#theworthingtonbrothers ~Part 3~
A search of the missing battle group would be put on by their brigade, but no one thought to look for them outside of the area of Point 195, as that is where it was still thought they were. The battle group would even be sighted by search aircraft flying in the area, but no one made the connection in time that they were the missing force due to their location. The surrounded battle group continued to fight off strong German counterattacks throughout the morning and afternoon, suffering horrible losses in men and machines. About noon Worthington ordered the few remaining half-track carriers to collect the wounded and make a “mad dash to
safety.” The vehicles were loaded with as many wounded as possible and ran the gauntlet of fire. Only a few made it back to Allied lines. Later Don would send the few remaining tanks to break out and link up with the Polish Army. Those that made it notified headquarters, but again the message was not passed on to the proper higher echelons of command. And so, in spite of all these outside contacts with Allied forces, no intelligence was generated by these that allowed the 4th Canadian Armored Brigade to find and help the battle group, or anyone else with ability to intervene in their situation, and Worthington Force’s fate was sealed. By late afternoon it was clear the end was near. But Worthington continued to hold out hope that relief was coming and intended to fight to the finish. He had maintained his cool all day long, calmly directing the battle and surviving many close brushes with death. But late in the afternoon at approximately 1730 hours, it caught up with him. He was dealing with yet another German counterattack when he was killed, hit by shrapnel from a mortar that landed near him. It was reported that he died instantly. At 31, Donald Grant Worthington was the youngest regimental commander of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and Major-General George Kitching considered him one of the best of his officers. “The most remarkable of the regimental commanders of the armored brigade. He was young, full of energy and ready to seize opportunities.” *CONTINUED BELOW*
#theworthingtonbrothers ~Part 2~
Following D-Day, the British Columbia Regiment landed at Normandy, France as part of the 4th Armored Brigade, 4th Canadian Armored Division on July 23, 1944. Their first combat engagement of the war, Operation Totalize, an offensive launched by the mainly Canadian and Polish troops of the First Canadian Army during the latter stages of Operation Overload to gain the high ground around Falaise, would be devastating to the BCR, with more than half of it’s soldiers in action becoming causalities, along with the majority of their tanks. The operation was launched late on August 7th under the cover of darkness. The first phase of the offensive was successful, but disaster struck early in the second. A bombardment by the US 8th Air Force was launched against four targets; the first three were hit, the fourth was not. Instead, over 350 Canadians and Poles became causalities of bombs dropped short, with 65 of those being deaths. The BCR was not involved in the friendly fire incident but for many of it’s men, their own disaster was in the making. A change in plans put elements of the regiment in the lead for the continued push. A battle group, known as the Worthington Force and led by Lieutenant-Colonel Don Worthington, was formed by tanks of the British Columbia Regiment and infantry of the Algonquin Regiment, and ordered to capture a piece of high ground known as Point 195 along the Caen-Falaise highway. In the predawn hours of August 9, advancing through the dark, dust, and fog, with few landmarks, and with deadly company in the area, the 12th SS Panzer Division and 101st SS Panzer Battalion, the Canadians became spread out and the main column drifted off course, taking a road that appeared to be the one they were seeking but was not. The RHQ unit, including Don, and the main force pushed on, making it to what they thought was their objective, but what was in fact a different piece of high ground, near Point 140 between Estrees-la-Campagne and Mazieres, about six km away from where they should be. The units that had become separated attempted to reach the main force with devastating results. *CONTINUED BELOW*
#theworthingtonbrothers ~Part 1 of 3~
Just inside the main entrance of Bretteville-sur-Laize Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, located near Cintheaux, Calvados, France, are the graves of two Canadian brothers. Belonging to the same regiment, they died just nine days apart during the final days of the Battle of Normandy. This is their story.
Donald “Don” Grant Worthington, born in 1913 in Vancouver, was the oldest son of Ada Matilda and Dr. George H. Worthington. Dr. Worthington was a physician, druggist, and an alderman on the Vancouver City Council, a prominent citizen in the community. Don, along with his only sibling, younger brother John “Jack” Robert Worthington (born 1915), attended high school at the University School in Victoria. Both then attended the University of British Columbia, working towards becoming pharmacists looking forward to a bright future in the family’s pharmacy business, Cut Rate Drug Stores. But Don was also drawn to the military life, and he joined the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own Regiment) in 1934. He served as the Regiment’s adjutant from 1936 to 1938. He then commanded a rifle company and a Vital Point Guard upon the regiment being called out on service August 26, 1939. As the regiment was not one of the first ones employed overseas, Don was assigned as a general staff officer with Military District 11 Headquarters in Vancouver to help deal with the flurry of activities underway to mobilize the Canadian army. At the outbreak of the war, Jack followed his older brother and also joined the BCR. He was soon commissioned as a second lieutenant on the strength of his Canadian Officers Training Corps training he had received in college.
The Regiment was mobilized for active service May 24, 1940, then designated the 1st Battalion, British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles), CASF in November. During Christmas leave in 1940, Jack married Lena Jane McBride from Orangeville, Ontario. Don returned to the Regiment in his former post as adjutant. Don and Jack trained with the Regiment at various locations across Canada, including in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region of Ontario. *CONTINUED BELOW*