Rev Major Mike Dalton (May 5, 1902 – April 6, 2009) was a Canadian Roman Catholic military chaplain who was the most decorated RC Padre in the history of Canada’s military. In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Father Mike volunteered to join the Essex Scottish Regiment of the Canadian Army and served the regiment in England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. He was believed to have been the oldest Catholic priest in Canada and Canada’s oldest surviving serviceman from World War II.
Father Mike was known to work on the front lines of military combat and often marched with his regiment, but never carried a weapon. He was known to drive his jeep, often against orders, to the front lines of combat in order to hear confessions. Father Mike was with the Essex Scottish Regiment in their role within the ill-fated Dieppe Raid in 1942. He was present with the regiment when their first two attempts to land were called off, but he missed their successful third attempt to land due to a chaplains’ meeting. Learning about the regiment’s landing without him, Father Mike demanded to be allowed to go ashore, but his request was denied. Only 44 of the 588 men who landed at Dieppe returned, the rest killed or captured. Father Mike took the responsibility of writing letters to notify the families of the dead. All told, he estimated he wrote 1,000 such letters during the war. Most were men he knew personally.
In the 1943 King’s Birthday Honours, Father Mike became the first Catholic priest to be appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire. The award was given to him by King George VI. He ministered to thousands of Canadians in rehabilitation before returning to Canada in 1946. The City of Windsor named him as the Veteran of the Year and Citizen of the Year in 1967, while in 2005 the City of London, Ontario created a “Father Dalton Avenue” to honor his military record. Father Mike’s great nephew (and namesake) Mike Marsman is running in the 2023 Army Run Half Marathon.