The Complaisant

Lieutenant Colonel L. H. Archambault
41st (Canadien-Français) BattalionArchambault

The 41st, under Col. Archambault, had more than its share of desertions. The Colonel naturally was uncommunicative, but it was learned on fairly good authority that 150 men drooped away utterly…

(Toronto Daily News, 23 Oct 1915)

Born on 10 October 1879 in Montreal, Louis Henri Archambault was a lawyer, militia officer and Inspector of Cadets. He had served with the 64th Regiment for nearly twenty years. In early 1915, he transferred from the 22nd Battalion to raise the second French Canadian unit from Quebec, the 41st.

Despite troubles with low recruitment and high desertion rates, the 41st Battalion eventually sailed for England in October 1915. As the Toronto News mused, “the 41st had almost as many ‘casualties’ under ‘missing’ as if the corps had been in the trenches instead of in the immigration sheds at Valcartier.” Some of the volunteers had assumed that garrison training was no different from summer militia camps, and that desertion was a minor offense. Archambault and his officers complained about the influence of Liberal politicians and priests while the press pointed to the supposed leniency of the battalion’s commanding officer.

41stIn February 1916, the 41st added murder to its list of problems. Lieutenant George Codere killed Sergeant Ozanne of the 9th Mounted Rifles during an attempted heist. According to a news correspondent reporting on the trial in London, “The killing of Sergt. Ozanne was done in a most brutal manner, the body being slashed with the knife in such a way as to indicate that the slayer was in a mad frenzy.”

His fellow officers regarded the accused murderer, nicknamed “Crazy Codere,” as completely insane. Colonel Archambault testified that Codere was “not all there.” He explained, “That is why I appointed him assistant adjutant. Such rank does not exist in England, so I expected he would be struck off strength.” Codere was sentenced to death, which was later reduced to imprisonment due to his impaired mental state.

After his battalion was broken up, Archambault was briefly attached to the 23rd Reserve as paymaster. He returned to Canada in April 1916. After he was defeated as the Conservative candidate in Montreal—St. Louis during the 1931 Quebec election, he charged the provincial Liberal machine with fraud and corruption.

Digitized Service File (LAC):
http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item/?op=pdf&app=CEF&id=B0207-S084

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