Lieutenant Colonel George H. Bradbury
108th (Selkirk) Battalion
I confess frankly that at the moment when I was informed that my battalion was to be broken up and that my men were to be taken from me to go to the front, I felt hurt; I felt it was an injustice to myself and to my battalion.
Slurs have been thrown across the floor by more than one hon. gentleman opposite regarding the colonels how have gone overseas. I should like to say to some of these gentleman that they would occupy a much higher position in this country than they occupy if they had done what some of these returned colonel have done.
(Bradbury, Debates, 13 July 1917, 3384)
George Henry Bradbury was a Manitoba manufacturer and veteran of the Northwest Rebellion. Born on 25 June 1859 in Hamilton, Canada West, he had belonged to the Ottawa Dragoons as a young man and enlisted with the Boulton’s Scouts during the 1885 Rebellion. In 1908, he was elected MP for Selkirk. In November 1915, he became a growing number of Conservative MP authorized to raise a battalion.
He recruited the 108th Battalion from Selkirk and sailed for England in September 1916. To Bradbury’s great disappointment, the battalion was broken up and he was sent home following a short tour of the front. Bradbury did not contest re-election. Instead, he received an appointment to the Senate on 17 December 1917.
Troubled by ill heath since his time in France, Bradbury went before a medical board, which found he was suffering from angina pectoris and arterio sclerosis. Doctors noted that “mental excitement will also induce condition” and observed the patient “feels very nervous during these attacks.”
In May 1918, the case developed into a minor scandal when the Ottawa Citizen reported that Bradbury had received a disability pension. Liberal MP Rodolphe Lemieux criticized, “…if he had been on the firing line and in the combatant forces, I would not object to his receiving a pension,” but mocked that Bradbury had already “received that life pension by his senatorship.”
Claiming to have only received a $69 cheque, which he never cashed, Bradbury, declared, “I do not care a fig for the pension.” His purpose in going before the pension board was to find if the men who had enlisted in his battalion would be entitled to a pension after the war. From Bradbury’s perspective, he was in perfect health prior to going overseas but when he returned to Canada he was suffering from fatigue, rheumatism and angina.
I contend that this country is in honour bound to accept every one of those men as being fit, and must accept responsibility for any injuries these men have received on service. It will be unfair, it will be a disgrace, to say to any of those men: “Oh, yes, you were injured, you have a great disability, but you must have had some of that disability before you went overseas with Colonel Bradbury.”
Bradbury died in office on 6 September 1925 after a long illness, which he still attributed to his military service.