Lt. Col. MacFarlane

Lieutenant Colonel R. Alex MacFarlane
58th (Central Ontario) Battalion

He performed this task with great skill and daring, personally killing two of the enemy. During a subsequent operation he made a reconnaissance forward of his battalion, in which he surprised an enemy machine-gun post; he killed one of the crew and took four other prisoners. Throughout these operations he showed sound judgment, courage and skill.

(MacFarlane, D.S.O. Bar Citation, 11 Jan 1919)

Robert Alexander MacFarlane rose from a lieutenant in the 58th Battalion to command the unit from January 1918 to demobilization. A prewar member of the 77th Regiment, he was born in Montreal on 15 August 1889. MacFarlane was three times wounded in action, five-times mentioned in dispatches and won the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars.

He was commanding officer of the Royal Grenadiers from 1920 to 1921 and became a brigadier with the Canadian Army during World War II. He resigned in November 1944 to protest the Mackenzie King Government’s inaction on conscription. He explained that he “could not conscientiously do his duty as a soldier under the existing system.”

In 1946, he completed a thirteen-day cross-country car tour from Louisburg, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia. He was awarded the Todd Medal, a prize established in 1912 to promote automobile adventuring. Chevrolet exploited the trek as an advertising coup and MacFarlane endorsed his vehicle, the Stylemaster, as “sturdy, light, economical passenger car is ideal for the average Canadian citizen.”

Brigadier MacFarlane died in Winnipeg on 24 March 1980.

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