The Aphasic

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Mersereau, D.S.O.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionMersereauCJ

He talks spontaneously but with deliberation at uncommon words he pauses an instant for he has to visualize the word before he can say it. He tends to displace words or syllables. If he wants to say ‘tomorrow’ he will often say \yesterday’ and sometimes he will not recognize the mistake. He mixes up the person or verbs, he will say ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ or ‘we’ instead of ‘they.’ At times will say damn in place of another word.

(Medical consultant report on Lt. Col. Mersereau, 9 July 1919)

While carrying a message to Brigadier General Arthur Currie during the Second Battle of Ypres, Major Chalmers Jack Mersereau was struck in the head by a piece of shrapnel. Although he managed to make the delivery to headquarters, he slipped into unconsciousness. Hospitalized for the next two months, he found that he had lost his power speech. Fluent in English and French with some German before the war, he struggled to regain basic vocabulary, which remained partially impaired for the rest of his life.

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Lt. Col. Fowler, MP

Lieutenant Colonel G.W. Fowler, MP
104th (New Brunswick) Battalion

There is often a vast difference between the stories they tell in Canada, as to their achievements in France, and the stories that are told of them here. There have been cases where such Officers have, in consequence of the skillful manner in which they have trumpeted their own achievements (which were really of a very minor character) obtained advancement, much to the annoyance and disgust of men whose services have been far more valuable, but who have remained steadily on the job.

(Fowler to Robert Borden, 6 Sept 1916)

Born on 24 February 1859, George William Fowler was Conservative MP for King’s and Albert (1900—1908, 1911—1917) and senator for New Brunswick (1917—1924). A graduate of Dalhousie University and Boston College, he was a lawyer and Grand Master in the provincial Orange Order.

A retired militia officer with twenty years in the 8th Hussars, Fowler was appointed to command the 104th Battalion from New Brunswick in November 1915. On his attestation form, he lowered his birth date by two years and curiously listed his religion as pagan.

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Lt. Col. Kirkpatrick

Lieutenant Colonel J.R. Kirkpatrick
55th (New Brunswick and P.E.I.) Battalion

Some of the advantages of a machine gun are, that while equal to that of sixty men that it occupies only about a yard of space, and owing to its size can readily be concealed. It can be easily and rapidly moved from one position to another by a few men; it can be and has been handled with deadly effect by two men; it is capable of firing from 350 to 600 rounds per minute, and an object on which a machine gun is successfully trained cannot fail to be totally annihilated in a very short space of time.

(Lt. Col. Kirkpatrick, Daily Gleaner, 21 Jul 1915, 5)

Born on 18 December 1863 in Debec Junction, New Brunswick, James Renfrew Kirkpatrick was a farmer and long-time militiaman. He had served for nearly thirty years in the 67th Carleton Light Infantry. As commanding officer of regiment, he was one of many senior militia officers at Valcartier in August 1914 hoping for a posting to one of the overseas battalions. He sailed with First Contingent to England but was struck off strength as a surplus officer in December 1914.

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The Acadian

Lieutenant Colonel L.C. D’Aigle
165th (French Arcadian) Battalion

I know lots of men who would go, but they are not prepared to serve under mushroom officers who don’t know their duty. An officer, to be a good officer, must be trained not picked up politically or otherwise because he has an uncle or an aunt or somebody connected with the titled people we have around. I am speaking now more particularly of my own province.

(Col. Domville, Senate Debates, 4 May 1916,  413)

Born on 15 December 1869 in Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick, Louis-Cyriaque D’Aigle was an Acadian agronomist and dairy farming magnate. Although he did not have any military or militia experience, D’Aigle was appointed to the 165th Battalion. which was to recruit from the Acadian community of the Maritimes.

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Lt. Col. Montgomery-Campbell

Lieutenant Colonel H. Montgomery-Campbell
64th (New Brunswick) Battalion

I do not want to make any invidious distinctions, but they take a man out of an office and make him a colonel. What does he know about war? His intentions may be good but that does not make him an eminent soldier; that does not make him fit to meet the enemy in the field.

(Col. Domville, Senate Debates, 4 May 1916,  413)

Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on 24 September 1859, Henry Montgomery-Campbell was a Sussex farmer and commanding officer of the 8th (Princess Louise Hussars) Regiment. His younger brother Herbert Montgomery-Campbell (1861—1937), a graduate of the Royal Military College and a Boer War veteran, served as a brigadier-general in British Army artillery during the First World War. Henry meanwhile raised the 64th Battalion from the three Maritime Provinces. They were sons of George Montgomery-Campbell, a professor of classics at the University of New Brunswick.

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Lt. Col. Mersereau

Lieutenant Colonel G.W. Mersereau
132nd (North Shore) Battalion

At no time since the 132nd Battalion began to recruit have there been any disturbances of any nature whatsoever, and to say that there has been rioting or other similar disturbances is an utter absurdity and a grave injustice to the young men whom we all should honour.

 (Campbellton Mayor A. A. Andrews to MP Charles Marcil, 16 Feb 1916)

George William Mersereau was a graduate of the University of New Brunswick, an educator for thirty years and provincial inspector of public schools since 1884. He was born in Blackville on 9 July 1852. He had belonged to the 73rd Regiment for twenty-five years until his retirement several years before the First World War. In November 1915, Mersereau was appointed to command the 132nd Battalion mobilized from Chatham.

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The Spy

Lieutenant Colonel Rhys Davies, D.S.O.
44th (New Brunswick) BattalionDavies

Women are good as spies because men will talk to women. Men under tremendous strain and responsibility want an outlet and the finest and strongest willed of them like to boast to some woman.

(Davies, “Spies in War and Peace,” Milwaukee Sentinel, 12 Dec 1938)

Perhaps fittingly for a self-described British secret agent, much of Reginald Danbury Rhys Davies’ early life is ambiguous. He was born in England on 9 July 1882. According to one account, he was a veteran of the Boer War and member of the Special Intelligence Branch in Egypt and Sudan. Another claimed he had served in India during the Chitral Expedition and gathered intelligence while stationed on the German-Dutch at the outbreak of the Great War.

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The Old-Fashioned

Lieutenant Colonel F. V. Wedderburn
115th (Wedderburn’s Warriors) BattalionWedderburn

On the other hand the tactics of his enemy, Col Wedderburn, were considered by military experts at the front as decidedly clever. A less practical and inexperienced man could not have given Col. McLean the fight he did.

It was evident that Col. Wedderburn had laid his plans well, but the fact that he had burned Moncton and that if victorious he might mete out the same treatment to St. John and the other surrounding towns, field the hearts of the defending soldiers with one determination—to win or die.

(St. John Daily Sun, 8 Jul 1905)

Frederick Vernon Wedderburn was a New Brunswick barrister and militiaman born in St. John on 16 April 1861. After graduating with a law degree from the University of New York in 1882, he joined the 8th Princess Louise Hussars.

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The Silent Member

Colonel Harry McLeod, M.P.
12th Battalion

Colonel Harry McLeod has also been taken away since last we met here.

His interests were perhaps, as much in the military field as in the political field. He was a student of military tactics and military matters generally, and attended manoeuvres in this and in other countries for purposes of study—and, indeed, in the late war served in the fields of Europe.

(PM Meighen, Debates, 15 Feb 1921, 4)

Born on 17 September 1871, Harry Fulton McLeod was a New Brunswick lawyer, member of Orange Lodge No. 20 and Conservative politician. He was mayor of Fredericton (1907—1908), member of the legislature (1908—1913), and federal MP for York (1913—1917) and York—Sunbury (1917—1921). As colonel of the 71st (York) Regiment, he was appointed to take the 12th Battalion overseas when the First Contingent assembled at Valcartier in August 1914.

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The Superhuman

Lieutenant Colonel A. E. G. McKenzie, D.S.O. †
26th (New Brunswick) BattalionMcKenzie

…he followed the immediate centre of his Battalion, and seeing his men held up by most destructive fire of all kinds, he pushed forward to personally lead them and was killed while so doing. On the way, prior to his death, he showed an extreme coolness and an almost superhuman courage.

(Capt. McGillivray to 5th Brigade O.C., 26th Bn. War Diary, Aug 1918, 32)

Archibald Ernest Graham McKenzie was a New Brunswick lawyer, Liberal Party campaigner and militia officer. He was born 21 January 1878 in Campbellton, McKenzie served as second-in-command with the 26th Battalion when it arrived in France in September 1915. By May 1916, he had replaced an ill Lieutenant Colonel James L. McAvity as commander of the battalion.

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