RMR to honour memory of Keith MacLellan

Lt. Keith MacLellan with his SAS section in Germany, Operation Archway

Westmount, Quebec – 08 November 2017: On Sunday, November 12th, following its Remembrance Day Parade, The Royal Montreal Regiment (RMR) will honour one of its heroes.

Keith MacLellan was commissioned into the RMR in 1942 and deployed to the United Kingdom. In 1944 he became one of only two Canadians in the famous 1st Special Air Service (1st SAS) Regiment.

From December 1944-January 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, MacLellan was part of a group hunting SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny’s commandos. He then joined Operation Archway (March–May 1945) where his unit operated behind the German lines in support of the Rhine Crossing and in advance of the Allied armies, finally reaching Kiel in May 1945. He was part of the SAS detachment that discovered the Nazi Bergen- Belsen concentration camp on April 15th, 1945. He finished the war as part of Operation Apostle (May–August 1945) in Norway, where the SAS disarmed some 300,000 German soldiers.

After the war, MacLellan earned a Master’s degree from Oxford University and married Comtesse Marie Antoinette LeGrelle whose uncle, Comte Jacques Legrelle (aka “Jérôme”), helped to organise and run the Comet (or Comète) Line, Europe’s largest and most successful underground escape line during World War II.

Keith MacLellan as Canadian Commissioner at the International Commission for Supervision and Control-Laos, with Brigadier-General George Watsford, Commanding Officer of the Canadian Military contingent

MacLellan joined External Affairs in 1952 and went on to a diplomatic career as extraordinary as his war experiences. From 1965–1966 he monitored the conflict in Indochina as Canadian Commissioner at the International Commission for Supervision and Control, based in Laos. From 1974–1977, he was the Canadian Ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the unenviable task of trying to get Pakistan and its Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abandon its pursuit of a nuclear bomb in response to India’s device tested in 1974. The entire region was highly unstable. Prime Minister Bhutto was deposed in a coup, as were several successive leaders of Afghanistan, culminating later in the Soviet invasion and occupation of the country. Subsequently, as Ambassador to Yugoslavia, MacLellan witnessed the onset of that country’s unravelling when President Josip Broz Tito’s illness and death in 1980 left a power vacuum that resulted in ethnic divisions and later civil war. He finished his diplomatic career in the turbulent Middle East as Ambassador to Jordan and then Syria.

The Remembrance Day parade will start from the Royal Montreal Regiment Armoury at 13h00 on Sunday, November 12th.  A ceremony at the Westmount Cenotaph will take place at 14h00 after which the Regiment will march back to the Armoury. The Battalion review and the ceremony honouring Keith MacLellan will begin at 15h00.

Mr. MacLellan’s children will be donating several items to the Regimental Museum, including a dagger and a Luger pistol taken from a captured German officer.

The Royal Montreal Regiment Armoury is located at 4625 Saint-Catherine Street, Westmount, QC H3Z 1S4.

Contact:          info@rmrmuseum.com

                        514.496.2003  ex. 2328

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