Lieutenant Colonel Sam Beckett †
75th (Mississauga) Battalion
Col. Beckett ranked with the few most prominent and able military officers which Toronto and even Canada has produced in the present struggle abroad. That he was efficient and an authority on military tactics, particularly cavalry manoeuvers was attested when he was chosen one of the few officers who left here commanding battalions to take his regiment to France. He had innumerable friends in Toronto.
(Toronto World, 5 March 1917, 1)
Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Gustavus Beckett of the 75th Battalion was killed in action during a March 1917 trench raid near Vimy Ridge. Born on 2 December 1869 in Toronto, Beckett was a partner in an architect firm with fellow Lt. Colonel W. C. V. Chadwick of the 124th Battalion. A student of military history and expert on the cavalry tactics of American Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, Beckett had been involved in the Canadian militia since 1893. At the outbreak of the war, he was commanding officer of the 9th Mississauga Horse.
After recruiting his battalion in less than three weeks, Beckett and the 75th embarked for England and proceeded to France in August 1916. As part of the 11th Infantry Brigade in the 4th Canadian Division, the 75th Battalion fought at the battle of the Somme. In October 1916, Beckett sent a captured German helmet to Ontario Premier William Howard Hearst and Toronto Mayor Tommy Church as a souvenir of his unit’s achievements.
On the night of 1 March 1917, a German sniper killed Beckett while he attempted to rally his troops after meeting heavy resistance in a failed raid. Before this disastrous trench raid, Beckett and Lt. Col. A. H. K. Kemball of the 54th had strongly objected to the plan due concerns about German preparations and troops’ lack of experience with gas warfare.
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