Committee Bio:

Brigadier J. L. Melville, CBE, MC, ED, CD
Former Colonel Commandant

March 1948 - October 1973

Brigadier Melville was Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1888 and arrived in Canada in 1913. He joined the Royal Canadian Engineers as a Sapper with the 6th Field Company RCE (Non-Permanent Active Militia) in 1915. Commissioned in 1916, he proceeded overseas to France where he served with the 13th Field Company, 3rd Army Troops, was Adjutant to the CRE at Canadian Corps Headquarters and, finally, was Officer in Charge of Bridge Construction, Canadian Corps. During this period he won the Military Cross at Vimy and a Bar for conspicuous gallantry during bridge operations at Canal du Nord. For a time in 1919, he was with the Army of Occupation at Bonn before being selected to represent the RCE for the writing of the official Canadian War History.

After retirement from Active Service, Brigadier Melville became Principal of the Ottawa Vocational School and he became closely associated with rehabilitation work for veterans. He successively held posts as District Administrator Department of Soldiers Civil Re-Establishment for Eastern Ontario, Director of Orthopaedic and Vetcraft Services, and Commissioner War Veterans Allowance Board, which position he held until 1940 when he signed on for Active Service in World War II. Vetcraft Services was the original non-profit organisation responsible for manufacturing poppies for Remembrance Day in Canada. Brigadier Melville was personally responsible for obtaining the manufacturing rights for the Poppy of Remembrance from Madame E. Guérin, a French woman who had been using the poppy to raise money for French war orphans.

Between the wars, Brigadier Melville was also keenly active in the Militia as OC 3rd Field Company RCE, Brigade Major 2 Mounted Brigade and CRE 3rd District Engineers. In 1937 he was made Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel 3rd District Engineers.

When World War II began, Brigadier Melville returned to active service and organized the 1st Pioneer Battalion, RCE and took the unit overseas. In the United Kingdom, he became CRE 1st Corps Troops. He was promoted to Colonel in 1941 and to Brigadier in 1942 when he became Chief Engineer 1st Canadian Corps. In June 1943 he was made Chief Engineer 1st Canadian Army. Later that year, he was recalled to Canada to take the position of Chairman of the Canadian Pensions Commission, an appointment he held until his recent retirement.

Brigadier Melville’s services in the Second War received recognition in the awarding of the CBE and investiture as a Commander of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium. In 1946 he was made Honorary ADC to His Excellency the Governor General. In 1948 Brigadier Melville became the first Honorary Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. He retired from that position in 1968.

Brigadier Melville passed away in Ottawa on 23 January 1980 at the age of 91 years.