The Gurkha

Lieutenant Colonel A. H. G. Kemball, D.S.O. †
54th (Kootenay) BattalionKemball

So Kemball was ignored. That gallant officer—the adjective in his case is deserved—defied orders and refused to stay in the rear when his men were in peril. He led them personally on an attack he knew was futile.

(Pierre Burton, Vimy, 1986, 129)

Born in Belgaum, India on 4 January 1861, Arnold Henry Grant Kemball was a professional soldier with thirty-two years’ experience in the Indian Army.  A veteran of the Gurkha Rifles, Kemball served in the Hazara Expedition (1888), the North West Frontier (1897) and Tirah Campaign (1898). He retired as commander of the 5th Gurkhas in 1910 and moved to British Columbia.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Trench Raider

Lieutenant Colonel John Wise, D.S.O., M.C.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionWise

I regret that I did not have the pleasure of meeting you during my recent visit to France.

I send my hearty congratulations to you upon the command of the splendid 25th Battalion and my best wishes to you, the Officers, non-commissioned officers and men on the great service which still lies before you.

(Prime Minister Borden to Wise, 27 Jul 1918)

Born in London, England on 11 June 1893, John W. Wise was one of the few battalion commanders to rise from the ranks. Wise had earned a reputation as an effective trench raider in the 25th Battalion and won a Military Cross for a successful nighttime attack in 1915. Following subsequent heroics and promotions, he assumed command of the 25th on 19 April 1918.

Continue reading

The Bookkeeper

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur O. Blois, D.S.O.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionBlois

My husband Lieut.-Colonel Arthur O. Blois, D.S.O. of the 25th Canadian Battalion, has been overseas for about two years, and he is now slated for his three months commanding officer’s course in England. He cabled this fact to me today, and asks me to now meet him there. Naturally I am anxious to go. My husband was wounded at Vimy and decorated after that battle.

(Ethel Blois [wife] to Joseph Pope, 27 Nov 1917

When Major J. A. De Lancey was struck down during the battle of Vimy Ridge, Arthur Osborne Blois took temporary charge of the 25th Battalion. Blois was a Halifax accountant and bookkeeper born on 28 June 1885. He first volunteered with 40th Battalion before receiving a commission with the 64th in summer 1915. After the breakup of that unit, he joined the 25th in August 1916.

Continue reading

The Bald

Lieutenant Colonel Stan Bauld
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionBauldDS

Col. Bauld was in command and I must say that he has done good work for the whole time that he was out there. He was such that no matter who the man was he would do all in his power to assist him.

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

Duncan Stanley Bauld was a commercial traveler born in Halifax on 16 April 1884. He belonged to the 66th Regiment and enlisted with Lieutenant Colonel G. A. LeCain’s 25th Nova Scotia Rifles. Following the poor performance of the battalion during its first action in late September, LeCain and his senior major were sacked. Edward Hilliam was appointed to take command and Bauld was promoted to second-in-command.

Continue reading

The Leader

Major James A. De Lancey, M.C. †
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionDeLancey

Previously reported Missing, believed Killed, now Killed in Action. While leading his Battalion in the attack on Vimy Ridge and just as he reached the enemy second line, he was instantly killed by a bullet through the head.

(Circumstances of Death, 9 Apr 1917)

A civil engineer and graduate of McGill University, James Arnold DeLancey was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia on 15 July 1880. He originally enlisted in A. G. Vincent’s 40th Battalion before joining the 25th as adjutant. In the absence of Lieutenant Colonel D. S. Bauld, command fell to DeLancey to led the battalion over the top at Vimy Ridge.

Continue reading

The Physician

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. George Clingan, M.L.A.
79th (Manitoba) BattalionClingan

Col. Clingan made an eloquent appeal for recruits, “Don’t let your children-to-be say in the after years, ‘My daddy was too cowardly to fight in the big war.’”

(Winnipeg Tribune, 11 Mar 1916, 12)

George Clingan was a doctor and Liberal member for Virden in the Manitoba legislature between 1914 and 1922. He was born on 28 March 1868 in Orangeville, Ontario and graduated from the Toronto Medical College. After moving his medical practice to Manitoba, he joined the 12th Dragoons in 1898, rising to the rank of major. He raising the 79th Battalion from Brandon and sailed to England in April 1916.

Continue reading

The Sure Shot

Lieutenant Colonel Archie Hay †
52nd (New Ontario) BattalionHay

It is with the deepest regret that the Battalion chronicles the disappearance of its Colonel, Lieut. Col. Hay, on this date.

(52nd Bn. War Diary, 3 June 1916, 7)

Born on 8 November 1873 in Quebec City, Archibald Walter Hay was a militia officer with the 8th Royal Rifles and noted marksman. During the 1912 Governor General’s prize shooting match organized by the Dominion Rifle association, Hay scored twenty-one consecutive bullseyes.

Continue reading

The Kiltie

Lieutenant Colonel W. L. McGregor
241st (Canadian Scottish Borderers) BattalionMcGregor

Your colonel is peculiarly fitted by temperament, training and tradition
to lead a “kilted” battalion to victory. In his veins there flows the blood of that ancient clan whose proud boast it was “that despite their enemies, the McGregors should flourish forever.” In him we have combined the indomitable spirit of the Scottish Highlander, the bulldog tenacity of the English, and the resourcefulness and initiative of the Canadian. He will lead you to victory. Stand by him like a “stone wall” in the days to come.

(W. T. Gregory, “Farewell to the Kilties,” 1917, 10)

The son of Liberal MP and prominent businessman William McGregor (1836—1903), Walter Leishman McGregor was born 30 April 1875 in Windsor, Ontario. In 1904, Walter had supported his older brother Gordon (1873—1922) in forming a partnership with Henry Ford and creating the Ford Motor Company of Canada.

Continue reading

The Unsinkable

Major Charles A. Low
146th (Frontenac County) BattalionLow

Everybody aboard was preparing to leave the ship and glad that the journey was over, as the constant rumors of submarines and the nervous strain which is associated with same is not conductive to comfortable feelings.

At exactly 10.51, while in my cabin, the ship was hit on the starboard side, at the after well deck, close to the engine rooms. I was thrown across the cabin; there was no mistaking what had happened…

(Low to Kemp, 27 Mar 1918)

A native of Kingston, Ontario, Charles Adamson Low was born on 26 November 1874. A fourteen-year member of the 14th Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles, Low enlisted as junior major in Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Ketcheson’s 80th Battalion. In November 1915, he was authorized to raise the 146th Battalion from Frontenac County.

Continue reading

The Public Defender

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Hastings
250th (Polish) BattalionHastings

Col. Hastings, in an address to the recruits promised to help out any of them to the best of his ability it ever they got in trouble.

(Winnipeg Tribune, 24 Mar 1920, 1)

William Henry Hastings was a newspaperman, crown prosecutor and barrister in Winnipeg. He was born in Peterborough, Canada West on 29 December 1858. In September 1916, he attempted to raise the 250th supported by the local Polish-Canadian community. The Polish language newspaper in Winnipeg, Czas, lauded the creation of a special battalion to fight “the traditional enemies of Poland” as “an historical event.” However, the 250th failed to reach strength and later merged with Lieutenant Colonel C. B. Keenlyside’s 249th Battalion.

Continue reading