When enlisting with the Canadian Forces in 1940, little did Radley-Walters (nicknamed „Rad”) know, that he would become major at the age of 24, and lieutentant-colonel at the age of 25… While he was originally commissioned as an Infantry Officer, his unit was soon re-designated as the 27th Armoured Regiment.
By the time he landed on D-Day in Normandy, he was already commanding a Sherman tank. While he had no prior combat experience, this did not stop him scoring his first confirmed kill already on D-Day +1, knocking out a Panzer IV. By D-Day +10 he was already promoted to major, and now commanded Tank Squadron „A” until the end of the war.
With his squadron he fought through Western Europe, from the first steps by taking Biron, Caen and Falaise, through Operation Market Garden. Here in the Netherlands he was part of the forces that did break through, relieving the 101st Airborne Division from its desperate situation. Eventually he finished the war in Northern Germany. Most famously his squad is thought to have killed the „Black Baron” (German tank ace Michael Wittmann), though this is disputed by others also claiming the kill.
While he scored overall 18 confirmed tank kills and destroyed an assortment of other motorized military equipment, his success did not come for free… He had in total three tanks shot out from under him (wounding him twice), he was knocked unconscious when his scout car hit a mine, and once the wheels of his jeep got blown off as well. This did not deter him however in the slightest – „You’ve got to be lucky but you’ve got to lead from the front. You’ve got to see what the hell’s going on if you’re going to make any impact on the battle…”
For his service, he received the Military Cross from Field Marshall Montgomery, and the Distinguished Service Order from King George VI. With 18 kills he was not just the highest scoring Canadian Tank Ace, but also the Ace of Aces from the entire Allied armored forces. He was a strict, but just leader, respected by his troops and appreciated by his superiors.
He did remain in active service during peace time as well, eventually retiring as a colonel, though he became colonel-commandant a few years after. He also took part in the making of the TV documentary „In Desperate Battle: Normandy 1944”, that aired in 1992. After fighting through the Second World War from D-Day, and living a successful and whole life in the years after (notoriously keeping a real Sherman on his farm), Radley-Walters died in 2015, age 95.