Lieutenant Colonel Frank O. Sissons
1st Mounted Rifles Brigade
Col. Sissons is a real westerner in every sense of the word.
(Edmonton Bulletin, 14 Nov 1914, 1)
Born in Burnside, Manitoba on 23 March 1868, Frank Ogletree Sissons was a militia officer, rancher, and landowner in Medicine Hat. He had created the 21st Hussars in 1908 and with the formation of the Canadian Mounted Rifles in November 1914, Sissons was initially given command of the 3rd CMR. The militia council had selected Colonel Victor Williams to command the 1st CMR Brigade, but militia minister Sam Hughes favoured Sissons to represent the West. He was appointed brigade commander in March 1915.
Although originally planned to serve in Egypt against the Turks, the CMR regiments deployed to France as dismounted infantry in October 1915. Following mismanagement of the brigade during enemy shelling that elicited a reprimand from Brigadier General Arthur Currie, Sissons proved he was not up to the task. General Edwin Alderson simply doubted that this western rancher and militiaman “is qualified or has the personality to train men for war.”
He was swiftly removed and sent back to England. The CMR brigades were disbanded in January 1916 and the remaining CMR regiments were absorbed into the 8th Infantry Brigade under the command of Victor Williams. Sissons resigned his commission and returned to Canada.
He died in Medicine Hat on 3 December 1936.
For the brief history and disbanding of the CMR brigades see William Stewart, “The Barrier and the Damage Done: Converting the Canadian Mounted Rifles to Infantry, December 1915,” https://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1760&context=cmh