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A coin toss decided it. Two of the four Queen’s Own Rifles companies would be part of the assault on Juno Beach. The four company commanders tossed coins to decide who would have the honor. The Dalton brothers won. They would each have the honor of leading the chage. But likely one or both would die. Majors Charles and Elliott Dalton were both brothers and close friends. Charles, commander of ‘B’ Company, was six years older and considered it his job to protect Elliott. The fact was, Elliott should not have been in the coin toss anyway. But when ‘A’ Company’s commaner fell ill at the last moment, he replaced the man.
Charles decided to try to stop this. He found Lieutenant Colonel Jock Spragge on the bridge of New Zealand passenger liner SS Monowai. Spragge commanded the Queen’s Own. Fond of his men, he had decided on the coin toss that would determine who led the first landing wave. Unable to make the decision on his own, he let chance decide.
“Don’t send Elliott in on the first wave,” Charles said. “You know what it will do to our mother if we both die.”
Spragge knew. The Queen’s Own were a tight-knit Toronto regiment. Every officer knew the families of his fellow officers. Charles, who was thirty-three, had joined the regiment’s cadets in 1925. Elliott had soon followed. Spragge had known the two brothers ever since. He had been in the Dalton home many times. “There’s nothing I can do,” he replied. To set aside the result would be unfair to whoever replaced Elliott. Charles understood. So he did not argue as hard as he would have liked. Instead, he returned to the ship’s deck.