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Old 11-12-14, 06:49
Bill Miller's Avatar
Bill Miller Bill Miller is offline
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Default Captain WTE Duncan, MBE (the Original Kangaroo) passes

Those MLUer's who recall and followed the late Geoff Winnington-Ball's involvement with the veterans of the Kangaroo Regiment (1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Regt.), may recognize Captain Duncan's name.

Captain (Retired) William Todd Erskine DUNCAN, MBE, the Officer Commanding the 123 Light Aid Detachment, RCEME, attached 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, died peacefully at home in Toronto on December 3rd, 2014.

He was just a few days short of his 94th Birthday.

Referred to simply as Duncan or ’Dunc’ to his friends, he was arguably the most prominent figure in the Kangaroo story and whom I consider to be the ’Original’ Kangaroo. He was there when the call went out to create an improvised Armoured Troop Carrier, he participated in the conversion of said vehicles, he marshaled the machines and their ad hoc crews for weeks as their sole officer before an official Squadron was borne. He followed and maintained the Squadron and later Regiment right through the war and during some of the most grueling weather and battle conditions the Canadian Army would face until the hostilities were over. Through it all he remained steadfastly devoted to his duty, his men and to the Regiment.

Dunc, eschewed the limelight or any praise or credit for his wartime deeds and while he wasn’t necessarily the glue that held the disbanded Kangaroo veterans together all these years, he did exemplify, so perfectly, their spirit. An esprit de corps that crossed the boundaries of any Corps or Regimental loyalties and molded a diverse group of men to a common cause.

With both swagger and skill, he was a clever and resourceful man that, when necessary, walked a fine line between initiative and insubordination to ALWAYS get the job done. Dunc and his loyal command of mechanics and fitters accomplished extraordinary things above and beyond what the circumstances of the day should have allowed. It is no exaggeration to claim that without the incredible support provided by the 123 L.A.D. to the Kangaroos the impressive fighting record of the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment would not have been possible.

To name just one extraordinary feat, during the bitter winter fighting of Operation Blackcock in January of 1945, nearly a full 60% of the Regiment’s 106 APC’s had become battle casualties. It was Captain Duncan’s persuasive demeanor and force of will that enabled his dedicated L.A.D. crews, in conjunction with workshops across 21 Army Group, to make the Regiment battle worthy again in 2 short weeks for Operation Veritable. An RCEME man through and through, Duncan took to heart their Corps motto, ‘Arte et marte’ (by Skill and by Fighting).

Duncan’s ingenuity, fortitude, and unflagging commitment to the ‘Kangaroo’ Armoured Personnel Carrier concept was an integral part in the rich success of both the original Squadron and later Regiment. A concept that protected men in battle then and left a legacy that continues to this day in army formations around the world. Before leaving the army, Duncan would also contribute design and engineering recommendations for the next generation of postwar Armoured Personnel Carriers.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Duncan’s contributions and achievements is that he was a young Officer, only 24 years old at the war’s end.

For his efforts on the battlefield, Duncan was awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE), or as Dunc in his self-effacing way would refer to it, the “Many Bastards’ Efforts”, as Dunc was always praising the work done by his own crews and the Armoured Corps Operators that fearlessly took the Kangaroos into battle, time and time again.

In Dunc’s own words, “ I will always be very proud of the Kangaroo hat badge - and the bulls head shoulder patch which is still on my old battledress. I had a great bunch of guys.”

This past summer he was also awarded the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour by the French government, recognizing his participation in the D-Day landings, the liberation of France and his part in the creation of what we consider to be the modern armoured personnel carrier.

It is ironic that this be the same day that we lay to rest the hockey legend Jean Béliveau, revered for his leadership, generous nature and gentlemanly conduct both personally and professionally. For the Kangaroo Regiment, Captain Duncan was our Jean Béliveau.

I know his family and friends will miss him greatly. He was a deeply devoted husband (married 57 years) and family man, of two daughters and numerous grandchildren. Dunc was a friend to all who took the time to know him. He was a gentle, respectful, intelligent and thoughtful man of good humour. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends on this tragic loss.

Quite simply, Captain Duncan was one of the finest gentlemen I ever had the privilege to know. I know that Geoff had a great deal of respect and admiration for the man, as we all did. Our Association will miss him greatly.

Rest in peace Dunc.

William J. Miller Jr.
1CACR Association and Archive

10 Dec 2014
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Old 11-12-14, 15:43
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Yeo.NT Yeo.NT is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Carberry Manitoba
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The EME Journal has a good article about 123 LAD and Capt Duncan, it can be viewed here:

R.I.P. Arte et Marte
Neil Yeo
1940 11 Cab F8
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Old 11-12-14, 17:44
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Hanno Spoelstra Hanno Spoelstra is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: The Netherlands
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Very sorry to hear about Captain Duncan's passing, or should I say fading away - as Kangaroos do .....

I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at the 2007 Kangaroo Renunion, and he was on the top of my mind when I "discovered" the two fields near Bayeux where the Kangaroo concept and unit effectively came to life.

Rest in peace Dunc!

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