Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle †
10th (Canadians) Battalion
Words will not express the absolute sense of calamity which has struck every officer and man in the battalion since we have lost him. He was our ideal of a man and a leader and I can assure you that there was not one of us who did not feel to the very limit his loss.
(Captain Ross, 10th Bn. to Mrs. Laura Boyle [wife], 27 May 1915)
Russell Lambert Boyle was one of three CEF colonels killed in action during the second battle of Ypres in April 1915. Born on 29 October 1880 in Port Colbourne, Ontario, Boyle was active in the militia from a young age. He joined the Canadian Field Artillery in 1894 and served with the 15th Light Horse. During the Boer War, he volunteered and fought in South Africa. As a resident of Crossfield, Alberta, Boyle sat on the town council and owned a ranch.
On 27 September 1914, Boyle replaced Lieutenant Colonel John Grant Rattray as commander of the 10th Battalion. The powerful, six-foot-two, squared-jawed rancher struck an imposing figure. Although a firm disciplinarian, he was greatly respected and admired by the men.
As part of the 1st Canadian Division, Boyle led the 10th Battalion in action at Ypres on 23 April 1915. When the troops prepared to go over the top, Boyle declared, “We have been aching for a fight and now we are going to get it, follow me.” During the battle at Kitchener’s Wood, he was seriously wounded by enemy machine gun fire but refused to be taken behind the lines for treatment. He later collapsed in hospital and died on 25 April 1915.
Writing to Boyle’s widow in Crossfield, Captain Ross of the 10th Battalion, noted “I am sure you will be pleased to know of the noble manner in which he received the wounds from which he died.” Observing the deep loss to the battalion, Ross explained:
He had been to us a friend, counsellor and a deeply beloved commanding officer, and to know that we shall no longer be able to receive his orders leaves us with a feeling of desolation that will take a long time to efface.
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