The Trench Raider

Lieutenant Colonel John Wise, D.S.O., M.C.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionWise

I regret that I did not have the pleasure of meeting you during my recent visit to France.

I send my hearty congratulations to you upon the command of the splendid 25th Battalion and my best wishes to you, the Officers, non-commissioned officers and men on the great service which still lies before you.

(Prime Minister Borden to Wise, 27 Jul 1918)

Born in London, England on 11 June 1893, John W. Wise was one of the few battalion commanders to rise from the ranks. Wise had earned a reputation as an effective trench raider in the 25th Battalion and won a Military Cross for a successful nighttime attack in 1915. Following subsequent heroics and promotions, he assumed command of the 25th on 19 April 1918.

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The Bookkeeper

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur O. Blois, D.S.O.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionBlois

My husband Lieut.-Colonel Arthur O. Blois, D.S.O. of the 25th Canadian Battalion, has been overseas for about two years, and he is now slated for his three months commanding officer’s course in England. He cabled this fact to me today, and asks me to now meet him there. Naturally I am anxious to go. My husband was wounded at Vimy and decorated after that battle.

(Ethel Blois [wife] to Joseph Pope, 27 Nov 1917

When Major J. A. De Lancey was struck down during the battle of Vimy Ridge, Arthur Osborne Blois took temporary charge of the 25th Battalion. Blois was a Halifax accountant and bookkeeper born on 28 June 1885. He first volunteered with 40th Battalion before receiving a commission with the 64th in summer 1915. After the breakup of that unit, he joined the 25th in August 1916.

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The Bald

Lieutenant Colonel Stan Bauld
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionBauldDS

Col. Bauld was in command and I must say that he has done good work for the whole time that he was out there. He was such that no matter who the man was he would do all in his power to assist him.

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

Duncan Stanley Bauld was a commercial traveler born in Halifax on 16 April 1884. He belonged to the 66th Regiment and enlisted with Lieutenant Colonel G. A. LeCain’s 25th Nova Scotia Rifles. Following the poor performance of the battalion during its first action in late September, LeCain and his senior major were sacked. Edward Hilliam was appointed to take command and Bauld was promoted to second-in-command.

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The Leader

Major James A. De Lancey, M.C. †
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionDeLancey

Previously reported Missing, believed Killed, now Killed in Action. While leading his Battalion in the attack on Vimy Ridge and just as he reached the enemy second line, he was instantly killed by a bullet through the head.

(Circumstances of Death, 9 Apr 1917)

A civil engineer and graduate of McGill University, James Arnold DeLancey was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia on 15 July 1880. He originally enlisted in A. G. Vincent’s 40th Battalion before joining the 25th as adjutant. In the absence of Lieutenant Colonel D. S. Bauld, command fell to DeLancey to led the battalion over the top at Vimy Ridge.

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The Incompetent

Lieutenant Colonel G. A. LeCain
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionLeCain

As I was merely a private at the time I do not know what really transpired; but we never saw the colonel at all that night.

The Germans, however, failed to get into our trenches; and up to this day the 25th can with perfect truth declare that they never failed in the critical hour, for if we did not always have competent officers at the head of the battalion we certainly had them in our companies..

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

George Augustus LeCain, a fruit farmer and militiaman with twenty-five years in the 69th Regiment, was authorized to raise the 25th Battalion from Nova Scotia in October 1914. He was born on 21 September 1862 in Round Hill, Annapolis County. The 25th Battalion deployed to France In September 1915 as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division. Within weeks, the battalion leadership would be overhauled for the alleged incompetence and cowardice of several senior officers.

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The Bulldog

Brigadier General Edward Hilliam
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionHilliam

Colonel Hilliam who was now our commanding officer, says that the 25th battalion made his name; but the 25th boys are equally positive that he made the battalion. It was truly wonderful the confidence we placed in him and he never disappointed us. He was very strong on discipline, and when all is said and done that is most essential in the army.

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

Born in December 1862 in Spalding, England, Edward Hilliam was a soldier, policeman, boxer and swordsman. He had belonged to the 17th Lancers in the British Army before immigrating to Canada to join the North West Mounted Police in 1893. In 1899, he volunteered to serve in the Boer War and during the campaign, earned a reputation as an excellent scout and was praised as “a bold and resolute leader.”

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The Regimental

Lieutenant Colonel Claude H. Hill, D.S.O.
Royal Canadian RegimentCHHill

For conspicuous gallantry when in command of his battalion. He repelled several attacks and displayed great coolness and courage in directing bodies of men under heavy fire.

(Hill, D.S.O. citation, 19 Aug 1916, 8226)

Born in Halifax on 30 August 1881 in Claude Hardinge Hill joined the Royal Canadian Regiment in 1901. He volunteered to fight in the Boer War but arrived to South Africa just one day before the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed to end the war. In November 1914, he joined to the 24th Victoria Rifles Battalion as second-in-command.

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The Gambler

Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stewart, D.S.O. †
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light InfantryStewart_C

The letters from the regiment after his death read, “The men would follow him anywhere; he seemed to bear a charmed life.” Yet what was his life until the War gave him his chance? A life of adventure wearing down into plain middle-aged failure.

(Charles Ritchie [nephew], My Grandfather’s House, 1987)

Born on 14 December 1874 in Halifax, Charles James Townsend Stewart was a North West Mounted Police constable, sportsman, soldier, womanizer and all-round lovable scoundrel. After being expelled from the Royal Military College for gambling in 1892, he moved back to Halifax before joining the NWMP in 1896. After he was kicked out of the police for bullying and bad behaviour, he drifted throughout the Northwest and the Yukon. A veteran of the Imperial Yeomanry during Boer War, Stewart joined the P.P.C.L.I. as a lieutenant in August 1914.

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The Royal Marine

Lieutenant Colonel W. W. P. Gibsone, D.S.O.
&
Lieutenant Colonel A. G. Vincent
40th (Nova Scotia) Battalion

The next unit was the Fortieth. The command was given to a professional soldier not a Nova Scotian. After it had been recruited he was ordered to England. The command then devolved on an officer who had come to Nova Scotia but recently.

(Maj. J.W. Maddin, ex-MP to Borden, 9 Dec 1916)

Born on 6 June 1872 in Quebec City, William Waring Primrose Gibsone was a professional army officer with the Royal Canadian Regiment. In February 1915, he was appointed to command the 40th Battalion. After receiving a staff posting to England in June, command of the 40th went to Arthur Gustave Vincent, a veteran of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. Born on 17 November 1862 in Saint Peter’s, Guernsey, Channel Islands, Vincent enlisted in the R.M.L.I. at the age of nineteen in 1881. He retired with the rank of major in February 1901 and remained on the reserve list until 1912.

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The Father

Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Raddall, D.S.O. †
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionRaddall

He was smiling as he kissed us all goodbye, but his eyes were full of tears, like ours.

I can still see the trap trotting away, the driver flicking his whip and the man in khaki dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. Three years later, almost to the day, he was lying dead on the battlefield of Amiens.

(T. H. Raddall Jr., In My Time: A Memoir, 1976, 26)

Born on 9 December 1876, Thomas Head Raddall was a professional British soldier and an instructor at the Hythe Musketry School. In 1913, Raddall and his family transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In September 1914, he joined the 8th Battalion at Valcartier with the rank of lieutenant. He was the father of Thomas Head Raddall Jr. (1903—1994), Canadian author of historical fiction who was made member of the Order of Canada in 1971.

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