Lt. Col. Hulme

Lieutenant Colonel J.H.D. Hulme
62nd (Hulme’s Huskies) Battalion

But, in relinquishing the command of the first troops to leave Vancouver, Colonel Hulme, commanding the Sixth, was actually self-sacrificing, and logical. Major McHarg had had war experience in South Africa as a sergeant; Colonel Hulme had no war service at all, and at that time, and to soldiers especially, war service was considered far more essential to command than later, when all manner of business men rose to high military station and rank.

 To let Major McHarg take the first body of men to the front was proper to a logical mind. But it brought unkind thought, and some criticism from the less thoughtful.

(Major J. S. Matthews, Early Vancouver, Volume V, 1945, 136)

John Herbert Donaldson Hulme was a British Columbia lawyer with thirty years of service in the militia. He was born in Belleville, Ontario on 14 July 1867. He had settled in Vancouver in 1904 after travelling west to the Yukon during the gold rush. As the commanding officer of the 6th Regiment, Hulme was expected to lead his militiamen to Valcartier in August 1914 to join the First Contingent. To the surprise of his second-in-command, Hulme appointed Major W. Hart-McHarg to lead the battalion overseas in his stead.

According to a 6th Regiment officer, Hart-McHarg remarked, “I can’t understand Hulme. Here he has got the chance of a lifetime; why doesn’t he take it? But with me it is different. I have only a couple of years to live in any case” Hart-McHarg was later killed in action at Second Ypres on April 24 1915. Only a few days before, Hulme had been authorized to raise the 64th Battalion from Victoria, Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

After sailing for England in March 1916, the 62nd provided reinforcements until it was disbanded in July 1916. Hulme commanded the 1st Reserve Battalion from January until May 1917. Following a brief tour of the front he returned to London as a staff officer. In February 1918 he was appointed to head a commission investigating grievances of returned soldiers. The selection provoked opposition among many servicemen because Hulme was a non-combat officer. Nevertheless, military authorities argued that Hulme’s legal training made his well suited for the task.

He died in Vancouver on 3 December 1937 at the age of seventy. First World War veteran and city archivist, James Skitt Matthews, remembered “Col. Hulme was great companionship; always funny; amusing and good humoured; always had a funny incident to relate and keep things sweet and wholesome.”

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