The Expendable

Lieutenant Colonel F. A. deL. Gascoigne, D.S.O.
60th (Victoria Rifles of Canada) BattalionGascoigne

My own future is uncertain, but I can only hope that some day, we shall be together again, and I would ask for nothing better than to have you all back under my command but whatever comes, I shall never forget the many happy and glorious days I have spent with the old 60th Battalion.

(Gascoigne’s Farewell Address, 60th Bn. War Diary, 29 Apr 1917, 8)

A native of England, Frederick Arthur DeLong Gascoigne was born on 2 April 1866. After immigrating to Canada, he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Quebec. In 1886, he enlisted as a private with the 3rd (Victoria Rifles) Regiment. After nearly thirty-years’ service in the militia he became commanding officer in 1914. Although illness prevented him from joining the First Contingent, in April 1915 Gascoigne was authorized to raise the 60th Battalion from Quebec.

The 60th deployed to France in February 1916 as part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division. The fifty-year old Gascoigne led the Quebec battalion over the next fourteen months through the battles of Sanctuary Wood and the Somme. Unable to sustain the unit with reinforcements from its home province, Canadian military authorities broke up the 60th after the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Lieutenant Colonel Sam Sharpe’s 116th Battalion took the place of the well-respected regiment.

Resenting the replacement of their veteran unit by a “green one,” several of the soldiers erected a cross marker, inscribed “In memory of the 60th Battalion. 1915- Raised by Patriotism. 1917- Killed by Politics.”

60thOn 29 April 1917, Gascoigne delivered a farewell address to his officers and men. Although he was uncertain of his own fate, he told the troops that they would be divided among the 5th Mounted Rifles and the 87th Battalion. Disappointed by the loss of his command, Gascoigne concluded:

There is much more I would like to say to you, but I simply cannot do it, as there is too great a heartache over the breaking up of the Battalion, so I shall just wish you goodbye, and a fervent wish that you may all be spared to come safely through the war and return to your homes and families in the not far distant future.

Gascoigne later assumed command of a depot battalion in Quebec. After the war, he resumed his career with Canadian Pacific. He died in Montreal on 23 March 1957.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s