Lt. Col. Scroggie

Lieutenant Colonel J.A. Scroggie, D.S.O., M.C.
16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion

Some correspondents have stated that trench warfare days were days of monotony broken by half-hours of Hell. While that is exaggerated it is in a sense true.

(Lt. Col. Scroggie speech, Kingston Standard, 7 Mar 1922, 2)

Born in Scotland on 4 August 1890, James Austin Scroggie immigrated to Canada in 1911 and took up fruit farming in British Columbia. He enlisted with the 30th Battalion as a private in November 1914, and joined the 16th Battalion in the field on a reinforcement draft six months later. Having proven himself as the NCO leader of the bombing section, he was commissioned a lieutenant on 12 May 1916. By the end of the war, he was twice-wounded, three-times mentioned in dispatches, and earned the Military Cross and two Bars.

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Lt. Col. Semmens

Lieutenant Colonel J.N. Semmens
78th (Winnipeg Grenadiers) Battalion

 it will act like a wild tornado to fan the flame of anger that burns within us now when we see the cryptic phrase, “Remember Hong Kong.” That anger is not alone aimed at the Japanese but at anything that impedes or hampers the all-out effort of this country of ours. To the Winnipeg Grenadiers it means grim preparedness.(Col. Semmens, Ottawa Citizen, 11 Mar 1942, 3)

Born in Toronto on 7 October 1879, John Nelson Semmens was a Winnipeg architect and militia captain in the Winnipeg Grenadiers. He first joined the 100th Battalion under the command of fellow architect Lieutenant Colonel J.B. Mitchell before transferring to the 78th to act as second-in-command. He assumed temporary command during Battle of Passchendaele until Lieutenant Colonel James Kirkcaldy recovered from his wound in March 1918.

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Col. Nelles

Colonel Charles M. Nelles
Royal Canadian Dragoons

It will thus be seen that he had enjoyed the exceedingly unique distinction of having served his Sovereign and country on three occasions, the Canadian Rebellion, the Boer War and the world hostilities, which broke out in 1914. His military honors were many. He was mentioned in dispatches, awarded the D.S.O. and became a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

(Brantford Expositor, 15 Feb 1936)

Born in Brantford, Canada West on 31 August 1865, Charles Mecklan Nelles was a Permanent Force soldier and veteran of the 1885 Rebellion and the Boer War. In summer 1914, his son Norman, who had just received a commission at RMC, joined a British Army regiment while his son Percy was already serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. On 29 January 1915, Second Lieutenant Norman Nelles of the Northamptonshire Regiment was killed in France. Four months later his father went to France as commander of the Canadian Dragoons, which fought dismounted as part of the 1st Canadian Division.

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Lt. Col. Leonard

Lieutenant Colonel Ibb Leonard, D.S.O.
7th Canadian Mounted Rifles & Canadian Light Horse


Talking about spring, I was much struck on Monday when up in front to see the buds and grass started in little pieces here & there that had not been touched by shell fire even trees that were half shot away seemed to be make an effort to abide the summons of spring and sprout a few little buds.

 It was almost pathetic and made you want to curse and crush the ruthless hands that are responsible for all this destruction and sadness in the face of beautiful and wonderful nature. One almost wonders why God allows it but wonderful are his ways and we must try and understand them and have faith that He is working out a great problem for our good. I can hear the steady rumble of the guns as well as the singing bird.

(Lt-Col. Leonard to sister, 2 May 1917)

Born in London, Ontario, on 30 July 1882, Elton Ibbotson (Ibb) Leonard was a graduate of the Royal Military College and McGill University. On the outbreak of the Great War, as a militia officer with eleven years in the 1st Hussars, he applied several times for an appointment with the Cavalry Brigade without success. Discouraged by the few opportunities for a cavalryman in a modern war, he was appointed to command the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles in February 1915.

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Lt. Col. Watt

Lieutenant Colonel E.J. Watt
240th (Renfrew) Battalion


I would prefer to assist in organizing Bombing squadrons composed of men of 45 years of ago & over who could qualify as aviators.… Teach us to fly and drop Bombs. Just as soon as we are competent and capable send us to France, give us machines and bombs and say ‘This is your machine, there are your bombs and there’s the enemy country so go to it and if you come back, there are plenty more bombs. And I herewith volunteer to take the first machine across and knock H– out of enemy infantry & country.

(E.J. Watt to defence minister, 26 Sept 1939)

Born in Lamarck, Ontario on 4 July 1884, Edgar John Watt was a stove and furnace manufacturer with twelve years’ experience in the 42nd Regiment. Although denied a posting as second-in-command of the 130th Battalion for lacking field officer qualifications, by June 1916 he had been given command of the 240th Battalion. Former 42nd Regiment commanding officer, fifty-three year old Lennox Irving, came out of retirement to serve as Watt’s second-in-command.

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Col. Moore

Colonel Edmund E.W. Moore
9th Reserve Battalion

He walked his horse until he got across the Railway Bridge from the Brigade Office. After crossing the Railway Bridge he started to go faster as we went along. The horse broke into a gallop and Colonel Moore lost his cap. The Horse increase his pace galloping down hill. I then thought that Colonel Moore had lost control of the horse.

 (Pte. L.M. Carson, Court of Inquiry, 9 Apr 1917)

Born in Hamilton, Canada West on 8 September 1864, Edmund Evelyn Wentworth Moore was a surveyor and former commanding officer of the 13th Royal Regiment. Just before the First World War, he assumed command of the 4th Infantry Brigade of the militia. He went overseas with the First Contingent and took over the 9th Reserve Battalion from May 1915 until April 1916.

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Lt. Col. Ripley

Lieutenant Colonel Blair Ripley
1st Canadian Railway Troops


“Whatever do you want to write about me for?” asked a tall man with benign expression, his kind eyes glinting humorously behind glasses. “I’m retired.”

(Interview with Gwen Cash, Time Colonist, 22 Jan 1950)

Blair Ripley was a Canadian Pacific Railway civil engineer born in Oxford, Nova Scotia on 28 August 1880. He worked on railways across the west and designed the Lethbridge Viaduct. By the outbreak of the war he was completing the North Toronto Grade Separation. In June 1916, he was assigned to take his railway and bridge building expertise to the front when appointed to raise No. 1 Construction Battalion.

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Lt. Col. Jones

Lieutenant Colonel L.E. Jones, D.S.O.
18th (Western Ontario) Battalion

Jones LE

Jones is quite a sport with a forte in the baseball line. This year he is manager of the Varsity nine and his eagle eye is scanning the horizon for recruits. He is just quiet enough to be rated “a good fellow,” without an enemy around the institution.

 (Torontonensis, 1900, 53)

Louis Elgin Jones was born in Elgin County, Ontario on 2 November 1877. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he was a mathematics teacher, civil engineer, and member of the 27th Regiment. In November 1914, Jones joined the 18th Battalion as a captain.

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The Widower

Lieutenant Colonel H.L. Milligan, D.S.O.
18th (Western Ontario) Battalion


I met Colonel Milligan recently, and am advised that he is not physically fit to return to his duties, and have lost his wife and daughter in the last few months, I hope you will grant him this extension of leave.

(J.E. Armstrong to militia minister, 18 Jan 1917)

Henry Linton Milligan succeeded Lieutenant Colonel Ernest S. Wigle as commander of the 18th Battalion on 8 July 1916. A native of Scotland, he was born on 8 April 1872. A member of the 26th Regiment, he joined the 18th at the rank of major in October 1914. He remained in command until just after the battle of the Somme.

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Maj. Gen. Macdonell

Major General Archie Macdonell
Lord Strathcona’s Horse

“Batty Mac, our brigade commander, was crazy as a coot in many ways, I saw him actually get wounded one day … Somebody said ‘Be careful, sir, there’s a sniper’ and he said ‘Fuck the sniper,’ climbed up to get a look and the sniper took him through the shoulder and he went ass over applecarts into his shellhole from which he had emerged … My god, his language! You could hear him for miles around!”

(G.R. Stevens PPCLI, In Flanders Field interview, 1964)

Born on 6 October 1864 in Windsor, Canada West, Archibald Cameron Macdonell earned the nickname “Batty Mac” for his disregard of danger under fire. He graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1886 and joined the Canadian Militia before transferring to the North-West Mounted Police. He volunteered during the Boer War and was commanding officer of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse at the outbreak of the First World War.

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