Lieutenant Colonel Victor C. Buchanan, D.S.O. †
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
We then start to dig in where Col. Buchanan and Maj. Peterman had been buried but find their dead bodies. They must have died instantly. Apparently something must have exploded the gasoline and the shock brought in the weakest part of the dugout.
(Lieut. H.A. McCleave, 13th Bn., Diary, 28 Sept 1916)
During heavy German bombardment on the evening 26 September 1916, a shell struck the 13th Battalion headquarters. The explosion killed several senior officers including Lieutenant Colonel Victor Carl Buchanan. It was his forty-seventh birthday.
Born on 26 September 1869 in Montreal, Buchanan worked on the city stock exchange. As a member of the Royal Highlanders of Canada, he joined Lieutenant Colonel Loomis’ 13th Battalion on 23 September 1914. When Loomis was promoted to brigadier general on 5 January 1916, Buchannan assumed command of the 13th.
Following minor gains on 26 September 1916 during the battle of the Somme, the battalion War Diary acknowledged, “One incident which happened had the effect of spoiling the enthusiasm over the day’s successes.” An enemy shell hit the command dugout triggering a gasoline explosion, which killed Buchanan, the acting second-in-command, the acting adjutant and 5 other ranks. The ensuing fire wounded an additional fifty-five men.
Reporting on the death of the prominent Montreal citizen, the Toronto Globe eulogized, “Canada in days to come cannot fail to be inspired by the memory of the men who went out from her shores, as Lieut.-Col. Buchanan went out, to play the game in the valley of death…”
In Parliament, personal friend Sir Herbert Ames asserted that Buchanan was “one of the bravest men I ever knew.” Citing the colonel’s final letter in which he pleaded for more men, Ames stated, “Can any man with a sympathetic heart turn a deaf ear to letters from those he has known all his life, when they ask they be not abandoned on the firing line?”
Digitized Service File (LAC):