The Customs Collector

Lieutenant Colonel A. B. Carey, D.S.O
102nd and 54th (Kootenay) Battalion

When his battalion was held up by intense machine-gun fire in front of a village, he organized a party from his reserve company and, under cover of the smoke from a derelict tank that was on fire, he personally led the party and rushed a wood, capturing sixteen machine guns, and routed the enemy, who retired on a broad front. He then pushed on his battalion and took the village with a rush. His example of personal gallantry, and his quick appreciation of the situation and rapid action, enabled this important result to be so successfully obtained.

(Carey, D.S.O. Bar citation, London Gazette, 7 Nov 1918, 13132)

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Alfred Blake Carey served in the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers during the Spanish American War and the Remington Guards during the Boer War. He was born Blenheim, Ontario on 3 June 1881 and later worked as a civil engineer in British Columbia. In September 1915, he enlisted as a major with Lorne Ross’ 67th Pioneer Battalion. Continue reading

The Forger

Lieutenant Colonel Onésime Readman
167th (Canadien-Français) Battalion


 As to Col. Readman, he thought he was sincere and a man who had a clear past. Colonel Readman was a man who had offered to do his bit for his country and this should be weighed in the sentence, and if he had not received what was due him, he should get it from the Government and he hoped he would be given full justice.

 (Quebec Telegraph, 22 Apr 1918, 1)

 In August 1914, Onésime Readman enlisted to defend King and Country; after charges of corruption and forgery four years later, he was forced to fight against the Crown in a Quebec courtroom. Born on 4 June 1877, Readman was a flavouring extracts manufacturer and militia officer. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, he assumed command of the 4th (Chasseurs Canadiens) Regiment.

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The Orangeman

Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Edgecombe
183rd (Orange) Battalion

The pursuit of Brother Edgecombe is one of the most contemptible things that has happened in the politics of any Province. 

It is just another instance of the implacability of political leaders. They expect men to violate their consciences, to ignore their convictions, to surrender their own views on public questions for the good of the party.

 (Winnipeg Free Press, 17 Feb 1915, 22)

William Thomas Edgecombe was a Winnipeg city alderman, Grand Master of the Manitoba Loyal Orange Lodge. He was born in Harbor Grace, Newfoundland on 15 August 1868. He held various positions in publishing, engraving and banking before moving to Winnipeg in 1893. Although not active in the militia, Edgecombe was selected to raise the 183rd Battalion.

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The Neuro-Psychiatrist

Lieutenant Colonel E. G. Mason
50th (Mason’s Man-Eaters) Battalion


To add to our woe the last day of the Battle of Ancre Heights, our beloved Colonel Mason was evacuated to England, victim of the cruel weather, the unbelievably vile conditions in the front line, and the physical demands and mental stress made on men of great responsibility under fire.

(Victor Wheeler, The 50th Battalion in No Man’s Land, 31)

Born on 26 October 1874 in Hamilton, Ontario, Edward George Mason was a surgeon and physician in Calgary. He graduated from McGill University in 1902 and moved west to establish a practice in Alberta. A noted football player and militiaman, he was appointed to organize the 50th Battalion in November 1914.

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The Anti-Intellectual

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lennox, M.P.P.
208th (Irish Fusiliers) BattalionLennox

It is hard to think that we must make this sacrifice to help the slackers to get a higher education. Any of my men are willing, and I am willing, to go and die for those who cannot go, but I would hate like the dickens to go and die for the fellow with the creased trousers and silk stockings.

(Lennox, Toronto Star, 6 Nov 1916, 4.)

Thomas Herbert Lennox was the Conservative member of the Ontario legislature for York North from 1905 to 1923. Born on 7 April 1869 in Simcoe County, Ontario, to an Irish immigrant father, Lennox was proud of his ancestry and a member of Loyal Orange Lodge No. 643.

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The Fundraiser

Brigadier General Eric McCuaig, D.S.O.
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) BattalionMcCuaig

One night, too, the officers staged a concert in the local theatre, all the talent being drawn from their own roster. By sacrificing his moustache, Lieut-Col. McCuaig scored a tremendous hit in a charming female role…

(The 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada, 1925, 203)

George Eric McCuaig assumed command of the 13th Battalion after an explosion killed Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buchanan and many of his senior officers. A native of Toronto, McCuaig was born on 2 September 1885. He graduated from McGill University, worked in Montreal as a stockbroker and belonged to the Black Watch.

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The Pawn

Major J. H. Sills
44th (South Saskatchewan) BattalionSills

The Officer Commanding the 44th Battalion who was in England undergoing treatment for a damaged shoulder and his Second-in-command had each been adversely reported on by me, and I had placed Major Sills, a Graduate of the Royal Military College, Canada and who had 16 months experience in France and whom I knew to be a most efficient Officer and capable business man in Command of the Battalion.

(Gen. W. Hughes to Gen. Turner, 20 Mar 1917)

John Hamilton Sills was a civil engineer, militiaman and graduate of the Royal Military College. A descendant of United Empire Loyalists he was born in Frankford, Ontario on 1 May 1882. Sills enlisted with William St. Pierre Hughes’ 21st Battalion in April 1915 and was promoted to July in August 1916.

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The Flax Seeder

Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Wayland
44th (Manitoba) BattalionWayland

The evening was spent in many handshakings, as old comradeships were renewed. Many an Incident of the war days was told, as the sight of the familiar faces brought back vivid memories, some joyful, others sad. A large number of members of the association turned out to see again the man who had guided their destinies in France.

(Winnipeg Tribune, 26 September 1931, 3)

Born on 23 March 1869 in London, England, Edward Robert Wayland was an Ontario grain exporter and nine-year member of the 96th Regiment. In October 1914, he led a detachment of troops from Fort William and Port Arthur to Winnipeg, where he was appointed to command the 44th Battalion. The 44th sailed for England in October 1915 and deployed to France in August 1916 as part of the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division.

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The Mink Breeder

Lieutenant Colonel William A. Lowry
82nd (Alberta) BattalionLowry

The Colonel narrated some tales of the battlefields and described conditions in the trenches and in the billets at the front-which were intensely interesting. In conclusion, he made a strong appeal for every man who was able to join the ranks in order to insure the safe return of the boys who were now going to the front.

(The War Cry, 27 Nov 1915, 6)

In September 1914, William Arthur Lowry enlisted as an officer in Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle’s 10th Battalion at Valcartier. Born on 19 July 1878 in Wellington County, Ontario, Lowry was a veteran of Strathcona’s Horse in the Boer War and a member of the Corps of Guides since 1912. He was wounded in the second battle of Ypres and witnessed Boyle’s death in hospital on 25 April 1915.

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The Brother

Brigadier General W. St. P. Hughes, D.S.O.
21st (Eastern Ontario) BattalionWSHughes

It was such fighting ability that enabled my 21st Battalion to come home with the record of never having been given a black eye in over four years of active participation in the war. They never went after anything they did not take, and they never gave up anything they captured. Of the original 1058, less than 150 are now alive, most of them buried in Flanders’s Fields and in the Somme.

(W. Hughes, “An Appreciation,” in H. W. McBride, A Rifleman Went to War, 1935)

William St. Pierre Hughes was Inspector of Penitentiaries and commanding officer of 14th The Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles. Born on 2 June 1864 in Darlington Township, Canada West, he was also the younger brother of Sir Sam, MP for Victoria and Minister of Militia. In November 1914, Hughes, a veteran of the Northwest Rebellion with over thirty years’ experience in the militia, took command of the 21st Battalion, based in Kingston.

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