After staff appointments in England and Canada, he commanded the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade and 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in England, and then the 5th Canadian Armoured Division and 1st Canadian Corps in Italy. He led the corps during operations in the Liri Valley (May 1944) leading to the capture of Rome, and in the highly successful attack on the Gothic Line (August/September 1944). A subtle sense of fun, well disguised beneath a dour exterior, accompanied his formidable intellect. However, he could not win the confidence of his subordinates and a "him or us" ultimatum brought about his relief in November 1944.
Burns retired from the army in June 1947 and began a second career as a public servant. He joined the Department of External Affairs (now FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE) and was loaned to the UN, becoming commander of the UN Emergency Force in the Middle East 1954-59 (see PEACEKEEPING). From 1960 to 1969 he was chief adviser to the Canadian government on DISARMAMENT conferences. He was a professor of strategic studies at Carleton from 1972 to 1975. His books include Manpower and the Canadian Army, 1939-1945 (1956), General Mud: Memoirs of Two World Wars (1970), Between Arab and Israeli (1962), Megamurder (1966) and A Seat at the Peace Table: The Struggle for Disarmament (1972).
Author BRERETON GREENHOUS
Links to Other Sites
Juno Beach Centre
The Juno Beach Centre in France pays tribute to Canada’s valiant military and civilian effort in the Second World War. Their multimedia website offers biographies of Canadian military officers and other officials involved in the war, details about specific battles, and much more.
Top 10 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada
Click on the 101things.ca link to discover the top 10 things people should know about Canada, a list developed from a national survey of what Canadians felt were the 101 people, places, symbols, events and innovations that most define our nation. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
The Breaching of the Gothic Line
A Parks Canada plaque describing the Canadian Army's dramatic assault on the Gothic Line in Italy in the Second World War.
The Memory Project: The Gothic Line
Listen to a selection of interviews with Canadian veterans who fought in Italy during the Second World War. See also related digitized artefacts and memorabilia. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.