By Troy Bannerman
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Retired Warrant Officer and military historian Glenn Miller recently was made a Knight Order of the Crown by the Kingdom of Belgium for his work in unveiling local historical military connections with the Belgian city of Mons.
In describing this honour Miller said this week, “it’s a national honour from the Kingdom of Belgium, equivalent to the Order of Canada. And as in the Order of Canada it has various levels, so does this Order of the Crown. I’m at the level of Knight; Order of the Crown. And it was awarded for my bilateral relationship in promoting the Remembrance and Centennial of World War One and the connection that Lethbridge had in firing the last gun in World War One in the last hundred days, in the Battle of Mons.”
This story started 25 years ago, Miller explained.
“There’s a certificate that started me on this journey 25 years ago that was in a frame in a classroom. That’s all. I didn’t even know that story as a gunner. So, I asked local guys, you know, ‘I’m new here. What’s the story with that?’ And nobody knew. I did find out later one of the officers knew. But on the floor most of the other people just didn’t know. So I took it upon myself to further research that, and I actually went to Mons twice on my own. I wanted to see and touch that Canadian piece of history. And with that I was able to arrange to have the gun on loan, because we gave it to the city of Mons. And they were gracious enough to give it on a long-term loan back to Canada in time for us to commemorate the end of the hundred years since World War One. And it’s there today at the War Museum,” said Miller.
More recently his work on Mons and Lethbridge came to light while he was assisting a young associate with a project.
“She went on to do a school project, and I was in a position to go to her and dump 25 years of research that she wouldn’t find anywhere else, and she still had to own the presentation. So, I just helped mentor her there. And she went on to win at various levels, and had a good experience in the two years that I was able to leverage her experience with her project with the work I was doing.”
Miller described his drive behind his work as “a passion because it is part of our Canadian artillery heritage and history. And the players at the time knew about it, today’s players don’t. So, this is a way to help preserve that legacy of their sacrifice, service and commitment. And today the men and women, the gunners of the Canadian Armed Forces and all military members continue to build upon our Canadian heritage and to the service of peace, really.”
Miller stated that Lethbridge has a number of significant veterans from both World Wars, citing Mike Mountain Horse and Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Bouvais before telling the story of General Stewart’s 78th Artillery Battery.
“He raised the artillery here because we had a bunch of cowboys locally. That’s why Lethbridge was chosen. But he also had the distinction of commanding all the artillery in the third division. So, that’s the area where Mons was liberated by. And he had the distinction of being in charge of the parade for General Currie on November 11, 1918 and gave the General Salute. And 50 years he later went back to Mons for November 11. So when we had our dedication of the Legacy of Alberta Mons Gun Statue, it corresponded with the City of Mons and got a large flag that flew from the town’s City Hall. It flew on the 100 year anniversary of the war. So, they sent it to me and we had it at the unveiling. All those connections are still symbolically important in Remembrance.”