About Major General Harry Wickwire Foster, CBE, DSO
Major General Harry Wickwire Foster, CBE, DSO, (April 2, 1902 - August 6, 1964) was a Canadian Army officer who commanded two Canadian army divisions during World War II. He served in both the Pacific and European theatres.
Born in Halifax, son of Major General Gilbert Lafayette Foster, director general of the medical services of the First World War. Educated at King’s College at Windsor, Nova Scotia as a cadet. Attended school at Berkhamsted, England; Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, Quebec; Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario; and McGill University, Montreal.
Joined Lord Strathcona’s Horse in 1924 and held the rank of Captain by 1934. Graduated from Staff College, Camberley in 1939 and was promoted to Brigade Major at the outbreak of the Second World War. Appointed to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and led Canadian troops in the Kiska campaign in 1943 (Operation Cottage), for which he was awarded the American Legion of Merit. In 1944 was promoted to Major General and led the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division and 1st Canadian Infantry Divisions during their liberation sweep across France and Belgium in the fall of 1944.
Major-General Foster was commander of both 4th Canadian Armoured Division (North West Europe) and 1st Canadian Infantry Division (Italy). In 1941, (then) Lieutenant Colonel Foster assumed command of 4th Reconnaissance Regiment--4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, the recently activated scout formation assigned to 1st Canadian Infantry Division in England.
On September 12, 1944 he entered the historic city of Bruges (Belgium) with his troops. The Liberation of this medieval town was done successfully, without fight or damage. In recognition for this achievement, Foster was named an honorary citizen of Bruges, award only bestowed upon two people since 1900: Foster and Hendrik Brugmans, first rector of the College of Europe.
After the war, presided over the court martial of Canada’s top prisoner of war, SS General Kurt Meyer. Organized and commanded Eastern Army Command. Upon retirement in 1950 took the civilian appointment of Chief Administrator of the Central European District, Imperial War Graves Commission. In 1959, he married his third wife Mona Leonhart (née Parsons), a Canadian spy for the Dutch Resistance during the Second World War, and was appointed honorary Aide-de-Camp to Governor General Georges Vanier.