Lt. Col. Sutherland

Lieutenant Colonel D.H. Sutherland
No. 2 Construction Battalion

SutherlandDH

Lieut.-Col. D.H. Sutherland, O.C. of the battalion, speaking for recruits, mentioned the excellent discipline the colored men already enlisted had shown, and commended them for their soldierly appearance … Many colored men, he said, were dissatisfied because they had been refused at the beginning of the war. This, he said, had been due merely to prejudice on the part of a few officers, and was not general throughout the Dominion.

(London Advertiser, 20 October 1916)

Born in Pictou, Nova Scotia on 10 September 1880, Daniel Hugh Sutherland was a railway contractor who enlisted as a private with the 193rd Battalion. In June 1916, he received a commission and promotion to lieutenant colonel to recruit No. 2 Construction Battalion, the only segregated Black battalion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Except for Honorary Captain Reverend William A. White, all the officers were white.

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Lt. Col. Mersereau

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

Col. C. J. Mersereau, a French Canadian who went with the first contingent sent by Canada to the front, spoke French and a little English. He has returned knowing no French, but still retaining the power to speak English. At the second battle of Ypres he was struck by a fragment of a shell on the head. He was operated on and lay in the hospital three months, with but little hope of recovery. He finally pulled through, but without the power of understanding any language but English.

(San Bernardino County Sun, 12 Sept 1916, 10)

Born on 13 July 1880 in Bathurst, New Brunswick Chalmers Jack Mersereau was the second son of Lieutenant Colonel George W. Mersereau of 132nd Battalion. A graduate of Harvard with an MA and PhD, he formed a brokerage firm in Doaktown. He belonged to the 73rd Regiment for ten years, served with the Royal Canadian Regiment for eight and was commander of the New Brunswick Corps of Guides at the outbreak of the Great War.

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Lt. Col. Willets

Lieutenant Colonel C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O.
Royal Canadian Regiment

Willets

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He went forward to the front line under very heavy fire and organized the defence of the position with great skill. He has at all times displayed the greatest courage and initiative.

(Willets, D.S.O. citation, 26 July 1917)

Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia on 21 May 1880, Charles Richard Edward Willets had left the Royal Military College early to serve in South Africa in 1901. After five years with the South African Constabulary, he was gazetted as a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Regiment.

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Lt. Col. Langford

Lieutenant Colonel R.J.S. Langford
193rd (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Battalion

The Battalion, by means of its organization, is able to stand the shock of battle, to surmount confusion, to suffer casualties with the least injury to its efficiency. To abandon the organization is to destroy the fighting power and capacity for training.

(Langford, Corporal to Field Officer, 1940, 8)

Robert John Spinluff Langford was a professional soldier with the Royal Canadian Regiment. He was born in India on 9 July 1887. After Lieutenant Colonel John Stanfield, MP, temporarily assumed command of the Nova Scotia Highlander Brigade, Langford took over the 193rd, which he led to England in late 1916.

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Lt. Col. Parsons

Lieutenant Colonel Norval Parsons
246th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Battalion

Col. Parsons, who was appointed to be second in command of the 185th Battalion, is a very strong Liberal.

 It is a fact as reported to me that great credit is taken by the Liberal party in Nova Scotia for the organization of the Highland Brigade. Yet my hon. friend stands on the floor of this Parliament and says that the whole thing is honeycombed with politics.

(Robert Borden, Debates, 6 May 1916, 3545)

A senior officer with the 85th, 185th and 219th Battalions, Norval Henry Parsons was promoted to command the 246th in August 1916. The latest Nova Scotia battalion was designated as a reserve unit for the expected formation of a Highlander Brigade. Parson was born in Kingston, Nova Scotia on 25 March 1868. He was a lifelong militiaman and former commanding officer of the 68th Regiment.

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Lt. Col. Tremain, MP

Lieutenant Colonel H.B. Tremain, MP
112th (Nova Scotia) Battalion
Tremain

I would appeal for a greater measure of co-operation between the two great parties during the grave crisis through which our Empire is passing. When victory of democratic communities is achieved over the forces of autocratic despotism, represented by Kaiserism, then and not till then, let our political warfare again be waged…

 (Tremain, Debates, 8 Mar 1915, 827)

Hadley Brown Tremain was a barrister and Conservative MP for Hants (1911—1921). He was born in Port Hood, Nova Scotia on 23 October 1874. He attended Windsor Collegiate and Kings College before receiving a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1899. He defeated Liberal MP Judson Burpee Black in the 1911 election. After the outbreak of the Great War, Tremain endorsed a party truce, arguing that after the crisis there would “be time enough to re-engage in part recrimination and strife in this country.”

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Lt. Col. Allen, Part III

Lieutenant Colonel Walter H. Allen
106th (Nova Scotia Rifles) Battalion
WHAllen

If these people at the front were at all suspicious of the manner of my wounding, why did they wait six months before laying a charge? When they heard of my promotion here they did not like it.

However, I am only doing my duty, willing to go anywhere I am sent, in any capacity, at any time, and the last charge in the world I expect to have laid at my door would be the charge of cowardice.

Having a clear conscious in this matter, I can look the whole world in the face and say ‘Not Guilty.”

(Lt. Col. W.H. Allen to adjutant-general, 29 Jan 1916)

Allen image 1

Read Part I here

Allen image 2

Read Part II here

In response to allegations that his wounds had been self-inflicted, Walter Harry Allen demanded a court of inquiry to clear his name. He received a leave of absence from recruiting the 106th Battalion to report overseas. He landed in England than proceeded to France where he faced a general court martial on 22 April 1916. He was charged under Section 16 of the Army Act – “behaving in a scandalous manner unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” – for intentionally wounding himself ten months earlier.

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Lt. Col. Ryan

Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Ryan
6th Canadian Mounted RiflesRyan

Ryan, who was already a nervous wreck as a result of harrowing experience in the trenches, was demoralized completely by the new tragedy. He came to London unmindful of everything, and disregarded the order for his return to the front. The sequel came in the Gazette’s announcement he had been dismissed by court-martial.

(Washington Post, 5 Nov 1915, 6)

It does seem darned shame that a man like this, although he was a good fellow and a good officer should get these ghost stores of himself put into the papers. It makes the whole thing into a screaming farce.

(Gen. John Carson to Sam Hughes, 18 Dec 1915)

Following a court martial for disobeying orders, Robert Holden Ryan was stripped of command of the 6th Canadian Mounted Rifles, cashiered from the CEF and sent home in disgrace. A sympathetic article in the Washington Post called Ryan’s dismissal “one of the most tragic stories of the war.” The real story was not so simple.

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Lt. Col. Ralston

Lieutenant Colonel J.L. Ralston
85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Battalion
Ralston

An extremely reliable and determined Officer. He is cheerful, conscientious and tactful, with plenty of energy and drive. Well-balanced and a man of the World with plenty of ability. He learns readily, and is good at imparting knowledge. He has imagination and initiative and handles troops well.

(Senior Officer’s Course, 6 Mar 1918)

Born in Amherst on 27 September 1881, James Layton Ralston was a law graduate from Dalhousie University and Liberal member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly (1911–1920). He enlisted as a lieutenant in Allison Hart Borden’s 85th Battalion, and twice commanded the unit in the field during summer 1917 and the latter half of 1918. Multiple times wounded in action, Ralston won the Distinguished Service Order and Bar for great pluck and leadership.

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Lt. Col. Stanfield, M.P.

Lieutenant Colonel John Stanfield, M.P.
193rd (Nova Scotia Highlanders) BattalionStanfield

Colonel Stanfield has gone back to Canada and I guess that is the best place for him. He is no good anyway and after the boys get home again he won’t have so much to say.

(Clarence Reginald Gass to Lillian Gass, 29 Nov 1916)

 John Stanfield was Conservative MP for Colchester (1907—1917) and chief government whip during the Borden Government. He was born on 18 May 1868 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was a member of the 76th Colchester and Hants Rifle Corps Reserve. In February 1916, he was authorized to raise the 193rd Battalion as a unit in Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. Borden’s Highland Brigade. On his attestation form, Stanfield cited annual militia “camp drill” as prior military service.

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