The Industrialist

Lieutenant Colonel Byron James McCormick
213th (Toronto Americans) Battalion

I have only one son, but I thank God that this is his war too. While I was in Flanders I heard that the boy had enlisted because his dad had enlisted. When I was given command of the 213th Battalion I hoped that he might be able to fight under me, but I learned that we have passed each on the seas. The boy was going over to do his bit. I hope to get back to help the kid, as he started out to help me.

(McCormick speech, Toronto World, 19 May 1916, 4)

Born on 17 May 1872 in Port Huron, Michigan, Byron James McCormick became a successful entrepreneur and Industrial Commissioner in Welland after immigrating to Ontario in 1905. He enlisted as a captain with the 35th Battalion and transferred to the British Army. One observer described McCormick: “Tall and alert, he looks every inch a soldier, and he is one, with sixteen years’ service in the Michigan National Guard behind him. His motto, ‘Never let a fault go unchecked,’ explains his rapid rise in the army.”

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The Philanderer

Major Laurence Clark
211th (Alberta Americans) BattalionClarkEL

He is a high strung individual and a “worrier.” He complains of insomnia and that he dreams a great deal.

He is markedly nervous and is 18 Ibs under weight. The Board is of the opinion that this Officer will not improve in this climate and recommend that he be invalided to Canada

(Proceedings of a Medical Board, 9 Aug 1917)

Laurence Erastus Clark was a traveling auditor for a New York banking firm. He was born in Buffalo on 17 February 1883 and had been an officer in the state National Guard. After the formation of the 97th American Legion in Toronto, Clark enlisted as a lieutenant. By February 1916, he had transferred to the 211th Alberta Americans to become second-in-command.

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The Patriot

Major Warren M. Sage
211th (Alberta Americans) BattalionSage

Many in this unit have ancestors who fought in 1776 against England, or rather against the tyranny of an English king and against German mercenaries. The descendants of these fighting men of old are proud of their ancestors’ deeds. How could the descendants of those men living through these times of stress, in days to come, answer the very natural questions from their children: “Why did you not fight for the oppressed?”

(S. R. Flowers, The Legion, Dec 1915)

Warren Morrill Sage was an American-Canadian civil engineer and militia officer in Calgary. Born in New York on 28 January 1886, Sage moved to Alberta after graduating from the Columbia School of Mines in 1906. He joined the 103th (Calgary Rifles) Regiment as a private and was reputedly a “crack shot” with a rifle. At the outbreak of the war, Sage joined the 56th Battalion as a captain and later the 137th as second-in-command. After Militia Minister Hughes created the American Legion battalions in 1915, Sage offered to recruit a unit from Alberta and British Columbia.

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The Young Man

Major Bernard C. Pittman
212th (Winnipeg Americans) Battalion
BCPittman

Ability not age is the dominating factor in promotions over there. Major Bishop of the Canadian aviation corps, the most brilliant aviator in the British army is 18 years old. There is a brigadier general in the British army who is 28. This general enlisted from civil life as a private and worked his way to the top.

This war has proven that only young men and those of good physical ability can stand the strain of battle. Look at the order of General Pershing sending home all brigadier generals over 45 years of age.

(Pittman’s speech, Ellensburg Daily Record, 23 Jan 1918, 1)

Bernard Cleveland Pittman was born on 21 March 1887 in Independence, Missouri. In late 1915, the young National Guardsman travelled to Winnipeg to join the 101st Battalion and offered to raise an all-American company. After the formation of the 97th American Legion he went to Toronto to became the battalion junior major. When a regional American battalion was formed in the west, Pittman headed back to Winnipeg to take command of the 212nd.

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The General

Lieutenant Colonel Robert James Bates
212th (Winnipeg Americans) BattalionBates

The distinctive thing about the battalions in the Legion, of course, is that they are all American, from the humblest private to the commanding officer. In the American army we have Negro regiments commanded by American officers, but the Canadians have placed all responsibility for the battalions in the Legion on American shoulders, and the Americans believe that they will consent to an American general at the head of a division if enough Yankees turn out to form one.

(The Outlook, 28 June 1916, 504)

Robert James Bates was a Canadian-born general in the Michigan National Guard. Born in 1868 in Feversham, Ontario, he moved to the United States with his family at the age of seven. He served for twenty-five years in the American army and was a captain with the 34th Michigan Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish American War.

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The Brooklyner

Major George C. Hart
97th (American Legion) Battalion

Major G. C. Hart, a big muscular soldier with a scowl engraved on his leathery face…

(J. W. Pegler, Altoona Mirror, 23 Nov 1916, 2)

George Clark Hart was a twenty-year veteran of the New York National Guard who fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American war and Mexico during the revolution. He was born on 16 April 1875 in Elmira, New York. He was also military drill instructor and disciplinarian at the Elmira Reformatory.

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The Berserker

Major Axel “Rass” Rasmussen †
97th (American Legion) BattalionRasmussen

Rasmussen was a big, handsome man; fearless in war and pitiless to four-flushers anywhere, any time.

(J. W. Pegler, Evening News, 26 June 1918, 2)

“But so far I’ve always found that a man has time to get down to avoid the fragments— if he moves fast. If it’s got your initials on it— well, no one but a prime so-and-so wants to live forever!”- Maj. Rasmussen

(E. S. Johnston,  Americans vs. Germans: the First AEF in Action, 1942, 33)

Axel Thorvald Rasmussen was one of the American Legion’s most famous members. The thirty-eight year old, Danish-born resident of Oregon was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. During the Mexico Revolution, he fought in support of General Obregón’s army. Regarding his previous fights as “mere skirmishes,” in 1916, Rasmussen traveled to Canada in order to join Lieutenant Colonel Wade Jolly’s 97th American Legion.

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The Clergyman

Lieutenant Colonel Rev. C. S. Bullock
237th (New Brunswick Americans) BattalionBullock

Just to fight on until at last is ended
The war with all its horrors and its pain—
To see triumphant that which I defended
And find in loss the truer greater gain
To know that men still count that death is better
Than life, if lived on suppliant’s bended knee
And give their all to snap the bounds that fetter
Then smile at Death because their souls are free

(Bullock, The Rotarian, Dec 1942, 59)

Reverend Charles Seymour Bullock was an American Unitarian minister in the Ottawa Church of Our Father at the outbreak of the First World War. Born in Cold Spring, New York on 13 February 1867, Bullock had been a chaplain in the First Illinois Cavalry during the Spanish-American War. In 1912, he accepted a position with the Unitarian Church in Ottawa. An admirer of Canada, Bullock, strongly supported the war effort against Germany, becoming involved in fundraising and recruitment.

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The Mercenary

Lieutenant Colonel Wade L. Jolly
97th (American Legion) BattalionJolly

Of course the adventure spirit is a motive with all of them. But so it was with the Crusaders, whom history has granted a halo of glory. In fact, what made the military expeditions to the Holy Land so attractive to the men who dressed in steel was that on those pious but martial junkets they could satisfy both the physical and spiritual sides of their nature. So the American Legion offers satisfaction to both the love of battle and the consciences of its members.

(The Outlook, 28 June 1916, 504)

Born on 18 January 1878 in Iowa, Wade Lytton Jolly was an American soldier, adventurer and businessman. At the age of 19, he enlisted to fight in the Spanish-American War. In 1899, he joined the United States Marine Corps. Serving for fourteen years, he saw action in many overseas military campaigns including China and Panama. During the Boxer Rebellion, Jolly distinguished himself in several acts of “conspicuous gallantry.” His superior, Major Littleton Walker, enthused, “The reports of Mr. Jolly’s conduct are most flattering and they come in from all sides. This is the second time I have had occasion to make special mention of this young officer during the week.”

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