Canada in the Second World War


Major-General R.F.L. Keller

Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller, born in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England, on October 2nd, 1900; died in 1954. Canadian Army Officer.

Major-General R.F.L. Keller addressing Canadian troops in Normandy, August 2nd, 1944.

Major-General R.F.L. Keller addressing Canadian troops in Normandy, August 2nd, 1944.
Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-129169.

Rod Keller entered the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, in the last years of WWI. Upon graduating, he joined the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry, one of the regiments of the Canadian Permanent Force. Like many other promising Canadian officers of that era, he attended Camberley Staff College in England.

When Canada went to war, Rod Keller was sent overseas as a brigade major. He rose to the command of the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry in 1941 and was promoted Officer Commanding the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade a few months later. Keller was made a major-general and, between September 8th, 1942, and August 8th, 1944, he served as General Officer Commanding the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. On D-Day, he led the charge of that division on the beaches of Normandy. He was wounded by friendly fire on August 8th, when US bombers targeted Canadian troops during Operation Tractable.

Major-General Keller was popular with his troops, who appreciated his manners and outspoken language; however, a drinking problem and several breaches of security measures before D-Day cost him the support of his superior officers. After August 8th, 1944, Keller received no further command. He died ten years later, while visiting Normandy.

Suggested Reading:

  • J.L. Granatstein, The Generals, The Canadian Army’s Senior Commanders in the Second World War, 1993.