Lockhart, William Wallace

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William Wallace Lockhart
20 October 1903 – 18 October 1987
Colonel Lockhart portrait (2).jpg
Place of birth Traverse City, Michigan
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Rank Colonel
Awards CD
Colonel William Wallace Lockhart, CD (20 October 1903 - 18 October 1987) was a Canadian soldier who served in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals before, during, and after the Second World War. During the Second World War he was Field Marshall Montgomery's Signal Officer in his 21st Army Group Tactical Headquarters and is credited as having received the message of surrender.

Early Life

William (Bill) was born at Traverse City, Michigan on 20 October 1903 (incidentally the same week that the Canadian Signal Corps was first established) to Dr W.H Lockhart and ???. He is listed as having received his junior matriculation certificate (grade 11) from Ottawa Collegiate Institute in 1922. [1]

Service

Bill Lockhart first joined the military as a member of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa in the Non-permanent Active Militia (NPAM) in 1920. In 1921 he transferred to 3rd Signal Battalion in the NPAM with whom he served until August 1922 when he transferred to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (Permanent Force (PF)) as a Signalman.

As a Sergeant in 1923, Lockhart was selected as the Chief Operator of the planned Radio Station at Mayo Yukon Territory and tasked with establishing it. Mayo was one of the first two stations of the Northwest Territories and Yukon Radio System with the other being at Dawson City. The system officially opened on 20 October 1923, his 20th birthday, when he received the first message from Sergeant Heath at Dawson City. He remained in Dawson until 1925 after which returned to Ontario. In September 1925 he was commissioned in the NPAM and again became a member of 3rd Signal Battalion while he attended Queen's University in Kingston Ontario. Still at Queen's, he transferred back to the PF in March 1929 and took Leave without Pay so he could continue his studies. In 1930 he returned to the payroll and graduated in 1931 with a Bachelor of Science (Electrical Engineering) degree from Queen's University.

After graduation he was posted to the Signal Depot at Camp Borden Ontario where he served as Adjutant from August 1931 until September 1932. He was transferred to Military District No. 2 Headquarters at Toronto to be both District Signal Officer and District Military Intelligence Officer and, while there, completed the Militia Staff Course. From 1933 to 1935, Captain Lockhart was transferred to Edmonton Alberta where he was in charge of Radio Station Edmonton and was also Traffic Superintendent, NWT&Y Radio System.

Transferring back to the Signals Depot, he completed the Staff College Preparatory Course from October 1935 until March 1936. He was appointed an Instructor of Signals at the Canadian Signal Training Centre until December 1936 when he then proceeded to attend Staff College, Camberly, England until 1938. Upon his return to Canada he joined No. 9 Detachment, Ottawa where he was when war was declared 1 September 1939.

Promoted Major effective 1 September 1939, he served as a General Staff Officer (II) at Regina at HQ MD No. 12 from December 1939 until June 1940 when he joined 1 Corps Signals as a company commander. He proceeded overseas in August 1940 where he served as a member of the Directing Staff at the Canadian Junior War Staff College from December 1940 until April 1941. Major Lockhart was then appointed Second-in-Command of 1 Divisional Signals with whom he served until January 1942. Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel 30 January 1942, he was placed in command of 3 Divisional Signals. He remained in his post until the end of 1943 except for a brief stint as GSO (I) at 3 Canadian Infantry Division HQ from Nov to Dec 1943.

In January 1944 he was appointed to Headquarters, 21st Army Group as GSO (II) and later became Signals Officer for Field Marshall Montgomery at Tactical Headquarters, 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe. About 2:15 am, 7 May 1945 at Luneberg Heath in Germany he was manning the radio when he intercepted the signal from Admiral Doenitz to General Jodl authorizing him to sign the surrender document. The message was immediately relayed 400 miles to Allied Supreme Headquarters by telephone. The surrender document was then signed at 2:41 am in a school house in Riems ending the war at midnight.[2] He was Mentioned in Despatches for his service during the war.

After the war he continued to serve in Europe with the Canadian Forces in the Netherlands. When he returned to Canada, he was appointed the Command Signals Officer, HQ Western Command, at Edmonton Alberta. Promoted Colonel 10 January 1949, he was transferred to Army Headquarters at Ottawa and appointed the Director, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals on 17 January 1949. He held the post until July 1955 when he was selected for Duty with the Department of External Affairs as Director of Communications. The Department of External Affairs needed to improve communications from Ottawa to the Canadian embassies and High Commissions world-wide using modern facilities and coding/decoding machines for secret traffic. Colonel Lockhart was brought in to do the job where he remained known as "The Colonel", designing the whole network with a RCCS format and flavour.[3] He retired from the Canadian Forces in 1956 and remained on with External Affairs until sometime about 1967.

Personal Life

Bill married Olive Marie Paul (1905-1997) on 21 April 1934 at Edmonton Alberta.

He was granted a private pilots license in 1935.

He died 18 October 1987 and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa (or Roblin Cemetery Roblin, Lennox and Addington County, Ontario, Canada - records differ)

Related Pages

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References and Notes

  1. Research folder, Military Communications and Electronics Museum
  2. "Ottawa Colonel First to Receive Signal that Spelled V-E Day", Ottawa Journal, 8 May 1954.
  3. NWT_and_Y_Radio_System_Vignette "The_Colonel"

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