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.”
Although this moniker remained, the 5th Battalion became a dismounted unit when it arrived at Valcartier. The unit arrived in France in Feburary 1915 as part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade in the 1st Division. Through the spring, the 5th, now nicknamed “Tuxford’s Dandies” endured the heavy fighting at Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy.
Praising the “magnificent morale” of the men during the second battle of Ypres, Tuxford recalled, “these men immediately snapped their bayonets in and said, ‘Just tell us what to do sir, and we will do it.’, as cheerful as can be.” Tuxford was invalided to England due to a serious illness a few weeks later.
In January 1916, Hugh Marshall Dyer officially took over the 5th Battalion. Tuxford returned to duty in March following a promotion to command the 3rd Brigade. He led the brigade from the battle of Mount Sorrel in June 1916 through the offensive on the Hindenburg line before the Armistice.
Still bitter over dangerous inefficiencies such as the Ross Rifle and lack of artillery support, Tuxford wrote a memoir The War as I Saw It in 1922, but account went unpublished. General Currie commented, “There was too much of an ego about it.” Tuxford died in 1943.
Further Reading: Andrew Godefroy, “Portrait of a Battalion Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel George Stuart Tuxford at The Second Battle Of Ypres, April 1915.”