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Major General Charles D.W. Canham Is Dead

Aug. 22, 1963 - Major General Charles D.W. Canham (right during WWII), who accepted the surrender of 244,000 German prisoners in one day of World War II, died today at Walter Reed Army Medical Center of a lung ailment. He was 62 years old. General Canham, a 1926 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, took part as a regimental commander in the D-day landings at Omaha Beach. He was shot in the wrist but refused evacuation and continued to direct the operations of his troops. Promoted to assistant commander of the Eighth Division, General Canham led a task force that made a dash from the Elbe River to Schwerin in northern Germany in April 1945. There, he accepted the surrender of 244,000 prisoners. When a surrendering German general demanded his credentials, General Canham gestured toward the soldiers behind him and snapped, “These are my credentials. Don’t keep me waiting.” The account of this event, which was reported in The New York Times, saw in this spontaneous statement of a combat leader one of the greatest tributes ever paid to the real power of the American Army — the individual soldier. Gen. Canham was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Silver Star as well as decorations from France, Britain, and Belgium. General Canham retired from the Army in 1960 with 41 years of service.


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