Lieutenant Colonel G.W. MacLeod
Royal Canadian Regiment
He was the only officer without previous training before the war to ever hold command of the R.C.R.’s and according to stories told by other officers of the C.E.F., the appointment of a “civilian” colonel was deeply resented by the regular officers of the regiment …
(Edmonton Journal, 18 Apr 1933, 26)
Born in Parkhill, Ontario on 2 February 1888, George Waters MacLeod was an Edmonton civil engineer with no militia experience when he enlisted as a lieutenant in the 49th Battalion in July 1915. He went to France as a captain in October and within six months had been promoted to major. By mid-1918, he had transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Corps and then served as acting commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Regiment for the final month of the war.
Having already earned the Distinguished Service Order in November 1916, he received a D.S.O. Bar in April 1918:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed the greatest initiative in supervising the assault and accurately reporting the position of the attacking troops. He was untiring in his efforts to strengthen the captured position and contributed largely to the success of the operations. He set a splendid example of coolness and courage.
In October 1918, MacLeod was assigned to take command of the R.C.R. after Lieutenant Colonel C.R.E. Willets had been severely wounded by shell fire. The regular Permanent Force officers resented the arrival of a young replacement with no prewar militia training. Having proven himself under active service conditions, the twenty-nine-year-old MacLeod told his subordinates, “I’ve got the job as head of this regiment and if you don’t like it you can all resign.”
After the war, MacLeod returned to construction engineering work in Alberta. In 1933, he was appointed new warden of the Prince Albert Penitentiary in Saskatchewan. He died on 17 July 1937.