Lieutenant Colonel E. Leprohon
233rd (Canadiens-Français du Nord-Ouest) Battalion
Lieut-Colonel Leprohon is already one of the veterans of this war, but not satisfied with what he has already done, he is off to the front again in charge of the French-Canadians.
(Vancouver World, 31 Aug 1916, 16)
Gassed at Ypres in summer 1915, car-wrecked in 1916, train-wrecked in 1917 and ship-wrecked in 1918. A reserve officer with the 65th (Carabiniers Mont Royal) Regiment, Edouard Leprohon was born in Montreal on 16 November 1866. In August 1914, he volunteered with the 14th Battalion and earned a promoted from lieutenant to captain to major. He was invalided to Quebec for recovery in late 1915. Eager to get back to the front, he first enlisted with the 150th before receiving authorization to raise a French-Canadian battalion based in Edmonton.
Leprohon appealed to fellow Catholic francophones living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia to prove their patriotism and commitment to freedom by volunteering. Following a car accident in which he fractured a rib, Leprohon recuperated in Los Angeles before returning to recruitment duties.
In early February 1917, while traveling east, the train transporting the battalion derailed near Winnipeg. Dozens of soldiers were wounded and some were killed. Although badly shaken himself, Leprohon organized the rescue of those trapped in the wreck. The colonel reported:
The horror of seven months in the trenches was a joke compared with what I suffered during the ten minutes I was penned in the drawing-room, bruised and semi-conscious.
The 233rd was subsequently absorbed into L. de la B. Girouard’s 178th Battalion. On arrival in England, most of the soldiers were drafted to the 22nd Battalion, the only all francophone unit on the front. Leprohon was appointed to the Military Hospitals Commission at Montreal and oversaw the return of invalided soldiers.
Declaring himself “an enthusiastic Win-the-War advocate” during 1917 federal election, Leprohon predicted to the press, “take It from me there Is one big surprise in store for Quebec.” Despite his assurance that Quebec would support conscription, his home province delivered only 3 of 62 seats to the Union government
In late 1917, he revisited the west in command of returning soldiers. Unlike his last trip across Canada, the train travel went without any accidents. Arriving in Vancouver he reported “Not an unpleasant incident occurred during the long journey of 3000 miles to mar the trip.”
On 2 July 1918, Leprohon was in command of troops returning to Canada on board S.S. City of Vienna. The transport ran aground in thick fog near Sambro Island off the coast of Nova Scotia. The ship’s captain praised Leprohon, “I have not the least doubt that it was almost entirely due to your excellent discipline that we were enabled to disembark all the men without loss of life or injury.”
Leprohon died in Montreal on 9 March 1925 due to ill heath caused by the effects of war service.