Lieutenant Colonel J.R.O. Vicars
172nd (Rocky Mountain Rangers) Battalion
The duty of all Canadians is to shed their last drop of blood in defence of the dear old Motherland. But why ask such a question? Is there a cur with a drop of British blood in his veins who doubts his duty? As for myself and Rangers, we are ready. Only let Colonel Sam. [Hughes] give the word. I speak for my men. They know me, and I know them.
(Vicars to Montreal Daily Star, 3 Aug 1914)
Too bad they broke us up for had they not we would have been in Berlin by this time or all in Heaven … Although the latter place has already many of our poor fellows and every day adds to the number.
(Vicars to Kamloops Standard-Sentinel, 21 Sept 1917)
Despite his enthusiastic offer to volunteer on the outbreak of war in August 1914, sixty-year-old John Richard Odlum Vicars did not receive authorization to raise an overseas battalion until January 1916. Vicars was a British Columbia land surveyor and commanding officer of the 102nd Rocky Mountain Rangers. Born in Dublin, Ireland on 16 April 1855, he immigrated to Canada with his family in 1858 and moved west in the 1880s.
Although his men had vowed to follow Vicars “to hell if need be,” the 172nd was broken up on arriving in England in October 1916. Vicars reverted to the rank of major and joined a forestry unit in France before being invalided home due to ill health.
Widely esteemed by his men, Vicars’ reputation came from “his paternal care of each individual member of his command” and “a keen genuine interest in their welfare.” He retired from the militia in 1924 and died in Kamloops on 29 December 1929.