A small display, developed by the Canadian War Museum, has been unveiled at Canada House in London, England. History in the Making – C.P. Stacey and Canadian Military Headquarters tells the story of Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) and the man who served as official historian of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. It contains a small collection of artifacts, reproductions and photographs highlighting the work of Colonel C.P. Stacey, CMHQ Operations at 2-4 Cockspur Street, and life in London during the Blitz.
“We welcome this opportunity to share part of the War Museum’s collection in an international setting that’s significant to Canada and to Canadians,” says Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History, which operates the Canadian War Museum. “Thanks to this display, visitors to Canada House will learn a little about Canadian Military Headquarters through the eyes of Col. Stacey and his work documenting military history.”
The display includes Stacey’s uniform and a wartime ledger of Canadians in England, which was signed by Stacey on December 28, 1940 — the date he arrived in London to serve as Historical Officer at CMHQ. The registry was rediscovered during recent renovations to Canada House.
From 1940 to 1947, CMHQ operated out of the Sun Life Assurance of Canada building next door to the Canadian High Commission to the United Kingdom. It was the vanguard for the Department of National Defence in Ottawa, dealing with administrative matters and serving as a command centre for Canadian troops and training. At the end of the war in 1945, CMHQ coordinated the return of Canadian soldiers from Europe, many of them with new brides and children.
“Canadian Military Headquarters, in partnership with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force, provided a strong base for Canadian military operations in Europe during the Second World War,” says Brigadier-General Matthew Overton, who commands the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in the United Kingdom. “Together, they expanded and solidified our friendship and close cooperation with a key ally that endures today.”
The Government of Canada purchased the Cockspur Street building in 2012 and incorporated it into the newly refurbished Canada House, which now unites all of Canada’s diplomatic activities in the United Kingdom under one roof.
“The revitalization of Canada House provided an opportunity to highlight Canada’s proud military history here in the United Kingdom,” says High Commissioner Gordon Campbell. “Whether by shipping much-needed food supplies or by serving with them on the front lines, the people of Canada stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of the United Kingdom and set an example for the world. I am grateful to the Canadian War Museum for their thoughtful contribution to our efforts to tell this story to our many visitors.”
The Canadian War Museum display will be on view in Canada House’s Cockspur Street lobby until 2016 alongside a new, large-scale painting by Gordon Smith, a 95‑year‑old Vancouver artist and Second World War veteran who convalesced in London during the war.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national and international dimensions.