Lieutenant Colonel Harry Genet
58th (Central Ontario) Battalion
Is it too much to expect that our fellow-citizens, now living in Canada in comfort and security, purchased by the blood of their brothers here in France, will sin all differences, political or otherwise, and unite in the common cause of our Empire and make one great effort to support and reinforce their army in the field?
(Col. Genet, Toronto Globe, 17 Dec 1917, 3)
Born on 20 February 1864 in London, England, Harry Augustus Genet had served for five years in the 2nd Middlesex Regiment before immigrating to Canada. He worked for the Adams Wagon Works in Brantford and joined the 38th (Dufferin) Rifles. After Lieutenant Colonel F. A. Howard left with the First Contingent in 1914, Genet assumed command of the 38th regiment. In April 1915, he was authorized to raise the 58th Battalion from central Ontario, Toronto and Hamilton.
After training at Camp Niagara during summer 1915, the 58th departed for England in November. The battalion joined the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division in February 1916. Noted for his efficiency and discipline, Genet led the Ontario unit on the front through the battles of the Somme and Mount Sorrel. On 14 June 1916, Genet’s second-in-command, Panayoty Percy Ballachey, was struck in the head by a shell fragment and died.
Although Genet remained in command until January 1918, he was often absent due to injury and sickness. Suffering from rheumatism and articular myalgia, the fifty-three year old colonel was admitted to the Estaples hospital on 9 November 1917. Shortly after receiving the Distinguished Service Order, Genet was officially replaced by Major R.A. McFarlane in January 1918. He succeeded F.C. McCormick as commanding officer of the 4th Reserve Battalion.
Genet returned to Canada in April 1918 to take charge of No. 3 Military District based in Kingston. His son, Jack, who earned the Military Cross in October 1916, later served as a brigadier general with the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Another son, Harry Jr., a student at RMC, had fought with the Imperial Forces.
In 1930, Colonel Genet retired to his home county of England. He died on 17 March 1946.