Lieutenant Colonel J. C. L. Bott
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles
I was not drunk on the 3rd of Oct 1916 … I had nothing to drink since 12:30pm on that day. I had a drink in the morning with Major Laws and I had three more … I brought a bottle of whiskey on the morning in question … As a rule I take about five drinks a day. Spread out through the day. I never have a drink alone.
(Lt. Col. Bott, general court martial, 7 Nov 1916)
Born in Marden, Wiltshire, England on 24 August 1872, John Cecil Latham Bott was a professional British soldier and cavalryman. He was a member of the 20th Hussars from 1895 to 1909, and served in Egypt and South Africa. He immigrated to Vernon, British Columbia after the Boer War and helped to organize the 30th Horse.
Lieutenant Colonel Lorne Ross, D.S.O.
67th (Western Scots) Battalion
He followed Duty’s guidance/ O’er wide continent and sea,
To the blood-stained fields of France/ Where men battled to be free.
Amid the ruin and carnage,/ The thunder of gun and shell.
Facing grim death with courage./ Fearless he fought and fell.
There where night’s benediction/ Breathes quiet o’er the silent sod.
Waiting the bless’d resurrection/ He rests in peace with his God.
(Lorne Ross, Canada in Khaki, 178)
Born on 26 November 1878 in Montreal, Quebec, Lorne Ross was a banker in Victoria, British and had served for over thirteen years in several militia regiments including the 13th, the 22nd and the 29th. In 1913, he joined the 50th Gordon Highlanders as a major under the command of Colonel Arthur W. Currie. In September 1914, Ross enlisted at Valcartier and sailed with the CEF overseas.
Lieutenant Colonel W.S. Latta
29th (Vancouver) Battalion
He led his battalion in an attack against a village, outstripping the troops on his left, as well as the guns and tanks. In this difficult, situation he handled his battalion with such skill that he reached his final objective with, comparatively small loss. He has at all times displayed fine leadership in action until severely wounded.
(2nd Bar D.S.O. Citation, Gazette, 4 Dec 1918, 4380)
Born in Ayr, Scotland on 14 April 1879, William Smith Latta was a British Columbia bookkeeper and member of the 6th Duke of Connaught Regiment. He was commissioned into the 29th Battalion at the rank of major and succeeded Lieutenant Colonel John Munro Ross in command on 23 July 1917. Multiple times decorated for bravery, he received the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars.
Lieutenant Colonel W.F. Gilson, D.S.O.
7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion
Referring to the untrained men who won so brave a reputation, Col. Gilson said in talking with a German clergyman he used the word but could not induce him to alter his opinion: “How can you state Canada had no professional soldiers? These men are fully trained and regulars of the finest class.”
(Chilliwack Progress, 15 May 1919, 8)
Born in India on 1 May 1877, William Forbes Gilson was a veteran of the West African Frontier Field Force. Enlisting in the CEF as a sergeant, within two years Gilson rose to command the 7th Battalion. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 18 October 1917, a D.S.O. Bar for actions of 8 August 1918 and a second D.S.O. Bar for gallantry on 2 September 1918. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel Stan Gardner, M.C.†
7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion
Lieut.-Col. Gardner is known and respected not only as a fighting man and successful officer, but also a true friend to the soldier who does his duty as it should be done.
(Daily Colonist, 15 Sept 1916, 5)
Born in London, England on 22 August 1880, Stanley Douglas Gardner was a member of the 22nd London Regiment before immigrating to British Columbia. A veteran of the Canadian Mounted Rifles in the Boer War, he enlisted as a captain with the 7th Battalion in September 1914. Stanley was soon appointed battalion adjutant but he was seriously wounded at Festubert on 25 May 1915 and invalided to England. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel W.J.H. Holmes
48th (British Columbia) Battalion
He did not salute, so immediately after passing I stopped, turned back and asked him “what’s the matter. Why didn’t you salute?” He swiftly looked at me without taking his hand out of it pocket … His manner appeared to be so insubordinate that I asked him for his paybook … I then ordered him under close arrest.
(Court martial of Pte. Parents, 4 Jan 1919)
William Josiah Hartley Holmes was a graduate of the Royal Military College, a British Columbia land surveyor and first commanding officer of the 102nd Rocky Mountain Rangers. He was born on 28 May 1871 in St. Catherines, Ontario but moved to Victoria with his family. In 1910, Holmes was part of an expedition to explore Crown Mountain. Although he had retired to the reserve militia list in 1912, he was appointed commander of the 48th Battalion after the outbreak of the First World War.
Lieutenant Colonel J.H.D. Hulme
62nd (Hulme’s Huskies) Battalion
But, in relinquishing the command of the first troops to leave Vancouver, Colonel Hulme, commanding the Sixth, was actually self-sacrificing, and logical. Major McHarg had had war experience in South Africa as a sergeant; Colonel Hulme had no war service at all, and at that time, and to soldiers especially, war service was considered far more essential to command than later, when all manner of business men rose to high military station and rank.
To let Major McHarg take the first body of men to the front was proper to a logical mind. But it brought unkind thought, and some criticism from the less thoughtful.
(Major J. S. Matthews, Early Vancouver, Volume V, 1945, 136)
John Herbert Donaldson Hulme was a British Columbia lawyer with thirty years of service in the militia. He was born in Belleville, Ontario on 14 July 1867. He had settled in Vancouver in 1904 after travelling west to the Yukon during the gold rush. As the commanding officer of the 6th Regiment, Hulme was expected to lead his militiamen to Valcartier in August 1914 to join the First Contingent. To the surprise of his second-in-command, Hulme appointed Major W. Hart-McHarg to lead the battalion overseas in his stead. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel J.R.O. Vicars
172nd (Rocky Mountain Rangers) Battalion
The duty of all Canadians is to shed their last drop of blood in defence of the dear old Motherland. But why ask such a question? Is there a cur with a drop of British blood in his veins who doubts his duty? As for myself and Rangers, we are ready. Only let Colonel Sam. [Hughes] give the word. I speak for my men. They know me, and I know them.
(Vicars to Montreal Daily Star, 3 Aug 1914)
Too bad they broke us up for had they not we would have been in Berlin by this time or all in Heaven … Although the latter place has already many of our poor fellows and every day adds to the number.
(Vicars to Kamloops Standard-Sentinel, 21 Sept 1917)
Despite his enthusiastic offer to volunteer on the outbreak of war in August 1914, sixty-year-old John Richard Odlum Vicars did not receive authorization to raise an overseas battalion until January 1916. Vicars was a British Columbia land surveyor and commanding officer of the 102nd Rocky Mountain Rangers. Born in Dublin, Ireland on 16 April 1855, he immigrated to Canada with his family in 1858 and moved west in the 1880s.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Milne
158th (Milne’s Men) Battalion
When the boys go marching through that mud, filth and slime under their pack, singing with that forced and indefinable gaiety which is the spirit of the troops, a lump comes into my throat and I can’t talk about it. I think that the devil when he sees it must laugh with glee and the angels weep tor sheer pity.
(Milne’s interview, Vancouver World, 12 Sept 1917, 1)
Charles Milne was a gentleman militia officer with the 6th Duke of Connaught’s Own Regiment. Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 25 September 1866, he had served several years in the Gordon Highlanders before moving to Canada. In January 1916, he was authorized to raise the 158th Battalion from Vancouver.
Major A. Leslie Coote
47th (British Columbia) Battalion
Objecting to being relegated to duty in a safety zone while men he had recruited were “in the line”, Col. Coote entered a strenuous protest but militia trained senior officers were a drug on the market in England just then while juniors and men for the ranks were badly needed. This being the case, while hundreds of other Majors returned to Canada, Col. Coote resigned his commission, enlisted in the King Edward Horse as a trooper…
(Chilliwack Progress, 29 Apr 1920, 1)
Born in Tynemouth, England on 9 February 1868, Andrew Leslie Coote was a farmer and senior officer in the 104th Regiment. As second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Winsby in the 47th Battalion, Coote often assumed responsibility for the unit on the front when his superior was away at brigade conferences and headquarters meetings.