Harry Edward Neill
Harry Edward Neill passed away peacefully at Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga on Thursday June 28, 2018 in his 97th year. Beloved husband of Eileen (nee Easman) and loving father of Colin, Raymond, Deborah and Jennifer. Harry will be sadly missed by his family. A private family service was held on Wednesday, July 4, 2018.
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Life Story for Harry Edward Neill
B75534 Corporal Harry Edward Neill
The Toronto Scottish Regiment (M.G.) (Machine Gun)
Canadian Active Service Force
Corporal Neill was a very early volunteer in the Toronto Scottish as evidenced by his low service number. The regiment was mobilized on 1 September 1939, even before war was declared and in mid-November an advance party commanded by Captain John Page and included Corporal Neill left for England to make ready for the battalion which would arrive in mid-December. After work up training in Toronto, the battalion left for England arriving at Tournay Barracks, Farnborough on 18 December 1939. The Toronto Scottish was the first complete Canadian unit to land in Britain after war was declared and on 21 April 1940, it was the first pre-war militia unit to mount the King's Guard at Buckingham Palace in the presence of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth who was Colonel-in-Chief visited her regiment on three more occasions during the war.
The Toronto Scottish Regiment was designated a machine-gun battalion and because of that it did not fight as a cohesive unit during the war. An advance party landed in Brest, France on 12 June 1940 before being ordered to withdraw. Two years later, a detachment of 120 soldiers, including machine-gunner Corporal Neill, five officers and all 48 machine guns of the battalion was involved in the ill-fated and disastrous raid on Dieppe, France, 19 August 1942. The machine gunners were positioned on the front of the Tank Landing Craft carrying the Churchill tanks of The Calgary Regiment, to provide covering fire and find targets of opportunity on the main Dieppe beach. The battalion suffered 20 wounded, 4 captured and one soldier was killed-in-action.
In 1943 the Toronto Scottish was re-configured as the 2nd Canadian Division Support Battalion and ceased to be a machine-gun battalion exclusively. That support included 3 Companies of Vickers medium machine guns and 1 Company of 4.2 inch heavy mortars. The Toronto Scottish arrived in France one month after D-Day and until the ceasefire on 7 May 1945, the battalion provided fire support for every action involving the 2nd Canadian Division, and other formations in First Canadian Army.
The route of the 2nd Division was clearing the English Channel ports through France, into Belgium and The Netherlands before final victory in Germany. Corporal Neill went through the entire campaign excluding Germany. His time overseas allowed him to come home a little earlier.
Twenty-one Battle Honours were awarded to the battalion for its service during the Second World War and 10 of those Battle Honours – including Dieppe, Falaise, Antwerp-Turnhout Canal, The Scheldt and The Rhineland were emblazoned on the Regimental Colour.
To conclude - A note from the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Graham Walsh CD
Men like Harry set the example that we still do our best to follow today in the Toronto Scottish. Our regimental motto “Carry On!” means that we will carry Harry’s memory and legacy forward whilst always remembering to follow the example set for us by men like him who gave up everything and risked their lives in the service of freedom. His loss will be deeply felt by his regimental family as well but please be assured that he will never be forgotten.
Please allow me to conclude this message in our traditional regimental fashion by restating our motto.
Corporal Harry Neill’s medals include – 1939-1945 Star, France-Germany Star, Defence Medal (6 months overseas in defence of the GB), Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with overseas clasp and Dieppe clasp, War Medal and Efficiency Medal for 12 years of long and efficient service to the Crown – War Service counted double – this last medal indicates that Corporal Neill had joined the Toronto Scottish a couple of years prior to the start of the war.