The Husband

Lieutenant Colonel L. H. Millen, D.S.O.
19th (Central Ontario) BattalionMillen

There are a good many returned soldiers going about with a notion that because they have been at the war, Canada therefore owes them a living. I want to tell everyone of you that has come back here well and sound, that Canada does not owe you any living.

(Millen, Farewell address, Toronto Star, 26 May 1919, 4)

Lionel Herbert Millen replaced Lieutenant Colonel W. R. Turnbull in command of the 19th Battalion on 30 December 1916. He was born in London, England on 10 March 1876. A resident of Hamilton, he was a senior officer with the 91st Highlander Regiment, commanded by John Inglis McLaren. In November 1914, Millen enlisted as junior major with McLaren’s 19th Battalion. He married Edith Morgan Hubbell several weeks later on 7 January 1915.

Millen remained on the front until late February 1918 when he was granted leave home to see his ailing twenty-nine year old wife. After relinquishing command of the 19th to Major H. C. Hatch, he proceeded to England before boarding a ship to Canada. Edith had accompanied her husband overseas as a nurse in England but developed tuberculosis and had returned home earlier in 1918.

After caring for his wife, Millen returned to duty in summer 1918 to complete an officers’ course in England. Just as he resumed command of the 19th Battalion on 3 August, his wife succumbed to her illness back home.

By the end of the war Millen had been mentioned in dispatches and received the Distinguished Service Order and Bar. Addressing his battalion for the last time on 24 May 1919, Millen declared:

I am proud to have commanded it for more than two years and never in that time have you ever failed. You men have always backed up your officers, and done your utmost, and I thank you for it.

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