Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jeffrey Williams 1920-2011 RIP military historian

A book of mine once won a Governor General's Prize in non-fiction, and it gave me an ongoing interest in the award.  The year after my good fortune I hastened to buy and read my "successor," the following year's winner, Byng of Vimy, General and Governor General, by a retired soldier named Jeffrey Williams.

The book struck me as a workmanlike but not otherwise distinguished biography, which left me a little...ambivalent, since it was pretty much the same jury that had chosen my own book the year earlier.

So I noticed the obituary the other day (paywalled in the Globe and Mail, not much available elsewhere, it seems) of Lt-Col Jeffrey Williams, Calgary-born Canadian soldier and military historian, who died at his home in Britain recently at the age of 91.

His military histories were retirement projects but, living to 91, he had a long retirement and made the most of it:  Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (1972), Byng of Vimy ­ General and Governor-General (1983 -- it won the Canadian Biography Award as well as the GG, so others must have been more attuned to its qualities than I was), The Long Left Flank (1988). First in the Field ­ Gault of the Patricia's  (1995), Polo, The Galloping Game ­ A History of Polo in the Canadian West (2001), and a Far from Home: A Memoir of a 20th Century Soldier (2003).  He was honored with the Order of Canada too, for his services to veterans.

Follow @CmedMoore