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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The Bermudan

Lieutenant Colonel A. E. Carpenter
Royal Canadian RegimentCarpenter

Colonel Carpenter, who had resided in Bermuda since the early days of the war, was deservedly popular in the community. He had a great charm of manner and his splendid courtesy and generous disposition won for him a great circle of friends. Until quite recently he was in the best of health and could daily be seen taking his vigorous early morning walk to the South Shore where he loved to bathe.

(Royal Gazette, 27 Oct 1933)

Albert Edward Carpenter was born on 2 September 1866 in Hamilton, Canada West. He joined the Royal Canadian Regiment in 1889 and served in the Boer War. He commanded the regiment from January until August 1915 while on garrison duty in Bermuda. When the R.C.R. departed for Halifax to sail on to England, Carpenter was unable to join his men in the field due to ill health and overage.

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The Party Hack

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Muirhead
219th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) BattalionMuirhead

When the war broke out one of the very first to volunteer from the province of Nova Scotia, and to place his services unqualifiedly at the disposal of his King, was Major Muirhead.

For nine months Major Muirhead has been in the trenches, and for the last four months of that period he has been a member and in charge of a bombing party, which you know, Sir is the most dangerous branch of the service.

(F. B. McCurdy, Debates, 28 Jan 1916, 398)

In summer 1914, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court indicted William Harry Muirhead on eight counts of electoral fraud and perjury. Muirhead, a Conservative political operator, had allegedly secured a February 1914 provincial by-election in Victoria County through bribery and forgery. After the outbreak of the Great War, the embattled party bagman joined the Royal Canadian Dragoons, or as Liberal MP Daniel Duncan McKenzie intimated, “Major Muirhead fled the country on the pretext that he was going to war.”

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The Partisan

Lieutenant Colonel S. G. Robertson
17th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) BattalionRobertson

As a matter of fact Robertson was quite hopeless as a commanding officer. When I obliged to tell him so he made at least 3 answers in excuse all of which made me exclaim to him: ‘Why here, out of your own mouth, you more than ever convince me of your unfitness for command.”

(Gen. Alderson to Perley, 12 Mar 1915)

Struan Gordon Robertson was a Nova Scotia barrister and militia major. Born on 13 September 1868 in Bothwell, Scotland, he was a Conservative party activist and a candidate for the riding of Pictou. When the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces organized at Valcartier in August 1914, Robertson assumed command of the 17th Battalion.

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The Fisherman

Lieutenant Colonel F. P. Day
185th (Cape Breton Highlanders) and 25th Battalions Day

The war was over; I came home tired and worn-out, obsessed with one idea—I wanted rest, quiet, and peace; I wanted never to speak again without necessity or to give or receive an order. I wanted to live in the woods, and be alone along my streams.

(F. P. Day, The Autobiography of a Fisherman, 1927, 144)

When Lieutenant Colonel John Wise was wounded during the battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918, Major Frank Parker Day took command of the 25th Nova Scotia Rifles. Day had raised the 185th Highlander Battalion from Cape Breton and sailed from Halifax to England in October 1916. After the Highlanders were absorbed into the 17th Reserve Battalion, Day reverted in rank and joined the 25th on the front.

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The Manly Man

Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Borden, D.S.O.
85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) BattalionBorden

Oh, wha is foremaist and a’ and a’,
Oh, wha does follow the blaw, the blaw,
Colonel Borden, the king o’ us a’ hurra’,
Wi’ his hundred Pipers and a’ and a’,
His bonnet and feather he’s wavin’ high,
His prancing steed maist seems to fly.
He’ll lead us to Berlin across the Rhine,
Wi’ his 85th Highlanders bonny and fine.

(Songs of the 85th Battalion, 1917, 16)

In September 1915, Allison Hart Borden raised the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders, nicknamed with the Gaelic motto Siol na Fear Fearail (The Breed of Manly Men). Encouraged by rapid recruitment in the province, Borden proposed a four battalion Highlander Brigade from the Maritimes. The battalions (the 85th, 185th, 193rd, 219th) departed Canada in October 1916. After arriving in England, the Brigade was broken up to the dismay and confusion of many citizens and politicians in the province.

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The Troublemakers

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Allen
&
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Innes
106th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionInnes

A fellow works his heart and soul out to recruit and organize a Battalion, brings it across here with the expectation of taking it to the front, has it taken away without even a “thank-you” and is then told that he must revert, or go back to Canada. A just reward for his efforts!

(Innes to McCurdy, MP, 8 Nov 1916)

Born on 1 April 1882 in Kidderminster, England, Walter Henry Allen was a Nova Scotia carriage builder and Boer War veteran. He had enlisted as a captain with the 17th Battalion in September 1914 and fought with the 15th Battalion in France. After being wounded, Allen was authorized to raise the 106th in November 1915. Six months later, Allen was brought before a court martial board for ” behaving in a scandalous manner, unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman.” He was cashiered and replaced by Robert Innes, a twenty-four year old major. Born on 18 August 1891 in Colbrook, Nova Scotia, Innes held a degree in scientific agriculture and had served for several years in the militia.

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