Salt Spring Island Archives

Donate Now Through!


Desmond Crofton: Soldier & Citizen

Ivan Mouat & John Crofton

Ivan Mouat’s and John Crofton’s presentation to the Historical Society on Desmond Crofton.

Accession Number Interviewer SSI Historical Society Address
Date November 14, 1995 Location Central Hall
Media cassette tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 127 Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:12
It's a customer of this society who haven't remembered seeing or have ever be told. Today you will hear the colonel as the soldier and citizen. If you ask anyone in Salzburg in the late 1940s or 1950s who assault Briana is number one soldier World War Two. You've been told the kernel by any former members of the Scottish folk death was by anybody else. I have always wondered like this prof didn't get to be much higher. He is humbled to bring it here. I wonder fly.

Unknown Speaker 1:03
And I asked one of the skies

Unknown Speaker 1:09
he will leave his voice tells you a lot about John has a very very excellent account of his body

Unknown Speaker 1:19
to soul. Thank you, Ivan. My father was born on saltstick and 95, the son of the credit mother Croft. Credit cards are sold straight from county Roscommon and Ireland in 1899. And it might be two or three he married not a Wilson, a daughter of the Reverend Edward Wilson, the Betty rose. The Reverend Wilson was the eighth and minister on Salisbury from the time that he first arrived on the island 1894 until he retired around about the environment to establish a very strong sense of Christian beliefs. This was a sense in having such faith and beliefs of the native my father for all his life. After his marriage, Brett dropped and bought the 100 acre farm that he'd been working on for three years since the time he he arrived. This farm because of what is now known as the Holocaust property, crop and dog finders, medical clinic and all that general area that he named his home palmerhouse to the home where he was born in Ireland. He had no it didn't waste any time to develop her family. But thought he left for overseas with Canadian Army in 1960s. The two had off the 13 years of marriage to two had six children who were adopted and then a sudden came along after the last one he was in a overseas full time so pretty tough for Bella. So she had one of her brothers before the partnership to convert the old bog home Ohana house into a guest but this partnership is decided when my grandfather returned back to Salisbury after the war. But the hover house remained with the crops and family for about 50 years and became very successful as a hotel resort and also became an active social center for the homeless also because of the actual need during the war years, adopted by Father along with his brothers and sisters had to work long, hard hours to keep the test house and the farm operating properly. And as a result of all that was only allowed to progress to grade eight for his education 1924 He became bowled over by a London beauty who would come to Eastern hollow house to see property and friends that belonged to her that her late husband. He was he had been killed that her husband had been killed in 1980 while serving with the British army. But it was a six year old son daughter, who had been born a few months after his father had been killed. Her name was identical. And she became physically attracted to my father and consultant. Consequently, she decided to give up her London life which I gathered from Vermont she they she didn't much enjoy too many 30 years Because I decided to opt for the primitive life over father's life in a pretty primitive world. So very married in 1945. Had the whole build on 18 acre lot that was just behind how the house had to have gotten fed off. To them work on two children, maybe myself and my 225 and my sister a few years later, she told me not to mention that night to 28. My father's dedication to community support began when he became a Scoutmaster, or the scout troop and gadgets. But before proceeding to the next stage of my father's life in the 1930s, I just must refer to his lifelong growth of sport. He excelled in every sport that he participated in particular tennis, golf, rugby or soccer grass. He was also an enthusiastic culture official. Now I want to do just a brief review on the birth of the Canadians product pregabalin success was a major part of his life. And the events at CD have leading up to D Day as it's not either will take over. After World War One, the federal government decided to form a Militia units to form a Militia units in many city centers across Canada. Well, Victoria, they find the Canadian Scottish regiment appointed Leftenant Colonel Cytec to DC to be the first commander. The regiment was later on in the 1930s by having a member of the royal family HRH Princess Mary become external chief at 1927 because of Japanese aggressiveness in the Far East, the proposal is great to Allah do over a second Canadian Scottish battalion for West Coast defense. This proposal was accepted and approved in 1930. And immediate action was being the former headquarters of battalion headquarters of Ohio with the company's doctrine denial, taught me inside of the 1931 My father gave off his scope troop to join the Canadian Scottish as a second. He organized the D organized and became the commander of the 54 to four Saltspring. This platoon consists of over 38, medical all of us. In 1935, he was made assistant adjutant of the Second Battalion, and two years later, he was promoted to adjutant. So it's even again as commander of the 32 it was a GA that when George left for England, to join the RAF, my uncle Petra often to go there. As long as I'm closer, my father was paid off the commanding of a company and I thought it might be 40 He was doing combined with the company overview overseas battalion, which has been formed from the first time the second battalion. At the start of winter 1940 battalion was moved from its comfortable fortress near tutoria to the Bearcat of Nova Scotia. This cap has been described by one of the men as being one of the most colossal messages I have ever seen. Nothing was ready for the water, no beds, no food, no search, no electricity, and it was just a just a real test. And as a result, of course, strong leadership was necessary on the part of all the offices in order to get the cow properly organized, how do you maintain a good level of morale? Well, judging from some of the photos that you may see on the table over there and all the light in the bird kept round rain domain pretty high during the tough months. With the town fatality station, we have to remember not only once it's made it's not a station there but also other battalions of the Winnipeg Rifles moved on arrived this August the 22nd between August 22 1941 Between five o'clock and 6pm the logic came from all who went for the battalion to be trained for Halifax by midnight. Someone has observed that the activity that followed within the units resembled an Advil into good stomach had poked a stick if you just imagine the soldiers go into movie theaters and nearby turmoil or that's broken, so let's have a look. And they all have to be rounded up Put on a train. Your job was done. By noon the next day, everyone on board was on board the troops at Halifax, including the basketball a big St. Bernard dog, Bill Wallace. He has been drugged and smuggled aboard in a crate. And the crate was marked special effects for the kernel to run the kernel, the boot loss of who was supervising on the loading of baggage and things, didn't like the look of his face. And so he totaled over the kernel was the commander of a Canadian Scottish that time and said what's what's all this once again, let me take a look at the current set on on Oh, this is just a special license for the officers mess he didn't know exactly what one was inside. But then he saw a few little arrows tucked into the into the pizza, there's so many guests that the dog was inside.

Unknown Speaker 10:59
Pull a little bit of action to move off to the GP to let him go on board

Unknown Speaker 11:05
as is. During the next three years, the Scottish was subjected to the types of training and many inspections. First by the kickin faith, then the criminal in chief HRH offenses vary. And finally, by matters of Oh rents. A high point for my father during this time was to be selected for to go to the British army stopped college at Oxford University. He passed the course, which I think is a pretty remarkable achievement for the farmer some who have only had a great education. But he passed the course because in my novice never ceasing determination to win and all endeavors got involved. Now because of his outstanding powers of concentration duty, model files and I'm just a little kid going through elementary schools, I came home from school to grammar arithmetic books and spelling books and all those and study them like that confusion was going on around them. It just complicated over here. Now it's time to debase the book.

Unknown Speaker 12:31
about 600 hours of the day, major crops and his seed company were sending to take the normally featured vote with Winnebago rifles. They were in a dance party, and their job was to near the beach job seekers to machine gunners, wire and other obstacles, to scout out exit points, and to guide the main body of the forth across the beach when they arrived, but two hours later, on landing. Some of the men in the advanced group did not get more than 10 feet from the landing, or they were killed or the open beach made an excellent killing. A major objective after landing was to capture the Chateau goo. It's an offered plenty of cover for machine gunners and snipers, as well as add machine guns to millimeter guns hidden in haystacks. Their objective was soon achieved. Here's major crops whose description of the capture the man had number 15 to do with much older snipers, Catherine some killing some in our casualties were fairly heavy. However, we managed to get in and surround the Chateau below, and we have claimed towards Raven used to set fire to the place if there's too much opposition in the building. However, after throwing a couple of grenades in the doorway, the enemy MBDA and of course, as soon as the capture was completed, the urgent need was to press on inland and take out further into the opposition. The next objectives were sharpness and sozzled, namely St. Croix, mira, and Danville. This was the headquarters area of the second battalion of the enemy's seven to six regiments, which held several platoons of experienced well trained soldiers with carefully concealed armor positions. As major crosses and as the company approached these objectives, they ran into heavy opposition. Here's how the action is described in the history of the regiment by Dr. Roy University of Victoria. major crops his company he was having a sticky time of the company had scarcely gone to the southern tip of the woods, about 800 yards from the shadow Hall, with a hail of rifle machine gun and mortar for her slowed down his progress as the platoons came into the open fields in front of me and said, the company commander see to be everywhere encouraging this man all ranks felt like after battle and about eight out of carbon About 8pm on D Day, the Canadian Scottish had cut its way six miles inland from the sea of all the infantry battalions of the assault and grace. In the British sector that day, the Canadian Scottish have gone the most violent gone the farthest to enemy defenses. Kotak Roy, it was a remarkable achievement, and said a great deal for the aggressive leadership of the officers as well as a standard spirit of the men. casualties were heavy. However, one platoon its economy, for example, lost more than half of the game when it lands on the beach in 45 minutes 12 hours, only 90. The following days fighting was even more severe, because the Germans realized that the only way they could defeat the Invaders was to drive them back to the sea as soon as possible. It was around this time, the major crop of his own in a jeep with a driver with roaring on the frontlines with a firing machine and throwing grenades wildly. To give the enemy the impression they were in a strongly held area. Fierce fighting continued without rest for the Scottish for nearly four months, as they push their way through cam. Now they will count on their arrival and Kelly in late September, major crop was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel to come out with a follow up County on October the first, although exhausted from there fighting the Canadian side to push on without delay to capture the greatest prize of all the all damage part of Antwerp. Its capture was vital in order to shorten supply lines from England to Europe. To reach it, the Leopold Canal had to be crossed first, and any resistance to the Canadians attack on the canal is fierce. With hand to hand fighting often takes place. It came under Canadian control. Then the Scottish had to push push. Then the Scottish had to push west to capture coastal defences on the shelf estuary, in particularly the kind of kazaaam which contains the enemy's divisional headquarters for that area. Finally, the better the second Garrison bear surrenders. Here is the thinner griddles proper, proper description of the event.

Unknown Speaker 17:17
The terminal opposite came out of one of the forts holding a white flag. He had to advance about 700 yards direct to the Scottish headquarters. I met him and we made use of a party demolished House to talk to him. I told him the term for unconditional surrender and send them back with a message to his commander. It was not long before more like flies appeared. I went forward to the main port to receive the surrender of the garrison. The German commander handed me the look of pistol and token of surrender for themselves at us.

Unknown Speaker 17:53
With this surrender the Scottish and other Canadian units within a date a few days featured within a few days sees the last German pocket on the shelf. The way to Antwerp was now clear for this advance to center. General guyson is the commander of the Canadian Forces sent a message congratulating the troops for their long period of fighting cold under the most appalling conditions of ground another one Canadian military historian and more than to describe the conditions the Canadians had to fight under during the battles on the show and assaults.

Unknown Speaker 18:26
The mighty memory is all gray skies, rain, fog, bone chilling darkness boots, Bible vests and blankets soaking wet, cold food, not just that wasn't like the soldiers weariness that is as much fear as lack of sleep, and everywhere. But it

Unknown Speaker 18:48
was during this period that young Ronnie private, young private Ronnie who assault brings kills gold trying to save a friend from heavy enemy fire. Ronnie was not there. From the shelf. The Scottish in early November moved to 99 Meghan area about 120 miles northeast of Camp Holland and on the road to the Rhine River. For the next three months a period of static warfare two plays for the Scottish as a result of the German offensive in the Ardennes. During these months, the Scottish are close to the German border and face the German 48 deputy division. They are in what was described by Warren Ayers as a holding role shaped like a club with a long handle. The dyers calls this about the battalions way of operating. The heavy striking head is formed on the rifle company's support company and forward command goes all in contact with the enemy. The federal criminal DG crop is of course, always the guiding hand here. On February the eighth the attack on the Rhineland began, the weather conditions were terrible because of rain which paved the Once frozen ground fall rapidly. In addition, the Germans had taken the action to flood the land. Consequently, we could idiots how to advance insidious air in dubious craft called buffaloes, which are ungainly and hard to control. For the Scottish, your immediate object was to take a small town called deal to companies were sent out at 11pm to clear the way, but they became lost. Because my atmospheric conditions and paid radio communication goes well, the thinner Colonel Crawford was unable to determine what progress has been made. Dr. Roy and his history of the regiment describe what took place Acropolis tactical headquarters around midnight, and brigade headquarters COVID brigade sprag as a thorough proper record of occasion was courted companies, but he's only able to give them as a result of further conversation with the be there. The telecom problem set up for the stacker headquarters for deal since dig a profit be noted for as a craft his aggressiveness and genuine desire to be as close to the board positions as possible. In fact that normally, as a company commander, grew up and had to be ordered not to go on patrols in the no man's land. As commanding officer, however, he realized his face was a position where you could control the entire battalion as crop and his command group approach their objective, they could see no sign of their men. Then suddenly when they enter the founders of lighting, fashion, a lot of exposure to things and coffee being here and everyone did and severely. Croft was right arts led a blind enough to cover in a nearby barn where they remained until rescue 12 hours later. And so that possibility career was tabled in shortly going to be promoted to bring it. Back in in England. He said about four months in hospital if you're in a painful skin and bone graft operation. Then in June, he was in related back home, arriving in Vancouver in a

Unknown Speaker 21:49
hospital. My mother and sister and I left the hospital train when it arrives in Vancouver. Like the show it was a terrible experience to to the hundreds of shattered, heavily bandaged young men coming from the train on crutches, in wheelchairs and on stretches. My father managed to walk late some others, but he soon had to write up a letter to his sister in London. My mother described how he looked the change in him. Modern appearance is beyond description. The quick and ready smile gone with clouded look of suffering in his eyes, not only for his own, but even more for the suffering he has seen. She concluded her letter by saying every man, woman and child should be paid to visit military hospitals at least four times a year in every country in the world. And they couldn't possibly be any more. All these young athletic bodies broken or paralyzed for months and years as a young life spent in these places. The stricken look in the faces for some will never think I'll never forget the site on the Ganges walk when my father first arrived back and so it's been too big and Shaughnessy hospital for a short time. It was a Sunday June day, and the West is proud of the people who have come to welcome him home. That is the appropriately named Princess Mary. Because a dog so there's a hushed silence. That had a huge cheer broke out when he appeared. My father was very strict. His right arm and a big cost was obviously giving him pain. Then a dear longtime family friend, this is sprinkled, whose husband had been wounded in the First World War, ran up to him and said, scolding me what have you been up to bat around with? A big smile broke out on his face, but I guess he knew he was really holding last because like deep 45 to 9048. He spent much of his time hospitalized as he suffered through more than 20 bone and skin graft operations. In 1948, he was back on Saltspring to begin a new career as a citizen and a community supporter. He worked full time with God. It's always been glands that took over the management of the family business the hover hotel. This concerns for the welfare of the Anglican parish were lifted from the day he came back. For example from 1950 until 1973 He was ranked as one lay reader. He served two terms as president of the Legion. He became a director of the latest mental hospital board director of the Gulf Islands very coveted limited president of the Lions Club the 1965 in which time here my mother donated the land to the pineal village and he's gone to the Salvation Army campaigns for many years. During his term as President of the Chamber of Commerce, he made trips to Ottawa to establish plans for Centennial Park. In 1967, he was paying Citizen of the Year. Right Richards as the editor and publisher of a giftable. That time had this to say about this honor, it was

Unknown Speaker 25:25
an excellent choice when it's off, taker coverage, and even a tenant isn't proper Citizen of the Year last week, everything was said it could be said, we could point out that the choice of Colonel Crawford was appropriate pity. But everyone knows that we could point out the colonel process record of community service. Well, there it's this distinction for the community has already appreciated. Being a stall recipient is a fine citizen of Salzburg. But everyone knows that he is the reason that that is the reason for the nomination. In fact, there's nothing else we could say. There's nothing else to be said. Except the choice of the Chamber of Commerce could not be better.

Unknown Speaker 26:08
Not the Chamber of Commerce or dinner, it is supposed to celebrate this award. My father had this to say. I wish my old Irish dad was here. Many years ago when he would come home from work, he would see me snoozing away as usual in my cradle, and they often say to my mother, that boy will never amount to anything. More on this came to him in the 1970s and 1974 He was appointed honorary Lieutenant Colonel of his own regiment. The left handed commander was appointed the honoree. The two of them got along very well have a great time watching the regiment on maneuvers. In 1976, he was given a life membership in the Salt Spring Island Rogers Gun Club and the Royal Canadian Legion in 1977. When I returned to Salt Springs, in the fall of 1976, he told me that the cancer that had been attacking him for several years was beginning to get the better. Don't worry, he said he expected to have another five years of life. Eight months later, on April 27 1977, he died. Right Richards wrote the slide tribute to him.

Unknown Speaker 27:33
In Memoriam he was a fighting soldier and carried as needed fighting soldiers.

Unknown Speaker 27:41
He was a civilian with a man

Unknown Speaker 27:43
of peace. He was a staunch believer, the Anglican Church and a warm friend of every other church and he was a businessman and operated a business in close touch with Ireland. He's a friend and was added as an enemy. He was a conservative, but his fans are from everybody. He was the last representative of the Caribbean. He was a colonel many who fought across your honors command, but he never stood on his ranks. He was a friend of course, when he would have trouble. He was a friend and need to any veteran at anytime. Good friends at high faces everywhere and merely read their names. He was the essence of an island or too many all over North America. He's a man who enjoyed his stature in the community because he was a friend. He was destined to be sorry, sorry.

Unknown Speaker 28:37
Thank you islanders that ends our presentation