return to Biographies
MGen. Norman H. Ross, DSO MiD CD
Born on June 5, 1915 in Winnipeg. Educated in Winnipeg as well as a member of his Cadet corps at school, attended C.O.T.C. at University of Manitoba. Joined the Cameron Highlanders as a second lieutenant. Attended Summer camp at Shilo.
Offered a Permanent Force commission in 1939, but decided to stay with the Cameron Highlanders as he felt that war was near. Mobilization and direct recruiting took place in Sept. 1939. First winter spent on basic training; weather prevented tactical training. Battalion moved to Camp Shilo in late spring, 1940. Took the advance party to England on June 5, 1940. Became a staff captain (learner) at 2nd Division headquarters administration staff school at Oxford University. Administration officer at bomb reconnaissance school. Promoted to major and officer commanding A Company in the Cameron Highlanders. During 1942 it was ordered that no one over the age of forty-five years could serve in a field unit. Many officers, including the C.O., had to return to Canada. In his opinion their new commanding officer was not a good choice. Combined operations training on the Isle of Wight.
False start in July; actual raid in Aug. 1942. Landed at Pourville through the South Saskatchewan Regiment. Heavy defensive fire caused plans to be altered. Moved well inland against increasing resistance. Ordered to withdraw, pinned down on the beach for a while. Eventually evacuated, but had to swim to a landing craft, assault. Returned to Newhaven to a well-organized reception. Several days sorting out troops, intelligence reports, etc. To his knowledge there was no dissatisfaction or recrimination within the Cameron Highlanders. By the summer of 1943 they had replaced casualties and were again well-trained. Attended senior officers school; second-in-command of the battalion. In 1944 became the commanding officer. Necessity of replacing some long-serving members of the unit. Prior to D-Day the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division became part of the deception force deployed opposite Calais.
Landed in Normandy on July 8, 1944 as part of the 6th Infantry Brigade commanded by Brig. Hugh Young. First in action after passing through Caen. Excellent artillery support; engaged enemy tanks close to the Orne River. Jeep destroyed by German shellfire; badly wounded in the leg. Operation at British field hospital, then evacuated by hospital ship to civilian hospital in England. Later at 22 Canadian General Hospital at Bramshot. After about a month he was returned to Canada in the hospial ship Lady Nelson. Winnipeg; cast on leg for two years. While at hospital he volunteered to work for local military headquarters, then on a review board in Ottawa. Short resume of subsequent career; accepted by Permanent Force. Staff college.
Administrative job in Ottawa. Washington, D.C. for four years as general staff officer, grade I. Liaison officer to Pentagon during the Korean War. Training area for 25 Canadian Infantry Brigade. Excellent co-operation by the Americans; much equipment required. Americans puzzled by Canadian insistence on paying for the brigade on a per man per day basis, and on time every month as well! Promoted to colonel and director of manning. Difficult time maintaining the strength of the army. Started psychological testing at this time. Standards of recruiting were raised. Introduced more effective leave schedule for the armed forces; morale booster. Three years as military attache in Tokyo. Hard work maintaining Canadian independence working closely with Americans and British. Became chief of staff, Western Command. Promoted to brigadier, area commander, New Brunswick. Deputy chief of general staff.
In 1968 commanded the intelligence and security branch where he was quite independent.
ROSS, Norman Hugh, Major - Mention in Despatches - Infantry (Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 10 October 1942; confirmed by CARO/3580 dated 2 September 1943, "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the combined attack on Dieppe." Clerk before the war, he was married to Mrs. Mary Orma Ross of Suite 18, Biltmore Apartments, River Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was in the militia from 1933 onwards with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada before enlisting for active service on 2 September 1939.
This officer commanded "A" Company during the Dieppe operations, 19 August 1942. At the very outset of the engagement while under continuous enemy fire, he displayed coolness and steadiness such as to impress and inspire the entire company. Later when it became necessary for plans to be changed and extremely hazardous work attempted, Major Ross's conduct was such that his men followed him without the slightest hesitation. He kept his company under perfect control and advanced some 2 miles inland from the beach, beating off all enemy opposition, and displayed tactical ability of a high order. He then successfully withdrew the company to the shore. On the beach while waiting for the evacuation craft to come in, he organized the defensive position and the handling of the wounded, and his men were largely responsible for the successful withdrawal of a considerable part of the company.
ROSS, Norman Hugh, Lieutenant-Colonel - Distinguished Service Order - Infantry (Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 23 December 1944 and CARO/5235 dated 3 January 1945.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ross, Officer Commanding the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, has at all times demonstrated outstanding qualities of high courage, sound and quick judgment, clear appreciation and foresight during operations, and absolute control of his troops under the most difficult battle conditions. When his unit was ordered to capture St. Andre Sur Orne on 20 July 1944, unexpected and considerable enemy fire was encountered from the west side of the river. By an immediate alteration in his dispositions and plan, and by skilful employment of ground and supporting fire, the unit was able to continue the advance and capture the objective. During the three days following, the enemy launched several major counter-attack with heavy supporting fire, infantry and tanks, and the Cameron's position was at all times subject to intense mortar and artillery fire from the exposed right flank. Colonel Ross, through his inspiring leadership, personal courage and aggressive determination, set an example of the highest order and brought his unit high honour in the success of their battle.
NOTE: On 30 August 1943 he was recommended for the MBE by Major-General E.L.M. Burns, then General Officer Commanding, 2 Canadian Division, as follows:
Major Ross has served continuously in the Canadian Army Overseas since June 1940. Throughout this service, both in active operations and otherwise, and in the Non-Permanent Active Militia, he has displayed ability, energy and soldierly qualities of a very high order. As second-in-command of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada he has carried out his duties with outstanding zeal and efficiency.
This was followed, on 29 August 1943 be a recommendation for the Canada Medal:
This officer has successively served as Platoon Commander to Company Commander; his present appointment is Second in Command Battalion. His work has always been carried out with great keenness; he has at all times been an encouragement to those who have served under him. He was Mentioned in Despatches at Dieppe.