Henry Duncan Graham Crerar CH CB DSO CD DCL LLD was born in Hamilton, Ontario (ON), and was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto ON, Lausanne Switzerland and Royal Military College, Kingston ON. After graduating from the Royal Military College, he later took a position with the Ontario Hydro Electric Commission in Toronto.

At the outbreak of WW1 he went to Canada's First Division as an artillery officer; he finished the war as a Lieutenant-Colonel. Serving in various capacities between WW1 and WW2, he became commandant of the Royal Military College and held the rank of Brigadier during 1938-39. At the outbreak of WW2, Crerar was promoted to Chief of the General Staff.

On December 22, 1941 Crerar assumed command of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in the UK. On April 6, 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant General to command the 1st Canadian Corps in the UK and later in Italy. On March 20, 1944 he was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, First Canadian Army, which he commanded during the operations in North West Europe in 1944-45. This was the largest field formation that Canada had ever provided and it achieved a most enviable fighting record.

He became the first Canadian to gain the rank of full General while still in active service at the front. The contribution to victory in Europe of the Canadians and Allied troops under General Crerar was immense. His victories had great bearing on the advances of Allied forces through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany.

He retired from the Canadian army in October 1946 and in 1947 served as head of a mission in Japan to advise the Canadian government on the Japanese Peace Settlement.