The Militiaman

Lieutenant Colonel A. A. Cockburn
182nd (Ontario County) Battalion Cockburn

The novelty of soldiery in this town has worn off, and our citizens were not sufficiently impelled by a sense of duty to give the 182nd Ont. County Battalion a welcome worthy of the name. But the Mayor and two or three citizens were all that put in an appearance as the train pulled in…

It was a reception to which Oshawa could hardly be proud…

(Oshawa Reformer, 25 Oct 1916)

Born on 4 January 1867 in Stormont, Canada West, Angus Alexander Cockburn served for thirteen years in the Queen’s Own Rifles and seventeen in the 34th (Ontario County) Regiment. In late 1915, Cockburn, along with fellow 34th major and rival Sam Sharpe, was authorized to each raise a battalion from Ontario County. Once Sharpe’s 116th, based in Uxbridge, neared completion by spring 1916, Cockburn began to organize the 182nd from his headquarters in Whitby.

182ndDescribed by the Whitby Gazette and Chronicle as “soldierly in his bearing, kindly and courteous in his treatment of every one with whom he came in contact,” Cockburn canvased the county for increasingly scarce volunteers. While Sharpe eventually went to France with the 116th in February 1917, to Cockburn’s chagrin his battalion was depleted by overseas reinforcement drafts. He and just over two-hundred men sailed for England in May 1917.

On 22 September 1914, the colonel’s nineteen-year old son, George Angus Cockburn, had enlisted with the 3rd Battalion at Valcartier. Writing home to his parents after the second battle of Ypres, George began, “I am safe, thank God for that.” He described the heavy fighting at Langemarck in late April 1915:

We have been in the trenches for four days now and it has been hell on earth.

We were under very heavy artillery fire for the four days and believe me, if they had left us in very much longer we would have all been crazy.

A year later, while Colonel Cockburn was recruiting the 182nd, he learned that George had been killed in action on 19 May 1916.

The elder Cockburn remained active in militia and army issues until his death on 11 April 1944.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

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