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Rodney Keller (1900-1954)

Born on October 2, 1900, in Gloucestershire, England, Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller moved to Kelowna, British Columbia, during his childhood. After graduating from RMC in 1920, he joined the PPCLI and rose to become a prewar captain in the Permeant Force. His assignment as a brigade major with the general staff led to his deployment overseas.

In June 1941, Keller assumed command of the regiment, succeeding Lieutenant-Colonel J.N. Edgar. Within a month, he was promoted to brigadier of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade.

His career ascended swiftly, attaining the rank of major-general of the 3rd Canadian Division in September 1942. A year prior to the division’s deployment in France, Keller delineated his leadership philosophy in an interview, emphasizing the soldier’s humanity and the need to engage their intellect in task execution.

Highly regarded by many soldiers and portrayed as a soldier’s general, Keller distanced himself from the term “brass hat,” rejecting its implied indulgences. Yet, reports surfaced alleging conformity to the stereotype, including excessive drinking and absenteeism due to personal matters.

Overseeing the 3rd Division during the Juno Beach landings on D-Day, Keller faced considerable strain amid the intense battles in Normandy. Despite murmurs of criticism among his staff, General Guy Simonds of II Canadian Corps supported Keller, prioritizing morale over individual attributes.

After being wounded by friendly fire, Keller was removed from active duty. During Operation Totalize in August 1944, US Army planes inadvertently bombed the 3rd Division headquarters, prompting Keller’s expression of frustration. Medically unfit and strained, he returned to Kelowna in October 1944.

Keller passed away in London on June 21, 1954, before returning home after participating in the tenth anniversary of D-Day in Normandy.