Lieutenant Colonel Charles Milne
158th (Milne’s Men) Battalion
When the boys go marching through that mud, filth and slime under their pack, singing with that forced and indefinable gaiety which is the spirit of the troops, a lump comes into my throat and I can’t talk about it. I think that the devil when he sees it must laugh with glee and the angels weep tor sheer pity.
(Milne’s interview, Vancouver World, 12 Sept 1917, 1)
Charles Milne was a gentleman militia officer with the 6th Duke of Connaught’s Own Regiment. Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 25 September 1866, he had served several years in the Gordon Highlanders before moving to Canada. In January 1916, he was authorized to raise the 158th Battalion from Vancouver.
Lieutenant Colonel Lendrum McMeans
221st (Bulldogs) Battalion
I desire to reiterate what the honourable gentleman [Mr. Sharpe] has just said. I too have lost of my substance and of my blood in this war; I too went out and did my best to raise men; and this honourable gentleman [Mr. Bennett] has no right to get up and sneer at men who have done that.
(McMeans, Senate Debates, 26 May 1920, 434)
Born on 1 August 1859 in Brantford, Canada West, Lendrum McMeans was Conservative member of the Manitoba Legislature (1910—1914) and civic leader in Winnipeg. In April 1916, McMeans was authorized to raise the 221st Battalion. His oldest son, thirty-one year old Major Vivian Arthur Vinton McMeans returned from the front in August to join in his father’s battalion. The colonel’s youngest son, twenty-six year old Captain Ernest D’Harcourt McMeans, had been killed in battle on 22 May 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel Royal Ewing, D.S.O., M.C.
42nd (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
They were looked on as a necessary evil. War diaries were presumably for the benefit of historians, if you will, and were prepared as carefully as could be under the circumstances.
(Ewing’s testimony at Currie Libel Trial, 25 Apr 1928, 1)
Royal Lindsay Hamilton Ewing enlisted in the 42nd Battalion as a subaltern, rose from platoon leader to adjutant, and returned home as the commanding officer in 1919. Born in Montreal on 12 November 1878, he was a real estate agent and member of the Black Watch regiment. Having served with the 42nd throughout the war, Ewing was twice mentioned in dispatches, received the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, and won the Military Cross.
Lieutenant Colonel E. W. MacDonald, D.S.O., M.C.
10th (White Gurkhas) Battalion
Early in the day, before the attack, and again in the afternoon, he made personal reconnaissances over fire-swept ground, gaining first-hand information which enabled him to handle his men and direct the fire of his guns with remarkable success. His fine leadership, coolness and disregard of danger, carried his men along with him.
(D.S.O. Bar citation, Gazette, 2 Jan 1919)
On 24 May 1918, Eric Whidden MacDonald became the youngest battalion commander in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia on 20 July 1892. He moved to Calgary in 1913 to become an accountant with the Canadian Oil Company. He enlisted with the 10th Battalion in September 1914.
Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Gunn, D.S.O.
24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion
I would like to sound this note of warning. This war has united the soldiers into the most powerful force for good or evil in this country. If we use this force to promote our own selfish purposes we will have forgotten the high ideals for which we fought.
(Gunn, Toronto Globe, 18 Mar 1919, 9)
A native of Toronto, John Alexander Gunn was born on 5 August 1873. He had first joined the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1897 but transferred to the Victoria Rifles when he moved to Montreal in 1901. In October 1914, Gunn was appointed to command the 24th Battalion. At a reception before he departed overseas with his unit, Gunn defended the war as a just cause: “It means the triumph of honor, or of dishonor; the preservation of centuries of progress or a reversion to brutal militarism with its battle cry of iron and blood– in fact the whole future of the human race is at stake.”
Major A. Leslie Coote
47th (British Columbia) Battalion
Objecting to being relegated to duty in a safety zone while men he had recruited were “in the line”, Col. Coote entered a strenuous protest but militia trained senior officers were a drug on the market in England just then while juniors and men for the ranks were badly needed. This being the case, while hundreds of other Majors returned to Canada, Col. Coote resigned his commission, enlisted in the King Edward Horse as a trooper…
(Chilliwack Progress, 29 Apr 1920, 1)
Born in Tynemouth, England on 9 February 1868, Andrew Leslie Coote was a farmer and senior officer in the 104th Regiment. As second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Winsby in the 47th Battalion, Coote often assumed responsibility for the unit on the front when his superior was away at brigade conferences and headquarters meetings.
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Perry, D.S.O.
13th and 87th Battalions
An engineer by profession, he took up his duties as a soldier at the front with courage and enthusiasm, with the result that as the causalities thinned out the ranks of the senior officers he gradually rose, until from a lieutenant he became major and then eventually commanding officer of the 13th…
(Montreal Gazette, 1 Apr 1919, 4)
Kenneth Meikle Perry was born McLeod, Alberta on 7 November 1884. His father, Aylesworth Bowen Perry (1860—1956) was an original graduate of RMC and Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The younger Perry graduated from McGill University, worked in Montreal as a civil engineer and belonged to the Black Watch. He was four times wounded in action and received the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars.
Lieutenant Colonel W. Rhoades, D.S.O., M.C.
5th Canadian Mounted Rifles
Up to this time the Colonel’s cheery voice had always been heard, whenever a shell or bomb burst very near, calling “Are you all right. Captain?” — and I would answer, ”Yes, Sir, are you?” I was not badly hurt and called out, “Are you all right. Sir?” Getting no answer, I felt over for the Colonel, and found him lying unconscious, but breathing faintly. I cannot attempt to tell you how we got our dearly loved Commanding Officer out of the fire trench.
(Rhoades to Lt.-Col. Baker’s sister, 4 June 1916)
William Rhoades was a twenty-one year veteran of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. Born in Nottingham, England on 15 September 1874, he immigrated to western Canada in 1893. He served with the Yukon Field Force during the Klondike gold rush and fought in the Boer War. On the formation of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles in 1915, Rhoades enlisted at the rank of captain.
Lieutenant Colonel James Arthurs, M.P.
162nd (Timber Wolves) Battalion
But they wanted to go. One member of this House, Col. Arthurs—I read the most touching letter I have seen for many a day—is in the trenches. He had reduced his rank and gone over in spite of his son’s remonstrance from the trenches ordering his dad to get out.
(Sam Hughes, Debates, 6 Feb 1917, 574)
James Arthurs was a hardware merchant, self-styled gentleman and Conservative MP for Parry Sound (1908—1935). He was born on 3 October 1866 in Toronto. He raised the 162nd Battalion from his home county and proceeded to England in November 1916. Despite age restrictions on senior officers, the fifty-year old Arthurs reverted to captain and joined the 1st Battalion on the front in February 1917.
Lieutenant Colonel James D. Taylor, M.P.
131st (New Westminster) Battalion
Mr. Chairman, there is poison gas disseminated in connection with this war from other quarters than the trenches in the German line, and there is sniping equally disastrous to the cause of the war as that of the German sharpshooters. I am one of those colonels, commanding officers, of which the hon. gentlemen who act the part of political snipers in Canada speak so contemptuously in this House and through their press.
(J. D. Taylor, Debates, 6 Feb 1917, 565)
James Davis Taylor was a journalist and publisher in Ottawa and British Columbia and Conservative MP for New Westminster (1908—1917). He was born on 2 September 1863 in Abenaqui Mills, Canada East. During the Northwest campaign, he fought as a private with the Ottawa Sharpshooters at the battle of Cut Knife on 2 May 1885. After the Rebellion, he bought the Canadian Militia Gazette and later organized the 104th Militia Regiment in 1904. He led the 131st Battalion to England before returning to Canada in early January 1917.