Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour:
General Andrew George Latta McNaughton, CH CB CMG DSO CD PC
Andrew McNaughton of Moosimin, Northwest Territories (present-day Saskatchewan), was a professor of engineering at McGill University. In 1914, he took command of the 4th Battery of Canadian Field Artillery and arrived in France in February 1915. McNaughton’s engineering background enabled him to have a profound impact on the development of gunnery during the war. In preparation for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, McNaughton improved the concepts of “flash-spotting” and “sound-ranging”. These methods used the flash of firing guns and their explosive report to mathematically triangulate their location on the battlefield, providing targets for counter-battery. This enabled the Allied artillery to effectively neutralize nearly all German artillery positions prior to the launch of attack on 9 April 1917. By the end of the war, McNaughton held the command of all the Canadian Corps Heavy Artillery and Counter-Battery units. McNaughton’s work in counter-battery led to his invention of the cathode ray direction finder, an early form of RADAR. He sold the rights of the invention to the Government of Canada for just $1. McNaughton remained in the Permanent Force after the war, achieved numerous commands again during the Second World War, and fulfilled roles as a diplomat and public figure for two decades until his death in 1966.