The Public Servant

Lieutenant Colonel H. V. Rorke, D.S.O.
20th (Central Ontario) BattalionHVRorke

His character was above reproach and his whole-hearted zeal for the welfare of his men had earned for him their perfect confidence as a commander. He had never sought popularity, yet men and officers felt that they were losing a friend.

(D. J. Corrigall, The History of the Twentieth Canadian Battalion, 1935, 205)

Hebert Victor Rorke was a federal civil servant and member of the 3rd Regiment since 1885. He was born on 25 April 1869 in the Township of Collingwood, Ontario. He enlisted in Lieutenant Colonel J. A. W. Allan’s 20th Battalion on the formation of the First Contingent at Valcartier. On the front, he served as second-in-command under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Herman Rogers until December 1916 when he took over the 20th.

20thRorkeRorke remained in command until June 1918 when he was forced from the field due to impaired health. He had brought his favourite horse, Prince, from Toronto when the 20th departed for overseas. The horse remained with the battalion throughout the four years of war. Unlike the other “dumb companions” that were turned over to the Belgians for food, Prince returned home.

While Rorke was recovering in England, the armistice came and the war ended. He rejoined the civil service in Ottawa to become chief accountant for the Department of National Revenue. He retired in 1934 after forty-four years of public service.

He died in Ottawa on 1 April 1942.

Image: Lt. Col. Rorke and Lt. Col. A Ross (28th Batt.)

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