Lieutenant Colonel Harold J. Riley
27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion
For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership. During four days’ hard fighting, when his battalion was continuously making attacks at short intervals, his gallantry and indomitable energy inspired his men to their utmost efforts.
(Riley, D.S.O. Bar Citation, 11 Jan 1919)
Harold James Riley was the third commanding officer of the 27th Battalion. The son of prominent Winnipeg civic leader, Robert Thomas Riley, he was born on 29 November 1887. Riley was a graduate of University of Manitoba, a lawyer and amateur football and hockey player.
Lieutenant Colonel William Grassie
43rd (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
When I was told that we must take over the line which had been held by a London detachment of 1,000 men, I said, “Well there is one consolation, every man I have is as good as ten of the men who have been holding the line. We will do it.
(Grassie interview, Winnipeg Tribune, 24 Jan 1918)
A native of Scotland, William Grassie was born on 27 July 1872. He worked in Winnipeg as a real estate broker and was a former member of the 3rd Field Battery and 78th Cameron Highlanders. After Lieutenant Colonel Thomson of the 43rd Battalion was killed on 8 October 1916, Major Grassie assumed command.
Lieutenant Colonel Lendrum McMeans
221st (Bulldogs) Battalion
I desire to reiterate what the honourable gentleman [Mr. Sharpe] has just said. I too have lost of my substance and of my blood in this war; I too went out and did my best to raise men; and this honourable gentleman [Mr. Bennett] has no right to get up and sneer at men who have done that.
(McMeans, Senate Debates, 26 May 1920, 434)
Born on 1 August 1859 in Brantford, Canada West, Lendrum McMeans was Conservative member of the Manitoba Legislature (1910—1914) and civic leader in Winnipeg. In April 1916, McMeans was authorized to raise the 221st Battalion. His oldest son, thirty-one year old Major Vivian Arthur Vinton McMeans returned from the front in August to join in his father’s battalion. The colonel’s youngest son, twenty-six year old Captain Ernest D’Harcourt McMeans, had been killed in battle on 22 May 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel George H. Bradbury
108th (Selkirk) Battalion
I confess frankly that at the moment when I was informed that my battalion was to be broken up and that my men were to be taken from me to go to the front, I felt hurt; I felt it was an injustice to myself and to my battalion.
Slurs have been thrown across the floor by more than one hon. gentleman opposite regarding the colonels how have gone overseas. I should like to say to some of these gentleman that they would occupy a much higher position in this country than they occupy if they had done what some of these returned colonel have done.
(Bradbury, Debates, 13 July 1917, 3384)
George Henry Bradbury was a Manitoba manufacturer and veteran of the Northwest Rebellion. Born on 25 June 1859 in Hamilton, Canada West, he had belonged to the Ottawa Dragoons as a young man and enlisted with the Boulton’s Scouts during the 1885 Rebellion. In 1908, he was elected MP for Selkirk. In November 1915, he became a growing number of Conservative MP authorized to raise a battalion.
Brigadier General Huntly Ketchen
6th Infantry Brigade
Gather round, boys, I want to have a little talk with you. You’ve been under my command about nine months now, and I’ve always been proud of you, and now you are going up the line, and I want to say this to you: Don’t go up with any idea that you are going to be killed—we want you all to take care of yourselves and not expose yourselves recklessly.
And remember a dead man is no use to us, we want you alive, and when we want you to put your heads up, we’ll tell you! And I’ve no doubt that you will only be too eager.
(Ketchen’s Speech, quoted in Pte. Jack O’Brien, Into the Jaws of Death, 1919, 54)
The son of an Indian Army officer, Huntly Douglas Brodie Ketchen was born in Sholopore, India on 22 May 1872. After graduating from the Royal Military College in Sandhurst, England, Ketchen moved to Canada, joined the North West Mounted Police in 1894 and fought in the Boer War. He was appointed to lead the 6th Infantry Brigade in May 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel J. E. Hansford
203rd (Hard and Dry) Battalion
He has also on different occasions intimated that he does not want to return to Canada, and has given the impression that he would “stall” off his return as long as possible.
He is the most unsatisfactory officer I have had to deal with, and since he has wilfully disobeyed an order and made a false statement, I think that disciplinary action should be taken … should he again return to this area, he will be placed under arrest.
(Col. Smart, Officer Commanding, Shorncliffe, 19 Oct 1917)
The son of Reverend William Hansford of Quebec, Jeffrey Ellery Hansford was born on 17 November 1864. He graduated from the University of Toronto and belonged to Loyal Orange Order No. 1307. A member of the 90th Winnipeg Rifles and major with the 144th Battalion, Hansford received authorization to raise the 203rd in February 1916.
Lieutenant Colonel Dan McLean
101st (Winnipeg Light Infantry) Battalion
If Canada, a self-governing nation, as part of the British Empire, but free and independent, should be attacked, what would Great Britain do? Every one knows she would fly to our assistance with all her forces. Canada will not do less. Every Canadian should be prepared, and I believe is prepared, to stand shoulder to shoulder for the unity of the Empire.
(McLean to Montreal Daily Star, 3 Aug 1914)
In anticipation of war with Germany, Daniel McLean, commanding officer of the 106th Winnipeg Light Infantry transmitted the above message vowing to support the Empire. McLean was a Winnipeg city councillor and Conservative member of the Manitoba legislature (1914—1915). Born on 4 January 1868 in Scotch Block, Ontario, he had moved to Winnipeg in 1893 and organized the 106th in 1912.
Lieutenant Colonel Hugh F. Osler
174th (Cameron Highlanders) Battalion
It makes me mad to see hundreds of fit men, a great many of whom can undoubtedly be spared, walking about and going to picture shows, without any thought of enlisting, when ten thousand of their fellow Canadians are either giving up their lives or being wounded every month.
(Hugh Osler to Edmund Osler, 8 Nov 1916)
Born in Toronto on 17 November 1881, Hugh Farquharson Osler was the son of Edmund Boyd Osler (1845—1924), prominent financier, banker and Tory politician. The elder Osler was Conservative MP for Toronto West between 1896 and 1917. After graduating from the Royal Military College, Hugh moved to Winnipeg where he worked for a corporate investment firm.
Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Edgecombe
183rd (Orange) Battalion
The pursuit of Brother Edgecombe is one of the most contemptible things that has happened in the politics of any Province.
It is just another instance of the implacability of political leaders. They expect men to violate their consciences, to ignore their convictions, to surrender their own views on public questions for the good of the party.
(Winnipeg Free Press, 17 Feb 1915, 22)
William Thomas Edgecombe was a Winnipeg city alderman, Grand Master of the Manitoba Loyal Orange Lodge. He was born in Harbor Grace, Newfoundland on 15 August 1868. He held various positions in publishing, engraving and banking before moving to Winnipeg in 1893. Although not active in the militia, Edgecombe was selected to raise the 183rd Battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. George Clingan, M.L.A.
79th (Manitoba) Battalion
Col. Clingan made an eloquent appeal for recruits, “Don’t let your children-to-be say in the after years, ‘My daddy was too cowardly to fight in the big war.’”
(Winnipeg Tribune, 11 Mar 1916, 12)
George Clingan was a doctor and Liberal member for Virden in the Manitoba legislature between 1914 and 1922. He was born on 28 March 1868 in Orangeville, Ontario and graduated from the Toronto Medical College. After moving his medical practice to Manitoba, he joined the 12th Dragoons in 1898, rising to the rank of major. He raising the 79th Battalion from Brandon and sailed to England in April 1916.