Glen, a seniors’ residence in Guelph.  That’s where he died on Sept. 12th.  He is survived by his wife and three daughters.


A well-attended funeral service with full military honours took place Sept. 14th at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, conducted by Peter Wall, rector of the cathedral and Dean of the Diocese of Niagara.  Pipers and a bugler from the 48th Highlanders’ played The Last Post, Flowers of the Forest, a Scottish lament, and Reveille.  Burial was in Hamilton Cemetery.

“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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