Lieutenant Colonel W. C. G. Armstrong
56th (Calgary) Battalion
Troops In Garrison Promise Fresh Attack Tonight On “Suspicious” Hotels
OFFICERS ARE POWERLESS
The attack followed those of Thursday night, when two cafes belonging to the White Lunch company were demolished. The attack tonight is expected upon other hotels whose managers have expressed sympathy with owners of structures already destroyed. When the attack was made on the Riverside hotel last night. Lieut-Col. Armstrong, commanding the 56th battalion rushed to the scene of activities, but he was unable to persuade the men to quit.
(Winnipeg Tribune, 12 Feb 1916, 1)
William Charles Gordon Armstrong was a Calgary civic leader and founder of the 103rd (Calgary Rifles) Regiment. Born on 2 November 1865 in Sleaford, England, Armstrong immigrated to western Canada in 1892. He was a land surveyor, investor, city councillor and capitalist. After serving several years in the 15th Light Horse, he created the 103rd Regiment on 1 April 1910.
In August 1914, he helped to recruit for the 10th Battalion before receiving authorization to raise a command of his own in April 1915. While the 56th Battalion awaited for departure from Sarcee Army Camp, the unit football team won the garrison championship.
In addition to sports, restless troops found other ways to occupy their time. In February 1916, an anti-German mob of soldiers and civilians rioted in Calgary, destroying local businesses believed to be owned by “enemy aliens.” Unable to stop the attacks, city police criticized the military authorities for failing to enforce discipline
Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong led the 56th battalion overseas to England. After landing in March 1916, the volunteers were absorbed into the 9th Reserve Battalion under Armstrong’s command. He returned to Canada in late 1917.
After the war, Armstrong continued to work toward the development of Calgary through building companies and financial firms. A motorcar enthusiast, he also supported provincial road improvement and was seven-term president of the Alberta Motor Association. Armstrong died in 1951 at the age of eighty-five.
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