The Usurped

Lieutenant Colonel Frank Osborne
9th BattalionOsborne

Some little time after it had been at Valcartier I am informed that as Colonel Osborne sat in his tent one morning another gentlemen, Colonel Maynard Rogers, entered the tent and said to Colonel Osborne; “I am in command of the 9th Battalion.”

(Frank Oliver, Debates, 6 May 1916, 3549)

Born in Port Stanley, Canada West on 13 May 1860, Frank A. Osborne was commanding officer of the 101st Edmonton Fusiliers. After the declaration of war against Germany in August 1914, Osborne offered his services to the Militia Department and raised the 9th Battalion from Alberta. According to Liberal MP Frank Oliver, once the unit arrived at Valcartier, Samuel Maynard Rogers, Jasper Park superintendent and Boer War veteran, usurped power from Osborne.

Since Rogers had some military experience from South Africa, Osborne accepted the situation and agreed to become second-in-command. After arriving to England in October 1914, the 9th Battalion was broken up for reinforcements. Rogers received an appointment to a training brigade before joining General Lessard’s staff at Valcariter. Osborne meanwhile was sent back to Edmonton and forced to retire from active service.

Edmonton MP Oliver complained that Osborne had been treated unfairly while Rogers was rewarded for incompetence:

…not only is he [Rogers] not rendering the country or the Empire any service, but he rendered a serious dis-service by reason of his having been put in a position which he was not competent to fill.

Militia Minister, Sir Sam Hughes defended Rogers’ reputation, writing to Oliver, “Permit me to say you are entirely in error, and that Colonel Osborne was relieved on account of his incapacity, and by my direction.”

Oliver refused to retract his statements and lamented the disappointment felt by the 9th Battalion volunteers over the disorganization of their unit:

I do not say that any injustice was done to Colonel Osborne by his being retired, but I do say that when the Department of Militia or the Government, saw fit to replace Colonel Osborne by Colonel Rogers, and that then under the command of Colonel Rogers that battalion was not considered fit to take the field, I am compelled to reach the conclusion that Colonel Rogers was not competent.

Osborne died in Metchosin, British Columbia on 20 July 1935.

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