Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Buller, D.S.O. †
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
The question of the command of the battalion is now, I am glad to be able to tell you, admirably settled in the appointment of Buller with the temporary rank of Lieut.-Colonel. Although Farquhar can never be replaced, Buller will make a splendid commanding officer. He has, as of course you know, the absolute confidence of us all and is eminently qualified for the arduous duties which lie before him.
(Maj. Gault to Sam Hughes, 20 Apr 1915)
Hebert Cecil Buller succeeded Lieutenant Colonel F. D. Farquhar as commander of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on 21 March 1915. The son of British Admiral Alexander Buller, he was born in 1881 in England. He joined the Rifle Brigade in 1900 and later became aide-de-camp to Governor General of Canada Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. In August 1914, Buller joined P.P.C.L.I. as the battalion adjutant.
After Farquhar’s death, Buller led the Princess Patricia’s through the second battle of Ypres until he was wounded on 4 May 1915. Major Andrew Gault assumed temporary command of the regiment. Despite losing an eye due to a shrapnel splinter, Buller refused a German-made glass replacement and returned to the front in December 1915.
Buller was killed in action while leading his men over the top during the battle of Sanctuary Wood on 2 June 1916. He was buried in the common grave at Voormezelle with his late predecessor, Farquhar, who had died over a year before. According to Lord Beaverbrook’s Canada in Flanders (1916), Buller “possessed one of those fearless and impetuous natures which made him the fitting commander of a famous regiment and brought him the soldier’s death he would have desired.”
General Archibald Cameron Macdonell similarly observed, “He fell as the splendid soldier and gallant-hearted gentleman would have wished, in the forefront of the battle at the head of his regiment, all ranks of which, it is not too much to say, idolized him.”
Addressing the regiment at a farewell ceremony in Liphook on 21 February 1919, Colonel-in-Chief Princess Patricia mourned:
I find it impossible to tell you all that I feel at this moment. My thoughts go back to the heroic deaths of your two first Colonels,–Colonel Farquhar and Colonel Buller,–both old and valued friends of mine.
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