Lt. Col. Sinclair

Major Ian Sinclair, D.S.O., M.C.
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalions


I thought my nerves might give if I ever ran into an affair of that sort, but something seemed to change in me and I saw without any particular sensation things happen, which in my previous state of mind would have driven me mad. One of my men actually did go crazy this morning after we got out. Every battalion in the division suffered about as much and the whole is pretty wrecked.

(Sinclair, 13th Bn., to Mother, 28 Apr 1915)

Ian MacIntosh Roe Sinclair sailed for England as a subaltern with the 13th Battalion in October 1914. Over four years later, he returned to Canada at the head of the battalion. Though wounded in the fighting at the second battle of Ypres, he was promoted to company commander. After Lieutenant Colonel Eric McCuaig was elevated to the 12th Brigade on 14 September 1918, Sinclair became temporary commanding officer.

Born in Toronto on 16 June 1891, Sinclair was a student at the University of Toronto and member of the Queen’s Own Rifles. After the outbreak of the Great War, he had joined the 48th Highlanders and was briefly attached to the 15th Battalion. Sinclair was however unimpressed with the quality of his commanding officer, John Allister Currie:

As was the case to be in many Canadian battalions, Lt/Col Currie was an M.P. and very much more of a politician than an officer…He was one of the type of civilian-soldier who is simply worshipped by the poorer element among the ranks, but to serve under whom, for an officer, is sheer misery.

Once he arrived at Valcartier, Sinclair transferred to the 13th Royal Highlanders.

By the end of the war, Sinclair had been four times wounded in action, twice mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross. He pursued various business interests after the war and became commanding officer of the 48th Highlanders from 1930 to 1932.

During the Second World War, he was stationed on garrison duty in Jamaica in command of the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He retired from the military in 1946 and died in Toronto in 1980.

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