The Prisoner

Major A. J. E. Kirkpatrick
3rd (Toronto Regiment) BattalionAJEKirkpatrick

With ammunition gone, bleeding and bent,
With hunger, thirst, and weariness near spent,
With foes in crowds on every side to hem
Them in, to capture these, God pity them.

Their day was done, their suffering still to come.
They were to know the full and total sum,
Wearily marching to captivity,
How long? God knows! An eternity

(A. E. Kirkpatrick, Toronto Globe, 22 Apr 1931, 4)

A native of Toronto, Arthur James Ernest Kirkpatrick was born on 29 April 1876. He was a graduate of Upper Canada College, twenty-one year member of the Queen’s Own Rifles and married to the daughter of prominent Liberal Party leader William Mulock. Kirkpatrick fought at Second Ypres as second-in-command of the 3rd Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rennie.

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The Americanist

Lieutenant Colonel P. A. Guthrie, M.P.P.
236th (Sir Sam’s Own) BattalionGuthrie

I do confess to be a Christian, but I must confess that when the time comes and we have the chance to even up old scores, I want to see their [German] towns leveled with the earth; I want to see their farmhouses in smoke; I want to see their land laid waste and desolate; and I want to see them fleeing before fire, sword and hate…

If I can but see this and help it on its way I will be happy to fall in the rush of victory…

(Boston Globe, 6 Jan 1918, 15)

Born on 20 June 1884 in Oromocto, New Brunswick, Percy Albert Guthrie was an Orangeman and Conservative member of the provincial legislature. He was one of the first volunteers to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force and sailed to England with Lieutenant Colonel Harry McLeod’s 12th Battalion. He fought with the 10th Battalion at Second Ypres and was seriously wounded by a shell explosion at Festubert on 25 May 1915.

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The Ypres Three

Lieutenant Colonels
Birchall, Hart-McHarg & BoyleYpres3

The more details I learn of the battle before Ypres, the greater to me does the resourcefulness and bravery of brigadiers, battalion commanders, and individuals become apparent.

(General Horace Smith-Dorrien, Apr 1915)

The Canadians had many casualties, but their gallantry and determination undoubtedly saved the situation.

(Lord Kitchener, April 1915)

This week marks the one hundredth anniversary of the second battle of Ypres, the first major action of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The battle saw 5,000 Canadian soldiers wounded and nearly 1,000 killed including three battalion commanders. On 23 April 1915, Arthur Birchall (4th Battalion) was struck down leading his men armed only with his cane. On 24 April 1915, William Hart-McHarg (7th Battalion) was shot and killed while on a reconnaissance operation. On 25 April, Russell Boyle (10th Battalion) died of severe wounds and loss of blood at a clearing hospital. All three had belonged to the 2nd Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Arthur Currie.

The Commander

Brigadier General G. S. Tuxford, D.S.O.
5th (Tuxford’s Dandies) BattalionTuxford

On the 24th [April 1915] Major Hilliam, my adjutant, called me out about 4 o’clock in the morning to witness a huge wall of greeny, yellow smoke that was rolling up the hillside. We had no idea what it was, but thought it might have something to do with the reported gas attacks of the preceding day. We were not long left in doubt.

(Tuxford, “After Action Report,” 10 Mar 1916)

Born in Wales on 7 February 1870, George Stuart Tuxford was a Moose Jaw homesteader, rancher and militiaman. In August 1914, he received authorization to raise two mounted units from the West. He later explained, “In the one battalion I placed the 12th, 16th, 27th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 35th (Light Horse) and Corps of Guides. This battalion became the 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion, and later on being asked to select a name for the battalion, I could think of no better than that of Western Cavalry, and as such they remained the 5th Battalion, Western Cavalry.”

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The Fruit Farmer

Lieutenant Colonel Berkeley Henry Belson
81st (Niagara) BattalionBBelson

I saw many deeds performed by my own men which in an ordinary campaign would have won the Victoria Cross for them, such as binding up wounded comrades and carrying them to shelter under hot fire. Nobody wavered.

(Maj. Belson’s account of Second Ypres, Toronto Globe, 20 May 1915, 3)

Before the war, Berkeley Henry Belson was a fruit farmer in the Niagara Peninsula outside of St. Catharines. Born on 28 May 1871 in Gloucestershire, England, Belson served for six years as an infantry and artillery volunteer in the British army. His father was a Crimean War veteran and had fought in various colonial campaigns from New Zealand to China. After immigrating to Canada, the younger Belson joined the 19th Lincoln Regiment.

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The Bug

Lieutenant Colonel A. L. Saunders, D.S.O., M.C.
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionSaunders

At 1 PM on January 20th 1915, we fell in to march to Tidworth. Pte. Bug Saunders (afterwards Lt. Col. Saunders, D.S.O. and bar, M.C. and bar) distinguished himself by getting into a fight and appearing on parade with one eye closed.

(A. H. J. Andrews, Diary, Jan 1915)

Alec Laurence Saunders was born on 28 September 1888 in Kingston, Ontario. In September 1914, the five-foot-three and a half Winnipeg clerk enlisted as a private with the 6th Battalion. Four years later, he was commanding officer of the 8th Battalion for the final Hundred Days of the war. Although initially viewed skeptical for his short stature, Saunders, nicknamed Bug, quickly distinguished himself in battle.

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The Father

Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Raddall, D.S.O. †
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionRaddall

He was smiling as he kissed us all goodbye, but his eyes were full of tears, like ours.

I can still see the trap trotting away, the driver flicking his whip and the man in khaki dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. Three years later, almost to the day, he was lying dead on the battlefield of Amiens.

(T. H. Raddall Jr., In My Time: A Memoir, 1976, 26)

Born on 9 December 1876, Thomas Head Raddall was a professional British soldier and an instructor at the Hythe Musketry School. In 1913, Raddall and his family transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In September 1914, he joined the 8th Battalion at Valcartier with the rank of lieutenant. He was the father of Thomas Head Raddall Jr. (1903—1994), Canadian author of historical fiction who was made member of the Order of Canada in 1971.

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The Cemetery Keeper

Lieutenant Colonel J. M. Prower, D.S.O.
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionPrower

I am pretty well all right but am scared of my nerves going, as I seem to be getting confoundedly jumpy. I suppose my “blow up” at Festubert and having been buried by Johnsons five times since, is what is worrying me, though why I cannot say, as it happens to most people.

(Prower to Aunt, July 1915)

John Mervyn Prower was born on 8 March 1885 in Quebec but grew up in England. After serving for seven years in the British Army, Prower returned to Canada and settled in British Columbia, where he joined the 31st Horse. In September 1914, he was selected captain of “H” Company in the 8th Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lipsett. He quickly gained a promotion to major in summer 1915 and later assumed command of the 8th on 3 August 1916.

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The Nazi-Watcher

Major K. C. Bedson
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionBedson

Watched closely by gestapo agents in their midst, Nazi prisoners of war in internment camps in Canada wage a 24-hour battle of wits against the veteran Canadian soldiers who guard them, hoping to earn good marks for their credit in post-war Germany by constantly trying to escape and making life as difficult as possible for the camp staff.

(Col. Bedson’s report, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 Dec 1943, 5)

Kenneth Campbell Bedson was the son of Samuel Lawrence Bedson (1842—1891), an English-born army officer who settled in Manitoba after Wolseley’s Expedition in 1870. The elder Bedson was a prison warden, golfer, sportsman and hunter. As a boy, Kenneth Bedson helped his father herd buffalo on the family farm. Bedson was born In Stoney Mountain, Manitoba on 31 July 1881. During the Boer War, Bedson fought with the 2nd Mounted Rifles. He also belonged to the 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Fort Garry Horse. In September 1914, he enlisted as a captain in Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lipsett’s 8th Battalion.

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The Adjutant General

Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Matthews, D.S.O.
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionMatthews

General Matthews had been one of ray closest friends since the First Great War. We are going to greatly miss his advice and help at National Defence Headquarters. He was a man with a most lovable character, who was friendly with people and in turn inspired their friendship. In France and Belgium he was a first class fighting man and in peace-time he was also a first-rate officer. Few officers in either peace or war were more efficient.

(Gen. T. V. Anderson’s statement, Ottawa Journal, 13 May 1940, 15)

Born on 22 May 1877 in Lower Harford, England, Harold Hallord Matthews immigrated to Vancouver in 1894. He became a cattle rancher and joined the British Columbia Horse. He fought in France with Louis Lipsett’s 8th Battalion until he was wounded at Second Ypres in April 1915. He rejoined his unit five months later and was appointed commanding officer on 28 September 1915 following the elevation of Lipsett to the 2nd Brigade.

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