Lt. Col. Winsby

Lieutenant Colonel W.N. Winsby
47th (British Columbia) Battalion

Had long interview with Col. Winsby, 47th Bn. over charges made against his ability as C.O. by Gen. Hilliam, & I gave him until tomorrow morning to send me in, in writing, his answer to these charges.

(Gen. David Watson, 4th Division, 8 Mar 1917)

The charges against Winsby are of so contrived a character and now so serious to his battalion and brigade, that I am compelled to recommend his removal from command.

(Gen. Watson, 4th Division, 20 Mar 1917)

William Norman Winsby was a Victoria teacher, principal and school inspector. He was born on 28 October 1874 in Leyburn, Yorkshire, England. He was a twenty-year member of the 5th Regiment and succeeded Arthur Currie as commanding officer in January 1914. At the end of that year, he received authorization to raise the 47th Battalion from New Westminster in November.

Winsby and the 47th sailed for England one year later in November 1915. They deployed to France in August 1916 as part of the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division. As Winsby was frequently away from the front due to brigade meetings, Major A. Leslie Coote often took command of the 47th on the front. Coote was hospitalized for neurasthenia in December 1916 and Winsby remained in command until late March 1917 when Major M. J. Francis of the 46th Battalion succeeded him.

Brigadier General Edward Hilliam had charged earlier Winsby with incompetence as a commanding officer. Major General David Watson of the 4th Division, had attempted to settle the dispute but ultimately sided with Hilliam.

Winsby returned to his civilian career in Victoria of school inspector. During the 1920 British Columbia election, Winsby endorsed the Liberal Government of Premier John Oliver while his former subordinate Coote meanwhile ran for the Conservative Party in the riding of Chilliwack.

Winsby stated that the Liberal ticket “has always been found in support of anything that would aid or benefit the returned men.” The Liberal government retained a small majority and Coote narrowly lost his race. In a patronage appointment after the election, Winsby was placed on the liquor board committee.

He died on 17 April 1957.



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