Lt. Col. Frost

Lieutenant Colonel R.W. Frost, D.S.O.
87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion

Capt. Frost was twice blown up by shells but remained on duty.

 (14th Bn. War Diary, 3 June 1916)

 Capt. R. W. Frost, for the third time in 24 hours, was blown to the ground by a shell. Too dazed to walk, he was carried to Railway Dugouts, where he recovered and whence, on the following morning, he hastened to duty with the Battalion.

 (R. C. Fetherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment, 14th Battalion [1927], 87)

Just as the 87th Battalion prepared to deploy to France in summer 1916, Reginald William Frost replaced Lieutenant Colonel Irving Rexford in command. A native of Norfolk, England, Frost was born on 21 May 1885 and immigrated to Canada in 1906. He had served seven years with the 66th Princess Louise Fusiliers when he enlisted in the 14th Battalion under the command of Frank Meighen at the outbreak of the war.

Writing home from France on 21 April 1915, Frost explained, “We have not been doing much lately in the way of fighting.” The next day the Germans attacked, marking the start of the second battle of Ypres. Following the battle, his former commander Meighen returned to Quebec and raised the 87th in September 1915. Following a promotion to brigadier general, Meighen was replaced by Rexford who led the 87th to England in April 1916.

Meanwhile, Frost remained in the trenches as a company command with the 14th Battalion. At the battle of Mont Sorrel on 3 June 1916, he was thrown into the air by an exploding shell, buried by another and blown up again but insisted on “carrying on” each time.

Although three-times shell shocked at the Somme, Frost was soon given command of the recently arrived 87th Grenadier Guards, replacing Rexford. The battalion deployed to France in August 1916 as part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Infantry Division.

After twenty total months in the field and eight months in command of the 87th, Frost fell sick with rheumatic fever and tonsillitis. Described as sweating, pale and anemic, he was evacuated from the field just before the battle of Vimy Ridge is early April 1917. Major H. Leroy Shaw assumed command in his absence. Frost was later diagnosed with disordered action of the heart. He served on the general staff with Canadian Headquarters in London until the end of the war.

During the Second World War, Frost commanded an army training centre in Montreal and the 1st Canadian General Reinforcement Union overseas. In 1945, he was appointed Overseas Commissioner for the Canadian Red Cross, supervising efforts for relief and reconstruction in Europe. He died in England on 1 September 1955.


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