Lieutenant Colonel E. W. MacDonald, D.S.O., M.C.
10th (White Gurkhas) Battalion
Early in the day, before the attack, and again in the afternoon, he made personal reconnaissances over fire-swept ground, gaining first-hand information which enabled him to handle his men and direct the fire of his guns with remarkable success. His fine leadership, coolness and disregard of danger, carried his men along with him.
(D.S.O. Bar citation, Gazette, 2 Jan 1919)
On 24 May 1918, Eric Whidden MacDonald became the youngest battalion commander in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia on 20 July 1892. He moved to Calgary in 1913 to become an accountant with the Canadian Oil Company. He enlisted with the 10th Battalion in September 1914.
Brigadier General W. A. Griesbach, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
I had an idea at one time, that after the war over half of the Canadian parliament would be men who had served in the war. I had an idea that it would be hardly possible for a man to be elected to parliament who had not served his country in the war on active service. Yet in the present parliament we have in the commons some nine men out of 235—no I beg pardon, 234, for one is a woman—who have served overseas.
(Griesbach speech, Ottawa Citizen, 3 May 1923, 3)
William Antrobus Griesbach was an Edmonton barrister, Conservative political figure and member of the 19th Alberta Dragoons. He was born in Fort Qu’Appelle, North-West Territories on 3 January 1878. A veteran of the Boer War, he was authorized to raise the 49th Battalion In January 1915. By October 1915, Griesbach and his Edmonton volunteers had deployed to France as part of the 7th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Palmer, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
Soldier of the old school, fearless, straightforward, a fighter and a sportsman, sincere with an independency of opinion which frequently got him into trouble with the Staff, especially if it were upon some question that had to do with the welfare of his men—such was the character of the second C.O. of our Battalion.
(The Forty-Niner, Jan 1934, 19)
Robert Henry Palmer was chief fire ranger and Indian agent in Alberta. Born in Glamorganshire, Wales on 19 February 1868, he immigrated to western Canada as a young man. He was an original member of Lord Strathcona’s Horse and fought in the Boer War. In January 1915, he joined Lieutenant Colonel Griesbach’s 49th Battalion as a company commander. Admired for his toughness and fearlessness on the battlefield, Palmer—who had lowered his age by seven years on enlistment—was affectionately known by his men as “The Old Man.”
Lieutenant Colonel A. E. Shaw †
6th and 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles
Never was there a more popular or respected Commanding Officer. It was a common feeling throughout the battalion, that it was entirely due to the good advice and excellent management of our colonel that the casualties of the battalion were kept so low during the earlier part of our tour in the salient, and I don’t think there were any of us but would have gone anywhere with him, as like all good soldiers he never asked a man to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.
(Trooper C. S. Cole to Mrs. Shaw [wife], Jul 1916)
Alfred Ernest Shaw was presumed killed in action defending the front line against a German assault on 3 June 1916. His body was never found. Born in Millbrook, Ontario, on 21 November 1881, he was a former NWMP constable and member of the 3rd Dragoons and Lord Strathcona’s Horse.
Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Kemmis
13th Canadian Mounted Rifles
Confidentially Kemmis is a drunken incompetent and his appointment will be regarded [as a] joke.
(R.B. Bennett to Borden, 14 Dec 1914)
The son of a British Army officer, Arthur Charles Kemmis was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on 10 February 1874. He spent his youth in England and Ireland before returning to Canada in the 1890s. He moved west to establish a law practice at Pincher Creek. He formed the 23rd Alberta Rangers in 1910. In December 1914, Kemmis was authorized to organize the 13th Mounted Rifles based in his hometown.
Lieutenant Colonel E. G. Mason
50th (Mason’s Man-Eaters) Battalion
To add to our woe the last day of the Battle of Ancre Heights, our beloved Colonel Mason was evacuated to England, victim of the cruel weather, the unbelievably vile conditions in the front line, and the physical demands and mental stress made on men of great responsibility under fire.
(Victor Wheeler, The 50th Battalion in No Man’s Land, 31)
Born on 26 October 1874 in Hamilton, Ontario, Edward George Mason was a surgeon and physician in Calgary. He graduated from McGill University in 1902 and moved west to establish a practice in Alberta. A noted football player and militiaman, he was appointed to organize the 50th Battalion in November 1914.
Lieutenant Colonel William A. Lowry
82nd (Alberta) Battalion
The Colonel narrated some tales of the battlefields and described conditions in the trenches and in the billets at the front-which were intensely interesting. In conclusion, he made a strong appeal for every man who was able to join the ranks in order to insure the safe return of the boys who were now going to the front.
(The War Cry, 27 Nov 1915, 6)
In September 1914, William Arthur Lowry enlisted as an officer in Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle’s 10th Battalion at Valcartier. Born on 19 July 1878 in Wellington County, Ontario, Lowry was a veteran of Strathcona’s Horse in the Boer War and a member of the Corps of Guides since 1912. He was wounded in the second battle of Ypres and witnessed Boyle’s death in hospital on 25 April 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel William C. Craig
194th (Edmonton Highlanders) Battalion
Captain Craig had the honor to be the first officer of the C.M.R. to be wounded. We landed in France in October and went straight to the trenches a little south of Ypres, and Captain Craig was wounded almost immediately after we arrived.
(Capt. Pringle, 3rd CMR, Edmonton Bulletin, 1916, 7)
William Caldwell Craig was born in Leeds, Quebec on 12 March 1884 to English-Scottish parents. He was gazetted to Lord Strathcona’s Horse in 1912 in Winnipeg. He later relocated to Vermilion, Alberta and joined the 19th Alberta Dragoons. At the outbreak of the Great War, Craig enlisted as a captain in the 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles. After he was wounded in the foot during a battle at Dicksbusche, Craig was invalided to Canada in December 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel W. C. Bryan
191st (Bryan’s Buffalos) Battalion
The province of Alberta owing to its cosmopolitan population is hard to police, alien settlements being scattered all over it. These people, banded together as they are, and in a good many instances retaining the customs and mode of life they lived in their own countries before coming to Canada, are not as yet educating themselves with regard to the laws of this country, it is impossible to obtain evidence from them, and they are too prone to look upon any policeman as an enemy instead of a friend.
(W. C. Bryan, APP Annual Report, 1921)
Willoughby Charles Bryan was a western cowpuncher whose adventures took him from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the Mexican army of Porfirio Díaz to the Texas Rangers and the Northwest Mounted Police. A native of Nottingham, England, Bryan was born on 17 December 1866 and immigrated to Manitoba in 1883.
Lieutenant Colonel G. E. Sanders, D.S.O.
2nd Pioneer Battalion
I would sooner see a man go around and murder people outright than have him peddling this sort of thing [cocaine]. It is apparently the greatest danger and menace against which we must contend. Once addicted to the habit, a man is never cured and is no longer a human being but a beast.
(Sanders, Calgary Herald, 15 Jan 1913, 12)
Born in Yale, British Columbia on 25 December 1863, Gilbert Edward Sanders was a graduate of the Royal Military College and a Calgary police magistrate. A former Northwest Mounted Police inspector, he was also a veteran of the 1885 Rebellion and the Boer War, where he won the D.S.O. Notorious for his harsh sentences, corporal punishment and blatant bigotry, Sanders once remarked, “the cells were the proper abode for many of the coloured men.”