The Acadian

Lieutenant Colonel L.C. D’Aigle
165th (French Arcadian) Battalion

I know lots of men who would go, but they are not prepared to serve under mushroom officers who don’t know their duty. An officer, to be a good officer, must be trained not picked up politically or otherwise because he has an uncle or an aunt or somebody connected with the titled people we have around. I am speaking now more particularly of my own province.

(Col. Domville, Senate Debates, 4 May 1916,  413)

Born on 15 December 1869 in Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick, Louis-Cyriaque D’Aigle was an Acadian agronomist and dairy farming magnate. Although he did not have any military or militia experience, D’Aigle was appointed to the 165th Battalion. which was to recruit from the Acadian community of the Maritimes.

While recruiting throughout the Maritimes, D’Aigle called on francophone Acadian men to prove their loyalty and devotion to the King by enlisting in his battalion.

De son côté il a promis de former un bataillon acadien sous le commandement d’officers acadiens et francais. Nous avons la certitude qu’il s’en tiendra à côte promesse. De l’autre côté les Acadiens influents de toute l’acadie ont approuve et votés la formation du 165e. Chacun devrait maintenant faire sa part pour assurer le succes du battalion. Nous constations mieux plus tard la valeur d’un succes complet.

(L’Acadien, 14 juil 1916, 1)

While Acadian recruitment matched the proportion of English-Canadian volunteers in the region, by September 1916, the 165th was still two hundred men short. The frequent appointment of a prominent civic and business leaders with no military experience to command the new battalions prompted sharp criticism from New Brunswick militia colonel and Liberal Senator James Domville. He complained of “mushroom officers” who seemed to just grow up from the earth:

I do not want to make any invidious distinctions, but they take a man out of an office and make him a colonel. What does he know about war? His intentions may be good but that does not make him an eminent soldier; that does not make him fit to meet the enemy in the field.

Shortly after arriving in England in spring 1917, the 165th was absorbed into the 13th Reserve Battalion. D’Aigle went to France for a short tour of the front around the battle of Vimy Ridge. At the end of 1917, he was struck off strength and returned home. He became a professor of agronomy with a specialty in milk production.

Late in life D’Aigle published various books and articles on the history of Acadia and New Brunswick. He died on 25 September 1958 at the age of eighty-nine.


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