Lieutenant Colonel Gault McCombe, D.S.O.
14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion
On page 439 of the last Militia List you have shown Captain G. McCombe in list of deaths as killed in action. I am glad to advise you that Captain McCombe is very much alive. He was slightly wounded, returned to England on sick leave, but he is now, and has been for some time, back in France with his regiment the 14th Battalion.
(Col. John Carson to Militia Council, 27 Sept 1915)
A native of Ireland, Gault McCombe was born on 16 March 1885. He immigrated with his family to Canada in 1890. A fourteen-year militia officer with the Victoria Rifles of Canada, he joined the 14th Battalion as captain in September 1914. In late 1915, his name was mistakenly included in a casualty list of deaths at the front, causing much confusion for his family when newspapers requested a photograph for the obituary. McCombe’s brother wrote to the militia records office, explaining, “I have just received a Christmas card from my brother, and he was then in London on a holiday, so he is still in the land of the living as far as we know.”
By June 1916, McCombe held the rank of major and distinguished himself at the battle of Mont Sorrel. He assumed command of the battalion on 15 January 1917 and led the 14th through the battle of Vimy Ridge.
On 18 April 1918, a German shell hit the battalion headquarters. The second-in-command and the adjutant were killed. McCombe and another major were seriously injured. With most of the senior officer incapacitated, command passed to Major Dick Worrall who had risen through the ranks from private.
McCombe died in Quebec in 1970.
Militia Personnel File, 6839-1: https://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_t17539/1460