Another Calgary battalion has departed on its way to do its ‘bit’ for the Empire under the command of Lieut.-Col. W. W. Nasmyth, veteran of South Africa and hero of St. Julien. And amid the cheers of thousands who crowded the depot to see them off, the 89th battalion pulled away from Calgary, en route to the battle front in Flanders.
(Strathmore Standard, 31 May 1916, 8)
Born on 5 January 1866 in Mount Forest, Canada West, William Wylie Nasmyth was a Youngstown, Alberta physician and veteran of the Boer War. In September 1914, Nasmyth and his younger brother James volunteered as officers with the 10th Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle. Fighting together at St. Julien during the second battle of Ypres on 22 April 1915, the brothers found themselves surrounded by the German attackers. Dr. Nasmyth suffered a gunshot wound in the lung while his brother was killed.
Invalided to Canada, Nasmyth served on the command staff at Sarcee Camp before an appointment in October 1915 to raise the 89th Battalion from Calgary and Red Deer. While awaiting deployment overseas, the battalion hockey team competed in the provincial military league. Although they finished the season with the best record, the 89th lost 6 to 4 against the 63rd battalion in the championship game on 6 March 1916. Nasmyth and his troops sailed for England in June 1916 where it was absorbed into the 9th Reserve Battalion.
His twenty-year old son, Lieutenant Alfred Wylie Nasmyth, who had enlisted in his father’s battalion, later joined the Royal Flying Corps. On 12 October 1917, he was reported missing and presumed killed. While on patrol with 66 Squadron, the younger Nasmyth and two other planes lost their way in bad weather. A German pilot later dropped a message over the British lines stating that Lieutenant Nasmyth was dead.