Lieutenant Colonel Bart McLennan, D.S.O. †
42nd (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
His death is an irreparable loss, not only to the Battalion, which he loved, and for which he rendered such brilliant and devoted service, but also to the Brigade and Division. All ranks who had the privilege of serving under his command had learned to love him as a friend and counsellor, and to admire him as a brilliant and gallant soldier and gentleman.
(42nd Bn. War Diary, 3 Aug 1918, 4)
Bartlett McLennan succeeded Major S.C. Norsworthy as commander of the 42nd Battalion on 6 April 1917. Born on 10 November 1868, McLennan was a graduate of the Royal Military College and president of the Montreal Transportation Company. He advanced philanthropic initiatives in the city and promoted amateur sports as a means of social progress. An enthusiastic sportsman, McLennan was an accomplished equestrian, hunter and polo player.
He enlisted as a junior major with the 42nd in May 1915. When the battalion deployed to France in October 1915, he served as second-in-command. After suffering serious injuries due to his horse falling on him, McLennan was invalided to England in July 1916. He returned just before the battle of Vimy Ridge to take command of the 42nd.
McLennan continued to lead his men over the next sixteen-months until his death on 3 August 1918. While on a reconnaissance mission in a forward area, he was fatally wounded when struck by an enemy shell. The next day, battalion officers held a funeral for their fallen commander at Longueau Cemetery. Corp Commander General Arthur Currie, who attended the service, remarked, “He was a fine gentleman, and one of the best officers I had. It was typical of him that his last words were ‘thank you’ to the one who gave him a drink of water as he lay wounded.”
McLennan was replaced by Major R. L. H. Ewing, who remained in command of the 42nd until demobilization.