The Double Colonels

Lieutenant Colonel A. J. Oliver
&
Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Douglass
34th (Guelph) Battalion

This officer was sent from the trenches in France Sept. 1916 suffering from nervous exhaustion due to shell fire, was in hospital in England one month then returned to Canada. At present he complains of sleeplessness, loss of strength, loss of appetite, and is easily startled and is 12 lbs. underweight.

(Douglass, “Medical History of an Invalid,” London, ON, 8 July 1916)

In January 1915, Andrew Joseph Oliver, commanding officer of the 29th Highland Light Infantry was appointed to raise the 34th Battalion from Oxford, Perth, Wellington, Waterloo, Huron and Bruce. William James Douglass, commanding officer of the 32nd Bruce Regiment was appointed second-in-command. Born on 25 May 1862 in Ashton, Canada West, Oliver was a prominent Galt manufacturer and nineteen-years member of the 29th Regiment. Born at sea on 1 January 1872, Douglass was a Walkerton accountant with nearly thirty years’ experience in the militia.

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The Engineer

Lieutenant Colonel Walter A. McConnell
256th (Toronto Railway Construction) BattalionMcConnell

This battalion should be very popular, as a very small amount of drill is necessary, and the work of laying railways behind the lines will be particularly interesting.

(Toronto Star, 5 Jan 1917, 16)

Born on 28 September 1878 in Muskoka, Ontario, Walter Adam McConnell was a railway engineer and graduate of the Engineering Corps of the School of Science. In January 1917, he was authorized to raise the 256th Railway Construction Battalion. McConnell and the majority of his recruits had belonged to the 109th Regiment, the Home Guard unit organized by Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Stewart two years earlier. Including the volunteers in the 256th, by 1917 the 109th Regiment had provided a total 200 officers and 5,000 men for overseas service.

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The Ambassador

Brigadier General Victor Odlum 7th
(1st British Columbia) Battalion Odlum

Victor Wentworth Odlum was a curious specimen. Warfare fascinated him. It was said that he had taken to peacetime soldering because it presented an interesting problem, that he had set himself the task of mastering the psychology of war.

(Pierre Berton, Vimy, 1985, 114)

Victor Wentworth Odlum was a prominent journalist, businessman, diplomat and media tycoon. Born in Cobourg, Ontario on 21 October 1880, he moved to British Columbia as a young man to become a reporter and later editor for the Vancouver Daily World. A veteran of the Boer War and member 6th Regiment, he volunteered with the 7th Battalion in September 1914. He deployed to France as second-in-command.

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The Londoner

Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Coles
Canadian Army Service Corps

…he is still suffering from nervousness, which takes the form of an indigestion and at times a depression of spirits. He has some sleeplessness, appetite poor, but is gaining slowly in weight. Condition is improving.

(Proceedings of Medical Board, London, ON, 5 Apr 1916)

Born in London, Canada West on 25 July 1865, William George Coles was a businessman and member of the city Board of Control. A long time militiaman, he deployed to France in early 1915 as part of the Canadian Army Service Corps. After several months in the field, he returned to Canada in January 1916 suffering from “nervous shock.”

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The Poultry Farmer

Lieutenant Colonel T. G. Delamere
110th (Perth) Battalion
T. G. Delamere

He was thrown down and rendered unconscious for about an hour by shell explosion. He had no wounds but there was marked tenderness and pain over the splenetic area.

His nerves were thoroughly shaken and he was troubled with nightmare. He is suffering from insomnia and is easily upset, tires easily and has lack of concentration, and he is recommended to be allowed to proceed to Canada and back for a change.

(Proceedings of A Medical Board, 1 July 1915)

Thomas Gillmor Delamere was a poultry farmer, veteran of the Boer War and member of a prominent Upper Canadian military family. Born in Toronto on 13 July 1883, he was the son Colonel Joseph Martin Delamere and grandson of Colonel George T. Denison II. In September 1914, he enlisted as a captain with the 1st Battalion.

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The Soldier o’ Fortune

Colonel Jack Leckie, D.S.O.
16th (Canadian Scottish) BattalionLeckie_J

Colonel “Jack” was dashing, impulsive, with the stocky build which indicated great reserves of physical strength, and the temperament of the man of action ready for any adventure. And of adventures he had more than the considerable share which generally is met with by members of his calling. He passed along the most beaten paths of land, sea and air, and ventured on others, of which the majority of humankind know nothing outside of story books.

(Urquhart, History of the 16th Battalion CEF, 1932, 97)

Born in Acton-Vale, Quebec on 19 February 1872, John Edwards Leckie was a soldier, mining engineer, adventurer, world traveler and treasure hunter. In August 1914, he joined the 16th Battalion and served as second-in-command to his brother, Lieutenant Colonel R. G. E. Leckie. Both had graduated from the Royal Military College and served in the Boer War. Jack had won the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in the South African campaign.

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The Quiet Man

Brigadier General R. G. E. Leckie
16th (Canadian Scottish) BattalionLeckie_R

Spare of figure, short of stature, with an almost ascetic type of face, a trait which was accentuated rather than disturbed by the scar on the cheek received when he was mauled by a leopard in a big game hunt in Somaliland, the original Commanding Officer of the 16th was of a reserved disposition, even shy. In action he was cool and observant; he talked, and gave his orders, in a conversational tone. He showed not the slightest sign of irritation; and what such a temperament means in battle only the soldiers who have been through the turmoil of it can truly estimate.

(Urquhart, History of the 16th Battalion CEF, 1932, 97)

Born in Halifax on 4 June 1869 Robert Gilmour Edwards Leckie was a soldier and mining engineer in British Columbia. He graduated from the Royal Military College, served in South Africa and Somaliland, and organized the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders in 1910. During a safari on the Somaliland frontier in 1904, a wild leopard attacked him. Of the incident Leckie explained, “I brought the skull and skin home with me.”

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The Interned

Lieutenant Colonel E. S. Doughty, D.S.O.
31st (Alberta) BattalionDoughty

Looks somewhat tired and languid. States that he does not feel up to the work. Feels nervous and irritable at times. Does not sleep as well as prior to enlistment. Is troubled with nocturnal emissions. Also has occasioned dizzy spells. States that he feels that he requires a rest.

(“Medical History of an Invalid,” 9 Jul 1919)

Born in India on 25 January 1881, Edward Spencer Doughty was second-in-command with the 31st Bell’s Bulldogs Battalion. Twice wounded in the field, he assumed command of the battalion when the original commander, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Bell, was promoted to brigadier general on 23 April 1918.

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The Jap-Baiter

Lieutenant Colonel Albert Sparling, D.S.O.
1st (Western Ontario) BattalionSparlingA

This officer was the only surviving Lt.-Colonel, all other senior field officers having become casualties. He was twice ordered to deal with serious situations on the brigade front, first, in the case of an enemy counter-attack, and a few days later when there was some confusion and loss of direction of our troops.

(Sparling, D.S.O. Bar, London Gazette, 1 Feb 1919, 1600)

Albert Walter Sparling was a Saskatchewan farmer born in Pilot Mount, Manitoba on 12 July 1891. He enlisted in Russell Boyle’s 10th Battalion and earned a promotion to the rank of major in the field. After George C. Hodson was sacked, Sparling assumed command of the 1st Battalion on 17 August 1917 during the battle of Hill 70. Shortly thereafter he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for conspicuous gallantry.

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The Aggrieved

Lieutenant Colonel George C. Hodson, D.S.O.
9th Canadian Mounted Rifles & 1st BattalionCreighton1

Mr. Rutherford asked: …whether, seeing that this is his only remedy in cases where such officer’s immediate superiors have formed opinions which are not well founded, and would be disproved at once if the case came before officers of higher rank entitled to form their own judgment and hear the evidence and the explanations of the officer in question, he will state why a Court of inquiry is being withheld from Lieutenant-Colonel G. C. Hodson, D.S.O.

(Rutherford, Hansard, 26 Oct 1917, 1651)

George Cuthbert Hodson was born in New Shoreham, England on 21 July 1879. He was a bank manager in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan,  a veteran of the Boer War and commanding officer of the 22nd Horse. In December 1914, he organized the 9th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which was used for reinforcements with the Canadian Cavalry Reserve Depot in England.

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