Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Glass
252nd (Lindsay) Battalion
War brought with it conscription—not as we used to see it, as the last horror of military tyranny, but as the crowning pride of democracy. An inconceivable revolution in the thought of the English speaking peoples has taken place in respect to it. The obligation of every man, according to his age and circumstance, to take up arms for his country and, if need be, to die for it, is henceforth the recognized basis of progressive democracy.
(Stephen Leacock, The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, 1920)
James John Glass was a customs collector born on 12 November 1872 in Mariposa Township, Victoria County. Beginning in late 1916, Glass, a captain with the 45th Regiment, attempted to raise a battalion from Lindsay. However, the home county of Militia Minister Sam Hughes had supplied most of its young men for the earlier battalions. With the volunteer system nearly at an end, Glass managed to recruit just over one hundred men.
He had first enlisted as paymaster in Lieutenant Colonel Fee’s 109th Battalion before receiving a command of his own. As Glass was on leave as a custom’s collector, he began to worry about his own finances as he had yet to receive pay from the militia department. With the fall of militia minister Sam Hughes, MP for Lindsay, in November 1916, Glass had lost his patron.
Unable to raise a full company let alone a full battalion, Glass applied to resign his commission. He was struck off strength on 17 March 1917. Major G.J. Thomson assumed command. The 252nd arrived in England in June to be absorbed into the 6th Reserve Battalion. Glass returned his prewar career as a customs collector for the federal government. Recognizing that the battalion system had exhausted its limited resource of willing volunteers, Ottawa implemented conscription.
He died in Port Hope on 28 December 1947.
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