3rd Infantry Battalion

3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion
1st Canadian Division

3rd Bn 1

Robert Rennie was the first 3rd Battalion CO, from September 1914 to November1915, when he was promoted to command the 4th Infantry Brigade.

3rd Bn 2

William D. Allan commanded the 3rd Battalion until September 1916 when he feel deadly ill following a shell splinter wound. His parents returned with the body for burial in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, making him one of the few Canadians buried at home even though he died overseas.

3rd Bn 3

An original officer with the 3rd Battalion, Robert B. Rogers took over after Allan’s death. He remained in command until the end of the war.

2nd Infantry Battalion

2nd (Central Ontario) Battalion
1st Canadian Division

2nd BN 1 A

David Watson was the first 2nd Battalion CO, from September 1914 to August 1915, when he was promoted to command the 5th Infantry Brigade.

2nd Swift

Albert E. Swift commanded the 2nd Battalion until November 1916, about when he learned that his wife had been killed by runaway horses in Quebec. Swift was appointed to command the 14th Infantry Brigade.

2nd Yates

Wilton Yates briefly command the 2nd Battalion until December 1916. While on a training course, Yates suffered severe head injuries when he was in an accident with an overturned bus.

2nd Clark

Robert Percy Clark transferred to the 2nd from command of the 14th Battalion. He relinquished command in May 1917.

2nd McLaughlin

Lorne McLaughlin commanded the 2nd Battalion from May 1917 until 30 August 1918, when he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. He resumed command from October until the end of the war.

2nd Vanderwater

Roscoe Vanderwater temporary took over the 2nd when McLaughlin was wounded for the month of September 1918.

1st Infantry Battalion

1st (Western Ontario) Battalion
1st Canadian Division

1st Bn 1

Frederic William Hill was the first 1st Battalion CO, from September 1914 to January 1916, when he was promoted to command the 9th Infantry Brigade.

1st Bn 2

Frank A. Creighton succeeded Hill in command of the 1st Battalion in January 1916. He was killed when a shell hit his headquarters on 15 June 1916.

1st Bn 3

Former 9th Canadian Mounted Rifles CO, George C. Hodson was next selected to take command of the 1st Battalion. The appointment of an outsider caused friction with other officers. He was sacked on 16 August 1917.

1st Bn 4

Albert Sparling, who earned a D.S.O. and Bar, commanded the 1st Battalion from 17 August 1917 until the end of the war.

Dismissal at Hill 70

Lieutenant Alexander Joseph Gleam
10th Battalion

“All my men are down and out,” Lt. Alex Gleam writes to Capt. W. Thompson. ”Am afraid they will balk.”

“Your men will go forward as ordered,” Thompson relies. “Any man who refuses is to be shot … Buck up, and get relieved to-night. The spirit of your message is not becoming a British officer.”

(General Court Martial of Lt. A.J. Gleam, 19 Sept 1917)

Gleam comic 1
Continue reading

Dishonoured Cheques

Lieutenant Ronald John Beck
8th Reserve Battalion

In conclusion, I would like to say that I have no one to blame but myself. It was caused by two things: Drink and women. I never knew the taste of liquor until I went to France. I still wish to stay in the army in any capacity whatsoever.

(Lt. R.J. Beck, court martial, 7 Jan 1918)

Beck comic page 1
Continue reading

Through Their Eyes book trailer

A Graphic History of Hill 70 and Canada’s First World War

By Matthew Barrett (illustrator/co-writer) and Robert Engen (co-writer)

Published by MQUP, our book imagines the experiences of Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917 through graphic artwork and full-colour illustration.

Available from McGill-Queen’s University Press, Amazon, Chapters/Indigo

From the publisher:

By the summer of 1917, Canadian troops had captured Vimy Ridge, but Allied offensives had stalled across many fronts of the Great War. To help break the stalemate of trench warfare, the Canadian Corps commander, Lieutenant-General Arthur Currie, was tasked with capturing Hill 70, a German stronghold near the French town of Lens.

After securing the hill on 15 August, Canadian soldiers endured days of shelling, machine-gun fire, and poison gas as they repelled relentless enemy counterattacks. Through Their Eyes depicts this remarkable but costly victory in a unique way. With full-colour graphic artwork and detailed illustration, Matthew Barrett and Robert Engen picture the battle from different perspectives – Currie’s strategic view at high command, a junior officer’s experience at the platoon level, and the vantage points of many lesser-known Canadian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. This innovative graphic history invites readers to reimagine the First World War through the eyes of those who lived it and to think more deeply about how we visualize and remember the past.

Combining outstanding original art and thought-provoking commentary, Through Their Eyes uncovers the fascinating stories behind this battle while creatively expanding the ways that history is shared and represented.

“A powerful and moving book. This is Canada’s First World War as we have never seen it before.”

-Colonel Chris Hadfield, astronaut and four-time best-selling author

“This innovative graphic history provides a new way of understanding the complexity and carnage of the First World War. Employing vivid graphics and authoritative history, Matthew Barrett and Robert C. Engen offer multiple and diverse perspectives to reclaim the Battle of Hill 70 for a new generation.”

-Tim Cook, Chief Historian at the Canadian War Museum

This book was generously supported by the Hill 70 Memorial Project.

Pre-order Through Their Eyes: A Graphic History of Hill 70 and Canada’s First World War

The Vanished Officer

Lieutenant Reginald J. Woods
The Lake Superior Regiment

An illustrated story of one officer featured in my book Scandalous Conduct: Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914–45.

On 16 August 1944, Lieutenant Reg Woods joined his regiment fighting in France. After being under enemy fire for the first time, he vanished the next day. Two months later, Woods resurfaced in London claiming amnesia. He was admitted to a neurological hospital as a possible psychiatric casualty. Was he a battle exhaustion case deserving treatment or a disciplinary problem? One doctor believed the amnesia genuine, but the hospital’s commanding medical officer suspected Woods was faking to conceal deliberate misconduct. He was arrested and charged with desertion.

Woods comic 1
Continue reading

The Nervous Officer

Lieutenant Kenneth Cameron Fellowes
84th and 25th Battalions

An illustrated story of one officer featured in my book Scandalous Conduct: Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914–45.

Speaking quite impersonally, it is manifest that having regard to the very trying conditions at the Front it would never do to establish the principle that an officer who by reason of his nervous condition failed to carry out an order given to him could escape the consequences by attributing the fault to his nervousness. Men at the front have to “stick it” at all costs, and the establishment of a precedent excusing the failing to do so would be very dangerous.

(Maj. Walter Gow, 17 Jan 1917)

Fellowes 1A
Continue reading

Victoria Cross at Ypres

Captain Francis Scrimger
Canadian Army Medical Corps

On the afternoon of 25th April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of Ypres, when in charge of an advanced dressing station in some farm buildings, which were being heavily shelled by the enemy, he directed under heavy fire the removal of the wounded, and he himself carried a severely wounded Officer out of a stable in search of a place of greater safety. When he was unable alone to carry this Officer further, he remained with him under fire till help could be obtained.

(Scrimger, VC citation, 22 June 1915)

Scrimger 1 Continue reading