Major A. Hamilton Gault, D.S.O.
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Princess Patricia—or Lady Patricia Ramsay as she is now, spoke a few moving lines to us, walked through the ranks talking and chatting with the men—some of whom had been in the regiment when 25 years before this same gentle lady, then a young and extremely beautiful woman, had inspected the “Originals”.
On one side of her stood that grand old warrior “Hammy” Gault VC. [sic] Etc. who had given his leg to the cause in the last war and who would gladly do the same in this if he had any say in the matter…
(James Baker, P.P.C.L.I. to Mom, 11 Feb 1940)
Andrew Hamilton Gault was a gentleman militia officer and founder of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Born on 18 August 1882 in Kent, England, he was a member of a successful and influential Montreal manufacturing family. Gault embraced an active outdoors lifestyle as he engaged in various pursuits from safari hunting to biplane flying. He served with distinction during the Boer War and joined the Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (Black Watch). By 1912, Gault controlled an estate valued at over $1.75 million.
On the declaration of war against Germany in August 1914, Gault collaborated with Governor General Prince Arthur and his military secretary Francis Farquhar to raise a private regiment for overseas service. Named in honour of the Governor General’s daughter, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry deployed to France in December 1914.
After Lieutenant Colonel Farquhar was killed in action on 20 March 1915 and Major Herbert Buller was wounded on 4 May 1915, Gault took temporary command of the regiment. Wounded multiple times in battle, he was finally put out of action after losing a leg at Sanctuary Wood on 2 June 1916. He continued to serve in France as the aide-de-camp to Major-General Victor Williams of the 3rd Canadian Division. Following the armistice, Gault again took charge of P.P.C.L.I. until demobilization. During his time with the regiment, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and four times mentioned in dispatches.
In September 1914, Gault’s wife, Marguerite Claire Stephens, had joined her husband overseas to work for the Red Cross. Several months later, Gault sued for divorce alleging that his wife had had an affair with one of his officers, Captain B. F. Bainsmith, who was on leave. Marguerite counter sued her husband for insults against her character. Unable to secure a legal divorce through petitions to the Canadian Senate, the Gaults eventually dissolved their marriage in a Paris court in 1918.
Lieutenant Colonel Agar Adamson commented on the scandal in a letter to his wife Mabel:
Nobody discusses the Gault affair, although all are aware of it. Martin, Cornish and I are of the opinion that some one ought to wring Bainsmith’s ugly little neck. It is quite evident that Gault is undergoing a heavy strain, and that cheerfulness on his part is an effort and he rather prefers to be alone, but we keep him going and try to cheer him up. It is a pity more women are not like you…
After the war, Gault remained in England and was elected Conservative MP for Tauton in the British House of Commons (1924—1935). During the Second World War, he was appointed brigadier general in command of a Canadian reinforcement brigade. He remained connected to P.P.C.L.I. until his death on 28 November 1958 in Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec.
Digitized Service File (LAC):