Lieutenant Colonel T. C. D. Bedell
156th (Leeds and Grenville) Battalion
Well the old 156th Battalion has been broken up having suffered the fate of other battalions… We have some doctor now and all of the new ones from the 156th were given a strict medical examination. Eighty, including myself, were turned down out of less than three hundred. He didn’t examine my eyes but that ‘bum’ toe of mine got me. I did not cry when he told me that I would get a hospital job but I told him “that was what I enlisted for.” He told some of the boys that if he had the doctor here who passed us he would ‘string him up and shoot him.’
(Pte. John Ford to Mrs. Ford [Mother], 25 Nov 1916)
Born on 20 April 1874 in Hillier, Ontario, Thomas Casey Dorland Bedell was a physician in Merrickville and commanding officer of the 56th Regiment. In August 1914, Bedell gave up a lucrative medical practice when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He embarked for England in October 1914 attached to the 2nd Battalion. He proceeded to France with the 15th Battalion in March 1915.
Following several months on the front, on 8 November 1915, Bedell was admitted to No. 5 Field Ambulance suffering from trench fever, a common disease transmitted by body lice. Following a short sick leave, he returned to Canada in order to raise a new infantry battalion. Based in Brockville, most of the volunteers were drawn from the counties of Leeds and Grenville. When it arrived in England in Octobers 1916, the battalion provided reinforcements for P.P.C.L.I. and the 2nd, 21st and 38th battalions.
Although the 156th did not see service in the field, Bedell eventually succeeded in lobbying for his unit to remain intact as a depot battalion. In Ottawa, George Perry Graham, Liberal MP for Renfrew South, speculated, “The 156th Battalion was broken up the day after it got to England, but it was reorganized some weeks afterwards. I rather suspected that the reason for its reorganization was the fact that the Minister Finance was over there at the time; the battalion partially comes from his county.”
In March 1917, Bedell relinquished command of the 156th to Lieutenant Colonel C. M. R. Graham in order to transfer to the Canadian Army Medical Corps. From 14 January 1918 until demobilization, Bedell commanded Princess Patricia’s Red Cross Convalescent Hospital at Bexhill.
Bedell died in Bloomfield, Ontario in 1946.
Digitized Service File (LAC):