The Arsenalist

Lieutenant Colonel Fred Gaudet
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion Gaudet

The news of Major Tremblay’s promotion to the command of the battalion and of Colonel Gaudet’s illness is absolutely untrue. I cannot understand who spreads these rumors that do no one any good and very often do a great deal of harm. Colonel Gaudet is still with us and I hope he will be with us until the end of the campaign.

(Vanier to Mother, 7 Jan 1916)

Frederick Mondelet Gaudet was a professional soldier and engineer with the Royal Canadian Artillery. Born in Three Rivers, Canada East on 11 April 1867, he was one of the first francophone graduates of the Royal Military College. In 1913, he incurred the wrath of Militia Minister Sam Hughes for criticizing the Ross Rifle. Hughes made trumped-up allegations of corruption and negligence against the militia colonel. One year later, in November 1914, Gaudet was appointed to command the 22nd Battalion, the first all French Canadian unit.

22ndGaudetFeeling that French Canadians had been ill represented in the First Division, physician and militia officer Arthur Mignault had appealed to Prime Minister Robert Borden. Mignault financed and recruited the 22nd from Quebec, but Gaudet led the men to England. In September 1915, the 22nd landed in France as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division.

After six months in the field, Gaudet suffered ill health and was forced to relinquish command. Despite Lieutenant George Vanier’s assurance in the letter quoted above that Gaudet would remain with the battalion, Major Thomas-Louis Tremblay replaced him on 25 January 1916.

Recognized as an expert in ballistics, Gaudet took a position with the Imperial Ministry of Munitions until the end of the war. He joined the Montreal civil service and headed the municipal police and fire forces. He remained connected to the Royal 22e Regiment during the Second World War and again aided munition research.

Gaudet died in Montreal on 12 November 1947. The Montreal Star eulogized, “military service was, as it were, in his blood.”

One thought on “The Arsenalist

  1. I’m looking for a photo of Gaudet for a book on Herefordshire’s Home Front during World War 1 – he headed up the munitions factory here for two years from 1916 – 1918.

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