Lieutenant Colonel B. O. Hooper, M.C.
20th (Central Ontario) Battalion
Remembrance Day in a sane world should be to remember the character of the enemy.
Remembrance Day should not be a mockish, sentimental thing. If the English race would remember more of what happened, they would remember that they are dealing with a people that speak in a different language.
(Hooper, Globe and Mail, 11 Nov 1938, 15)
Bertram Osmer Hooper was a Hamilton banker and member of the 13th Royal Regiment. He was born on 20 August 1879 in Churchville, Ontario. He volunteered in November 1914 as a subaltern in John McLaren’s 19th Battalion. He distinguished himself at the front and won the Military Cross for a leading a daring trench raid in January 1916.
After several months in the line, Hooper was appointed commanding officer of the 12th Reserve Battalion. He remained in England for almost a year until he was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Lorne Ross in May 1918. Hooper returned to the front in August to take over the 20th Battalion from an ill Lieutenant Colonel H. V. Rorke.
During the final Hundred Days Offensive, Hooper won a Bar to his Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. He prided himself that his battalion had captured the last German prisoner an hour before the armistice on 11 November 1918. He also claimed that the 20th had suffered one of the last fatalities of the war.
In April 1928, Hooper testified in support of Corps Commander Arthur Currie in his libel suit against the Port Hope Evening Guide, which had claimed Currie had wasted soldiers lives during the attack on Mons. The newspaper’s defence attorney, Frank Regan, pressed Hooper to admit that the senior staff knew about the coming armistice during the battle.
Hooper chided the defence counsel for misleading questions and stated, “we had been dreaming for months of an armistice… We had false alarms before, and it had become a sort of joke.” When Regan insisted that Hooper knew of the truce in advance, the former 20th commander, shot back, “Do you want to know what I thought? I said: I think it’s another booby-trap to hold us up while the Germans take up another shorter line and dig in.”
After retiring from the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1938, Hooper devoted his efforts to social activism, Tory politics and veteran’s advocacy. He further warned against the appeasement of Nazi Germany. Reflecting on the twentieth anniversary of the armistice in November 1938, Hooper argued that the enemy of the British Empire remained the same and represented a direct threat to Canada: “Germany doesn’t want colonies in Africa. Her people are a northern race. If Germany had been victorious in the Great War, I believe the price would have been Canada.”
A strong supporter of the Conservative Party, he campaigned on behalf of fellow war veterans and Ontario politicians Colonel George Drew and Leslie Frost. Addressing an audience of women voters in the 1943 provincial election, Hooper declared, “the women of our land, who received the franchise directly as the result of the last war will put into belated practice the authority which they are only now realizing they have.”
He died in Toronto on 29 September 1951.