The information below is from a memorial booklet prepared for funeral services at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 24 February, 1999. (Courtesy Helen Dalton).
Charles Osborne Dalton,
D.S.O., K.St.J., E.D.
Charles Dalton was born 5 April 1910. The eldest of five children, his family lived in the Walmer Road area of Toronto.
C.O. Dalton began his business career with the Bank of Montreal but soon joined the family business of Dalton Bros. Ltd. During this time he married Helen Cowan in 1934. After the family business faltered, Charles worked with James Lumber Ltd. from 1936 to 1939.
Throughout the Depression, Dalton served with the unpaid and ill-equipped Non Permanent Active Militia (NPAM). He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1931, and served with the QOR until the outbreak of war in Europe.
Dalton volunteered for active service and was sent to England in March 1940three months before the QOR was mobilised. Lieutenant Dalton attended the Hythe Small Arms School in England and was eventually posted to the Canadian Infantry Training Unit.
When the QOR arrived in England in 1941, Lt. Dalton sought a transfer to his old regiment. Finally, in 1943, with the invasion of Europe a certainty, he was allowed to rejoin the regiment at the “advanced age” of 33.
Charles Dalton was soon promoted to major and was made commanding officer of Company B. His younger brother, Elliot, commanded Company A.
Charles Dalton died on 21 February 1999 at the age of 88. He had served with the QOR in various capacities, in war and in peace, for 70 years.
Article below: Mark Gollum, Canada’s National Post. The article I received was undated. Col. Dalton passed away in February 1999.
COLONEL CHARLES DALTON
Honoured colonel ‘acted the part of a fine officer’
A LEADER IN COMBAT
Colonel Charles Osborne Dalton, the last surviving D-Day company commander of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada who was recognized for his gallantry with the Distinguished Service Order by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, has died aged 88.
As company commander of B Company, then-Major Dalton, landed with his younger brother, Elliot ‘who commanded A Company’ led the two frontline assault battalions on Juno Beach for The Queen’s Own Rifles Canada’s oldest continuously serving infantry regiment.
The brothers, who had developed a strong bond, were known in the Regiment as ‘Mark I’ and ‘Mark II’ to distinguish the elder from the younger brother.
“The Dalton brothers were legends, everybody was devoted to them and had tremendous respect for them,” said Barney Danson, chairman of the Canadian War Museum’s advisory committee and colleague of Col. Dalton. “You always had confidence in what they were doing and they always had the human touch. But they both commanded great respect.”
At his brother Elliot’s funeral service in 1994 Col. Dalton said as D-Day approached and he began to realize he may never see his brother again he tried to come up with some parting words.
But as they parted on their respected landing crafts he said quite simply: “I’ll see you tonight.”
As the landing craft dropped in front of Bernieres-sur-Mer, Major Dalton turned to his men shouting follow me as they plunged into two to three metres of water, trudging their way to shore.
As they made for the seawall, Maj. Dalton turned back to see his men laying on the sand.
“I thought they had gone to ground for cover, then realized they’d been hit,” he remembered.
The company had landed directly in front of a concrete strong point and were immediately met with fierce machine-gun fire. Almost half of the company was lost in the initial dash across the beach. As he and his men tried to capture a German gun emplacement, Maj. Dalton was shot in the head, the bullet ripping off his helmet and peeling off his scalp.
Despite severe wounds, Maj. Dalton continued to lead his men across the beach and was personally instrumental in knocking put one of the pillboxes.
“With blood pouring down the side of his face, he still encouraged us to continue on,” said Joe Oggy, a retired corporal, who was under Maj. Dalton’s command at the time.
His greatest fear he once said, was not being wounded or killed but failing to lead his men. The citation of the DSO read, in part: “By this officer’s example of leadership and bravery, and his coolness in the face of stiff opposition, the enemy fortified position was quickly overrun, and the company which followed in the landing on the beach suffered no casualties from the beach defences.”
The casualties were the heaviest suffered by any Canadian unit that day. In the end, 56 other ranks had been killed in action; seven died of wounds. Six officers and 69 other ranks had been wounded.
As Maj. Dalton was evacuated to a hospital in England, his brother Elliot was mistakenly told that Charles had been killed.
“While I was sad to hear my brother had died, I didn’t really have time to grieve as we were still fairly busy,” Elliot Dalton recalled.
However, Elliot was wounded a few days later and sent to the same hospital as his brother. As the nurse wheeled Elliot to the bed marked Maj. Dalton, he noticed a patient lay there with the sheet pulled over his head. When the nurse asked the patient why he was in the bed, Maj. Charles Dalton replied: “Because I’m Major Dalton.”
During his recuperation, Maj. Dalton had the honour of meeting Queen Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
By August, Maj. Charles Dalton had recuperated well enough to return to combat with the Queen’s Own and served through the Channel Ports campaign and as second-in-command of the regiment during the fighting of the Scheldt in Belgium in the fall of 1944.
He was promoted to lieutenant- colonel, and appointed to command the non-commissioned officers school at Ravenstein, Holland. He returned to Canada in March, 1945, to command the small arms school at Long Branch, Ont., and retired from active service in September, 1945. From 1968-1975 he was the honourary Colonel of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
Born in Toronto, Col. Dalton enlisted in The Queen’s Own Rifles cadet company in 1925 and the 2nd battalion militia a year later at the age of 16.
He volunteered for active service and was sent to England in March, 1940, as an instructor to the Canadian Infantry Training Unit. In 1943, he rejoined the regiment and was soon promoted to major and made officer commanding B Company.
“He and his brother were very distinguished guys. Charlie was the archetypal dashing young officer,” said Cpl. Oggy. “He really had a lot of style. He was elegant and acted the part of a fine officer.”
“He was fantastic. He was a buddy. His brother was the same way, very down to earth. We would follow him to hell if we had to. His friendliness and rank meant nothing to him as far as we were concerned, he was a buddy and we respected him. He never talked as an officer ordering this and that, he and his brother were good leaders.” Cpl. Oggy said.
His command responsibilities followed him to civilian life. After the war he joined Canadian Breweries Ltd. as assistant to the vice-president of sales and was appointed sales manager of the Carling Breweries Ltd. in 1946. He was made president of Carling Breweries Ltd. in 1951. He was appointed executive vice- president Canadian operations, Canadian Breweries Ltd. in 1964 and executive vice-president of Canadian Breweries Ltd. in 1965.
He also became vice-president of Canadian Executive Service Overseas from 1969 to 1971. He was a popular and much sought after public speaker.
“He was a reserved person. And yet he was amazingly articulate and spoke exceedingly well and he was asked to speak a great deal because he could express and talk about the war with a light touch and good humour but didn’t treat it lightly,” said Mr. Danson, who served as a Liberal minister of defence.