W.A.B. "Alec" Douglas
William Alexander Binny "Alec" Douglas was in born 1929 in Southern Rhodesia, the son of a British engineer. At the outbreak of World War Two they left for England, then Alec came to Canada with other children at the time of the bombing raids. In Canada, upon reaching college age, he joined the Canadian University Training Divisions during his studies at the University of Toronto and received his BA degree in 1951. Alec then served in the Royal Canadian Navy aboard HMCS Ottawa and Swansea and was promoted Lieutenant. In 1955-60 he served in HMC ships Quebec, Penetang and Outremont as watchkeeping officer going on to become navigating and operations officer in Ottawa and Kootenay.
On the staff of Flag officer, Atlantic Coast, he also attended Dalhousie University and earned his MA with a thesis on "Halifax as an element of sea power, 1749–1766". In 1964 he was associate professor of military studies at the Royal Military College of Canada. His PhD in 1973 was awarded from Queen’s University with a thesis on "Nova Scotia and the Royal Navy, 1713–1766". Retiring from active service he received an appointment as director of Directorate of History, National Defence Headquarters and after twenty years he became Director General of History, in 1993–94.
His activities include amongst may others: secretary (1975-1983) then president (1984–1989) of the Canadian Nautical Research Society; vice-president of the International Commission for Maritime History, 1995–2000.
Alec wrote and documented Canadian military history and in 1988 he was the first recipient, along with Norman Hillmer, of the C.P. Stacey Prize for their work The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Volume II: The Creation of a National Air Force.
His publications include:
- Out of the Shadows: Canada in the Second World War by W.A.B. Douglas and Brereton Greenhous. (Toronto; New York: Oxford University Press, 1977).
- Gunfire on the Lakes: The Naval War of 1812–1814 on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain = Canonnades sur les lacs: la guerre navale de 1812–1814 sur les Grands Lacs et le lac Champlain by W.A.B. Douglas. (Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1977).
- Comrades in Arms : Part I: an overview of the Canadian Military Scene, 1910-1920 with specific reference to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the 22nd Battalion (French Canadian); Part II: An overview [do.] 1919-1945 [do.], Royal 22e Régiment; by W.A.B. Douglas. (Ottawa, Dept. of national Defence, 1986).
- The Creation of a National Air Force. Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force. II by W.A.B. Douglas. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press in Co-operation with the Dept. of National Defence and the Canadian Govt. Pub. Centre, Supply and Services 1986).
- The RCN in Transition, 1910–1985, edited by W.A.B. Douglas (Vancouver : University of British Columbia Press, 1988).
- No Higher Purpose The official operational history of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1939–1943, by W.A.B. Douglas et al. (v. 2, pt. 1. St. Catharines, Ont.: Vanwell, 2002).
- A Blue Water Navy The official operational history of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1943–1945, by W.A.B. Douglas et al. (v 2, pt. 2 St. Catharines, Ont.: Vanwell, 2007).