Lt. Col. Flick

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Flick
1/7th Bn., Essex Regiment & 1/6th Bn., Devonshire Regiment

Dear Kate,— I must write you a few lines to say how much I regret my conduct towards you last evening. I can only say in my defence that a serious money loss made me ill-tempered and impatient. I hope I have not hurt you very much. Write and say you forgive me, and when you will meet me again. —Charlie

 (Illustrated Police News, 18 June 1898, 10)

In June 1898, London tailor Daniel O’Sullivan sued Lieutenant Charles Leonard Flick of the Honourable Artillery Company “for damages for the seduction of his twenty-five-year-old daughter, Kate,” with whom Flick had had an illegitimate daughter. The above letter was entered into the court record by the plaintiff’s counsel. As a result of pregnancy and alledged assault, Kate O’Sullivan had been unable to assist her father’s tailoring work. The jury found in favour of the plaintiff for £150.

Flick was born in Halesworth, Suffolk, England on 20 December 1870. A year after the affair with the O’Sullivans, he volunteered with South African Light Horse in the Boer War, where he fought in several engagements. He immigrated to Canada after the war and married in British Columbia. By the outbreak of the First World War, he was commanding officer of the 31st BC Horse. He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1914 but transferred back to the Imperial Army in March 1915.

He was appointed commanding officer of 1/7th Battalion, Essex Regiment in July 1915 and served during Gallipoli campaign. After suffering shrapnel wounds, the colonel was evacuated back to England. By early 1916, he had been given command of 6th Devonshires which he led to the end of the war on the Mesopotamian Front. Following service in India during the Third Afghan War, Flick returned to British Columbia in 1920.

He retired from the Canadian militia in 1929, but remained active in local politics and veteran affairs. In response to calls for the interment of Japanese-Canadians living on the Pacific coast in January 1942, Flick denounced efforts to “terrorize and threaten Japanese. Out of similar conduct the German Gestapo was born.” He went on to write in an editorial for the Victoria Colonist:

 Many of your correspondents, Sir, allude to the Pearl Harbor episode with epithets the reverse of polite. The Pearl Harbor incident, it was only an incident of war, was solely due to slackness on the part of the military forces of the U.S.A.

Germany was arming and planning while Chamberlain was talking; Czecho-Slovakia was induced by soft German words to arm and threaten; Poland was fooled by a treaty of alliance and non-aggression; Russia barely escaped a net of similar German plausibility; France was bought and sold; Italy became a servile hewer of wood and drawer of water for Germany; Belgium and Holland were lolled to sleep by scraps of German paper; Norway became the victim of internal traitors and a dissembling Germany–what more warning did the U.S.A. want?

Flick’s commentary and opposition to Japanese internment provoked controversy, prompting one editorialist to respond with a column, “How to Lose a War.”

Flick died in Victoria on 8 February 1948. He had come a long way from a young officer whose name had first appeared in London scandal sheets fifty years earlier.


2 thoughts on “Lt. Col. Flick

  1. Yikes. Flick’s letter of apology certain reads like a confession of an assault of the worst type.

    Given that Miss O’Sullivan did obviously not marry Lt. Flick, and she obviously became pregnant, I wonder if we might reasonably presume she did not “meet him again” following the incident.

    This is an interesting insight, I’d note, on how things were treated differently at the time. I’m not suggesting better, just differently.

  2. Thanks! I think that is a reasonable presumption. Flick appeared to have left the country soon after and would not seem to return to the UK until WW1. Also revealing of the laws of the era that it was the father who had to sue for the damages inflicted on HIM in terms of the lost labour of his daughter/employee. An unusual case to be sure!

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