LCol WWG "Bill" Darling, DSO ED

LCol WWG (Bill) Darling, DSO ED (MID)

Commanding Officer 48th Highlanders (1946-49)

Commanding Officer 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards (1944)

Honorary Colonel, 48th Highlanders of Canada (1970-72)

Honorary Lieutenant Colonel, 48th Highlanders of Canada (1972-77)

Lt Col Warren William Gibson (Bill) Darling (son of Lt Col C.W. Darling) joined the Regiment in 1929. A graduate of Royal Military College and former Toronto Argonauts halfback, Lt Bill Darling was one of the first officers to volunteer for service with 1st Bn 48th Highlanders (CASF).  Newly promoted Capt WWG Darling, 2iC A Company sailed onboard the Reina del Pacifico to the UK in Dec 1939.  During the “Dover Dash” into France in June 1940, he was instrumental in commandeering a French train and riding the engine from Rennes to St Malo (Dileas pp 311-313). In 1941, the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards (4 PLDG) was formed in the UK as the 1st Canadian Division reconnaissance regiment.  Major WWG Darling was transferred to the command cadre that would form the unit and eventually became Regimental 2iC.  In July 44, during the battles for the LIRI VALLEY, it was decided that 4 PLDG would be converted to Infantry in order to man a second infantry brigade within 5th Division.  On 17-Jul-44, LCol Bill Darling was promoted to command the new infantry battalion.  He fought with the “Plugs” until he was relieved on 8-Dec-44.

Following the Second World War, LCol Darling returned to Toronto and reverted to Major. He served as Commanding Officer from 1946-49.  In retirement, he served as President of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and as the Regiment’s Honorary Lieutenant Colonel (70-72) and as Honorary Colonel (72-77).  His son Robert had served with the 48th Highlanders and while serving as Deputy Commanding Officer (DCO) he had to relocate for work.  He returned to serve as Honorary Colonel in 2005.  Colonel Bill’s granddaughter, Sasha, became the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in 2020 and his grandson Capt WM (Bill) Darling served as Regimental Sergeant Major.


Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

Granted: Immediate DSO by Field Marshal HR Alexander, CinC

On 1 September 1944, the 4 Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel DARLING, was ordered to attack and capture the high ground in front of TOMBA DI PESARO.

The attack went in under very adverse conditions.  The battalion was heavily shelled and mortared in the forming up place and, as a result, many officers and senior Non-Commissioned Officers, as well as other ranks, became casualties. Most of the signalers were hit, with the result that communications almost ceased to exist.  The battalion, made. up largely of inexperienced troops and, with officers recently converted from a reconnaissance regiment who were now fighting their first infantry action, became rather disorganized.

Lieutenant Colonel DARLING, ignoring the continual shelling, machine-gun and sniper fire, visited each company in turn, urging his men on, and by sheer gallantry and personal example, led his men towards the objective.  He constantly stayed with the forward elements directing the fire of the supporting tanks and artillery on to the numerous machine-gun positions.  Being the outstanding figure in the attack, he was made the subject of special attention by snipers and machine-gunners.  In the final assault, Lieutenant Colonel DARLING personally led remnants of two companies, some fifteen all ranks, on to the objective.

The courage, leadership, and outstanding devotion to duty of this officer set an example of the highest order to all under his command.  The success of the attack was madebpossible by the magnificent way in which Lieutenant Colonel DARLING led his unit.

CG 3 – 20-Jan-45 page 284

Mention in Dispatches (MID)

CG 1 – 6-Jan-45 p72

LG 36917 dated 1-Feb-45 p 680

The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of Mention in Despatches for gallant and distinguished services in Italy to Major Warren William  Gibson Darling – Canadian Armoured Corps.

Militia / Reserve Bn, 48th First Bn (WW 2)
Service number


Data source(s)

*Reinforcement Draft 10 Jun 1940
G.S.O.E 1 Cdn. Div.
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